Roughly 70 workers at a private, non-profit museum in Los Angeles is facing a possible class action lawsuit for allegedly violating California’s WARN Act, which compels employers to offer at least a 60-day advance warning both to employees and local government agencies if there will be a plant closure, major relocation or mass layoff. As our Los Angeles labor lawyers can explain, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, found in California Labor Code 1400-1408LC, entitles workers denied this notification to receive back pay and benefits for the period of violation (the period by which their advance notice fell short of those 60 days). Los Angeles WARN Act lawyer

While most of the Golden State’s wrongful termination laws pertain to the rights of individual employees, the WARN Act protects workers fired/laid off in connection with a mass layoff (50 or more workers laid off within 30 days of each other), a company closure or relocation of substantial business activities to a physical location more than 100 miles away. The law only applies to companies that have employed 75 or more workers in the year preceding, and companies are exempted if the closure/layoffs/relocation is due to some act of war or physical calamity. It’s similar to the U.S. WARN Act, 29 USC;2104(a), but extends greater worker protections.

This kind of advance notice is key for workers and their families, who will need time to transition and adjust to employment loss and seek alternative income sources and/or job training while still providing for their family in the immediate future. The reason local government is included in this notification is that the California Employment Development Department has an established Rapid Response Team to aid both employers and employees in the midst of a mass layoff or company closing. They offer information about dislocated worker services available, unemployment insurance options, income support and assistance with job training and job searches. Continue reading

A proposed class action lawsuit by so-called “trimmigrants” against a California cannabis company alleges that workers were compelled to work extended hours in difficult conditions without meal breaks, overtime pay or an accurate accounting of their wages. Los Angeles cannabis employment attorney

The workers, whose duties included growing, harvesting, bucking and hanging marijuana plants to dry before placing them in large freezers for shipment, were largely young immigrants, often undocumented. This, they say, was used by their employers to exploit them.

The 11-count complaint against the marijuana farming company asserts the company:

  • Compelled workers to toil 7-days-a-week for 12 hours daily;
  • Refused to provide rest or meal breaks, as required by law;
  • Declined to reimburse employees for work-related expenses such as travel and meals;
  • Provided workers with a flat $15-and-hour rate of compensation, no matter how many hours they worked;
  • Failed to keep reliable, accurate records of worker hours, in violation of FLSA’s mandates on proper record-keeping.

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January 2020 will mean higher wages in 22 states for some 7 million workers, who can expect to earn more than $8 billion in additional income over the course of the year. Los Angeles wage and hour lawyer

The wages hikes are the result of legislation, inflation adjustments and ballot measures. Twenty states still use the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

In California, nearly 17 percent of the state’s workforce will be affected by a legislative increase of $1 to minimum wage earnings, bringing the state minimum wage to $13 effective January 1st. In all, nearly 3 million workers in the state can expect an annual increase of $4.3 billion. The average worker will bring home approximately $1,500 more per year.

Wage increases across the country ranged from $0.14-an-hour (Minnesota’s inflation adjustment) to the $1.50 higher minimum wage ceiling in New Mexico, thanks to legislative action.

The schedule for California minimum wage phase-in requirements per 2016’s SB3 that workers can expect an increase of $1 additional every year through 2023. For workers with 25 employers or fewer, that means $12/hr as of Jan. 1, 2020, $13/hr as of Jan. 1, 2021, $14/hr as of Jan. 1, 2022 and $15/hr as of Jan. 1, 2023. For workers employed by a company with 26 or more employees, it’s $1 higher than that for each year respectively, meaning next year the minimum wage for those workers will be $13/hourly, capping at $15/year in 2022. Continue reading

A federal judge in California declined to compel ridesharing company Uber to reclassify its drivers as employees, rejecting plaintiffs’ claims that the alleged misclassification of workers adversely impacts the state of valuable tax dollars due to public assistance spending for low wage workers. Los Angeles employee misclassification lawyer

Plaintiffs filed the motion for injunction by asserting it would benefit the general public. In an 18-page ruling in Colopy v. Uber Technologies Inc., the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California declined to treat the motion as a “public injunction,” finding the case’s primary plaintiff, is seeking a private injunction, not a public one. He noted the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals tends to disfavor class-wide injunctions in such cases, particularly where no certification has been awarded to the class. Further, he pointed out that many of Uber’s drivers in California had signed arbitration agreements upon employment, meaning most of the drivers in question wouldn’t be entitled to such relief anyway.

Plaintiff employment attorney argued the technology firm impacts not only its own drivers but the industry as a whole, thus negatively affecting a large number of workers by depriving them of employment rights as spelled out in the state’s labor code. Defendant lawyers meanwhile argued an injunction wasn’t needed because drivers would still have the ability to obtain damages for statutory violations after the resolution of the case. A preliminary injunction that would force the company to switch up its entire business model should be considered “extraordinary,” they argued. Continue reading

In what is believed to be the highest damage award ever in a California employment lawsuit, a billionaire defendant/Hollywood executive/hologram entrepreneur/heir to Coca-Cola to pay a former employee $50 million in damages after jurors found him liable for battery, sexual battery and sexual harassment.Los Angeles sexual harassment lawyer

The ruling is the third verdict this year in which the defendant, Alki David, has been accused of repeated acts of sexual harassment and sexual violence against former employees. Two other cases are pending.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the latest verdict brings the total amount of compensation David must pay to previous employees to $74 million. In the most recent case, plaintiff was a production assistant who worked for defendant. He reportedly thrust his pelvis into her face, simulated oral sex, moaned and then zipped up his pants before thanking her as he walked away. Continue reading

The Los Angeles technology company perhaps best known for its launch of video game League of Legends, has agreed to settle the California class action gender discrimination lawsuit for $10 million. The settlement, which is still pending court approval, will apply to roughly 1,000 women who worked at Riot Games between November 2014 and the date the settlement is finalized. Each employee’s exact cut will depend on how long they worked for the company and whether they were an employee or independent contractor. Los Angeles gender discrimination lawyers

Our Los Angeles gender discrimination lawyers understand the workers sued Riot Games, the $1.6 billion company owned by Chinese firm Tencent, alleged violations of the California Equal Pay Act as well as pervasive sexual harassment and gender discrimination.

The lawsuit was filed after a series of in-depth investigations, starting with a piece from gaming website Kotaku. Continue reading

A group of California freelance journalists are suing the state over an independent contractor law that goes into effect Jan. 1, 2020, alleging it threatens free speech as well as their livelihood by requiring anyone who submits more than 35 pieces of content annually for a company to be considered an employee. In response, some companies like VOX Media have laid off workers en masse – or blacklisting California writers to hire those in other states. California employee misclassification lawyer

Plaintiffs in American Society of Journalists and Authros v. Becerra assert that AB5 was drafted with the mindset that most writers and reporters are working in the traditional newspaper print model. The reality today is most journalists and producers of content are working in the digital realm, which operates quite differently.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), the driving force behind AB5, said that while she sympathizes with legitimate freelancers who may have lost substantial income as a result of this measure, she likened media corporations that exploit workers to vultures. In other words, these weren’t good jobs anyway.

In fact, as our Los Angeles wage and hour lawyers know, some of these companies were already facing litigation for alleged employee misclassification. In one case, a writer who worked as a “site manager” for Deadspin wrote five articles weekly, managed other writers, policed the comment section and took directives from the media company’s management. For all this, she was compensated $125 monthly, which breaks down to about $6-an-hour – well below the minimum wage. But as an “independent contractor,” she wasn’t entitled to minimum wage. The reality is this kind of arrangement was probably illegal under existing employment law. AB5 makes it easier to hold these businesses accountable, and it’s not even the first of its kind in the country. Continue reading

As an employee in California, you have rights under both state and federal law that protect you from harassment and discrimination based on your belonging to a protected classification. For example, if you are a woman paid substantially less than male colleagues doing the same work, that’s a form of gender discrimination on the basis of sex – a protected class. Los Angeles employment lawyer

In fielding hundreds of inquiries over the years from California workers whose rights are being violated on-the-job, our Los Angeles employment attorneys want to ensure as many people as possible understand what exactly harassment, discrimination and retaliation is and how to best address it.

What is Workplace Discrimination? 

Discrimination is adverse treatment by an employer against workers who fall into a protected class. California employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees on the basis of:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Gender (including pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions)
  • Disability
  • Age
  • Citizenship status
  • Genetic information
  • Marital status
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity/expression
  • AIDS/HIV
  • Military/veteran status
  • Status as a victim of domestic violence, stalking or assault

This is much more extensive than the federal law, and some cities in California have their own rules that extend protections even further. Continue reading

Healthcare workers face an out-sized risk of physical harm on-the-job. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration reports that more than 75 percent of the 25,000 workplace assaults that occur annually in the U.S. occur in settings like hospitals, nursing homes and other social service settings. On average, health care workers are 20 times more likely to be injured in an act of workplace violence than other types of employees. The American Nurses Association reports 1 in 4 nurses has been physically assaulted by either a patient or a patient’s family member.healthcare worker violence protection

This was the basis for the introduction of H.R. 1309, the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act. The measure passed with notable bipartisan support in the House of Representatives (251-158). If passed, it would usher in the healthcare workplace violence prevention standards that already exist in California on a national level. However, it still has to make it through the Senate, and even if it does, officials with the Trump White House have said the president would veto it as written.

The American Hospital Association opposes the bill, with the executive vice president saying federal interests should instead be more focused on “research to identify best practices for different workplace settings and circumstances.” That information should then be disseminated to health care facilities to adopt as necessary, rather than requiring “a one-size-fits-all approach.”

However, the measure is strongly supported by numerous health care worker labor unions. Continue reading

How much leeway should religious schools have under the ministerial exception when it comes to hiring and firing teachers whose beliefs don’t align with a church’s? The U.S. Supreme Court has said it will review a federal appellate court’s ruling that would allow two California teachers’ claims of workplace discrimination to move forward. workplace discrimination

Front and center will likely be the landmark 2012 case of Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Employment Opportunity Division. The SCOTUS ruled that the free exercise and establishment clauses of the First Amendment prohibit legal claims against church bodies by their employees who carry out “essential religious functions.” The ministerial exception is supposed to protect church decisions about its leadership from improper governmental influence under the 1st Amendment.

Plaintiff alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act after taking leave to treat her narcolepsy. She was fired for reported insubordination. The line between “minister” and others wasn’t clearly defined, but plaintiff did teach religion and led religious ceremonies. Thus, the court held, the ministerial exemption applied. Continue reading