Articles Posted in wage and hour lawsuit

The California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement is attempting to chip away at the state’s ongoing wage theftwage theft problem through a series of investigations throughout the state. Officials recently cited seven restaurants in the Bay Area for stolen wages totaling more than $10 million. Over $5 million of that total came from 133 workers at one restaurant, according to an article from SFGate. Additionally, six residential facilities in Los Angeles were issued citations totaling $7 million in recent months, and a Los Angeles restaurant was charged $500,000. In Chino, a fitness and weight loss chain was cited $8.3 million. Violations included counting tips toward minimum hourly wage, withholding overtime payments, and not paying split-shift premiums.

As our employment attorneys can explain, California minimum wage as of Jan. 1, 2018, is $11 per hour for places of employment with more than 25 employees, and $10.50 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees. The state is in the middle of a gradual increase process, with wages going up incrementally each year until they reach $15 per hour in 2023. In many states, restaurant workers have a different minimum hourly wage than other workers that is provided by their employer, so long as their tips bring them up to at least the standard hourly minimum wage. But in California, restaurant owners are not allowed to use tips as a credit toward their employees’ minimum wage. Servers must be compensated with full minimum wage, plus all the tips they earn. If a California employer holds back any tips or applies tips toward their hourly wage, it is considered wage theft. Continue reading

A bill labeled “Dignity in the Driver’s Seat” has been introduced in the California State Senate, taking aim at port trucking companies’ exploitation of workers and failure to pay up for affirmed violations. This bill would make retailers who work with offending trucking companies jointly liable for their actions. Previous efforts have taken aim solely at offending trucking companies, but so many of these violators are still operating – despite unpaid final judgments on their records. This proposal strikes at their bottom line.wage dispute

Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) introduced SB-1402 in an attempt to rein in current outstanding violations by port trucking companies as well as prevent future issues. The bill proposes creating a list of those trucking companies that have unpaid final judgments and distributing it to retailers. Retailers would then be issued a warning: Do business with any of the companies on the list, and you will have to pay in part for any future violations committed by that company.  Continue reading

They might share a name, hours, and overarching rules, but according to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California,employment attorneys  7-Eleven franchisees are not direct employees of 7-Eleven. In the original employment lawsuit complaint, filed by a group of four franchisees, plaintiffs pointed to 7-Eleven’s restrictive rules, alleging they were unable to run a truly independent franchise and therefore qualified them as employees of the parent company. But the court ruled plaintiffs did not sufficiently demonstrate an employee-employer relationship. Our employment attorneys experienced in wage and hour lawsuits know this could set a significant precedent for current and future cases involving franchises.

According to National Law Review, plaintiffs attempted to make a case based on a few factors:

  • The requirement that franchisees remain open 364 days a year for 24 hours a day.
  • 7-Eleven distributes payments to all employees.
  • 7-Eleven sets rules for pay practices, discipline, terminations, and performance appraisals.

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Californians have some of the best employee protections in the country. Our state has worked hard to establish fair wages, decent hours, and laws that are in the bestwage dispute interest of workers. Rules are put in place to discourage employers from overworking employees, and in situations where that is necessary, offering ample compensation. But that doesn’t mean employers will always play by the rules.

Two employees, on behalf of all other affected employees, filed a lawsuit in Superior Court of California, County of Fresno against L’Oréal USA on allegations the company did not fully pay overtime wages and did not provide proper meal breaks. More specifically, plaintiffs allege L’Oréal forced employees to clock out, and then would require them to stay for loss prevention inspections. These inspections were a mandatory part of the job and were performed during times when employees were no longer being paid for their time. When performed during a lunch, this meant employees were not receiving the full meal break as required by law.

In addition to performing inspections during people’s meal breaks, plaintiffs allege that the intense workload at L’Oréal caused them to sometimes miss meal breaks entirely or work through portions of their designated break time. According to the lawsuit, plaintiffs also claimed they were denied 10-minute rest breaks(required for every four hours on the clock) occasionally when the production schedule was especially tight. Continue reading

Any good employment lawyer will tell you that employee rights laws and wage disputes aren’t just about holding corporations accountable. At the core, these actions are about protectingwage dispute people, defending their humanity, and ensuring vulnerable workers aren’t taken advantage of. We have come a long way over the decades to expand those protections and increase quality of life for more hard-working citizens in California and beyond.

Unfortunately, there are still a number of industries wherein worker protections are scant. Such is the case in Seattle, where the recently formed Seattle Domestic Workers Alliance is pushing for a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, according to a report from Curbed Seattle. This would include mandated contracts between domestic workers and those who employ them, as well as a commission to oversee domestic labor standards. As our employment lawyers can explain, a domestic worker is someone who works within the household of their employer. This could be a nanny, housekeeper, in-home caregiver, cook, gardener, etc. And right now, in Seattle, this group is feeling more pressure than other workers to try to make ends meet.

A recent survey from SDWA illustrated the issue. Researchers surveyed 174 of the 30,000 domestic workers, focusing on nannies, gardeners, and house cleaners. Results showed 81 percent of respondents would be classified as “very low-income” using standards set by Department of Housing and Urban Development. They said they do not receive the same protections as other employees: 53 percent responded they did not receive overtime pay; 39 percent said they receive no sick time; and 85 percent said they are not protected by workers’ compensation in the event of an injury on the job. Benefits are even more measly, with 54 percent of respondents having insurance – only 6 percent of that provided by an employer. More than one-third of these workers get no vacation days and a whopping 94 percent do not get paid family medical leave. Continue reading

Gender equality in the workplace has been a long and hard-fought struggle, and it’s not over yet. Recently, a pay equity bill passed in Washington state that will make it more clear what constitutes wage and gender discrimination, ultimately fortifying employee rights. gender discrimination

HB 1506 updates a  75-year-old wage law making it a misdemeanor to discriminate based on gender, according to a report from KING 5 News. This measure will not only make it illegal to discriminate based on gender, but levelthe playing field for all employees. This is achieved in two substantial ways.

First, the measure defines what it means for “similarly employed” workers to receive equal compensation. As our employment attorneys can explain, many companies skirt the issue of “equal pay for equal work” by giving employees different titles, even though the tasks and work load are similar. In the past, employers could argue that because the jobs technically weren’t the same, wage comparisons were not relevant. By moving the goalpost to include “similarly employed” workers as deserving equal pay, Washington has removed this loophole and made sure that those with similar responsibilities and skills remain on a level playing field. Continue reading

Employees got a big win in California Supreme Court recently in a case that ruled on interpretation of guidelines regarding overtime wages. The case in particular wage and hour disputeexamined what formula should be used to calculate overtime wages and whether companies should follow Division of Labor Standards Enforcement rules or federal standards. Plaintiff said company was undercutting his pay by using the federal formula rather than following California rules, which give more favor to employees. And the high court, thankfully, agreed.

Overtime rate of pay is usually calculated using a formula of 1.5 times the regular pay rate. If an employee makes an hourly wage and nothing else, the calculation is easy. For example. someone who earns $12 per hour would receive $18 per hour once they rolled into overtime hours. But there are different interpretations as to what the calculation would be when an employee has additional income that needs to be included, such as a flat sum bonus, according to a Bloomerg report. That’s the crux of the case at hand.

Defendant in this case was a manufacturing company that paid workers an extra $15 bonus for each Saturday or Sunday they worked. The bonus was the same regardless of how many hours were worked on that shift. Defendant was using the federal formula for calculating the overtime rate of pay, which adds up all income earned and divides by all hours worked, including the overtime hours. A lower appeals court sided with the company, sending the case up to the state Supreme Court.

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With the fast-paced growth of the gig economy, the line between independent contractors and employees has become more and more blurred. This has led to employee misclassification lawsuits employment misclassificationfiled by workers, claiming employers have taken advantage of their independent contractor status.

Those lawsuits could have a more clear outcome after U.S. District Court for the California Northern District filed a decision in a lawsuit against GrubHub Inc., according to Los Angeles  Times. U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley Judge ruled GrubHub’s drivers are independent contractors and should not be classified as employees, and therefore will not receive the perks that come with that identifier.

Maintaining a workforce primarily made up of independent contractors is at the heart of the gig economy. Services like Uber, Lyft, Grub, Postmates, and others will often identify their companies as services that connect customers with contractors, rather than the providers of those services. That way they can work around supporting a staff of employees, and reap the benefits of massive cost reductions. Meanwhile, drivers and delivery people are beholden to the companies they contract for while being burdened with costs associated with the work they do without reimbursement. Continue reading

Anyone who has ever waited tables knows how valuable a good tip is. It brings the wages of tipped employees up, makes it possible for restaurant owners to keep food prices reasonable, and gives workers an incentive to work during extra busy and stressful shifts throughout the week.Orange County unfair wages

U.S. Department of Labor defines tipped employees as those who regularly receive more than $30 a month in tips. Such employees, depending on the state, can be paid a minimum of $2.13 per hour, as opposed to the traditional federal minimum wage of $7.25. The tips that are used to bring tipped employees up to minimum wage are known as a tip credit. If the employee does not make enough in tips to meet the federal minimum wage standard, the employer must make up the difference, according to 29 U.S. Code § 203 (m).

California, however, is a bit different in that the state requires employers to pay full minimum wage before tips. The state’s minimum wage is also higher than national, ranging from $10.50 (for employers with fewer than 26 employees) to $11 (26 or more employees). Continue reading

According to a report last year by CareerBuilder, research conducted on behalf of the site shows 78 percent of American workers live paycheck-to-paycheck. The numberwage dispute attorneys breaks down further: 38 percent responded they sometimes live paycheck-to-paycheck, 17 percent said usually and 23 percent answered always. The overall percentage goes up for women (81 percent).

CareerBuilder’s chief human resources officer described these employee financial struggles as a problem for employers, citing that stressed out workers are less focused and less productive. Still, while a happy workforce can help financial standing long term, many employers can’t help but focus on immediate gains made by keeping wages as low as possible. Others may go as far as to dig into those already low wages even further to pad out their bottom line by making employees cover expenses related to the job.

This is what about 250,000 former and current employees of Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister, and other affiliated stores are claiming happened to them, as far back as 2009, according to a report from The Columbus Dispatch. Workers alleged they were forced to buy and wear clothing from their stores on the job, though the company denies these claims. Continue reading