Articles Tagged with employment attorney

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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California racial discrimination at utility workplaces is the basis for a new employment lawsuit filed by two former employees.California racial discrimination lawsuit

According to ABC-7 News, the two plaintiffs – both attorneys – alleged that despite being in one of the most diverse regions of the state, the company’s legal department hasn’t hired a minority candidate in more than 16 years. It hasn’t hired an African American candidate in more than 22 years, they say.

Plaintiff one said she’d worked at the company nearly two decades when the second plaintiff, a Black woman, interviewed for a position in the company’s legal department. Despite being unanimously ranked as the No. 1 candidate for the position, she was passed over for the job. That prompted the longtime employee to file an internal complaint alleging racial discrimination.

About a year later, the prospective employee was invited to apply again. This time, she was hired. However, during her time at the company, she alleges she was subject to a significant degree of racial discrimination. Among her examples:

  • She was given a heavier work load than other, similarly-situated employees who were white.
  • She was denied equal opportunity to attend training and other employment benefits.
  • She was not given an office, as similarly-situated white colleagues were.
  • Her office supplies came from the junk drawer or even garbage bin, while white employees were given permission to order new supplies.

The impact, she said, was being denied the basic ability to do her job. Continue Reading ›

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act, commonly called FEHA, forbids employers to discriminate against employees or job applicants on the basis of their position in a protected class. Protected classes include race, religion, color, ancestry, national origin, mental disability, physical disability, medical condition, genetic information, gender (including pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or related medical conditions), gender identity, sex, gender expression, sexual orientation, marital status, age (for those 40 and older), or veteran/military status.Riverside employment lawyer

As our Riverside employment attorneys can explain, those who have experienced the adverse impact of workplace discrimination in California can pursue accountability through the civil justice system by filing a lawsuit. Working with an experienced employment law team is essential.

Here, we discuss the basic steps for filing a California employment discrimination lawsuit.

Knowing Whether You Were Discriminated Against

The first step is assessing whether discrimination took place. Employers generally recognize that discrimination can lead to an employment lawsuit, so those who engage in it are often careful to avoid putting anything in writing or saying anything obvious to the job candidate or employee. Most workplace discrimination is subtle. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t signs.

An experienced employment law firm can help you make a case for employment discrimination by showing that certain groups were treated differently than others. It might also be established by showing there was an abrupt alteration in attitude toward an employee once the employer learned of the worker’s status in the protected group. Some indicators of workplace discrimination include: Continue Reading ›

Nondisclosure agreements, sometimes also referred to as confidentiality clauses, are written legal contracts between employers and employees, drafted with the purpose of laying out binding terms and conditions. These can include provisions like prohibitions on disclosing confidential and proprietary information. However, as our Los Angeles employment attorneys can explain, they are too often used in ways that many believe exploit the power imbalance between workers and employers. In some cases, employees have been compelled to sign away their right to pursue claims for wrongdoings like sexual harassment in the workplace. They may also include non-disparagement clauses that prohibit workers from speaking negatively about the company. Where NDAs are found to be overly-broad in scope, they may be deemed unenforceable. employee nondisclosure agreements California

Recently, a California judge ruled that the confidentiality agreements required of Google’s employees were too broad – in violation of the state’s labor laws. The ultimate impact of that decision is more workers and ex-workers may find it easier to speak openly about these firms.

The Washington Post reports the case in question involved a Google employee who took the company to court, arguing the nondisclosure agreement the company asked him to sign blocked him from talking about his job to other potential employers. Effectively, he argued, this amounted to a non-compete clause. Such provisions are unlawful in California. A Superior Court judge sided with the employee on this point, though declined to make a decision on allegations these NDAs also prohibited whistleblowing and worker exchange of wage information – also illegal in California. 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 ›

In a federal appeal involving a class action lawsuit alleging discriminatory medical inquiries and exams as a condition of hiring, the California attorney general has filed an amicus brief decrying these practices and outlining the state’s robust anti-discrimination laws. The AG also noted the possible repercussions – particularly for those with disabilities – if a lower court’s ruling is allowed to apply to all Californians.disability discrimination lawyer Orange County

The lawsuit, pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, alleges that a health care company – one of the biggest providers of occupational health services in the country – unlawfully required applicants to to answer “highly intrusive, non-job-related and discriminatory” questions about their health. These reportedly have included information on prospective applicants’ hair loss, menstrual issues, sexually-transmitted diseases, mental illness, HIV, hemorrhoids and disability status.

Such inquiries, state Attorney General Rob Bonta asserts, run contrary to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and underscore how potentially harmful pre-employment screenings can be.

The lawsuit, Raines v. U.S. Healthworks Medical Group, centers around an employer’s contract with a corporate third-party agent responsible for pre-employment screening. Plaintiffs allege that when they refused to answer certain questions, such as one relating to menstruation, offers of employment were revoked. Continue Reading ›

A restaurant owner and reality television star is facing a class action for California wage theft and meal break violations at the West Hollywood establishment. She and her husband/co-owner are accused of violating numerous state labor laws by failing to pay minimum wage or overtime, refusing to give employees pay stubs, not paying gratuities that were earned and not providing adequate breaks as required by law.Los Angeles wage theft attorney

According to E! News, the plaintiff (filing on behalf of herself and others) alleges that her employers at SUR failed to follow the law for at least one of the last four years. Plaintiff was employed at the upscale establishment for three months, ending in January. While there, she was a hostess, tasked with answering phones, confirming reservations and seating patrons.

This is the second labor lawsuit that has been filed against the owners of SUR in recent months. Late last year, another former employee filed their own class action lawsuit alleging California labor law violations. That worker, a non-exempt employee for three months, was employed not only at SUR but also at the owners’ other restaurants, Tom Tom and Pump Restaurant Lounge. He too alleges that for the last four years, workers were denied minimum wages and overtime, proper meal and rest breaks, accurate wage statements or pay stubs at the end of their employment. Continue Reading ›

As cities and schools across California and the U.S. are preparing to reopen, employers are requiring workers to return to in-person interactions – despite the fact that we are still in the grips of a global pandemic. Further, as Kaiser Health News reports, some employees are being compelled to sign a waiver of liability – agreeing not to sue their employer if they catch COVID-19 or suffer any injury from it while working there. In Irvine, CA, a teacher who refused to sign the waiver was fired within a week. “They said it was my choice to sign the paper, but it wasn’t really my choice. I felt so bullied.” Los Angeles employment lawyer

We encourage employees to discuss their concerns with a Los Angeles employment lawyer before signing any such waiver or if you have been fired as a result of refusing to sign one. Note that last year, California lawmakers passed AB-51, which bars employers from mandating workers or prospective employees sign away their right to pursue legal claims or benefits as a condition of employment. It also forbids employers from terminating any worker who refuses to sign it. That law is being challenged in court by a number of business interest groups, but for now, it stands.

Reports of employers requiring their workers to sign these liability waivers have been sporadic, probably because they know these agreements won’t hold up in court. In addition to AB-51, there is the fact that there is clearly a power imbalance between employers and employees/prospective workers – especially at a time when so many people are unemployed. Continue Reading ›

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that some employees of religious schools, social service centers and hospitals will not be allowed to sue for employment discrimination, due to the ministerial exception. The 7-2 decision (with two liberal justices siding with the conservative majority) pointed to a unanimous ruling eight years ago that found “ministers” could not sue churches for employment discrimination. Los Angeles employment discrimination lawyer

But this ruling not only solidified that previous ruling, it expanded the protections these companies have against nondiscrimination litigation. The ministerial exception holds that the First Amendment protects churches and other religious organizations from government interference in employment decisions of “ministers” because, as Chief Justice John Roberts concluded, that would strip the church over control of those who personify its beliefs. But the question the court didn’t answer in 2012 was who, exactly, was a minister? Here, the majority decided that teachers are among those who can be considered”ministers,” in turn opening the door for countless other employees.

Los Angeles employment discrimination lawyers recognize that this was a significant blow to the hundreds of thousands of employees who work for these organizations (by some estimates, there are more than 300,000 private school teachers alone). Continue Reading ›

Employment discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation and wrongful termination aren’t solely the problem of large corporations. It’s true that the federal discrimination lawsuits against Fortune 500 companies tend to make splashier headlines, especially when they conclude in multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. But small businesses can be just as susceptible to these issues. employment lawsuit

Many small business owners are unprepared when these lawsuits are filed. The fact is that the bulk of litigation filed against businesses of all sizes involves employment disputes. About 40 percent of those are filed against smaller employers, with somewhere between 15 and 100 employees.

Employment lawsuits can more deeply affect a smaller employer, so it’s important for them not only to be insured, but also to be proactive in preventing disputes in the first place. That means knowing the law (including all the new employment laws that were passed in California recently), being sure there are clear policies and procedures in place to address problems and making certain those avenues for resolution are communicated to staff and supervisors. Continue Reading ›

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