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

It’s hard to imagine in 2018 that women would still be facing discrimination at work for something as basic as pregnancy. The last thing a woman who is about to bring apregnancy discrimination child into the world should have to worry about is whether or not she will be able to support that child when they are born. It is the belief of our legal team that even one woman who fears losing employment due to pregnancy is one woman too many.

That’s why it is shocking to hear the details of a lawsuit filed by U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against a nursing center in North Carolina. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, claims that twice in just over a year’s time (between November 2014 and December 2015) the nursing center refused to accommodate pregnancy-related work restrictions for two certified nursing assistants.

Each woman cited a simple lifting restriction as cause for their request for job accommodations or modifications. And each request was allegedly rejected on the grounds that the center could not accommodate them. Further, the center fired both employees, one after being put on unpaid leave, allegedly as a result of their accommodation requests. Continue reading

One of the best ways workers can shield themselves from discriminatory practices at work is through the use of organized resistance to unscrupulous practices by employers.  When a worker’s rights have been violated, there may be the possibility of taking legal action but many labor unions strive to prevent such violations before they occur.

racial discriminationAccording to a recent news article from People’s World, the Los Angeles chapter of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), has pledged to renew their efforts to form an “inseparable resistance to illegal and otherwise unfair employment practices” committed by various employers in Los Angeles and across California. Continue reading

While many people have the same schedule for work in any given week, this is a luxury most in the Los Angeles retail industry do not enjoy.  According to a recent news article from CBS Los Angeles, a new study from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), finds most retail workers face the difficulties of a constantly shifting schedule and it creates a serious hardship in many aspects of their lives, especially when it comes to arranging for child care.

sexual harassmentWorking in a retail environment often means workers must wait for the next week’s schedule to come out to know what days and hours they will be required to work.  There is often a mechanism for requesting certain times off, but employer’s do not always approve such requests, and even if they do, it is not uncommon for these approved-requests to be completely ignored when putting out a schedule.  This is not only true for those in the retail industry, but also for those in the service industry, such as working at a restaurant. 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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It’s always unfortunate when the trust between an employer and employee is broken. We see it every day in our line of wrongful terminationwork, defending employees whose rights have been violated on the job. It’s doubly hard when an employer chooses to lash out against those who take legal action to protect their rights. The good news is this kind of retaliation is not legal and you are not without options to fight back.

We saw this recently, in Orange County, where the executive assistant of county supervisor Todd Spitzer is suing him for a second time, alleging defamation that followed a wrongful termination in 2016. According to The Orange County Register, the wrongful termination lawsuit was settled last year. Now, plaintiff says her former boss told reporters and other third parties her firing was the result of incompetence, rather than a wage and hour dispute. He further allegedly told these others she refused to take necessary computer classes and implied she could not complete basic computer tasks.

Plaintiff said not only were those statements false, but they are now hurting her ability to find new employment. This spurred the second filing in Superior Court of California, County of Orange. At the time these alleged statements were made, plaintiff says she had already completed several computer classes on her own accord. The lawsuit alleges she even requested an additional computer class, a request which Spitzer rejected shortly before letting her go. It’s worth noting plaintiff worked for the county supervisor for three years by the time of her firing. It would seem one would not survive long in that role absent basic computer knowledge.

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While the #metoo movement is shining a spotlight on sexual harassment and the dark corners of Hollywood, sexual harassmentan increasing number of civil sexual assault cases are being filed, some against former supervisors, co-workers and the institutions that protected them when they owed a duty of care to the victim.

Here in California, one former agent is battling a civil lawsuit filed by a former client alleging sexual battery and sexual harassment. The agent has asked the Los Angeles Superior Court to stay the civil case until the statute of limitations expires on the criminal case, arguing that to proceed and participate in the civil case could result in self-incrimination leading to serious felony charges, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Defendant (through his attorney) vehemently denied the allegations. Of the request to stay, his attorney explained the civil complaint read like criminal charges and  discovery requests made additional claims of criminal behavior, causing concern that testimony during the lawsuit could bring about formal charges.

This underscores the fact that many civil lawsuits may coincide with criminal charges, and while these are two totally separate processes operating independently of another (and sometimes with very different outcomes), there are times when one may have an impact on the other. A good employment law attorney will do everything possible to keep your case moving when that is in your best interests.

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While the Army is preparing dedicated men and women to be brave and strong and defend our country, it does not prepare them for one terrible challenge no one wantsmilitary status discrimination to face: losing their job. Even worse is when military status discrimination is suspected to be the cause of the dismissal.

This brings us to Austin, Texas, home of a nonprofit technology company currently being sued on allegations it wrongfully fired an Army Reservist in 2016 shortly after he returned from fulfilling military obligations as a result of him completing those duties. The U.S. Justice Department, who filed the lawsuit jointly with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas, says this is in direct violation of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. This act, U.S. Code, Chapter 43, Part III, Title 38, states that “a person who … has an obligation to perform service in a uniformed service shall not be denied initial employment, reemployment, retention in employment, promotion, or any benefit of employment by an employer on the basis of that membership, application for membership, performance of service, application for service, or obligation.”

The employee was a lieutenant colonel who had served in the Armed Forces for 22 years. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas, Austin Division, is seeking an amount equal to lost wages and benefits for plaintiff.

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In a climate where claims of sexual harassment are continually coming to the surface and stories of police wrongdoing are constantly in the news, it is refreshing to seesexual harassment people honored who have fought to protect their rights and maintain their values.

The Asbury Park-Neptune Chapter of NAACP in New Jersey recently honored two female members of the local police officers who twice filed lawsuits as a result of sexual harassment and race discrimination they allege was taking place in their police department, according to App. Long before the New York Times‘ Harvey Weinsten expose or the popularity of #MeToo on social media, these two women were standing up when it would have been so much easier to buckle under the pressure.

Their story begins in 2013 when the two reported repeated sexual harassment and discrimination. One of the plaintiffs claim a lewd magnet was stuck to her car and in a separate instance a crass message was place on her car, a vehicle she used to visit the local high school. She also alleges that she was repeatedly not given the resources she needed to properly serve the high school, such as active shooter training and access to a tactical vehicle, both of which were given to a male resource officer for the school. Plaintiffs allege in the lawsuit instances of inappropriate conversations about pornography and personal sex lives, and crude gestures.

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