Category: Workers’ Rights

Ikea Can Raise its Minimum Wage, So Can We!

With more commentary on the federal minimum wage being raised, Ikea made a statement by raising the company’s minimum wage for workers. Beginning in January 2015, Ikea will hike up its minimum wage rates throughout 38 retail locations, which will result in an increase for almost half the company’s 13, 651 American employees.

Ikea’s acting U.S. President, Rob Olson stated, “the happier the co-worker, the happier the customer and the better the overall shopping experience.” The company will utlizie the MIT Living Wage Calculator to determine which stores, based on socio-economic factors around them, will receive a boost in the hourly wage.

Ikea’s goal in raising the company’s wage is to produce a pool of “higher-caliber job applicants, less employee turnover and improved customer service delivered by longtime, loyal workers.”

Oh no, My Paycheck Bounced! Now What?

You hope it never happens to you: you get your paycheck from your employer, deposit it, and it bounces!  What do you do?

California law has a couple different solutions to this problem.  The California Labor Code says that if you deposit your paycheck and it bounces, your wages continue as a penalty until your employer makes good on the check.  The penalties can add up for as much as 30 days.  The penalties add up even if you are still working for the company.  However, if you and your attorney ask for this kind of penalty, your employer would not have to pay any bounced check fee your bank made you pay.

You can also treat the bounced paycheck like any other bounced check and use California’s bounced-check law, which would require your employer to reimburse you for any bounced-check fee your bank charged you.  The employer might also have to pay up to $1500 in penalties.  This option does not give you penalties for every day the check is late, however.

Which option makes the most sense can depend on how many days of penalties add up while you are waiting for a replacement check as well as why the check bounced – for instance, if it was a bank error and nothing the company did, the company will not have to pay penalties.

Whatever the case, make sure to take care of your own finances.  If one of your own checks bounces while you are waiting for your paycheck, you can’t ask the company to pay that fee or any late penalties you may get because you were late paying a bill.  California law tells employers they need to be financially responsible so your paycheck does not bounce, but it also expects you to do the same.

Getting Fired After Relocating

One of the most stressful and traumatic things that can happen to an employee is being laid off or terminated shortly after relocating for a job.  The worry and expense of moving, the possibility you left a steady job for one that has disappeared on you; these are the kinds of things that keep people up at night.

As scary as it is, this scenario isn’t as rare as you might think.  Because of this, California has a law specifically targeting unscrupulous employers that promise jobs to relocating employees and then take them away.  Employers are not allowed to ask an employee to relocate or hire an employee who it knows must relocate by means of any “knowingly false representations.”  What that means is that an employer has to be up front when it asks you to move and can’t make any false promises.  For instance, if an employer tells you when asking you to move that you will have a job for a year after you move, but knows it will lay you off within six months, it has broken the law.  An employer likewise cannot make you move and then make you do a totally different kind of job than the one it promised you.

But what happens if the employer does anyway?  The law gives you the right to seek all the costs you incurred in relocating, from moving expenses to lease-breaking fees at your apartment, or even costs related to having to sell your home in some cases.  And because the employer’s bait-and-switch is such an awful thing to do, the law allows the employee to get back double his or her costs.  There can also be a criminal fine and even a few months of jail time for the unscrupulous employer.

If you have found yourself without a promised job shortly after relocating, consider the reasons the employee gave for terminating you or laying you off and whether they sound real or might just be a cover for a false promise.   If you suspect foul play by your employer, an attorney can help you understand your options and rights.

More NBA Legal Drama Targets the Lakers

The Clippers aren’t the only one who are seeing their share of legal drama. This time, the Lakers are named in the lawsuit for race and age discrimination.

Fernando Gonzalez is suing both the Lakers and Time Warner Cable in Los Angeles Superior Court for shorting him on wages, opportunities, goods, and experience.

Gonzalez, who was born in Mexico but became a U.S. citizen, has worked for the Lakers for 18 years as a Spanish language play by play announcer. He claims that he and his Latino co-announcer, Pepe Mantilla, were treated differently from their Caucasian counterparts for terms of employment.

The lawsuit names various instances where Gonzalez and Mantilla were discriminated against: (1) Neither of the Spanish speaking announcers were mentioned at the beginning of games where broadcasters were announced on the big screen; (2) When the Lakers won the championships in 200, staff and broadcaster were gifted $6,000 commutative rings that Gonzalez and Mantilla were told they would have to pay $3,000 for if they wanted one; (3) For the first seven years of employment, Gonzalez and Mantilla’s families were not permitted to use the “family room” that other families had access to; and (4) They were left out of annual NBA meetings held in New York or New Jersey.

Further, Gonzalez is alleging age discrimination dealing with an incident in 2012 where Gonzalez was passed over for a Time Warner Cable Deportes (Spanish language sports channel) position that went to an under 40, under qualified broadcaster.

After complaining about the disparate treatment, Gonzalez found his compensation was drastically cut and Time Warner Cable refused to schedule the Plaintiff for games.

Source: Los Angeles County Superior Court Case No. BC546722

Snoop D-O-double G Making It Rain

Three of Snoop Dogg’s former body guards have filed a lawsuit against the rapper for wages. The suit seeks $3 million and alleges that the guards were overworked and underpaid.

The plaintiffs—Torrey Mitchell, Donnel Murray, and Ryan Turk—sued the entities associated with the rapper and his companies alleging that in addition to their usual security duties, they were tasked with transportation duties, red carpet affairs, and maintenance of his various apartments where he “entertained” women.

During tours, the security guards were expected to function off limited sleep, sometimes only three hours. Because there were not time keeping records, it was not clear just how many the guards worked and thus should get paid for. While on tour, the guards got paid $300 a day despite the number of hours worked. If not on tour, then the guards were paid $25 per hour with an overtime rate of $37.50 per hour. Overtime came into effect in shifts over 12 hours long, though California labor law mandates that workers are eligible for overtime after the first 8 hours and double time after 12 hours.

Additionally, the bodyguards were never permitted to take breaks, no matter how long the shift.

In January 2014, the plaintiffs made formal complaints to all entities and asked that overtime be paid properly. They wanted to address the labor code violations at hand. Swiftly, the guards were terminated from their employment.