Articles Tagged with wage theft

Three restaurant companies based in Southern California will have to pay nearly $500,000 to settle claims that they systematically underpaid workers in violation of Los Angeles County’s minimum wage ordinance. The ordinance since 2016 has required companies in unincorporated Los Angeles County – regardless of size – to increase wages annually through each July through 2021, when it will be $15/hourly.L.A. wage theft lawyers

As our L.A. wage theft attorneys understand it, county investigators with the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs discovered the restaurant corporations underpaid nearly 100 workers going back at least three years. Although the companies were reportedly in compliance with state minimum mandatory wage laws, they did not comply with the local ordinance. A representative from one of the restaurants said it was a misunderstanding, as two of the 19 locations owned by the companies are technically located in unincorporated L.A. County, despite having mailing addresses in the incorporated municipalities. While the state minimum wage for workers was $12 or $13 hourly (depending on the size of the company), the county’s minimum wage was $14.25. When the mistake was discovered, the spokesman said the companies immediately moved to rectify it.

County investigators said whether it was an honest mistake or the motives were more insidious, employers have a responsibility to pay their employees fairly. When they do not, there are consequences. Continue Reading ›

A restaurant owner and reality television star is facing a class action for California wage theft and meal break violations at the West Hollywood establishment. She and her husband/co-owner are accused of violating numerous state labor laws by failing to pay minimum wage or overtime, refusing to give employees pay stubs, not paying gratuities that were earned and not providing adequate breaks as required by law.Los Angeles wage theft attorney

According to E! News, the plaintiff (filing on behalf of herself and others) alleges that her employers at SUR failed to follow the law for at least one of the last four years. Plaintiff was employed at the upscale establishment for three months, ending in January. While there, she was a hostess, tasked with answering phones, confirming reservations and seating patrons.

This is the second labor lawsuit that has been filed against the owners of SUR in recent months. Late last year, another former employee filed their own class action lawsuit alleging California labor law violations. That worker, a non-exempt employee for three months, was employed not only at SUR but also at the owners’ other restaurants, Tom Tom and Pump Restaurant Lounge. He too alleges that for the last four years, workers were denied minimum wages and overtime, proper meal and rest breaks, accurate wage statements or pay stubs at the end of their employment. Continue Reading ›

Southern California’s garment industry has in the past been accused of being one of the biggest wage theft offenders in the state. It’s been so bad in recent years that the California Labor Commissioner’s Office released a brochure specific to the problem for industry workers, noting that garment workers who aren’t paid for their work are entitled to file claims against all “guarantors” of wages, which includes the contractor that hired them as well as the manufacturers and in some cases the retailers. garment industry wage theft lawyer

The latest among these is a company called Fashion Nova. According to The New York Times, the L.A.-based online retailer with celebrity and influencer endorsements has found its niche of producing cheap clothing that looks much more expensive. It’s tailored to the Instagram crowd looking to keep their digs fresh every few weeks. Blowing a month or two’s expendable income on a pair of jeans isn’t an option for these consumers, explaining Fashion Nova’s rise in popularity.

But the U.S. Labor Department reports it’s the garment industry workers who ultimately pay the price. The DOL has found that the company is able to mass produce cheap clothing in the U.S. because the people actually sewing the garments are paid unlawfully low wages. 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 ›

A federal appellate court has requested the California Supreme Court clear up confusion about the state’s employee meal break and rest break laws, which often lead to wage theft claims. Employment attorneys in Orange County recognize this decision handed down by the court could have a significant impact on both employers and workers in the Golden State. wage and hour lawsuit

According to court records from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Cole v. CRST Van Expedited, Inc., the primary questions the court seeks to answer are:

  • Whether the lack of a formal workplace policy on rest and meal breaks is a violation of state law.
  • Whether an employer’s failure to maintain records of rest and meal breaks results in the rebuttable presumption that they were not provided.

A rebuttable presumption in civil law is when the court assumes something to be true unless it is proven otherwise. An example of a rebuttable presumption in civil litigation would be that a driver in the rear of a rear-end collision is presumed negligent. (In criminal law, the best-recognized rebuttable presumption is that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty.)

In this employment law case, it would mean it could be presumed that meal breaks were not given (due to the lack of records) unless the employer can prove otherwise. Continue Reading ›

Residential health care workers are winning the right to secure unpaid wages in California in wage theft lawsuits. However, actually getting paid has proven a different story, one our Orange County employment attorneys have been monitoring closely.wage and hour lawyers

While much has been made of the elder abuse in nursing homes and residential care facilities, the story of caregivers gets less spotlight, but isn’t much brighter.

Recently, the Reveal Center for Investigative Reporting unearthed a host of working conditions described as “abusive,” likely not only to endanger patients but also subject workers to unfair conditions. It underscores the need for more substantial oversight of owner/operators of these for-profit facilities. Continue Reading ›

Wage theft is a serious problem in California. As Los Angeles wage and hour lawyers, we have seen this play out in almost every industry and at nearly every level of employment, but it tends to occur most often to the most vulnerable workers. The fast-food industry is no exception. One way that companies try to sidestep the worst outcomes in these cases is to, where possible, bar workers from banding together in class action litigation. This is achieved through mandatory employment arbitration agreements, which have largely been upheld by the courts, up to and including the U.S. Supreme Court, via an early 20th Century law known as the Federal Arbitration Act.fast food wage theft

However, using this tactic in a series of California wage theft lawsuits may have backfired in the case of one national fast-food chain, according to The Los Angeles Times. The story begins as so many do: Large, chain employers cutting corners of labor laws and allegedly committing wage theft is fairly common, as is the practice of mandatory employment arbitration. What makes the recently-highlighted situation different is that in trying to shield itself from a class action litigation for wage theft, the company may have effectively shot itself in the foot.

This particular fast-food chain has some 2,300 restaurant locations nationally, and it’s been battling some 10,000 claims of wage theft for the last six years. Last summer, the company won its motion filed in a federal court in Colorado to compel some 2,800 workers who filed lawsuits to instead participate in mandatory employment arbitration. However, employment lawyers for the company may now be wondering if this was the smartest move because now it is facing tens of thousands of individual arbitration proceedings across the country – proceedings it is compelled to pay for itself and which could cost tens of thousands of dollars each. The alternative of a class action lawsuit may not seem so burdensome considering it would require a single group of lawyers in one location, rather than thousands scattered before abitrators across the U.S. As it now stands, according to The Times, approximately 150 claims have been filed. Continue Reading ›

A quick internet search reveals dozens of jobs are listed at Amazon’s distribution and fulfillment center in Irvine, California (right here in Orange County) ranging from warehouse fulfillment to Whole Foods Shoppers. But there may be a reason such positions are constantly in rotation. Recently, Business Insider reported more than 200 delivery drivers are suing both Amazon and one of its third-party courier companies, TL Transportation, over claims of wage theft / unpaid wages.wage lawsuit

Orange County employment law attorneys have seen allegations of labor law violations by employees and designated independent contractors for the e-commerce giant and its partners piling up in recent years. Plaintiff lawyers say the company is using third-party contractors for its delivery posts in order to avoid legal liability for violations of state wage and hour laws. Third-party courier firms like TL, plaintiffs say, are tiny and thinly-capitalized, meaning they are unable to pay up when workers are cheated of rightful wages and mandated work breaks.

Just last month, a federal judge ruled this third-party courier’s pay system – which involved a flat rate for all delivery drivers, regardless of hours worked – failed to pay drivers properly, particularly with regard to overtime hours. It’s unclear precisely what Amazon’s liability will be in this, but our employee rights attorneys understand the class action lawsuit seeks to hold both firms accountable for willfully crafting an employment and pay structure that skirts labor laws and skimps on rightful pay. Continue Reading ›

Two former full-time instructors providing services for the General Assembly while employed by a New York-based contractor say they were wrongly classified as independent contractors. The instructors, hired to teach both part-time and full-time courses in fields of technology, business and design, say they were wrongly denied overtime pay, rest breaks and meal breaks – despite working up to 16 hours daily to prepare lessons, grade assignments, meet with students and attend marketing events. As reported by EdSurge, the instructors say they were paid a flat fee, despite working 80 hours each week. In violation of California Labor Code, the instructors allege the company failed to document how many hours they worked and pay them overtime wages accordingly. They represent more than 1,200 current and former instructors who reportedly taught for the firm from 2013 through this year. appleonthedesk-300x225

In March, the judge proposed – and both parties agreed – to a $1 million settlement, which was signed in July and is now awaiting approval from the judge. After administrative and legal fees, there will be about $590,000 to split among the more than 1,200 instructors.

The case is unique for the fact that while we tend to think of the growing “gig” economy as being the primary source of a growing number of California employee misclassification lawsuits, many fields have employed independent contractors and allegedly failed to pay them.  Continue Reading ›

A janitorial company in Anaheim is being sued by the state of California for allegedly paying some 150 works just $400 monthly in wages over the past four years. As the Orange County Register reports, that is far below the minimum wage, which is why California Attorney General Xavier Becerra reports the firm has become a top priority for his office.wage and hour theft

The janitorial firm reportedly serves an estimated 80 major retailers throughout Southern California, including Toys R Us, Burlington Coat Factory and JoAnne’s Fabrics. These retailers, however, are not accused of any wrongdoing because they contract the work to a Pennsylvania-based firm that specializes in subcontracting such services. As our employment law attorneys can explain, this kind of subcontracting arrangement is typical in the retail sector as well as others, as it shields them from wage-and-hour lawsuits. Wage theft and other claims are common in these industries, and affected workers range from janitors (as in this case) to garment workers.

But while the retailers did not directly employ the workers, Becerra was quoted by the Register as saying he hopes the lawsuit puts large retailers and other firms on notice about such practices. Even if workers aren’t getting a paycheck from the retailer, they are still working within their facilities and in furtherance of their business, and that may be grounds to establish some level of responsibility. Continue Reading ›

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