Category: Wage & Hour Rights

REI Goes Into the Woods

Recreational Equipment Inc. (more commonly known by its woodsy acronym REI), is being sued by two former employees on behalf of a class of similarly situated past and present employees. “Alison M.” and “Justin Q.” filed the class suit, alleging violations of overtime laws in the state of California.

Employees who worked from November 21, 2009 to October 31, 2014 in the state of California were eligible to join the suit. It alleges employees were not paid for work they did off the clock though the work was mandatory. The suit further alleges that employees were not reimbursed for business expenses or paid for any or all overtime hours worked.

A preliminary motion for a settlement has already been approved by a Magistrate judge. According to the settlement provisions, REI would be required to pay out $2.5 million for any wage and hour violations with another $1.73 to be paid out to those who were a part of the overtime lawsuit. Alison M. and Justin Q.


Another Wrench in LA’s Minimum Wage Battle

The city of Los Angeles has a minimum wage quandary on their hands. Though a proposal for the city would plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, Mayor Eric Garcetti is urging the City Council to re-evaluate the plan to include analysis for paid days off.

The state as a whole will see paid sick leave laws go into effect in a couple of short months. Garcetti acknowledges that the council had not yet realized the gravity of the new law. Paid time off laws as well as a higher minimum wage could burden business owners. Locally, the city would have to comply with previous living wage laws that are in place for the hospitality industry and city contractors, including 12 paid days off.

Garcetti, who has been in fervent support of a higher minimum wage, opined that paid time off legislation should be separate from the minimum wage hikes. He clarified that he wasn’t against paid time off but rather encouraging further analysis and study on the topic.

Source: LA Times

BMW’s DriveNow Service Hit with ‘PAGA’ Penalties

The California Private Attorneys General Act (aka “PAGA) allows for current and former employees to act on behalf of the state in action against companies for violating California labor and employment law. PAGA was enacted in 2004 to help the Labor and Workforce Development Agency patrol employer compliance with labor law.

DriveNow, a subsidiary of BMW, is the latest company to see PAGA penalties served their way. In this class action, plaintiffs allege that DriveNow misclassified the workers as independent contractors when the company treated them as if they were employees. DriveNow controlled the workers’ schedules and workdays, much like an employer would to an employee.

In treating as such, the lead plaintiff in the action is alleging that the company failed to pay minimum wage, pay overtime wages, and provide meal and rest periods. The plaintiff further alleges that DriveNow misclassified the independent contractors in a blatant attempt to circumvent necessary California labor laws.

The case has been filed in the San Francisco.


Have Things Become Worse in California?

According to new research from UC Berkeley, the state’s job growth has created a large income inequality since the 1970s. Though the low-wage workforce is more educated and, on average, older than the in the 1970s, they earn less.

After adjusting for inflation, those in the low-wage end of spectrum (defined as making less than $13.63 per hour in 2014) are making significantly less than their 1970s counterparts. At the same time, high wage earners have seen a tremendous growth in their average income, even after inflation is adjusted for.

The statistics of low wage earners reflect a shrinking middle class. Approximately 44% of low wage workers in California are older than 35 while in 1979, only 32% of bracket belonged to that age range. Although people think of low wage earners as part-time high school or college students trying to make extra cash, the reality is starkly different. Only 5% of the low wage earner work force are teenagers—in 1979, that number was 16%. Since the 1970s, the bottom 20% of workers saw their wages decline 12% while the top 10% have seen an increase of 35%.

More than 4.7 million people in California are considered low wage earners; southern California’s low wage force accounts for 37% of the overall workforce. The state of pensions is growing increasingly dismal as well. Since the 1980s, employees with pension benefits have decreased nearly 25%.


Source: LA Times

Mandatory Holiday Double Time on the Horizon?

Back in November of last year, we wrote about a potential bill being drafted by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez regarding mandatory double time pay on the holidays. The bill has been formally introduced to the California legislature as the “Double Pay on the Holiday Act of 2015.”

Double time pay currently is reserved for very particular cases. If a non-exempt employee works in excess of twelve hours a day in the first six days of work or in excess of eight hours the seventh day of work, then he or she is entitled to double time pay. Double time refers to double a person’s regular hourly rate (i.e. a forklift driver makes $12 an hour but once he hits double time pay, she or he will receive, $24/hr).

If this new bill passes, then “Family Holidays” will be added to the list of double time pay days. In the status quo, holiday pay, either at time and a half or double time, is not a mandatory policy as per law. Companies who provide such pay do so as a courtesy. With this new bill, the policy will turn from courtesy to enforceable regulation.

The bill primarily carves out the two major end of year holidays: Thanksgiving and Christmas. If a company requires an employee to work either of those holidays (i.e. retail stores beginning their Black Friday sales on “Grey Thursday”) then the employee is entitled to double his or her regular rate of pay.