Articles Tagged with wage and hour violations

Freelance journalists may soon be exempted from the controversial Assembly Bill 5, which went into effect Jan. 1st. The new law codified the California Supreme Court’s ruling in the Dynamex case, which established an “ABC test” for ascertaining whether workers are misclassified as independent contractors when in fact they should be receiving all the benefits of employment.employee misclassification

The law, introduced by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, has been the target of gig industry behemoths like Postmates, Lyft and Instacart. Freelance journalists, though, are another group that has been embroiled in a fight over AB5. Specifically, the law stipulates that a journalist who produces more than 35 submissions to a single entity should be considered an employee. But that, freelancers say, would effectively kill their career. Media companies, who increasingly can hire reporters and photographers who live and work anywhere, would be less inclined to hire writers from California – or cut them off at the 35-submissions mark.

Gonzalez said she had received extensive feedback from writers, photographers and journalists about how this would impact their ability to make a living, and said changes would be made to accommodate them, while still offering protection against employee misclassification. She indicated that amendments to the law would be introduced that would remove the submission cap. However, contractors still cannot replace employees. Contracts with freelance journalists would also need to expressly indicate the pay rate, payment deadline, individual’s copyrights to the work. Companies also won’t have the right to restrict freelancers from working for more than one outlet, and they can’t mainly perform their work on the business’s premises. Continue Reading ›

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which sets precedent in California, affirmed a $54.6 million jury verdict in favor of Wal-Mart truck drivers for violation of California labor law. The retail giant challenged the earlier decision on numerous grounds, including improper application of the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994, the certification of the class and lack of jurisdiction. The federal appellate court rejected all of these in Ridgeway v. Wal-Mart, Inc., in effect reaffirming the state’s definition of what qualifies as compensable work. truck driver minimum wage

State labor laws stipulate that “hours worked” are to include all time a worker is subject to the company’s control and all time he/she is “suffered or permitted to work” – regardless of whether they actually do work. The drivers asserted the company didn’t pay them for time spent under the company’s control, such as during inspections, layovers and rest breaks. They sought damages, restitution and statutory penalties.

Prior to trial, plaintiffs were granted partial summary judgment on the minimum wage liability claims. Specifically, Wal-Mart wasn’t paying them for all their job duties. The company mandated that drivers take breaks without pay and controlled them during 10-hour layover time. By state law, they should have been entitled to receive minimum wage during these stretches. The trial court agreed that the company’s pay policy, if applied as written, would mean the drivers should be getting paid minimum wage during the times they were subject to their employer’s control. The question of whether the company actually violated the law, however, still had to go before a jury.

Jurors returned a verdict finding that in 7 of 11 disputed, non-paid tasks, the company violated state minimum wage laws. These tasks included layovers, rest breaks, pre-trip inspections and post-trip inspections. Continue Reading ›

An employer’s failure to pay wages in accordance with an employment contract – even if what’s paid is in excess of the minimum wage – can now be penalized with fines and restitution orders by the California Labor Commissioner. wage and hour lawyer

That’s thanks to SB 688, a newly-passed measure that amends California Labor Code Ch. 723 s. 1197.1, which goes into effect next month.

“Contract wages,” as explained in the bill/statute, are wages based upon an agreement between a company and a worker for regular, non-overtime hours that is in excess of the applicable minimum wage.

Los Angeles labor law attorneys can explain that under existing law, employers (or those acting as officers/agents) who fail to pay a worker less than minimum wage can be subject to citation and penalties from the Labor Commissioner. However, that power of enforcement does not extend when workers are paid in excess of minimum wage – yet should be paid more according to their employment contract. Continue Reading ›

Two federal judges in California have ruled that it should be up to a jury to decide whether drivers for on-demand ride serves Lyft and Uber should be classified as independent contractors or employees. carsassorted

The reason it matters is because if the drivers are in fact employees, the companies have been misclassifying them, and in term denying them important employment benefits, such as workers’ compensation, unemployment, minimum wage and overtime. They also aren’t reimbursed for gas or car maintenance expenses.

Lawsuits filed against both companies in California are pursuing a request to obtain class action status.

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