Articles Tagged with Los Angeles employment lawyer

Two new employment laws in California went into effect Jan. 1, 2023 – one expanding worker protections when a loved one dies, and another expanding existing sick leave laws when caring for a loved one outside of their immediate family circle.California employment law

As our Los Angeles employment lawyers can explain, California has some of the strongest worker rights protections in the country – and these two new statutes are good examples.

Let’s start with Bereavement Leave – or more specifically, Assembly Bill 1949. This is a measure amending the California’s Healthy Workplaces Healthy Families Act to allow workers to take paid bereavement leave, also known as funeral leave or grievance leave.

New California Bereavement Leave Law for Employees

A fair amount of employers in California already offer some type of bereavement leave to their workers as part of their benefits package. Most have a set number of workdays that employees can take off if a loved one dies. Some require that workers first exhaust all their vacation and/or sick days first before they can be permitted to take any additional days for bereavement. Additionally, there are a number of cities throughout the state that require employers operating in those jurisdictions to provide workers with bereavement leave. But these policies are a patchwork of rules, with broad variations on how many days off are permitted, how close in relation the worker must be to the decedent for the worker to claim benefits, how the time must be taken (consecutively, broken up, etc.), and how requests must be made. Smaller employers may not have a set bereavement policy, but rather make determinations on a case-by-case basis.

This new law requires private employers with five (5) or more employees to provide any eligible employees (having worked there at least 30 days) to at least 5 days of bereavement leave upon the death of a family member. Some companies already offer more than this, but any employer who offers fewer days than this will need to amend their policies.

“Family member” in this case can mean: Continue Reading ›

A novel California law that empowers an unelected council to set both wages and working conditions at fast food restaurants is facing fierce opposition from wealthy business and restaurant lobbyists. State labor unions want to protect the law, which they say is the most significant win for organized labor in decades. fast food worker rights

The blowback is primarily coming from national business groups – including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – which are seeking not only to see the law overturned in California, but to block similar movements in other states.

As our Los Angeles employment lawyers can explain, California has positioned itself as a leader in labor rights, particularly over the last few years. Lawmakers here have enacted one worker protection measure after another, and other state union and worker lobbyists have been closely watching these developments, analyzing which may work in their own regions. Political analysts are predicting these measures could soon take root in other states, particularly those majority-controlled by Democrats.

Per the U.S. Department of Labor explains that fast food workers are entitled to:

  • Minimum wage.
  • Overtime protections under the FLSA.
  • Food credits (employers can take credit for food provided at cost, but cannot take credit for discounts given to employees on food menu prices).
  • Special protections if they are minors. Those ages 14-15 can’t work more than 3 hours in a day or 18 hours in a school week. They can’t start work before 7 a.m. or clock out after 7 p.m. They are limited in the types of jobs they can do. Those who are 16 or 17 cannot perform hazardous jobs (primarily in fast food involves meat processing machines, commercial mixers, power-driven bakery machines, but also includes assignments for time-sensitive deliveries). ‘

California’s new law takes these benefits a step further.

Sweeping Protections for California Fast Food Workers

Historically, employees in the fast food industry have been sorely lacking in workplace protections. One recent Harvard study found that California fast food industry workers are on average paid $3 less per hour than workers in similar sector jobs in the state. Further, because of the somewhat unpredictable nature of the industry, many workers involuntarily get part-time schedules.

The Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act (also known as the FAST Recovery Act), was signed by California Governor Gavin Newsom on Labor Day. Sponsors of the law say the goal is to set certain baseline standards for the treatment of fast food workers – about 500,000 in this state alone, many of them women and people of color. These include certain health and safety rules, minimum wage regulations, and enforcement of employer violations. Continue Reading ›

Social media giant Twitter is facing legal action over allegedly laying off more than 950 workers without providing proper notice, as required under the federal and California WARN Act. WARN stands for Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act.California WARN Act

Per the California Department of Industrial Relations, relocations, terminations, and mass layoffs in this state are regulated in Labor Code sections 1400-1408. Generally speaking, most large employers aren’t allowed to order mass layoffs, relocations, or terminations unless the employer provides written notice to employees 60 days prior to the order taking effect. Employers are also required to notify the state’s Employment Development Department. As our Los Angeles employment lawyers can explain, failure to do this can trigger recompense for ex-employees for back pay, the value of any benefits workers may have been entitled to during that time. Companies can obtain an exemption from the law if certain conditions under Labor Code section 1402.5 are met, but that doesn’t appear to have been the case here with Twitter.

Musk’s Rocky Start at Twitter Helm

As it’s been widely-reported, Twitter was recently purchased by Tesla CEO Elon Musk. The acquisition deal had been in the works for months, but was finally sealed Oct. 28th for a $44 billion price tag. At the time, he promised to keep employee benefits and compensation the same.

News soon began to spread that Twitter would begin mass layoffs the first week of November. In an effort to eliminate costs, Twitter axed 50 percent of its workforce, reducing staff by 3,700 positions.

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California, alleges the company initiated layoffs starting Nov. 1st, with several employees saying they were in the first wave of mass layoffs, despite not receiving proper written notice in accordance with state and federal employment law.

Of note: It’s not the first time Musk has been accused of violating WARN laws. Continue Reading ›

Despite the 2016 legalization of recreational cannabis use in California, it continues to be a sticking point where employment law is concerned. An increasing number of employers are turning a blind eye to what workers indulge in outside working hours (if only because good help is increasingly hard to find). But now, workers may have the benefit of state law on their side – if AB 2188 is passed.Los Angeles employment lawyer

As our Los Angeles employment lawyers can explain, there is currently little in the way to protect employees from job policies that prohibit off-the-clock marijuana use. Of course, on-the-clock intoxication is always going to be a big no-no, but proving cannabis intoxication is usually tough, given the length of time marijuana stays in the system/shows up in chemical testing. It’s not like alcohol, which quickly cycles through the body – making a high level of it in blood, breath, or urine samples a strong indicator of recent use/intoxication. Workers employed by companies that require drug testing may find themselves out-of-a-job – even if they never used the substance at work.

AB 2188 would amend the California Fair Employment and Housing Act’s section on employment discrimination, making it an illegal employment practice to discriminate against an employee or respective employee based on their use of cannabis outside of the workplace premises and working hours. The bill would make violation of this provision grounds for a civil employment lawsuit, with remedies similar to that of any other California employment discrimination claim.

Although the bill would add a layer of protection for workers, it would also shield employers who wish to maintain a drug-free work environment. AB 2188 would not protect workers from adverse employment action if they possessed, were impaired by, or used cannabis on-the-job or at the employer’s premises. Workers would not be free to take their weed to work, use it onsite, or show up to work impaired. Continue Reading ›

Several months ago, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a ruling specifying that federal courts could not make up procedural rules that favored arbitration by requiring plaintiffs to prove they were prejudiced (adversely impacted) by a defendant’s decision to compel arbitration after participating in litigation. In other words, as our Los Angeles employment lawyers can explain, companies being sued by a former worker for some employment-related wrongdoing cannot participate in litigation for several months and then turn around and try to move the case to arbitration. In the 9-0 ruling of Morgan v. Sundance, the SCOTUS held that an employer that delays the right to compel arbitration essentially forgoes it. Los Angeles employment lawyer arbitration

Now, a California employment lawsuit will be the first test that in a federal appeals court – specifically, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Armstrong v. Michaels Stores.

In Morgan v. Sundance, the justices overturned a ruling allowing a fast food franchise owner to push an employee’s wage and hour lawsuit into arbitration, despite having participated in litigation for eight months. Now, in the case of Armstrong v. Michaels, the Ninth Circuit is slated to decide whether a federal judge in San Francisco erroneously sent a California wage and hour lawsuit against her craft store employer into arbitration after both parties had engaged in 10 months of litigation.

Our Los Angeles employment lawyers know this case is being carefully watched because it is the first federal appeals court to consider the extent to which the Sundance decision limits companies’ ability to move lawsuits out of open court and into the private arbitration process.

The plaintiff argues that the Sundance ruling substantially alters the legal landscape in cases like these, directly impacting the circumstances under which companies effectively waive their right to arbitrate. The company had the ability to force arbitration early on in the case, but chose not to. The company then participated for nearly a year in litigation before flipping the script and demanding arbitration. She said the company’s delay did prejudice her by causing her to incur costs she otherwise would not have. Further, sending the case to arbitration at this juncture, she said, would force her to relitigate several issues on which she’d already been successful in court. (This, she opined, may have been the main reason the company was pushing for arbitration only now.) Continue Reading ›

Cancer is a condition protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act, a federal law which offers certain protections against employer discrimination. If you’re fired after being diagnosed with cancer in Los Angeles, our employment lawyers are available to help answer your questions and determine your next step. cancer discrimination Los Angeles

Recently, a case of cancer discrimination was reported on by the Fresno Bee, which describes how a land acquisition and development firm is being sued by a former employee who says he was fired from the firm after a cancer diagnosis. The worker alleges he was discriminated against on the basis of his medical condition when he applied for a post at one of the company’s subsidiaries. Soon thereafter, he was fired from the job he held prior to receiving his diagnosis. Now, he alleges disability discrimination, failure to provide reasonable accommodation, wrongful termination, violation of state labor laws, and violation of his rights under the California Family Rights Act.

Plaintiff reportedly started working for the company in 2017 as a maintenance lead technician. He was diagnosed with cancer in the spring of 2021, at which time he began undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. His condition required that he be under the constant supervision of his doctors. Accommodations were initially made for him to take a leave of absence to undergo treatment. During that leave, he applied for a managerial position, for which he believed he was qualified and would have required less physically intensive work. Despite landing a phone interview for the role, his employer never actually called on the day of the interview. Plaintiff speculated this was because of his medical condition.

Per FMLA, plaintiff was eligible for medical leave until end of October 2021, but prior to that, his doctor extended his medical leave through the end of the year. The following month, his employer terminated him, effective mid-October. When he sought a meeting with his supervisors, he was told that he had to be fired, but that if circumstances changed, he *might* be able to be rehired.

The employer is seeking to have the matter resolved via arbitration. Continue Reading ›

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling last month limiting the California state worker protections law. Now, a group of lawyers say the SCOTUS got it wrong, and are imploring the court to hold a rehearing. They are characterizing the ruling in Viking River Cruises v. Moriana as a “gross misinterpretation.”Los Angeles employment lawyer

The attorneys represent the plaintiff in that case, a worker who sued her former employer through the Private Attorneys General Act, a statute that allows employees in California to pursue litigation against their employers on behalf of the state. The company had been late issuing her last paycheck after she quit her job, which she asserted was a violation of the state’s labor law. However, plaintiff and other similarly situated employees were bound by arbitration agreements. Thus, the employer defense argued, a PAGA claim would have been invalid. The U.S. Supreme Court sided with the employer.

Lawyers for the plaintiff believe this was absolutely the wrong call, and want the court to grant a rehearing on the matter. However, as our Los Angeles employment lawyers can explain, such hearings are pretty rare. The majority of justices must agree in order to hold one, so it doesn’t happen often. On the other hand, what makes this case fairly unusual is that the U.S. Supreme Court has consistently held since its founding that it lacks the authority and jurisdiction to issue rulings on matters of state law.

California law with respect to PAGA is pretty straightforward. Attorneys for the plaintiff in Moriana argue that the Court engaged in deliberations on the case without fully grasping what PAGA is and how it works.

The Court had held that PAGA was superseded by federal law that compels private disputes to be resolved through arbitration. The court also said that such claims could be divided into two: One by the individual, and another on behalf of other workers. The Court held that even if a worker could pursue a claim on behalf of other workers, that claim could be nullified if the employer had the right to force them into arbitration. Therefore, with one part of a PAGA claim invalid, the whole thing becomes null and void.

This concept of dividing a PAGA claim in two was a decision the Court apparently reached after oral argument. Neither side was able to respond to this until after the ruling was published. Lawyers for the plaintiff say the ruling represents a “completely new analysis,” with the splitting of PAGA not being a concept on which either party briefed the Court, argued on, or asked about. They say this action is the latest in a string of actions between the conservative majority of the U.S. Supreme Court and the progressive laws and policies of the State of California. Continue Reading ›

California employers have a responsibility to do their best to ensure workplaces are safe, fair, and free of harassment. Failure to do so can result in employment litigation. Los Angeles employment attorney

Here, our Los Angeles employment lawyers detail the top five most common causes of California employment lawsuits.

  • Independent contractor misclassification. There are two basic classifications of workers: Employees and independent contractors. Employees are entitled to a host of key workplace protections, minimum pay requirements, meal/rest break requirements, workers’ compensation insurance, unemployment insurance, anti-discrimination rules, etc. Independent contractors, however, do not have the same protections – because they’re effectively considered their own employees. On the whole, employees are a lot more expensive than independent contractors. Employers have been known to improperly classify employees as independent contractors to avoid the extra expenses. But this is illegal, and employees who have been wrongfully classified, they are entitled to compensation for the wages/benefits they missed out on. The litmus test for determining whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor is the “ABC Test,” adopted by the California Supreme Court in the Dynamex Operations v. Superior Court ruling in 2018. Essentially, it asks whether a worker is free of employee control, performs tasks outside the usual course of the company’s business, and is regularly engaged in an independently-established trade, occupation, or business. If the answer is “yes” to all three, then the individual is likely an independent contractor. Otherwise, they are an employee – entitled to all the same rights and responsibilities. The legal presumption is that the worker is an employee, unless it can be proven otherwise.

Equal pay rights in California are guaranteed under both state and federal laws that promise to protect employees from disparate wages paid on the basis of gender or race.

Recently, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team reached a $22 million proposed settlement in a class action equal pay lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation. The settlement stemmed from a longtime legal dispute filed eight years ago alleging federal equal pay violations by five higher-profile members of the women’s national team. Each said that as a member of the women’s team, they were paid thousands of dollars less than their male counterparts – at virtually every level of the competition. This was followed by a 2019 lawsuit filed by 28 players alleging female players were consistently paid less than their male counterparts – despite consistently showing up the men’s team on field performance. That claim was filed months after the U.S. men’s soccer team failed to qualify for the World Cup, while the women’s team won its second tournament in a row. Amid the chants in the crowd were demands for, “Equal pay!” California equal pay act

In 2020, a federal court dismissed the claim by the women’s team that they were paid less for the same work (among other parts of their claim), finding there were key differences in the contract structurers of the men’s team versus the women’s team. Other aspects of the women’s team claims pertaining to working conditions were settled out-of-court a few months ago. Several of the players then filed an appeal on the equal pay claims, arguing the judge failed to analyze the rates of pay or the fact that women needed to win more often than men to receive the same bonuses. The $22 million settlement is the result of that appeal.

Our Los Angeles equal pay attorneys recognize that the settlement amount was only one-third the amount players initially sought, but it still amounts to a significant victory. It also opens the door to discuss what types of California equal pay claims are valid, and what they can entail.

The California Fair Pay Act

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 ›

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