Articles Posted in wage and hour lawsuit

Federal and state laws prohibit California pay discrimination, which is a workplace disparity in pay based on an employee’s gender, race, color, religion, age, disability, and national origin. Plaintiffs in California pay discrimination lawsuits do not need to prove there was discriminatory intent. In other words, it doesn’t matter if the employer didn’t mean to be discriminatory; the impact is what matters. equal pay discrimination

Pay discrimination claims in California are primarily based on one of a few laws:

  • The California Equal Pay Act, Labor Code section 1197.5. This state law has been in place for decades, and aims to ensure equal pay regardless of race or gender. In 2016, lawmakers expanded these protections to workers who do “substantially similar work.” It also eliminated the requirement that comparative workers be operating in the same establishment. The law also explicitly states retaliation against employees who seek enforcement of the law is illegal, as is punishing workers for discussing or asking about co-workers’ wages.
  • The Equal Pay Act of 1963. This federal statute requires employers to compensate men and women equally for doing the same work at the same workplace.
  • The California Fair Employment and Housing Act. FEHA prohibits discrimination of applicants and employees of companies with 5 or more employees. Pay discrepancies based on gender in violation of FEHA.

As our Los Angeles employment lawyers can explain, these statutes cover all forms of pay, including salary, overtime, bonuses, vacation/sick leave, insurance, and other benefits.

California Equal Pay Lawsuits Underscore Persistent Problems

The fight for equal pay isn’t a new one, but companies continue to violate the law. The tech industry has become quite notorious for persistent equal pay problems. In a survey conducted by Bloomberg last year, male employees received higher pay than 59 percent of women for the same work. The average disparity in pay was about 3 percent. That can amount to thousands of dollars per year for every employee. Continue Reading ›

A novel California law that empowers an unelected council to set both wages and working conditions at fast food restaurants is facing fierce opposition from wealthy business and restaurant lobbyists. State labor unions want to protect the law, which they say is the most significant win for organized labor in decades. fast food worker rights

The blowback is primarily coming from national business groups – including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – which are seeking not only to see the law overturned in California, but to block similar movements in other states.

As our Los Angeles employment lawyers can explain, California has positioned itself as a leader in labor rights, particularly over the last few years. Lawmakers here have enacted one worker protection measure after another, and other state union and worker lobbyists have been closely watching these developments, analyzing which may work in their own regions. Political analysts are predicting these measures could soon take root in other states, particularly those majority-controlled by Democrats.

Per the U.S. Department of Labor explains that fast food workers are entitled to:

  • Minimum wage.
  • Overtime protections under the FLSA.
  • Food credits (employers can take credit for food provided at cost, but cannot take credit for discounts given to employees on food menu prices).
  • Special protections if they are minors. Those ages 14-15 can’t work more than 3 hours in a day or 18 hours in a school week. They can’t start work before 7 a.m. or clock out after 7 p.m. They are limited in the types of jobs they can do. Those who are 16 or 17 cannot perform hazardous jobs (primarily in fast food involves meat processing machines, commercial mixers, power-driven bakery machines, but also includes assignments for time-sensitive deliveries). ‘

California’s new law takes these benefits a step further.

Sweeping Protections for California Fast Food Workers

Historically, employees in the fast food industry have been sorely lacking in workplace protections. One recent Harvard study found that California fast food industry workers are on average paid $3 less per hour than workers in similar sector jobs in the state. Further, because of the somewhat unpredictable nature of the industry, many workers involuntarily get part-time schedules.

The Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act (also known as the FAST Recovery Act), was signed by California Governor Gavin Newsom on Labor Day. Sponsors of the law say the goal is to set certain baseline standards for the treatment of fast food workers – about 500,000 in this state alone, many of them women and people of color. These include certain health and safety rules, minimum wage regulations, and enforcement of employer violations. Continue Reading ›

California Senate Bill 1162, recently signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, is a broad pay transparency law that requires employers to include pay ranges in all job ads as of Jan. 1, 2023 – a measure that is intended to close the pay gap and prevent unlawful employment discrimination. California pay transparency

Pay transparency employment law is a catching trend. In addition to California, other states like Nevada, Colorado, Washington, Connecticut, Maryland, and Rhode Island do as well. New York passed a similar measure too, but it’s awaiting the governor’s signature (though New York City has its own pay transparency law).

As our Los Angeles employment lawyers can explain, publication of pay for various jobs is supposed to reduce or eliminate discrepancies in pay. It’s effective in this because it brings to light information that employers have historically wished to keep under wraps. (If you encourage employees to stay hush-hush about their salaries because it’s “impolite” or “against company policy” or a “company trade secret,” there’s less chance of them learning if some groups are being unfairly discriminated against in their pay.) It can help employee plaintiffs more easily make their case when pay disparities are clearly spelled out in black-and-white. And by posting the salary upfront in job ads, employers may be less likely to engage in discrimination by low-balling a prospective employee in starting pay on the basis of their protected status (be that race, religion, gender identity, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, age, etc.).

It is against existing law for companies to communicate with other employees about wages – per the National Labor Relations Act and California Labor Code Sections 232(a) and (b). Continue Reading ›

Several months ago, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a ruling specifying that federal courts could not make up procedural rules that favored arbitration by requiring plaintiffs to prove they were prejudiced (adversely impacted) by a defendant’s decision to compel arbitration after participating in litigation. In other words, as our Los Angeles employment lawyers can explain, companies being sued by a former worker for some employment-related wrongdoing cannot participate in litigation for several months and then turn around and try to move the case to arbitration. In the 9-0 ruling of Morgan v. Sundance, the SCOTUS held that an employer that delays the right to compel arbitration essentially forgoes it. Los Angeles employment lawyer arbitration

Now, a California employment lawsuit will be the first test that in a federal appeals court – specifically, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Armstrong v. Michaels Stores.

In Morgan v. Sundance, the justices overturned a ruling allowing a fast food franchise owner to push an employee’s wage and hour lawsuit into arbitration, despite having participated in litigation for eight months. Now, in the case of Armstrong v. Michaels, the Ninth Circuit is slated to decide whether a federal judge in San Francisco erroneously sent a California wage and hour lawsuit against her craft store employer into arbitration after both parties had engaged in 10 months of litigation.

Our Los Angeles employment lawyers know this case is being carefully watched because it is the first federal appeals court to consider the extent to which the Sundance decision limits companies’ ability to move lawsuits out of open court and into the private arbitration process.

The plaintiff argues that the Sundance ruling substantially alters the legal landscape in cases like these, directly impacting the circumstances under which companies effectively waive their right to arbitrate. The company had the ability to force arbitration early on in the case, but chose not to. The company then participated for nearly a year in litigation before flipping the script and demanding arbitration. She said the company’s delay did prejudice her by causing her to incur costs she otherwise would not have. Further, sending the case to arbitration at this juncture, she said, would force her to relitigate several issues on which she’d already been successful in court. (This, she opined, may have been the main reason the company was pushing for arbitration only now.) Continue Reading ›

Summer is the season for vacations. But as a Los Angeles employment lawyer, I see many mistakes employers make with regard to vacation policies. I’m referring not just to poorly-planned or problematic policies, but ones that may potentially run afoul of the law. Los Angeles employment lawyer

As the California Department of Industrial Relations points out, there is no law that requires employers to provide workers with vacation time – paid or unpaid. However, if the employer does have a vacation police, agreement, or practice to provide paid vacation, then there are certain restrictions that apply with regard to how the employer must implement it. (One might wonder, then, why employers provide it at all – and it comes down to the fact that it’s an expectation that many prospective employees have. Companies would have a tough time recruiting good workers if they offered no vacation time at all. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 90 percent of full-time employees in private industry receive some amount of paid vacation.)

As employees are cashing in this summer on their pre-scheduled vacation time, here are some things they – and their employers – should keep in mind.

A fair share of California employment lawsuits stem from employers’ failure to pay fair wages – including minimum wage. As a Los Angeles employment lawyer, I can affirm that failure to pay the state’s minimum wage ends up costing employers far more in the long-run. This is why it’s important to point out that California’s minimum wage rates are about to increase. Los Angeles employment attorney minimum wage

As recently confirmed by the California Department of Finance, the state is increasing the minimum wage for all employers by 3.5 percent to 10 percent to keep pace with inflation. that means statewide, minimum wage is going to increase from $15 hourly for employers with 26-or-more employees (which was set January 1st, 2022) to $15.50 hourly, which will become effective January 1st, 2023.

It’s important to note that this is applicable to all employers regardless of size. That’s a notable deviation from previous California minimum wage increases, which had been separated by employers with 26 or more employees and those with 25 or fewer. That means this increase will be particularly impactful for smaller businesses, whose minimum wage was set to $14 hourly at the start of this year. They, just like larger companies, are going to be expected to increase the minimum wages to $15.50. For them, this is a 10 percent wage increase.

It should be noted, however, that with this increase in the state minimum wage also comes a corresponding raise in the minimum salary that is required for a work to be qualified as “exempt” under so-called “white collar exemptions.” (These are especially impactful when it comes time to paying time-and-a-half for overtime. Salaried employees are exempt from this, but as a Los Angeles employment attorney, I have seen far too many cases of employees being wrongly classified as exempt.) In order to be exempt, the employee must:

  • Perform specified duties in a particular manner.
  • Be paid a monthly salary that is no less than two times the state minimum wage for full-time employment.
  • As of Jan. 1, 2023, to qualify for a white collar exemption requires the employee to earn an annual salary of $64,480 (or $1,240 weekly).
  • Employee spends more than 50 percent of their time performing exempt duties.
  • Salary of exempt employees is guaranteed, and cannot be reduced for quality or quantity of work.

The proof burden for establishing that employee should be classified as exempt is on the employer, as established in the 1999 ruling of Ramirez v. Yosemite Water Co. Continue Reading ›

Our Los Angeles employment lawyers have been following the case of Grande v. Eisenhower Medical Center, which involves a dispute by a nurse against both a staffing agency (which hired her) and the staffing agency’s client (a medical center where she worked). The interesting thing about this case is that while the nurse had settled an employment class action lawsuit against the staffing agency, she continued pursuing a case against the medical center. Los Angeles employment lawyer

The medical center argued that this was not allowed because the prior class action settlement freed the staffing agency “and its agents” from future liability. However, the California Supreme Court has just ruled that the nurse may continue with her second class action lawsuit against the staffing agency’s client.

That ruling is noteworthy because it does not allow companies to sidle away from responsibility for labor law violations just by using a staffing agency.

According to court records, the plaintiff was employed by a nurse staffing agency who arranged for her to work at a hospital in Riverside. Wage and hour law violations at the hospital were what ultimately led to litigation. Continue Reading ›

It’s been more than two years since the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered many offices. For many white-collar workers, that has meant getting creative with office space – in cramped basements and cluttered bedrooms. It has also meant carving out new social norms between employees and employers. One of those involves the blurred lines when it comes to reimbursement for work-related expenses while working from home. As Los Angeles employment lawyers, we’ve noted an increasing number of up-and-coming California employment lawsuits are focused on this front. Los Angeles employment lawyer

Recently, the Los Angeles Times reported on this phenomenon, saying there are dozens of pending cases in Southern California stemming from incidents like:

  • Unpaid, work-related telephone and internet fees.
  • Extra energy needed to head/cool a home during business hours.
  • Office supply needs that were previously picked up by the employer.

For the average worker, it can all add up to between $50 and $200 monthly in extra expenses. That may not sound like a lot, but compounded by the number of workers at home, and companies that saw some significant savings due to work-from-home may now need to pay the piper. If we take that same average employee and compile the total amount of they’ve incurred in expenses due to the work-from-home arrangement, the Times anticipates it’s somewhere around $5,000 each.

In addition to these types of expenses, some workers are seeking reimbursement for lost rental revenue. That is, they allege they have lost out on rental income opportunities because they had to utilize their home office space for their own employment.

We recognize that while work-from-home has been an option for some individuals long before the pandemic, many companies were thrust into the arrangement suddenly, and with little blue print of how all the particulars were going to work. When presented with evidence that their employees are being underpaid, some companies will simply ask for the bill and cover it. Others may take a little more persuasion, but it does appear that at least half of these lawsuits are being settled pre-trial – with terms favorable to plaintiff employees. Continue Reading ›

Equal pay rights in California are guaranteed under both state and federal laws that promise to protect employees from disparate wages paid on the basis of gender or race.

Recently, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team reached a $22 million proposed settlement in a class action equal pay lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation. The settlement stemmed from a longtime legal dispute filed eight years ago alleging federal equal pay violations by five higher-profile members of the women’s national team. Each said that as a member of the women’s team, they were paid thousands of dollars less than their male counterparts – at virtually every level of the competition. This was followed by a 2019 lawsuit filed by 28 players alleging female players were consistently paid less than their male counterparts – despite consistently showing up the men’s team on field performance. That claim was filed months after the U.S. men’s soccer team failed to qualify for the World Cup, while the women’s team won its second tournament in a row. Amid the chants in the crowd were demands for, “Equal pay!” California equal pay act

In 2020, a federal court dismissed the claim by the women’s team that they were paid less for the same work (among other parts of their claim), finding there were key differences in the contract structurers of the men’s team versus the women’s team. Other aspects of the women’s team claims pertaining to working conditions were settled out-of-court a few months ago. Several of the players then filed an appeal on the equal pay claims, arguing the judge failed to analyze the rates of pay or the fact that women needed to win more often than men to receive the same bonuses. The $22 million settlement is the result of that appeal.

Our Los Angeles equal pay attorneys recognize that the settlement amount was only one-third the amount players initially sought, but it still amounts to a significant victory. It also opens the door to discuss what types of California equal pay claims are valid, and what they can entail.

The California Fair Pay Act

Continue Reading ›

A hospital is asking the California Supreme Court to dismiss an employment lawsuit filed by a travel nurse who has already settled with the agency that directly hired her. The court’s decision in Grande v. Eisenhower will have potential implications for the hundreds of thousands of California workers employed by staffing agencies. travel nurse lawsuit California

There are an estimated 1.7 million traveling nurses employed in the U.S., a figure that’s grown substantially in recent years given how much more registered nurses and other health care professionals can make when they work with these agencies.

Our Orange County employment lawyers know the question here will be whether travel nurses – and others who work contract positions through agencies – will have grounds to take legal action against both the agency and the company where they worked.

According to court records, plaintiff worked for the agency at a hospital she said denied her required meal and rest breaks earned, wages for certain time frames when she worked, and overtime wages. She was a plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against the travel agency that assigned employees to hospitals throughout the state of California. The traveling nurse agency ultimately settled with the class – including this nurse. She received $162, as well as a class representative incentive bonus of $20,000. When the settlement was signed, she executed a release of all claims against the agency.

About a year later, plaintiff filed a second class action lawsuit – based on the same labor law violations – except this time, the defendant was the hospital where she worked. The hospital had not been a party to the previous lawsuit. The staffing agency intervened in the case, and insisted plaintiff could not bring a separate lawsuit against the hospital because all claims relating to this conduct had been settled with them in the previous class action.

The trial court ruled in turn limited questions as to the propriety of the lawsuit, and found that the hospital wasn’t released as a party under the previous settlement agreement nor was it in privity with the agency, and thus could not avail itself of the doctrine of res judicata (the principle that a case of action can’t be litigated more than once if it’s already been judged on its merits).

Attorneys for the hospital filed a writ of mandate and the staffing agency appealed. The California Court of Appeals in a 2-1 decision affirmed the trial court and denied the petitions of the two companies.

Now the question is before the California Supreme Court. Continue Reading ›

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