Category: Uncategorized

Blog Minimum Wage

 

Governor Jerry Brown (D) has recently signed a plethora of laws that could affect the economic lives of employees throughout the state. Signed on October 13, 2013, Assembly Bill 10 (AB 10) is one of the more significant changes working Californians will see in the next couple of years.

“Minimum wage has not kept pace with rising costs,” Brown asserted in support of AB 10, which will raise minimum wage up to $10.00/hr over the next two years. Effective July 1, 2014, minimum wage will increase to $9.00/hr and on January 1, 2016, minimum wage reaches $10.00/hr.

The final $10.00/rate makes California the fifth highest minimum wage payer, following Connecticut, Illinois, Nevada, Washington, and Vermont. A $10 minimum wage could potentially raise an individual’s earnings by $4,000 a year.

AB 10 comes in the wake of protests in major cities around the country, namely San Francisco and Los Angeles, where low income workers called for the national minimum wage to be set at $15.00/hour.

In his annual State of the Union Address in February, President Obama urged the national minimum wage to be increased to $9.00/hour. Earlier this year, Representative George Miller’s (CA-D) proposal to increase the national minimum wage to $10.10 over a several year period was unanimously voted against. The current national minimum wage is $7.50/hr and California’s is $8.00/hr.

Labor Code SECTION 218.5 Is a “Two-Way Street” NO LONGER!

 

Plaintiffs’ attorneys pursing claims on behalf of their clients for the nonpayment of wages have long been compelled to abstain from basing any of their clients’ claims on Labor Code § 218.5. This is because the language of the statute awards the “prevailing party” their reasonable attorneys’ fees and could potentially expose an employee-plaintiff to financial liability should their employer succeed in the litigation. Not anymore.

In order to save the employee-plaintiff from this type of exposure, the California Legislature introduced Senate Bill 462 which sought to amend Labor Code § 218.5 and limited an employer’s recovery of attorneys’ fees only where the court finds the employee pursued the action in bad faith. With a fresh signature from California Governor Jerry Brown, this bill is now State law and has drastically increased an employers’ difficulty in recording attorneys’ fees in wage and hour cases brought by aggrieved employees. The resultant effect of this action, among other things, will incentivize employees to seek counsel if they feel they have been underpaid by their employer.

Tips on Tips

If you are in a service industry and regularly receive tips from customers are patrons, California has a number of rules to protect your right to those tips.

  • Your employer cannot count your tips against your hourly rate.  Although some other states allow an employer to pay an employee less if tips make up the difference, that practice is illegal in California.
  • Your employer cannot deduct credit card processing fees from your tips.  If a patron pays by credit card, you are entitled to the amount they put as a tip.  Any processing fees must be paid by the restaurant.
  • Your employer cannot take your tips or deduct them from your wages.
  • However, tip pooling is a legal practice, so long as the persons in the pool are directly servicing the customers and are the type who would normally receive tips in that industry.
  • Managers and Owners may not be included in a tip pool.  You and your fellow employees earned the tips and are entitled to receive them without paying any fee or cut to the company itself.
  • No matter how much you make in tips, your employer must still pay you at least the California Minimum Wage.

If you have any questions or feel your employer has violated one of these rules, contact Aegis Law Firm today!

Background Checks Can’t Beget Bias

BMW, maker of luxury automobiles, is under investigation for its stingy background check policies.  Although companies are permitted to request and conduct background checks, there are some limits on what the companies can ask and what they can do with that information.  In California, for instance, a company cannot look back more than seven years, so a youthful indiscretion won’t follow you for the rest of your working life.

When BMW hired a new contractor to administer background checks for its Spartanburg, South Carolina work force, however, the new contractor instituted a policy so broad that a number of current BMW employees found themselves suddenly ineligible to work for BMW and out on the street.  The previous contractor had limited its background searches to the past seven years and actually looked at any convictions it found, to assess the nature and severity of the conviction before deciding how it would affect an application.  An employee with a minor graffiti charge, for instance, wouldn’t cause the kind of concern a violent assault or embezzlement conviction might.

After the change, BMW gave employees no such consideration, placing no limits on how many years it went back and disqualifying employees with any conviction whatsoever, regardless of what it was for.  Under federal and California law, companies are not allowed to enact policies that discriminate against minorities or other groups, even if the discrimination is a result of a policy that was not intended for that purpose.  Because of the statistically different conviction rates among different groups, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission decided to investigate whether BMW’s policy had the effect of discrimination against minorities.

 

Red Card: Discrimination on the Soccer Field.

On Thursday, June 6, 2013, two former youth coaches for the Chivas USA soccer team filed a lawsuit alleging ethnic discrimination. But this is not your typical case of discrimination on the basis of ethnicity; the plaintiffs are white males who were fired along with eight other white employees. They claim that they were intentionally discriminated against because they are not of Latino descent.

The men both worked for over a year as coaches for Chivas USA Academy, the Major League Soccer team’s youth soccer program.  The lawsuit claims that the team’s owner harassed them and other non-Mexican and non-Latino employees. It also claims that the team required coaches to gather national origin and ethnicity information about the academy’s players and the players’ parents but were not told how this information would be used. In January, one of the plaintiffs/coaches met with the team’s president to discuss his concerns. The president allegedly informed him that the team planned to implement the Mexican-only policy of its counterpart in Guadalajara, Mexico. The complaining coach was suspended shortly thereafter, and both coaches were fired by March.

Race and national origin discrimination are prohibited under both federal and California law. Just as the law prohibits an employer from taking adverse action against an employee because he or she was born in a foreign country or is of a certain race or ethnicity, it also prohibits favoring minority or foreign-born employees over others. Cases like this are sometimes known as reverse discrimination cases.