Articles Tagged with Los Angeles employment attorney

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 ›

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 ›

A California wage lawsuit has yielded an increase in pay for California’s guest farmworkers and U.S. farmworkers in 2022. Los Angeles employment attorney

The wage increase is based on the USDA’s annual survey findings on farm labor, which are used to ascertain the rate of pay for seasonal, temporary agricultural workers in farms across California and the U.S. through the H-2A program. The H-2A program allows U.S. employers or agents who meet specific regulatory criteria to bring foreign nationals to the U.S. to fulfill seasonal agricultural jobs. Here in California, there are tens of thousands who work in these positions.

Wages for farmworkers are based on the USDA’s yearly analysis of farmworker pay across various regions of the U.S. However as our Orange County wage and hour employment attorneys can explain, this latest wage increase was frozen by former President Donald Trump, who sought to help farmers recover from lost profits and fallow fields following the early 2020 shutdowns of the COVID pandemic. The action would have locked in federal minimum wages for H-2 visa farmworkers, with the intention of saving growers roughly $1.6 billion over the course of a decade. Trump’s freeze was lauded by top agricultural companies, who said the move was critical in keeping their farms running and grocery stores stocked in a situation that otherwise would have significantly disrupted food supply chains.

On the worker side, though, the action was broadly derided. For one thing, growers were boasting significantly higher profit margins. For example, farmers of plants and livestock in Fresno County alone indicated a record year for gross total production, valued at nearly $8 billion. Furthermore, farmworkers were officially designated during the pandemic as essential workers – meaning they risked their lives to work. Farmworkers already are among the lowest paid workers in the U.S.

California alone has over 3,000 certified H-2A slots, accounting for more than 10 percent of these positions nationally. Employers typically offer these workers the absolute bare minimum wage. Those are the workers that are going to benefit from this wage adjustment, which on average nationally is expected to go up 6 percent next year compared to this year’s rates.

Companies that work with H-2A employees are required to pay the state’s minimum wage, but that can’t be lower than the Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR), which is the average wages for crop/livestock workers in a given region. H-2A workers in California earned $14.77 last year. Next year, they’ll be earning $17.51. Continue Reading ›

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