Category: Workers’ Rights

A National Analysis of Minimum Wage

Recently, President Obama’s proposal to raise the national minimum wage to $10.10 per hour has sparked debates about what hiking up the minimum wage to a “livable” wage will do the nation’s economy.

Each state has their own ability to enact a minimum wage level, but the higher wage (whether it be the national $7.25 per hour or the state’s wage) takes precedence. However, after an analysis from Wall Street, it was revealed that many states neglect their own minimum wages.

Arkansas, Georgia, Minnesota, and Wyoming all have minimum wage thresholds that are lower than the national wage rate. In addition, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee do not have a state minimum wage at all. New Hampshire repealed their minimum wage laws in 2011.

Only 21 states and the District of Columbia have minimum wages set above the federal threshold of $7.25 per hour.

California is currently tied for 7th highest minimum wage (tied with Massachusetts). California is also among the nation’s most expensive states to live in.

Source: USA Today

Whose Turn is it? New York Jets, You’re Up!

Still in the glow of Draft Day, the New York Jets were selected to be the next in line to be sued by its cheerleaders.

Filed in New Jersey, lead plaintiff Krystal C. alleges similar wage claims as women of the Oakland Raiderettes (Raiders), Buffalo Jills (Buffalo Bills), and Cincinnati Ben-Gals (Bengals). The Jets Cheerleaderes were not paid for practices that took place three times a week or other promotional appearances. They were only paid $150 per game and every so often a $100 for a paid appearance.

The “Flight Crew” as the cheerleaders were called, were not reimbursed for Jets related expenses and were also responsible for selling 30 Jets calendars. If they could not, the money would come from their own pockets. Sharon Vinick, the attorney for the Raiderettes, is also involved with the Flight Crew’s case.

In light of the recent cases, a petition has been gaining traction on Change.org asking the NFL to raise cheerleader’s wages and pay them what is fair. The petition currently has over 128,000 signatures.

Federal Court? State Court? Carmax?

Filed in Los Angeles County, a punitive class action against auto dealer CarMax Auto Superstores alleges the dealer owes unpaid wages to mechanics, dealers, and other employees. The “worth” of the case exceeds nearly $8 million, and Carmax claims that the case belongs in federal court because of its hefty price tag.

So what is the difference between state and district courts? The most obvious distinction are the laws that each abide by. State courts will uphold a state’s constitution whereas federal court receives its power from Article III of the United States Constitution.

A case can be brought to federal court “based on ‘diversity of citizenship’” of the parties involved, such as out-of-state litigants or those abroad. Additionally, federal court will have jurisdiction in many cases where the potential damages exceeded $75,000. Both are necessary for complete “diversity.”

State court, however, has jurisdiction based on state laws and policies. For example, let’s say a plaintiff brings a suit against a former employer for discrimination. The discrimination claim is alleged under California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing and the Fair Employment and Housing Act. This law is Californian. Both party members reside/operate in LA County in California. Therefore, it is completely appropriate for this case to be heard in the state court because both parties reside in the state and the claims are founded in California law.

There are many other jurisdictions that state courts have that federal courts lack and vice versa. Details can be read at www.uscourts.gov.

A Discussion on Background Checks—and LA’s Push to Use Them

Los Angeles County is discussing a proposal that would require ice cream truck vendors and operators of other businesses that cater to unsupervised children. The city is currently exploring regulations that would require fingerprinting and running a criminal history report for those who run businesses that serve children.

While the county already mandates background checks for a variety of businesses, (i.e. to use explosives or weapons on the job) this measure would allow vendors who sell products to unchaperoned children to be screened for criminal records that include molestation, sex offenses, pornography, or abuse.

So here’s the question: how legal are background checks in the employee-to-hire process? In California, employers have the power to conduct a background check themselves or to hire a third party investigating agency. The report obtained is called an “investigative consumer report” but does not include a credit report

An employer can only request your credit report in certain applicable positions. If a credit report can be obtained as per the position, then the employer must give notice that a credit check will be conducted and an explanation as to why the credit check was permitted/necessary.

An employee may request a copy of the report received. The employer must also disclose the website address or telephone number of the screening company used.  Additionally, an employee must also give authorization in writing before an employer can run the check through a third party. However, if the employer themselves conduct the check, an employee’s consent is not necessary, however, they still have the right to get a copy of the documents.

Did You Know About Paid Voter Time?

With California election season just around the corner, it is handy to be informed of California Election law, as it pertains to California Labor law.

As per California Elections Code §14000-14003, voters are entitled to paid time off to vote on election day if the voter cannot/does not have “sufficient time outside working hours.” A voter may only take more than 2 hours of time without loss of pay and should be taken either at the beginning of the shift or end of the shift, which allows for least time off to vote.

The employer must give at least two working days’ notice to his or her employer that he or she believes that time off will be necessary to be able to vote on Election Day.

These statutes are applicable to both private entity and public entity employees in the state of California.