Articles Tagged with employment attorney Los Angeles

A former human resources employee of Amazon not only won $300,000 in a California employment lawsuit alleging disparate treatment, she was also awarded $2 million in attorneys’ fees.Los Angeles employment lawyer

The Orange County Register reports the Los Angeles Superior Court granted the 34-year-old plaintiff nearly $2.5 million in attorneys’ fees in a hearing following a favorable verdict in October on claims of wrongful termination, retaliation, failure to engage in the interactive process, and violation of the California Family Rights Act. (She did not prevail on other claims for disability discrimination and pregnancy discrimination.) The attorneys’ fees awarded are about $1 million less than what plaintiff’s lawyers sought, but far more than the $630,000 defense lawyers argued they should receive.

According to court records, plaintiff testified during the trial that her bosses at an Amazon Fresh facility in Southern California were initially supportive when she asked for accommodations to help her get through pregnancy-related bouts of nausea and morning sickness. However, when she asked for additional coaching that would allow her to be more effective, they became less receptive and ultimately shut her down.

Plaintiff was pregnant with her third child, and “didn’t want to be labeled a complainer” – or especially to lose her job.

Attorneys for her former employer argued that plaintiff arbitrarily – and systematically – began not showing up to work after announcing her pregnancy three months after being hired. Her supervisors alleged she missed 20 days over a six-month period, though she allegedly never sought permission and, in some cases, failed to tell her supervisors or co-workers that she wouldn’t be there.

Plaintiff, who is from Santa Ana, reportedly asked for severance – and then rejected it and chose not to work – after she was informed there would be an investigation into her conduct, defense lawyers said.

Plaintiff, however, maintains she powered through months of nausea and back pain during her commute to show up for work every day – yet was fired just days before she was scheduled to take her maternity leave. This was despite her bosses saying they would support her working from home, noting she could carry out the same tasks on a laptop at home as she normally did at the office. The only thing she’d really miss out on was in-person meetings, but the communication systems in place at Amazon made it easy for her to still participate – and help employees as she normally did, while still working remotely.

However, when she returned from taking some medical leave, her boss reportedly seemed upset with the frequency of her medical appointments. The boss urged yoga and positivity – but seemed reticent to accommodate doctor visits. He also questioned whether she was even legally entitled to the amount of maternity leave she planned to take. Then, days before she was scheduled to begin her maternity leave, she was fired.

Now, she has not only prevailed in her California employment lawsuit, but has been awarded attorney’s fees as well.

When Are Employment Lawsuit Defendants Responsible for Attorneys’ Fees?

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Late last year, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) announced there would be a ramped-up effort to identify and address violations of the state’s so-called “ban-the-box” law, more formally known as the Fair Chance Act. The statute was enacted four years ago as an amendment to the state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, and bars employers with five or more employees from directly or indirectly asking about, seeking disclosure of, or even considering the conviction history of an applicant until after the applicant is extended a conditional job offer. This includes asking questions about it on job applications (typically a yes-no question with boxes that can be checked – hence the “ban the box” language). Los Angeles employment lawyer

The law also does not allow employers to indicate on their job listings that they won’t consider job applicants with criminal history. If you see a job advertisement in California with language like, “Must have a clean record,” or “No felons,” it probably violates the ban the box law.

Despite the well-publicized passage of this statute, state regulators continue find non-compliant advertisements and other hiring materials, particularly online. In fact, the DFEH reported that in just one day spent reviewing online job ads with technology designed to facilitate mass searches. In that single day, the agency uncovered more than 500 ads containing illegal statements, indicating job seekers with criminal backgrounds wouldn’t be considered. The agency apparently decided against penalizing the offending employers, and instead issued notices of violations and warnings to remove the unlawful portions of their ads.

As our Los Angeles employment lawyers can explain, the legal consequences for failure to comply with the Fair Chance Act can include not only the remedies pursued by FEHA, but compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorney’s fees from the prospective employees adversely impacted.

California Ban the Box FAQ

California’s ban the box law is commonly misunderstood by job applicants and employers alike. The law is intended to give ex-offenders a chance to have a prospective employer review their application based on their qualifications, without simply being automatically disqualified because they have a criminal record. It became effective Jan. 1, 2018. Continue Reading ›

In a case believed to be the first brought under the California CROWN Act, a Black job applicant alleges he was racially discriminated against by an employer on the basis of his hair. Los Angeles racial discrimination employment attorney

As our Los Angeles employment attorneys can explain, the CROWN Act stands for Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for natural Hair. It prohibits the use of grooming policies that disproportionately impact Black individuals. Examples include requirements banning locks and afros. Specifically, it amends provisions of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and the California Education Code to expand how discrimination on the basis of race is defined to expressly include unfair treatment on  the basis of traits historically associated with race. That includes certain hair textures, as well as hairstyles used to protect Black hair, such as braids, Afros, twists and locks.

California was the first state to pass the CROWN Act, which went into effect in January 2020, but at least 12 others have followed. The San Diego Union Times reports this is the first CROWN Act lawsuit filed in California since the statue was passed.

Company Calls Alleged CROWN Act Violation a “Miscommunication”

At issue in this case is a Black job applicant who’d recently moved to Southern California from Florida to further his audiovisual field career. He’d been working at an Orlando branch of the Illinois-based event management firm for four years when he was furloughed in the spring of 2020 due to the pandemic. When he was invited to return to work, a strong recommendation from his boss gave him confidence he’d be able to maintain his same position as a tech supervisor, only in San Diego instead of Orlando. He was told the transition should be “no problem.”

His interview went well, up until the end, when dress code was discussed. He’d expected that having client-facing duties, he’d be required to remove his ear gauges and trim his facial hair. He was not expecting to be told he’d have to cut his hair. Plaintiff, whose hair was in locks, was told he’d have to cut it so that it was off the ears, eyes, and shoulders. He was told he would not be allowed to simply tie it back, away from his face.

Stunned, plaintiff told them it was “a deal-breaker.” Continue Reading ›

A longtime employee of Sea World in San Diego alleges she was not only wrongfully terminated, but that she provided more than four decades of unpaid overtime with the company’s full knowledge. As experienced Los Angeles employment lawyers, we recognize that even with full proof of these facts, plaintiff may not be able to collect compensation for unpaid overtime beyond what she was shortchanged in the last three – possibly four – years. That’s not to say evidence of it can’t be submitted to the court to illustrate a long and intentional pattern. However, the California statute of limitations on employment claims is generally just three years. In some cases, you may have even less time to take action. wage and hour law statute of limitations California

“Wage and hour” is the shorthand we use for legal actions pertaining to an employer’s responsibility to fairly compensate workers for wages, meal breaks, rest breaks, reimbursement of expenses, proper recordkeeping and other basic benefits outlined in California statute.

Per Code of Civil Procedure 338 CCP, the statute of limitations for wage and hour lawsuits is three (3) years from the date when the most recent violation occurred. That said, you may be able to “reach back” possibly as far back as four (4) years for things like unpaid wages, interest and other kinds of valuable penalties imposed by law. This extended reach back provision is applicable when you include a claim under the state’s Unfair Competition law, as outlined in the state’s Business & Professions Code, section 17208.

An attorney will be able to tell you exactly how much time you have left to pursue a California wage and hour claim, but it’s usually better not to delay if possible.

Note: Claims of California employment discrimination were only recently extended to the three-year window. Previously, the window of time was even narrower (one year from termination – or the end of alleged discriminatory conduct). AB 9, which went into effect in January 2020, extended the amount of time employees had to file charges of discrimination with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing to three years. The new law allows is six times longer than requirements under federal law. Specifically, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) requires that anti-discrimination claims be filed within 180 calendar days from the day the discrimination took place. This is extended to 300 days if a state/local agency enforces a law prohibiting employment discrimination on the same basis. (There are slightly different rules for age discrimination, which is not extended if it is only local – not state – law that bars age discrimination.)  Continue Reading ›

Racial discrimination at California workplaces can be grounds for employment litigation. Recently, according to The Los Angeles Times, numerous current and former workers for the City of Long Beach alleged they have been victimized for years by systemic racial prejudice at work.racial discrimination lawyer

Among the allegations set forth in the class action lawsuit against the city:

  • Black workers were reportedly kept disproportionately in lower-paying and unclassified positions.
  • Black workers not given equal pay or equal opportunity for promotion.
  • One worker told she was part of her department’s “problem children.”
  • One worker’s raise was revoked because of a purported mistake in salary calculations.
  • An “anti-black culture” within numerous city departments.

They allege that these actions individually and collectively contributed to a hostile work environment and held them back in their careers. One of those involved said Black workers for the city had been meeting privately for years, discussing their difficulties and trying to find a way forward.

A 2018 report commissioned by the city revealed 65 percent of Black workers in the city were paid less than $60,000 a year, compared with about one-third of the city’s White workers in the same pay range. While 9 percent of Black applicants who sought work in the city were hired, 33 percent of White applicants were hired.

The class action litigation currently names five plaintiffs, but employment attorneys in the case say as many as 1,000 could ultimately claim damages. Continue Reading ›

A number of new California employment laws will go into effect in January 2021. Employers should keep abreast of their responsibilities, while workers should maintain an understanding of their rights. Here, our Los Angeles employment attorneys break down some of the most impactful new measures pertaining to employee leave, pay, discrimination and classification.Los Angeles employment lawyer

AB 2399 – Paid Family Leave for Active Military Duty. This bill, signed in September and effective Jan. 1, 2020, extends the definition of Paid Family Leave under the state’s Unemployment Insurance Code to include coverage for active military members and their families. Previously, the state’s Paid Family Leave Program provides wage replacement benefits for workers who need to take time off to care for a seriously ill immediate family member or to bond with a new child right after birth or adoption. Now, the law allows for a qualifying exigency related to the active duty or call to active duty of one’s spouse, domestic partner, child or parent in the U.S. Armed Forces. Continue Reading ›

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