Articles Tagged with Los Angeles employment lawyer

A new year on the horizon, there are numerous new California employment laws for workplaces to ensure they follow. These range from expanded family leave to heightened workplace safety rules to minimum wage boosts.

Minimum Wage Increases

For starters, on the very first day of the year, Jan. 1st, the required minimum wage rate in California will be kicked up to $15 hourly among businesses with 26 or more employees. Those with fewer workers will be required to pay at least $14 hourly.Los Angeles employment lawyer

Dozens of California jurisdictions, however, have their own minimum wage requirements. For instance, minimum wage in Los Angeles was already at $15 hourly as of 2021, applicable to anyone who works at least two hours (including remotely) within a one-week period in the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles. In Sonoma, the rate is $16 hourly for large employers. In Los Altos, the minimum wage is increasing next year from $15.65 hourly to $16.40 hourly. In Menlo Park, it’s going up to $15.65 at the start of the year. The employee’s employment status, where they live or where the business is headquartered doesn’t determine whether the minimum wage applies.

A Wage Order is supposed to be placed in a conspicuous spot in every job site, clearly showing both the federal and state minimum wages. Both employers and employees would do well to double check whether any more stringent minimum wage rules apply in their city or county jurisdiction. Where there is a conflict between local, state, or federal minimum wages, employers must pay the rate that is most beneficial to employees.

Note: You cannot waive your right to minimum wages. They are required by law. Continue Reading ›

Fairness and equality are cornerstone ideals in America, but not every employer embodies or enforces them. However, does unfair treatment alone mean you can take legal action against your employer? Los Angeles employment lawyer

As our Los Angeles employment attorneys can explain, the viability of a California employment lawsuit depends on a myriad of factors, including:

  • The exact nature of the adverse action and how substantially you were impacted.
  • Whether the motivation for the adverse action was – in whole or in part – a protected characteristic or activity.
  • The strength of the evidence you have of the employer’s unlawful motivation for the adverse action. (This includes whether others similarly situated were treated the same way or differently.)
  • When these adverse actions were taken.

This is not to say you need to have every single detail in order for your initial consultation with an employment attorney, but it’s a good idea to have basic answers so that your attorney knows where to start.

What Are Protected Characteristics and Actions? 

The simple fact of being slighted at work isn’t necessarily cause for litigation. In general, it must involve certain characteristics or actions that are protected by law.

  • Examples of protected statuses include: Religion, Race, Age (over 40), Disability, Sex, Gender/Gender Identity, Marital Status, Ancestry, Veteran Status, Military Status, Medical Condition, Genetic Information, Color, or Pregnancy/Any Related Condition.
  • Examples of protected activities include: Serving on a jury, Taking necessary family leave, Attending court and/or seeking care as a victim of a crime, Sharing your salary/wage information with others, Participating in a workplace complaint, Taking time off to fulfill first responder duties, Exercising lactation rights, and Whistleblowing.

These aren’t necessarily exhaustive lists; it’s best to consult with an attorney if you aren’t sure whether your unfair treatment was unlawful.

Is All Unfair Workplace Treatment Unlawful?

No, not all unfair workplace treatment in California is against the law. California is an at-will state when it comes to employment law. That means your employer can fire you for almost any reason without consequences. However, the exceptions arise when those adverse actions are taken as a result of some protected status or action.

So for example, if you are fired because of your age, but you are under the age of 40, your age is not a protected characteristic under the law. It’s not fair, but it’s not illegal. Continue Reading ›

In a case believed to be the first brought under the California CROWN Act, a Black job applicant alleges he was racially discriminated against by an employer on the basis of his hair. Los Angeles racial discrimination employment attorney

As our Los Angeles employment attorneys can explain, the CROWN Act stands for Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for natural Hair. It prohibits the use of grooming policies that disproportionately impact Black individuals. Examples include requirements banning locks and afros. Specifically, it amends provisions of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and the California Education Code to expand how discrimination on the basis of race is defined to expressly include unfair treatment on  the basis of traits historically associated with race. That includes certain hair textures, as well as hairstyles used to protect Black hair, such as braids, Afros, twists and locks.

California was the first state to pass the CROWN Act, which went into effect in January 2020, but at least 12 others have followed. The San Diego Union Times reports this is the first CROWN Act lawsuit filed in California since the statue was passed.

Company Calls Alleged CROWN Act Violation a “Miscommunication”

At issue in this case is a Black job applicant who’d recently moved to Southern California from Florida to further his audiovisual field career. He’d been working at an Orlando branch of the Illinois-based event management firm for four years when he was furloughed in the spring of 2020 due to the pandemic. When he was invited to return to work, a strong recommendation from his boss gave him confidence he’d be able to maintain his same position as a tech supervisor, only in San Diego instead of Orlando. He was told the transition should be “no problem.”

His interview went well, up until the end, when dress code was discussed. He’d expected that having client-facing duties, he’d be required to remove his ear gauges and trim his facial hair. He was not expecting to be told he’d have to cut his hair. Plaintiff, whose hair was in locks, was told he’d have to cut it so that it was off the ears, eyes, and shoulders. He was told he would not be allowed to simply tie it back, away from his face.

Stunned, plaintiff told them it was “a deal-breaker.” 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 ›

A new garment worker wage protection law passed in California is expected to have reverberations throughout the entire fashion industry nationally, and perhaps globally.Los Angeles employment rights attorney

Senate Bill (SB) 62, also now known as the Garment Worker Protection Act, alters the way employees in the garment manufacturing industry are paid. Specifically, it prohibits companies from paying its garment manufacturing workers by the piece or unit or by piece rate, except when such a payment arrangement is approved as a result of a collective bargaining agreement. Instead, garment manufacturers must be paid no less than the applicable minimum wage. The law also broadens the definition of who is part of the clothing making industry for the purposes of enforcing wages. The definition now includes not only direct employers, but brand guarantors (those who contract with other firms to have garments made).

Garment makers and contractors who breach their duties as employers under the law may be subject to statutory, per-employee damages for every pay period. Continue Reading ›

In recent years, many firms have turned to contract labor as a means to reduce certain overhead costs associated with hiring full-time employees. But as our Los Angeles employment discrimination attorneys can explain, companies that rely heavily on contract labor will want to take particular note of the recent $137 million racial discrimination verdict against Tesla. The verdict (which could be increased or decreased, depending on what happens during the appeal) was noteworthy not only for the sheer size of it, but the fact that Tesla – not the contracting firm that was the direct employer of the plaintiff – is the one cutting the check. racial discrimination lawyer Los Angeles

One of the main benefits companies gleaned from having contract laborers (as opposed to direct employees) was that employment law requirements could be shifted onto the contractor. But this verdict underscores the fact that the contracting firm can also be held accountable, so it’s best if all companies adhere to lawful employment practices.

In the Tesla case, a Black elevator operator employed by a staffing agency (third party) reportedly faced substantial and persistent racist treatment while working at Tesla. The workers who allegedly subjected him to ongoing disparagement were also hired and paid by another firm. In fact, most of the workers on site were directly employed by this third-party firm.

In determining liability, the court looked at who controlled the workers and which firm directed the work occurring on site. What the courts held was that Tesla was a joint employer, and that it was jointly and severally liable for the verdict. As our employment attorneys in Los Angeles can explain, joint and several liability occurs when there is a legal responsibility that is shared by two or more parties in a lawsuit. Someone who is wronged may sue any or all of those parties, and one may be ordered to pay the total amount of damages. Continue Reading ›

Most people are aware that state and federal anti-discrimination laws protect them from adverse employment actions on the basis of certain protected classes, such as race, gender, disability, and age. However, fewer know that per a legal doctrine known as associational discrimination, employers may also be barred from discrimination against workers based on a relationship they have with a member of a protected class. Los Angeles employment lawyer

Employers can be held liable for associational discrimination as well as associational retaliation. Such claims can be filed under provisions of the Americans With Disabilities Act (federal), as well as the California Fair Housing and Employment Act (FEHA). The ADA explicitly bars excluding or denying equal jobs/benefits to a person who is qualified on the basis of a known disability. It also prohibits discrimination of a qualified person based on their relationship to or association with someone who has a disability.

Associational discrimination laws can also be filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which shields workers on the basis of gender, religion, national origin, and race. As our Los Angeles employment discrimination attorneys can explain though, this law doesn’t expressly bar associative discrimination like the ADA does. However, numerous courts have upheld associational discrimination is applicable under Title VII. In fact, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit recently affirmed such a case, joining numerous other federal appeals courts in reaching this conclusion. Continue Reading ›

Are COVID-19 vaccine mandates legal in California? It’s a query increasingly being asked of our Los Angeles employment attorneys. California employer vaccine mandates

Employer vaccine mandates may soon become the norm, at least in California, if not beyond. Large employers – particularly those in California and New York – are moving to have their employees get vaccinated or tested regularly for COVID-19. Recently, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs mandated vaccines for its health care workers and President Joe Biden is expected to announce that all federal employees will be required to either be vaccinated or regularly tested. Masking mandates are also coming back into effect. As of right now, many private sector employers have stopped short of requiring vaccines as a condition of employment, but the growing thread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus may compel them to shift course. A growing number of L.A. bars and restaurants are going so far as to require patrons – let alone employees – to prove they are vaccinated.

Generally, employers can mandate vaccines, but it depends on where you live. Further, as a Los Angeles employment lawyer can explain, accommodations must be made for those with religious exemptions and disabilities, as well as those in unions.

The thinking behind these initiatives is that unless and until more people are vaccinated, infections, hospitalizations and deaths are likely to increase drastically across the country. With this, many major companies such as Lyft, Google and Facebook are requiring worker vaccines, as are universities. The only exceptions are those with medical or religious exemptions.

In response, we’re starting to see some employment lawsuits (wrongful termination) crop up. In Texas, for example, a hospital faced a lawsuit from more than 100 employees who were vaccine averse. There are also university students in Indiana who allege the school’s vaccine mandate is unconstitutional.

However, the history of vaccine mandates in the U.S. is actually a long one. 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 ›

The State of California can begin enforcing a labor law geared to combat employee misclassification that trucking companies say will force them to eliminate the use of independent owner-operators. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a judge in San Diego was wrong to hand down an injunction barring the state’s labor commissioner from enforcing the 2019 Assembly Bill 5.Los Angeles employee misclassification lawyer

The statute codified the 2018 ruling in Dynamex Operations W. v. Superior Ct. by the California Supreme Court, formalizing the so-called “ABC Test” of ascertaining when a person is an employee or an independent contractor.

As our Los Angeles employment attorneys can explain, employee misclassification has long been a serious problem in California, with companies intentionally classifying workers wrongly as independent contractors rather than employees to avoid responsibility for things like minimum wage, required breaks, workers’ compensation insurance coverage and more. Continue Reading ›

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