Articles Posted in wage and hour lawsuit

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 ›

Fitness equipment and media company Peloton is accused of wage and hour violations in a California employment lawsuit, a proposed class action that was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court and which the company is trying to have removed to federal court.

The complaint was filed shortly after the 1st of the year and alleges Peloton violated numerous elements of the California Labor Code due to failure to pay fair wages and issuing inaccurate wage statements. Peloton employment lawsuit

As our Los Angeles employment attorneys understand it, the plaintiff was a hourly, non-exempt sales associate for about 6 years. He alleges the company denied him fair wages and other benefits during those six years.

More specifically, the nine-count complaint alleges: Continue Reading ›

The expectation when we accept a job is that our pay will increase incrementally the more experience and value we provide to the company. But as our Orange County wage and hour lawyers can explain, pay reductions can occur – and they aren’t necessarily illegal. Orange County wage theft attorney

Whether you are an hourly or salaried employee in California, you are entitled to receive the agreed-upon, legal rate of pay for the work you’ve already done. Bosses have the discretion to reduce hourly pay and salary rates just as they can raise them. What they should not do, however, is reduce pay without giving advance notice to the employee. Employees should have the option to decline to continue working at such a rate. Just as an employee can’t force an employer to pay them a higher rate without consent, an employer can’t force an employee to work for a rate to which they didn’t agree. Once the work is complete, the employer must pay the last agreed-upon rate.

Further, that agreed upon rate can’t in any case be lower than the California minimum wage. As of Jan. 1, 2022, the minimum wage for companies with 25 or fewer employees is $14/hr, and $15/hr for companies with 26 or more employees.

When Would a Company Reduce Worker Pay?

Ideally, worker pay would only go up. However, the reality of business sometimes is that employers must reduce expenses in order to stay in business. Or sometimes, employees aren’t meeting expectations, and it’s costing the company money.

The two main reasons companies reduce pay:

  • The business is having revenue issues and is faced with the decision to either cut employee pay or shut down. Many employees will prefer to be paid at lower rates than lose their jobs, but it’s important that employers provide notice of the change so employees can make an informed choice for themselves.
  • A significant job change, namely demotions, warrants reduced pay. When a worker is demoted, the previous rate of hourly pay or salary may be above the reasonable rate for the new position.

All this said, a company cannot refuse to pay you the agreed-upon rate for hours you’ve already worked. Continue Reading ›

The California Supreme Court is slated to decide a case expected to settle a long-running debate on whether waiting time penalties are recoverable for meal and rest break violations. Orange County employment lawyer

Employers, employees and labor law attorneys should be closely watching the case of Naranjo v. Spectrum Security Services, Inc. Petition for review of the case came after the Court of Appeal affirmed in part and reversed in part the original trial court judgment.

The state high court is being asked to resolve two primary questions:

  • Does a violation of California Labor Code Section 226.7 (requiring premium wage payment for meal and rest period violations) give rise to additional claims for paystub penalties and waiting time penalties when companies pay an employee regular wages for breaks?
  • What interest rate applies for unpaid premium wages under the law?

As our Orange County wage and hour lawyers can explain, it has to do with what additional penalties are owed when employers fail to meet their legal pay obligations to workers deprived of meal and rest breaks, as afforded under the law.

How This California Employment Law Case Arose

This is a class action lawsuit filed by the primary plaintiff on behalf of himself and other current/former employees of a private security company (government contractor) who alleged that violations of meal break and rest break laws entitled them also to derivative remedies under laws pertaining to wait time penalties and pay stub penalties. Continue Reading ›

A California wage lawsuit has yielded an increase in pay for California’s guest farmworkers and U.S. farmworkers in 2022. Los Angeles employment attorney

The wage increase is based on the USDA’s annual survey findings on farm labor, which are used to ascertain the rate of pay for seasonal, temporary agricultural workers in farms across California and the U.S. through the H-2A program. The H-2A program allows U.S. employers or agents who meet specific regulatory criteria to bring foreign nationals to the U.S. to fulfill seasonal agricultural jobs. Here in California, there are tens of thousands who work in these positions.

Wages for farmworkers are based on the USDA’s yearly analysis of farmworker pay across various regions of the U.S. However as our Orange County wage and hour employment attorneys can explain, this latest wage increase was frozen by former President Donald Trump, who sought to help farmers recover from lost profits and fallow fields following the early 2020 shutdowns of the COVID pandemic. The action would have locked in federal minimum wages for H-2 visa farmworkers, with the intention of saving growers roughly $1.6 billion over the course of a decade. Trump’s freeze was lauded by top agricultural companies, who said the move was critical in keeping their farms running and grocery stores stocked in a situation that otherwise would have significantly disrupted food supply chains.

On the worker side, though, the action was broadly derided. For one thing, growers were boasting significantly higher profit margins. For example, farmers of plants and livestock in Fresno County alone indicated a record year for gross total production, valued at nearly $8 billion. Furthermore, farmworkers were officially designated during the pandemic as essential workers – meaning they risked their lives to work. Farmworkers already are among the lowest paid workers in the U.S.

California alone has over 3,000 certified H-2A slots, accounting for more than 10 percent of these positions nationally. Employers typically offer these workers the absolute bare minimum wage. Those are the workers that are going to benefit from this wage adjustment, which on average nationally is expected to go up 6 percent next year compared to this year’s rates.

Companies that work with H-2A employees are required to pay the state’s minimum wage, but that can’t be lower than the Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR), which is the average wages for crop/livestock workers in a given region. H-2A workers in California earned $14.77 last year. Next year, they’ll be earning $17.51. Continue Reading ›

A new garment worker wage protection law passed in California is expected to have reverberations throughout the entire fashion industry nationally, and perhaps globally.Los Angeles employment rights attorney

Senate Bill (SB) 62, also now known as the Garment Worker Protection Act, alters the way employees in the garment manufacturing industry are paid. Specifically, it prohibits companies from paying its garment manufacturing workers by the piece or unit or by piece rate, except when such a payment arrangement is approved as a result of a collective bargaining agreement. Instead, garment manufacturers must be paid no less than the applicable minimum wage. The law also broadens the definition of who is part of the clothing making industry for the purposes of enforcing wages. The definition now includes not only direct employers, but brand guarantors (those who contract with other firms to have garments made).

Garment makers and contractors who breach their duties as employers under the law may be subject to statutory, per-employee damages for every pay period. Continue Reading ›

Employers who intentionally commit wage theft in California could find themselves facing criminal grand theft charges. Assembly Bill 1003, a new law recently signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, allows employers of all sizes to be held criminally accountable for intentionally stealing workers’ wages or tips. Individual owners, managers, and executives may be found personally responsible in criminal court. employment lawyer

The law establishes a new type of grand theft. Any company that steals more than $950 from a single employee or $2,350 from two or more employees over a consecutive, 12-month stretch will potentially face criminal charges.

What’s more, the law also encompasses protections for independent contractors as well as employees. That means hiring entities would face equal consequences for theft of wages involving independent contractors as they would employees. As our Los Angeles wage and hour theft attorneys can explain, that significantly broadens the scope compared to most other California and federal employment laws.

Grand theft is punishable either as a misdemeanor (up to one year in jail) or felony (up to 3 years in prison). Fines are often imposed as a result of the penalties as well. The new law allows wages, tips, or other compensation that are subject to a prosecution may be recovered as restitution. It should be noted, however, that civil litigation may still be the best way to recover all damages. If your employer is arrested for wage theft, it’s important to discuss your legal options with an attorney.

Employers should take decisive steps now to ensure their policies are fair and lawful to ensure they do not run afoul of the new law. Continue Reading ›

A California non-profit wage theft lawsuit was settled recently for $170,000, according to Palo Alto Weekly. The organization is responsible for providing street cleaning services in communities around the Bay area. The class action claim was filed by a former employment specialist at the group, who alleged that she and others were routinely denied fair wages. Los Angeles wage and hour lawyer

According to the wage and hour lawsuit, the workers were not paid for overtime, denied break and lunch time compensation, and received late wage payments post-termination or resignation. Additionally, workers alleged employee misclassification, categorizing some workers as salaried and thus “exempt” from overtime pay under the California Labor Code. The pay rate for “salaried” employees, plaintiffs asserted, fell below the statutory level that would qualify them as exempt employees.

As our Los Angeles wage and hour lawyers can explain, California labor laws do apply to non-profit agencies, unless the individual in question is a volunteer, not an employee. As of Jan. 1, 2021, the statewide minimum wage in California is $14 hourly for companies with 26 or more employees and $13 hourly for those with 25 for fewer. However, some local ordinances set forth higher minimum wage rate than state law. For example, the minimum age in Los Angeles is $15 hourly for companies with 26 or more employees and $14.25 hourly for those with fewer. Where local minimum wage rates higher than state rates, employers must comply with the local law. Continue Reading ›

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