Articles Tagged with Los Angeles employment attorney

Traveling nurses have long been relied upon to help fill gaps in healthcare demands. During the pandemic, traveling nurses were a life raft to hospitals who were swimming against the tide and trying to remain afloat. But now that the worst of the pandemic has subsided, we’re seeing a growing number of California labor law violations and contract breaches involving traveling nurse agencies and the hospitals that use them. Nurses say agencies have dangled carrots of huge sign-on bonuses, substantial hourly rates, and monthly living expense stipends – only to slash these payments mid-contract due to tapering demand.travel nurse pay disputes

Further complicating matters is the unique way these employment arrangements are structured: It’s the travel agency that’s technically the employer, but it’s the hospital that has control over the schedule, the assignments, the uniforms, the breaks, how the work must be done, etc. As our Los Angeles employment lawyers can explain, this level of control is the basis of some employment lawsuits by traveling nurses that seek to hold both the agency and the health care facility responsible.

Over the last year or so, we’ve seen a growing chorus of travel nurses alleging a “bait-and-switch” by the agencies that hire them. The agencies say they have no control over employment demands at hospitals, and have no choice but to cut hours if the need for nurses declines during a contract. Hospitals, citing their lack of a direct contract with nurses, say they shouldn’t be a part of any employment disputes.

Our Los Angeles employment lawyers have seen a few cases coming down the pipeline – in California, as well as other states, and so far, it seems that in disputes among these nurses, staffing agencies, and hospitals, rulings have leaned in favor of the nurses.

For example, last summer, the California Supreme Court ruled in an employment lawsuit of Grande v. Eisenhower Medical Center that a hospital and a nurse staffing agency had no privity between them. We wrote about this case several months ago on our California employment lawyer blog. Privity is when two or more parties in contract with each other are bound by that contract and obligated to each other in some way. A lack of privity in employment litigation means that two entities can be considered separate employers of the same worker. In the Grande case, the nurse settled her employment lawsuit against the staffing agency, but thanks to the state high court ruling, she was also free to pursue additional remedy directly against the hospital. Although her contract technically was with the staffing agency, the hospital maintained control over shift assignments and required nurses to use its own time and attendance system. The hospital argued it should be precluded from litigation because of its contract with the staffing agency. But the California Supreme Court ruled there was no privity because the staffing agency and the hospital had two different legal interests. Continue Reading ›

A number of new California employment laws are aimed at imposing greater employer responsibility to prevent workplace bias, including explicitly barring discrimination for off-the-clock use of cannabis and being more transparent when it comes to employee pay. Los Angeles employment lawyer

As a Los Angeles employment attorney, I’m here to assist and advise individuals who have been subject to workplace discrimination, harassment, retaliation, or wrongful termination. These new laws means there are higher compliance expectations for employers to ensure pay equity, reduce wage theft, and reduce retaliation.

Pay Transparency

When it comes to enforcement of California’s AB5, the labor law intended to crack down on employee misclassification, private litigation may play a big role – particularly in the trucking sector. California employee misclassification

As our Los Angeles employee misclassification lawyers can explain, AB5 laid out very clear stipulations for who is an independent contractor versus who is an employee. This distinction matters because employees are entitled to a number of important benefits that independent contractors are not. These include things like minimum and overtime wages, meal and rest breaks, workers’ compensation coverage, and more.

For many years, employers have skirted their responsibilities to employees by improperly labeling them as “independent contractors” when in fact their duties and the degree of control exercised by the company more accurately denoted an employee-employer relationship. AB5 seeks to rectify this – but it’s not been without its controversies – particularly in the transportation sector. In previous legal challenges of the bill, the trucking industry had managed to avoid being lumped in with other companies where AB5 was concerned. However, that ended with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling declining to hear an appeal on an appellate court ruling that paved the way for implementation of AB5 in the trucking sector.

FreightWaves reported recently on a TransForce webinar that examined a potential two-check system for trucking companies to be compliant with AB5: One that involves regulatory crackdowns directly from the California Division of Labor Enforcement Standards and the other that involves bottom-up enforcement in the form of private employment lawsuits filed under the state’s Private Attorney General Act. For those unfamiliar, this nearly 20-year-old statute gives employees the authority to sue their employers as a substitute for action by either a regulator or attorney general. In essence, private citizens are able to pursue the California employment law cases that neither the state’s attorney general nor regulators want to take up themselves. Continue Reading ›

When considering whether to file a California employment lawsuit, one of the first questions raised is often, “How much does it cost to hire an employment lawyer?” employment attorney Los Angeles

There are a lot of factors that go into the final answer to this question, but it’s important to understand that at least at the outset of the case, you pay nothing. As outlined by the California Bar Association, attorneys fees for employment litigation are arranged on a contingency fee basis.

As a Los Angeles employment lawyer can explain, a contingency fee arrangement stems from a contractual agreement wherein the client agrees to pay the attorney a percentage of the proceeds from the case – if any.

You may have heard the phrase, “You pay nothing unless we win.” That refers to a contingency fee arrangement. The “nothing” referred to there is with regard to attorney’s fees. Depending on the circumstances, plaintiffs may still be responsible for certain things like witness fees, court fees, payments for copies, and some other expenses, regardless of the case outcome, but attorney’s fees are where the bulk of a plaintiff’s costs would be in a civil case. Waiving those fees in the event the case is not won serves on two fronts: It prevents attorneys from taking up frivolous (unlikely to win) claims, and it evens the accessibility playing field when it comes to taking strong claims to court.

Think about it: If a former fast food employee filing a wage theft claim had to pay the same upfront legal fees that the corporate defendant is likely paying, they’d never get their foot past the front door of the courthouse. Contingency fee arrangements provide strong incentives for plaintiff attorneys to level with prospective clients about the veracity and value of their potential case. Such arrangements also allow those less economically advantaged to have the same opportunity to seek justice as anyone else. Continue Reading ›

Summer is the season for vacations. But as a Los Angeles employment lawyer, I see many mistakes employers make with regard to vacation policies. I’m referring not just to poorly-planned or problematic policies, but ones that may potentially run afoul of the law. Los Angeles employment lawyer

As the California Department of Industrial Relations points out, there is no law that requires employers to provide workers with vacation time – paid or unpaid. However, if the employer does have a vacation police, agreement, or practice to provide paid vacation, then there are certain restrictions that apply with regard to how the employer must implement it. (One might wonder, then, why employers provide it at all – and it comes down to the fact that it’s an expectation that many prospective employees have. Companies would have a tough time recruiting good workers if they offered no vacation time at all. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 90 percent of full-time employees in private industry receive some amount of paid vacation.)

As employees are cashing in this summer on their pre-scheduled vacation time, here are some things they – and their employers – should keep in mind.

A fair share of California employment lawsuits stem from employers’ failure to pay fair wages – including minimum wage. As a Los Angeles employment lawyer, I can affirm that failure to pay the state’s minimum wage ends up costing employers far more in the long-run. This is why it’s important to point out that California’s minimum wage rates are about to increase. Los Angeles employment attorney minimum wage

As recently confirmed by the California Department of Finance, the state is increasing the minimum wage for all employers by 3.5 percent to 10 percent to keep pace with inflation. that means statewide, minimum wage is going to increase from $15 hourly for employers with 26-or-more employees (which was set January 1st, 2022) to $15.50 hourly, which will become effective January 1st, 2023.

It’s important to note that this is applicable to all employers regardless of size. That’s a notable deviation from previous California minimum wage increases, which had been separated by employers with 26 or more employees and those with 25 or fewer. That means this increase will be particularly impactful for smaller businesses, whose minimum wage was set to $14 hourly at the start of this year. They, just like larger companies, are going to be expected to increase the minimum wages to $15.50. For them, this is a 10 percent wage increase.

It should be noted, however, that with this increase in the state minimum wage also comes a corresponding raise in the minimum salary that is required for a work to be qualified as “exempt” under so-called “white collar exemptions.” (These are especially impactful when it comes time to paying time-and-a-half for overtime. Salaried employees are exempt from this, but as a Los Angeles employment attorney, I have seen far too many cases of employees being wrongly classified as exempt.) In order to be exempt, the employee must:

  • Perform specified duties in a particular manner.
  • Be paid a monthly salary that is no less than two times the state minimum wage for full-time employment.
  • As of Jan. 1, 2023, to qualify for a white collar exemption requires the employee to earn an annual salary of $64,480 (or $1,240 weekly).
  • Employee spends more than 50 percent of their time performing exempt duties.
  • Salary of exempt employees is guaranteed, and cannot be reduced for quality or quantity of work.

The proof burden for establishing that employee should be classified as exempt is on the employer, as established in the 1999 ruling of Ramirez v. Yosemite Water Co. Continue Reading ›

A California misclassification lawsuit was recently settled for nearly $16 million. The case involved hundreds of franchisees for an Ohio-based tool company, which was accused of wrongly classifying employee distributors as independent contractors. The business model include selling the company’s tools at wholesale costs ,to be sold to consumers at retail prices. California employee misclassification lawyer

The class action litigation accused the employer of signing franchise agreements in California mobile stores. By wrongly classifying these entities as contractors, the employees were denied proper reimbursement for business expenses, paid overtime, meal and rest breaks, and accurate wage statements. The California labor lawsuit was filed last year, with the primary plaintiff alleging he worked approximately 20 hours of overtime weekly. The franchise agreement also reportedly required distributors to pay the tool company an initial fee, distribute only approved tools from the company’s brand using its own system, attend distributor training programs (while paying their own costs associated with this training), lease/purchase a branded truck from the company, wear the tool company’s branded uniforms, and operate their branded truck only within a company-identified territory.

Despite holding this tight control over the workers, the company insisted they were independent contractors. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California disagreed, recently approving a settlement in Fleming v. Matco Tools Corp. that grants each class member $35,000 in cash. Those eligible for debt relief may be entitled to approximately $42,000 each.

Employee v. Independent Contractor: What is the Difference in California?

There are many reasons why a company would have motivation to label a worker as an independent contractor versus an employee – most of them financial. While workers are entitled to minimum wages, overtime pay protections, travel reimbursement costs, and breaks, independent contractors are pretty much left to cover these things on their own. Companies don’t have to pay workers’ compensation insurance or unemployment insurance for independent contractors – but they do for employees.

Employees receive critical protections and benefits – which is why misclassification is such a big problem. California law skews heavily in favor of the presumption of an employee-employer relationship. Continue Reading ›

It’s been more than two years since the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered many offices. For many white-collar workers, that has meant getting creative with office space – in cramped basements and cluttered bedrooms. It has also meant carving out new social norms between employees and employers. One of those involves the blurred lines when it comes to reimbursement for work-related expenses while working from home. As Los Angeles employment lawyers, we’ve noted an increasing number of up-and-coming California employment lawsuits are focused on this front. Los Angeles employment lawyer

Recently, the Los Angeles Times reported on this phenomenon, saying there are dozens of pending cases in Southern California stemming from incidents like:

  • Unpaid, work-related telephone and internet fees.
  • Extra energy needed to head/cool a home during business hours.
  • Office supply needs that were previously picked up by the employer.

For the average worker, it can all add up to between $50 and $200 monthly in extra expenses. That may not sound like a lot, but compounded by the number of workers at home, and companies that saw some significant savings due to work-from-home may now need to pay the piper. If we take that same average employee and compile the total amount of they’ve incurred in expenses due to the work-from-home arrangement, the Times anticipates it’s somewhere around $5,000 each.

In addition to these types of expenses, some workers are seeking reimbursement for lost rental revenue. That is, they allege they have lost out on rental income opportunities because they had to utilize their home office space for their own employment.

We recognize that while work-from-home has been an option for some individuals long before the pandemic, many companies were thrust into the arrangement suddenly, and with little blue print of how all the particulars were going to work. When presented with evidence that their employees are being underpaid, some companies will simply ask for the bill and cover it. Others may take a little more persuasion, but it does appear that at least half of these lawsuits are being settled pre-trial – with terms favorable to plaintiff employees. Continue Reading ›

A California landmark law requiring benchmark levels of racial, ethnic, and LGBT diversity on corporate boards was ruled unconstitutional by a Los Angeles court. Los Angeles employment lawyer

The lawsuit, filed by the conservative legal group Judicial Watch, alleged that the state law, signed last year, violated California’s constitutional equal protection clause. The law compelled the corporate boards of any publicly-traded company with main executive offices in California to have at least one member from an underrepresented community. In this case, “underrepresented” was defined as someone who is Black, Latino, Asian, Native American, Pacific Islander, or LGBT.

The Los Angeles Superior Court did not explain its reasoning in declaring the law unconstitutional.

Attorneys for the state argued that the law did not discriminate against or grant preferential treatment to any group or individual on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin. Rather, companies were required to include at least one board member of an underrepresented community (if they did not already have one) or add a seat that included one. Boards with 4-9 directors were required to have at least two members of underrepresented communities. Three would be required for boards with 10 or more. Companies that failed to comply with the law could face fines of anywhere from $100,000 to $300,000.

A report issued earlier this year by the secretary of state revealed that less than half (300 of 700) companies were in compliance. However, about 50 percent of boards never submitted a disclosure statement, so it may well have been more.

However, as our Los Angeles employment attorneys can explain, no company was ever actually fined and no tax money was ever spent enforcing the law. Perhaps part of the reason is that it was always expected to face challenges. Yet when the law was passed, in the wake of the May 2020 murder of George Floyd by police in Minnesota, many companies issued statements indicating support for and commitment to diversity among their ranks. Few actually followed through. Continue Reading ›

Fitness equipment and media company Peloton is accused of wage and hour violations in a California employment lawsuit, a proposed class action that was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court and which the company is trying to have removed to federal court.

The complaint was filed shortly after the 1st of the year and alleges Peloton violated numerous elements of the California Labor Code due to failure to pay fair wages and issuing inaccurate wage statements. Peloton employment lawsuit

As our Los Angeles employment attorneys understand it, the plaintiff was a hourly, non-exempt sales associate for about 6 years. He alleges the company denied him fair wages and other benefits during those six years.

More specifically, the nine-count complaint alleges: Continue Reading ›

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