Category Archives: Employment Law

Tipped Employees in Five States to Receive a Raise

Increase in salary

Employees who receive tips for their services are getting their well-deserved raise; at least in five states plus Washington, D.C. this year. In a recent report by the Huffington Post, Minnesota became just the latest state to pass legislation that would allow tipped workers to obtain a raise, with the state government guaranteeing “them the same $9.50 hourly minimum wage that other workers will get.” The other five four states are Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland and West Virginia.

With the state not having to put up a separate legislation for giving tipped employees their raise, the state is just one of the seven states that require employers to pay their workers the minimum wage, regardless if they are tipped or not. The other states are Alaska, California, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington State.

This is in stark contrast to Delaware and West Virginia, which opted to create legislation that would provide workers increased tips that are separate from their likewise increased hourly minimum wage. For instance, Delaware’s minimum wage will be raised to $8.25, with tipped workers receiving a rate of $3.23 (from $2.23). West Virginia will provide tipped workers a tipped rate that is 30 percent of the state’s new hourly minimum wage, which is at $8.75.

Meanwhile, the State of Connecticut would also have an increase in its tipped rate as the state is set to increase its minimum wage over three years. By 2015, the state’s hourly minimum wage for tipped workers would be about 63 percent of the broader rate. As Connecticut is inching closer to the target of $10.10 hourly minimum wage rate, the tipped workers would by then receive their increased tipped rate of $6.38, up from $5.69.

In the Huffington Post report, U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez told a House panel a month ago that tipped employees “have been taking it on the chin in all too many states.” Indeed, tipped workers are often some of the many workers that have been overlooked for quite some time now, and giving them their well-deserved increase in their tips is one way to address the concerns of those who were lobbying for them.

Meanwhile, a Los Angeles labor lawyer, while not expecting to see an increase in the tips that tipped workers receive, is also keeping an eye on July of this year, which is the time the $9.00 increase in the overall minimum wage in the state is expected to take effect.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/21/minimum-wage-increase_n_5185207.html?utm_hp_ref=politics

Making Family and Medical Leaves Available For Everyone

FMLA

Family or career. It seems like every American always has to choose between these two. For one, having a family is one very difficult task that one family member has to deal with. Working, on the other hand, is equally difficult as well. That is why whoever said the adage “you can’t serve two masters at the same time” were very much right. So how can you strike a balance between the two?

Perfect Work-Life Balance
Some people say that it is not wise to work for extended hours as it is never-ending. What most experts say is that one should make every minute of their workday count by working smart and not just working hard. By doing that, you can spend more quality time with your family. However, there are just times when you are pressed to make the very tough decision between spending time with your family when they badly need you or stay at work and face your workload.

Reality Bites
At times when you badly need to spend time with a sick family member or your children, you may find yourself with a dilemma. How can you attend to these family matters without being kicked out of your work? The Family and Medical Leave Act is a law that has been passed 20 years ago. However, this has been quite ineffective as only 60 percent of the workforce has been given the opportunity to take unpaid, but job-protected leaves. However, people just can’t afford to avail of this program as they cannot just take such leaves as they need to get all the work pay that they could get. Moreover, studies show that only 12 percent of the workers in the country are given access to family leaves through their job. Worse, less than 40 percent of these workers have access to the medical leaves through the temporary disability insurance that their employers provided.

The Need for Changes
While this is not necessarily a problem in the state of California, a Los Angeles labor attorney believes that something must be done about this on a national level. The problems in the law must be fixed and benefits like these must be made available to every working American. Moreover, there are many types of employment discrimination, harassment, and abuse that has been making life difficult for every employee in the country.

The country’s workforce is the most important catalyst for economic growth. And so, the state must do everything to protect every worker’s rights. Cause a happy employee is a productive and reliable partner is the country’s progress.

Source: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/paid-family-leave-article-1.1579831

HamBurgled: The Story of Wage Theft in the Fast-food Industry

Employee is on rally because of minimum wage is not metBeing a fast-food worker is not at all easy. Imagine working hard for long hours only to get a meager amount to make both ends meet. Worse, the rising costs of living makes it doubly hard for minimum wage earners to live a decent life. Adding insult to the injury, some fast-food employees become victims of wage theft in the workplace.

Wage Theft in the Fast-food Industry
Advocacy group “Low Pay Is Not OK”(read more) recently held a survey asking employees if they believe that they are victims of wage theft. According the poll, nine out of 10 individuals who work in the fast-food industry believe that they have been victims of wage theft. The results are a clear indication why labor lawsuits were filed and workers are holding protest actions. The group also made mention of the accounts of two former managers of fast-food giant McDonald’s. These former employees discussed how they were forced to help boost profits to the detriment of the service crew. They committed employment and labor law violations by inserting unpaid breaks in the schedule of workers, shaved hours from the latter’s shifts and moved hours from one week to the other so that the management can dodge overtime pays.

Shocking Numbers
In the survey, 1,088 fast-food workers from 10 major cities across the United States were asked. They revealed the following:

  • Among the three popular hamburger chains, Burger King had the most number of workers that fell victim to wage theft at 92 percent compared to McDonald’s 84 percent, and Wendy’s 82 percent.
  • Three out of five fast-food employees received lower overtime wages for the extra time they worked.
  • Most fast-food chains do not just commit wage theft alone but also commit other employment and labor law violations that include gender discrimination.

Yes, employees can file employment and labor law violations against these companies and ask compensation for the losses they have incurred. However, a Los Angeles labor attorney believes that something has to be done about these rampant commission of such violations. This blatant disregard of these fast-food companies of existing laws should make authorities rethink of their strategies to protect the rights of these poorly paid and over worked employees.

What Can an Employer Ask Its Applicants?

Employment InterviewAs a business owner, you would want to do everything that you can to ensure your business’ success. You’d study about the different business principles and models that will help establish the business. You will also gather your financial resources to give that much needed capital for expansion and other business plans. Most importantly though, you need to invest in the best tools for growth and success, your employees.

Getting the Best in the Business
Hiring the best employees possible can be a very daunting task for any employer. For one, it is not at all easy to get the best people to work for you. Some hire head hunters to find the cream of the crop and try to offer them attractive packages to lure promising employees to work for them. On the other hand, some employers hire people, give them the opportunity to grow in the company and discover their talent and improve their skills during their stay in the company.

Different strokes for different folks indeed. Different employers do different things to get the best people in the biz. However, in doing so, you have to remain ethical, avoiding the things that you should not be doing when hiring people. One of those things are the illegal background checks made on prospective workers. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) during the pre-employment inquiries, it is illegal for an employer to make certain pre-employment inquiries. For one, inquiries about one’s race, color, sex, national origin, or age as these can be used to prove an employer’s intention to discriminate against an employee. Moreover, inquiries about one’s membership with organizations, clubs, or societies that may indicate an applicant’s race, sex, national origin, disability status, age, religion, color, or ancestry should also be avoided. Finally, employers shouldn’t ask for a photograph of a particular applicant.

To help employers remember these regulations, the EEOC and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published technical assistance documents to shed light about this important issue. Through this, employers can avoid getting sued for employment discrimination claims for illegal employee background checks. It also informs jobseekers of their rights under the state and federal laws.

Fighting Workplace Retaliation in California: What You Need to Know About It

Employee was fired at willImage Source: http://www.huizenga.nova.edu/

What is the “at will” employment doctrine?

  • “At will” employment doctrine refers to an employment relationship in which an employer can terminate an employee at any time and/or for any valid reason.
  • On the other hand, an employee may discontinue his or her work with the employer at any time.
  • However, there are exceptions to it that basically provide legal protections for “at will” employees in the workplace. Basically, these protections help prevent retaliatory actions such as wrongful termination and give employees the opportunity to file their claims against erring employers.
  • As it is, there are two exceptions to the “at will” rule in California employment; one is derived from common law and the other is derived from statutes enacted through state legislation.

Legal protections under common law

  • An “at will” employee cannot retaliate against an employee by terminating his or her employment for reasons that violate public policy.
  • Public policies serve the interest of the people, not just merely the person or the company involved. They are found in constitutions, statutes, and administrative regulations on either federal or state level.

Legal statutory protections

  • There is a California statute that provides whistleblowers legal protections from any adverse employment decision by their employers, including wrongful termination and other actions that are considered retaliatory.
  • As it is, a whistleblower is someone who reports his or her employer’s illegal activity that is believed to be in violation of a state or federal statute or in violation of any public policy rule, or refuse to take part in such an activity.
  • An employee is likewise protected from wrongful termination or any other retaliatory actions if he or she engages in a protected activity or if he or she files an employment and labor complaint.

Activities protected under state law

  • Under common law protections, California employees cannot be subjected to retaliation for refusing to disregard a certain statute, performing a statutory right (i.e. voting, serving jury duty), taking leaves as stated under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), reporting minimum wage, overtime and other wage and hour violations, or for discussing matters with regard to wages.
  • Under statutory protections, California employers cannot retaliate against employees through termination for the latter’s disclosing or revealing of their employer’s alleged violation of either the federal or state law with a government or law enforcement agency, or for refusing to participate in an illegal activity that violates federal and/or state law. They can’t also be subjected to such if they engage in a protected activity, such as:
  1. Filing a discrimination complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH);
  2. Opposing an activity that is prohibited under the state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA);
  3. Reporting a health and safety condition with the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH); or
  4. For filing a workers’ compensation claim.

Filing retaliation claims in California

  • An employee who was subjected to wrongful termination and other retaliatory action must consult an employment lawyer in order for him or her to file a lawsuit against his or her employer. Generally, a lawsuit is filed within 2 years of the retaliatory action.
  • If the retaliation involved discrimination, a complaint can be filed with the Calif. DFEH. It must be filed 1 year of the retaliatory action.
  • If the retaliation was due to raising a concern on workplace health and safety, a complaint can be filed with the DOSH. A time limit of 6 months is provided for an aggrieved employee to do so.
  • If the retaliation involved filing workers’ compensation claims, a complaint can be filed with the state’s Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC). A time limit of 1 year is provided.

Just How Much Can You Get from Filing a Wrongful Termination Claim?

Wrongful Termination in WorkplaceImage Source: http://www.arizonaemploymentattorney.net

Unemployment is still one of the biggest problems that the state and company is facing. During this time, losing your job is one of the worst thing that can happen to you. Moreover, losing your job without a good and legitimate reason can really be a painful experience. Being relieved from your job without any clear reason is a case of wrongful termination. If you can prove that you have been wrongfully removed from your job, then you could file for a wrongful termination claim.

How Much Can You Expect To Get From a Wrongful Termination Claim
More than getting justice for losing your job without a justifiable reason, you can ask for compensation for the wrongdoing that you have been subjected to. A wrongful termination claim can help you get paid for the losses that you have incurred because of what has happened. Question is, how much are you likely to get for filing such claim?

In cases where there is alleged wrongful termination violation two components are considered in the determination of the amount. First of these components is the front pay. This is a kind of damage award wherein the employer you used to work for pays a discharged employee the additional pay that the person would have earned if reinstated. Front pay should be given if the person cannot be reinstated anymore from his or her job.

Secondly, you are also eligible to receive severance package from your employer. Back pay is the payment that is given to an employee for the work that he or she has done in the past that has been withheld at the time. It could also be a payment for the work that could have been done if the worker has still been allowed to report for work.

Finally, there are also some other factors that could affect the final pay you are about to receive. Potential lost benefits, economic damages, and other things. A California employment lawyer can help calculate that for you.

Yes, filing a wrongful termination claim can be a daunting and stressful task. However, there is no reason for you to not pursue this complaint and want justice for what has been done to you. You should file these claims so that you get compensation for what has happened and prevent others from being victimized by the same schemes by your previous employer.

Thousands About To Lose Jobs as JPMorgan Chase Cuts 8,000 Jobs

JP Morgan Chase 2014 Employment Layoffimage source: http://www.crainsnewyork.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/storyimage/CN/20131014/ECONOMY/131019951/AR/0/AR-131019951.jpg?q=100

Thousands of people are about to lose their jobs. JPMorgan Chase, one of the country’s largest banks, as far as assets are concerned, will be slashing off 8,000 jobs in its consumer and community banking divisions this year.  This move by the bank represents a 20 percent reduction, as projected, in its total branch staff from 2011 to 2015. This happened right after the bank’s branch level has laid off 7,000 workers in the past two years.

This plan was revealed by company officials during its investor day conference, which is a part of a branch overhaul, helping it become more efficient in utilizing modern-day technologies for routine banking transactions. JPMorgan attributed these planned job cuts as it responds to the growing “customer self-service trends”. However, it didn’t take long for the bank officials to admit that these moves are also driven by the drop in its mortgage financing business. The bank says that the steadily rising interest rates for mortgage have slowed down the trend of home refinancing transactions in the recent years. JPMorgan insisted however, that its branch network is an important line of business for them; mentioning the addition of more branches in the recent years.

Job Cut Aftermath
With thousands of Americans about to lose their jobs, this will definitely affect their respective state unemployment rates which haven’t seen much positive movement lately. While this is not indicative of a trend, the news that a huge company like Chase cutting jobs is something that will make you worry. This clearly means 8,000 families having to tighten their belts to make both ends meet.

What Laid Off Workers Must Do
These people who are about to lose their jobs have the right to get severance packages to help them recuperate from such loss. Moreover, you have to be laid off your job because of the right reasons. Being laid off because of your age, race, gender, religion, genetic information, and other unacceptable reasons is a violation of anti-discrimination laws(read more). If you have been a victim of such forms of discrimination, you should immediately seek the help of an employment law attorney to help you file a claim to get compensation for the injustice that you have been made to go through.