Articles Tagged with employment attorney

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 ›

California may see an increase in workplace retaliation claims since Assembly Bill 749 , which bans no-rehire clauses with limited exception in employment dispute settlements, was enacted this month. Los Angeles employment attorney

Prior to the passage of this bill, it was common practice for companies to settle discrimination or harassment claims with employees with a settlement that included a no-rehire clause. These provisions can vary in scope, but usually indicated that any future application for employment by that person wouldn’t be considered, and if the worker was hired by chance, he or she would be terminated automatically.

The California Chamber of Commerce had argued the law wasn’t necessary because there were already existing laws against overly-broad no-rehire clauses (specifically, Business and Professional Code section 16600).

The new law, codified in the California Code of Civil Procedure section 1002.5, indicates that no agreement to settle an employment dispute should contain any provision that prohibits, prevents or otherwise restricts an aggrieved person who is settling from obtaining future employment with that employer or any parent company, division, affiliate, subsidiary or contractor. Companies can include no-rehire provisions in cases where the company made a good faith determination that the person signing committed sexual harassment or sexual assault OR where there was a legitimate (i.e., non-discriminatory, non-retaliatory) reason for firing that person. There is also an exclusion for severance agreements. 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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A federal court in Pennsylvania recently ruled that a nuclear power plant did not violate public policy by firing an employee who tested positive for alcohol at work. The plaintiff in Bennett v. Talen Energy Corp. argued that he was not given an opportunity to participate in the Employee Assistance Program, which offers help with personal problems (including substance abuse), even though that option had been given to other employees after their first violation. wrongful termination attorney

The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania ruled firstly that in that state (just as in California), employers have virtually unfettered right to terminate workers without cause because it’s an “at-will” employment state. However, barring a claim of discrimination or some whistleblower activity, the only cause of action plaintiff would have had here would be violation of public policy. Plaintiff argued the firing violated the public policy that encourages workers to get help for alcohol and substance abuse problems. The court, however, found that public policy exceptions to at-will employment in a situation like this would be extremely limited, and this case didn’t fit any of the previous case law exceptions. In other words, there is no rule or regulation the company violated by firing the employee for being drunk at work, even if it was a first offense.

This is in line with previous court decisions in similar cases. In 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit ruled that while alcoholism and drug addiction can be considered disabilities under the American Disabilities Act, that doesn’t mean the employee can’t be fired for being drunk at work. What the ADA requires is that workers be given time off for treatment. What it does not mandate is that employers tolerate workers under the influence of alcohol or drugs on-the-job or that they allow workers to use on-the-clock. Continue Reading ›

Companies in California can no longer force workers as a condition of employment to sign away their right to have claims of discrimination, unfair pay or harassment resolved in a court of law as opposed to an arbitrator. There are a few exceptions, but the sweeping effect of  AB-51, signed into law by Gov Gavin Newsom, will have a significant impact on the landscape of future employment litigation in California.workplace arbitration agreements

As our Los Angeles employment attorneys can explain, mandatory employee arbitration agreements have had chilling effect when it came to worker rights and employer accountability. Not only are arbitration agreements costly for workers, they tend to end more favorably for employers, class action isn’t an option and it’s all confidential. A company could turn a blind eye to something like sexual harassment for years – and victims would never have the benefit of all the claims that came before them. And what if a worker refused to sign the arbitration agreement? They risked being fired – or never hired in the first place.

This is not to say arbitration has no place at all in resolving employer-employee disputes, but not when workers are forced to sign away their rights or risk giving up their job to someone who will. Continue Reading ›

Employee rest periods and overtime are worker rights guaranteed in California by statute and overseen by regulators at the state’s Department of Industrial Relations. Although there are exceptions, most workers are guaranteed at least 10 minutes of rest for every 10 hours worked and must be paid overtime for every hour worked over 40. The laws are clear, and yet our employment wage and hour lawyers know far too many companies run afoul of them. employee rest breaks

Some large banks in the country have been accused – and made to pay – repeatedly for failures in providing employees with rest breaks or pay overtime as required by law – in California and other states.

Recently, a federal judge in New Jersey approved a $35 million settlement to current and former employees at Wells Fargo & Co. who were made to work unpaid overtime outside normal hours. That lawsuit was initially filed three years ago, with the financial firm’s accused of not paying for all hours worked and/or not paying overtime. Workers were reportedly forced to work off-the-clock in order to meet unrealistic sales targets that would be impossible to achieve in a typical 40-hour workweeks.

That same bank had previously been accused of rest break violations. Continue Reading ›

A groundbreaking California employment bill will overhaul the way workers are designated for the purposes of workers’ compensation, liability, benefits, responsibilities and more. AB5, born of the rise of the so-called “gig economy,” has passed both the state Assembly and the Senate, and Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to sign it. This will change the way California designates who is an employee, who is an independent contractor and the rights and responsibilities associated with each. employee misclassification

The law goes into effect on December 31st – but it’s as if all independent contractors/gig workers magically transform into employees all of the sudden. As our Orange County employment attorneys can explain, what this law does is codify last year’s California Supreme Court ruling in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County.

Essentially, that ruling made it harder for employers to label workers as independent contractors instead of employees. Misclassification of an employee is one of the primary reasons for employment litigation in California.

How AB5 and Dynamex Makes the Contractor v. Employee Call

Both the court case and the new law differentiate employees from independent contractors using a three-part “ABC” test. Continue Reading ›

A federal appellate court has requested the California Supreme Court clear up confusion about the state’s employee meal break and rest break laws, which often lead to wage theft claims. Employment attorneys in Orange County recognize this decision handed down by the court could have a significant impact on both employers and workers in the Golden State. wage and hour lawsuit

According to court records from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Cole v. CRST Van Expedited, Inc., the primary questions the court seeks to answer are:

  • Whether the lack of a formal workplace policy on rest and meal breaks is a violation of state law.
  • Whether an employer’s failure to maintain records of rest and meal breaks results in the rebuttable presumption that they were not provided.

A rebuttable presumption in civil law is when the court assumes something to be true unless it is proven otherwise. An example of a rebuttable presumption in civil litigation would be that a driver in the rear of a rear-end collision is presumed negligent. (In criminal law, the best-recognized rebuttable presumption is that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty.)

In this employment law case, it would mean it could be presumed that meal breaks were not given (due to the lack of records) unless the employer can prove otherwise. Continue Reading ›

Civil claims based on California employment law can be difficult to prove, particularly when they involve a case of alleged harassment, which often boils down to “he-said-she-said.” But whether we’re talking about harassment, wrongful termination or retaliation, plaintiffs will generally bear the proof burden. This is why for so many cases, witness statements prove critical.workplace harassment

One of the reasons witnesses are so essential is that they are, if not wholly unbiased, at least gaining less from the lawsuit than either of the involved parties. This is important in jury trials and even settlement negotiations, when it’s unclear who really has the stronger case.

For instance, plaintiff could argue that he was fired for making safety violations and that the performance-related reasons the company gave for the termination were nothing more than pretext. However, absent some solid proof, your Los Angeles employment attorney is going to need more than your word alone to prove this.

Similarly a restaurant manager’s sexual harassment of a young female waitress may be difficult to prove on her word alone. However, if co-workers attest to seeing it, that helps to substantially bolster the case. Continue Reading ›

Los Angeles employment lawyers have been carefully watching developments in a California workplace retaliation lawsuit that raises new questions about the scope of protections afforded under federal labor laws. This could potentially endanger these protections – not only here in the Golden State, but across the country – if the National Labor Relations Board sides with the construction company employer in the dispute.workplace retaliation

Many employment law attorneys and scholars agree that a core safety net in all labor statutes – state and federal – is the understanding that litigation is a protected activity. This principle forms the foundation of labor laws that prohibit employers from retaliating against employees for filing a lawsuit for things like unlawful discrimination or wage and hour violations.

Relying on New U.S. Supreme Court Precedent

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