Articles Posted in wage and hour lawsuit

Following a recent Southern California labor strike of nearly 2,000 subcontracted orange pickers from one of the largest fruit companies in the U.S., Los Angeles wage and hour attorneys are looking even more closely at this industry, wherein an increasingly substantial number of workers are employed by third-party labor contractors, rather than the farm companies themselves. As far as agricultural workers go, those in California enjoy some of the best labor law protections in the country. However, workers employed by these third-party firms are often exempted from some of the required protections they’d otherwise enjoy under state law, including overtime pay.Los Angeles farm worker rights attorney

Much of it comes down to power disparities, the wink-and-nod regulators give to the companies that fulfill demand for undocumented workers and loopholes many farms have long exploited.

This most recent strike began after one of the state’s top citrus producers slashed the price-per-bin pay on mandarins harvested. Previously, they were primarily focused on so-called “clementines,” which are smaller, but then shifted more harvest work to the larger mandarins. The rate-per-bin was dropped from $53 to $48. The company told The Los Angeles Times this was due to a “seasonal shift,” but a farm union spokesman stated employees had always been paid the same per-bin rate, regardless of the variety they were picking. Continue reading

Nursing is a demanding profession, complete with grueling 12-hour shifts, dangerous conditions, dangerous patients and often seemingly very little time to stop for the restroom or eat a meal. Hospitals, nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities nationwide often require mandatory overtime as part of standard practice, given the nursing shortage the profession is experiencing, per the American Association of Colleges of Nurses. However, California law expressly prohibits mandatory overtime and nurses do have the right to refuse to work overtime and are protected from retaliation for their refusal. Nurses can’t be required to work more than 12 hours in a 24-hour period, the only exception being an emergency. Los Angeles wage and hour lawyer

Further, under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act requires that all non-exempt employees are paid at least the federal minimum wage for all hours worked and overtime pay for any hours worked over 40 in a given workweek. Hospitals and any other institutions primarily engaged in the care of sick, aging or mentally ill are covered employers per Section 3(s)(1)(B) of the FLSA. Some health care facilities track employee hours in increments of 15 minutes, and the FLSA does allow these facilities to round to the nearest quarter hour for wage and overtime hour purposes. However, an employer who always rounds down may violate the minimum wage and overtime requirements.

Recently in Oregon, which has similar workplace protections for nurses in terms of wage and hour laws, a hospital system is being sued for failure to properly pay its nurses, denying them meal and rest breaks and improperly docking their wages. They’ve filed a federal class action lawsuit against the health care chain of hospitals, according to The Oregonian. The hospital allegedly failed to compensate non-exempt nurses for their work during meal breaks and also for work they performed while they were off-the-clock. Continue reading

For far too many car wash workers, the wages are washed out. Minimum wage in California is $11, set to increase to $12 on Jan. 1, 2019. In Los Angeles, where it’s well-known the cost-of-living is much higher, any employer with 26 employees or more must pay at least $13.25 hourly. Smaller employers in L.A. can get by paying $12 hourly.However, Los Angeles wage theft attorneys know throughout California and across the U.S., car wash owners aren’t coming clean with their workers.car wash minimum wage lawsuit L.A.

One of the most recent cases of car wash wage theft took place right here in L.A., where The Drive reports employees at two Los Angeles car washes have won more than $1.6 million in back pay restitution, civil penalties and covered litigation costs/attorney’s fees. Additionally, the company’s owner will be subject to an injunction for four years, during which compliance with all California wage and hour labor laws and regulations must be assured.

The car washes, according to claims filed by the Los Angeles attorney’s office, are that the car wash operations short-changed an estimated 60 workers since 2014. Employee work hours were vastly under-reported. In some instances noted by attorneys, the company was compensating workers $45 for working a full 10-hour shift. The U.S. government currently has minimum wage is currently at $7.25. It’s higher in California (and also Los Angeles) because it’s very expensive to live/work/commute in this region. These car wash employees were being paid one-third the minimum wage they should have been earning for their hard work. Continue reading

Wage theft from California workers isn’t always about paying less than minimum wage. Sometimes, it’s failing to pay wages for expected duties the company doesn’t consider “work.” We saw this with factory workers required to spend upwards of 20 minutes daily donning and doffing their uniforms on site. More recently, we saw it with Starbucks in the six-year battle, ending in the California Supreme Court, over failure to pay for unpaid tasks like locking up after closing – something that only takes an extra 5-to-10 minutes daily, but multiplied across days, weeks, months and years and many thousands of workers adds up to significant skimming off the top.Los Angeles wage theft attorney

Other recent California wage theft cases focused on so-called “call-in shifts” or “on-call work.” This is when workers are required to clear their schedules in the anticipation they might be needed if it’s a hectic night. However, in some cases, workers weren’t being paid despite re-arranging their schedules to adjust for the possibility.

California labor law separates this time into two different categories: Standby/ waiting time and response/ reporting time. The case law that established all this started with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1944 case of Armour & Co. v. Wantock, though California has adopted several provisions and tests of applicability on its own.

Standby/ waiting time is time the employee is required to remain at an employer’s place of business and respond to emergency calls. Workers are required to be paid for all of this time, though the rate can change, particularly if the standby time is “uncontrolled” by the employer and is otherwise free time. Response and reporting time is that wherein employee is required to respond to a call or text – that has to be paid also, with the worker responsible for keeping track. As Los Angeles wage theft attorneys can explain, only de minimus work (literally one or two minutes) isn’t compensable. For every day the worker is required to report to work and does report to work but isn’t paid, employees are paid half the usual wage for that shift – but in no event for less than two hours or more than four hours. If a worker is required to report back to work on any given day and only works for two hours are less, they are to be paid at their regular pay rate (not less than minimum wage) for those two hours.  Continue reading

California has long been an economic powerhouse. And while layoffs have been consistently declining since the end of the Great Recession, the reality is some workers are still facing the possibility of being let go. As our Orange County employment attorneys can explain, companies in the Golden State that fall under the California Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act have specific responsibilities – in addition to those offered employees under federal law – to give proper notice to workers and their families in the event of an impending layoff.Orange county employment lawyers

Specifically, affected employees, as well as state and local representatives, are entitled to at least two months (60 days) of advance notice of a plant is closing, relocation or mass layoff. Corporations obligated under this provision are those that employ 75 or more employees – full or part-time. The federal rule for WARN only includes workers who have been with the company at least 6 of the 12 months prior to the date of required notice. If a plant closing or relocation involves 50 or more employees in a 30-day span – regardless of the percentage of that workforce – they need to give notice. (Relocation is defined as any move that is 100 miles away or more). Continue reading

Commercial trucking carrier J.B. Hunt has agreed to pay a $15 million settlement in an employment lawsuit over trucker pay, weeks after the original class of 11,000 was de-certified. Los Angeles wage dispute lawyers following the case recall the firm had sought intervention from the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing interstate drivers in California should be exempt from state law mandates on meal and rest breaks.Los Angeles wage dispute attorney

In Ortega v. J.B. Hunt Transport Inc., originally filed more than a decade ago, plaintiffs asserted the commercial trucking company failed to pay drivers in accordance with California wage-and-hour laws. Truck drivers in California (like all other employees) are entitled at minimum to receive 30-minute breaks for every 5 hours in which they work. It was the carrier’s position that a federal law passed in 1994 preempted this requirement by asserting that state statues couldn’t interfere with laws pertaining to interstate trucking.

Wage dispute lawyers in California know that the trucking industry lobbied hard – for years – to pass the Denham Amendment to that 1994 law, which would have effectively voided California’s law and any other state that attempted to pass one similar. Absent that amendment, states have the right to override this provision. The effect in California is that a truck driver over the course of an 11-hour shift would be required to take two, 30-minute breaks. Defendant in this case isn’t the only one to face scrutiny after workers alleged they also were denied state-mandated breaks from their employer. Continue reading

Owners of Southern California Thai restaurants have been cited for  Los Angeles wage theft, allegedly depriving workers of more than $1 million in wages, according to state labor regulators. The companies are accused of failure to pay minimum wage (less than $5 hourly versus the state minimum of $11) and frequently requiring them to work 10 hour shift without ensuring each were granted state-mandated work breaks.wage theft attorney Los Angeles

Nearly two dozen workers at these restaurants – located in Baldwin Park, Arcadia and North Hollywood – reportedly were paid a flat rate of $50 for a standard 10- to 11.5-hour shift. The California Department of Industrial Relations, which began investigating the trio of restaurants in August of last year, reported at no time during these shifts were workers given the opportunity to eat a meal or sometimes even just sit down for a few minutes.

Unfortunately, as our Los Angeles wage theft attorneys are all too keenly aware, wage theft in Southern California is rampant. The state DIR reports there were more than 34,000 wage theft complaints just last year alone – but that is widely speculated to be a very low estimate. It’s not unreasonable to presume that for every case of California wage theft that’s reported, there are probably a dozen more than aren’t. This is especially true when we factor in undocumented workers, particularly since this White House has assumed power, with raids often targeting the least vulnerable rather than the companies that hire them. Continue reading

In most California wage and hour employment lawsuits, the entity held accountable by wronged workers is their (sometimes former) employer. Agents of your employer (typically, the owner) are in charge of paying those wages, but generally aren’t deemed responsible if there is a violation of law to do so. In fact, two California Supreme Court decisions in recent years (Reynolds v. Bement and Martinez v. Combs) affirmed this fact. But now, a California appellate court has ruled the lines of liability for unfair wages may not be so black-and-white. It may in fact be possible for supervisors and/or fellow employees deemed responsible to pay both civil penalties and your attorneys’ fees. overtime wage theft L.A.

The case in question, Atempa v. Pedrazzani, before the California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division One, weighed a case filed under the state’s unique Private Attorney General’s Act (allowing wronged workers to sue for labor violations on behalf of the state and keep 25 percent of the verdict or settlement).

Persons Acting on Behalf of Employer Can Be Liable for California Wage Theft Continue reading

A quick internet search reveals dozens of jobs are listed at Amazon’s distribution and fulfillment center in Irvine, California (right here in Orange County) ranging from warehouse fulfillment to Whole Foods Shoppers. But there may be a reason such positions are constantly in rotation. Recently, Business Insider reported more than 200 delivery drivers are suing both Amazon and one of its third-party courier companies, TL Transportation, over claims of wage theft / unpaid wages.wage lawsuit

Orange County employment law attorneys have seen allegations of labor law violations by employees and designated independent contractors for the e-commerce giant and its partners piling up in recent years. Plaintiff lawyers say the company is using third-party contractors for its delivery posts in order to avoid legal liability for violations of state wage and hour laws. Third-party courier firms like TL, plaintiffs say, are tiny and thinly-capitalized, meaning they are unable to pay up when workers are cheated of rightful wages and mandated work breaks.

Just last month, a federal judge ruled this third-party courier’s pay system – which involved a flat rate for all delivery drivers, regardless of hours worked – failed to pay drivers properly, particularly with regard to overtime hours. It’s unclear precisely what Amazon’s liability will be in this, but our employee rights attorneys understand the class action lawsuit seeks to hold both firms accountable for willfully crafting an employment and pay structure that skirts labor laws and skimps on rightful pay. Continue reading

The California Supreme Court ruled that employers in the state cannot invoke the federal de minimis doctrine to avoid paying workers for required duties they perform off-the-clock.clock1-300x225

This California wage theft class action lawsuit filed by a Starbucks employee who alleged the store was requiring him to work for several minutes each shift without being paid. When multiplied by the minimum wage, this work amounted to more than $100 over the course of 17 months.

In granting summary judgment in favor of the employer, the trial court relied on the 1946 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Anderson v. Mt. Clemens Pottery Co., wherein the court concluded that “a few seconds or minutes of work beyond the scheduled working hours… may be disregarded.” The basic concept is that the courts do not concern themselves with “trifles.” Federal courts have held that it can be applied in cases where small amounts of wages that would otherwise be compensable can be excused when they are difficult to administratively record.

The California Supreme Court reversed, noting the de minimis rule doesn’t apply here.  Continue reading