iWANT My Wages: Apple Slapped With “BAG CHECK” Class Action

Two former retail employees of Apple, Inc. have brought suit against the trendy-electronics giant in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The two employees seek to represent a national class of Apple retail employees who were subject to a mandatory “bag check” before lunch and at the close of each work day while “off the clock”.

Amanda Frlekin a resident of Los Angeles, and Dean Pelle, a resident of Brooklyn, New York allege that Apple had a common policy of requiring employees to undergo personal bag and package checks that could last anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes per check. The problem is that these checks occurred before the employees were allowed to leave for lunch, or the end of their shifts but after they had already clocked out. Although this may seem like an otherwise trivial issue, the resultant effect could mean that employees were shorted over an hour’s worth of waged for each week they worked. Throwing penalties into the mix and quantifying these claims by a nation-wide class of individuals means Apple could face tens of millions of dollars in damages for unpaid wages.

Apple, Inc., however, is not the only offender. Many other retail companies expose themselves to this type of liability by forcing their employees to undergo bag checks after these employees have already punched out.

Is Your Commission Plan In Writing?

MORE THAN MIDWAY THROUGH 2013: IS YOUR COMMISSION PLAN IN WRITING?

On January 1, 2013, Labor Code § 2751 took effect and mandated, among other things, that employees receiving commission as part of their regular wage must have their commission structure in writing, signed by the employer.  Additional requirements under this provision of the code including disclosing how commissions will be computed and paid, as well as obtaining a signed “receipt” from the employee acknowledging the disclosure they received.

Moreover, this section of the code adopts the definition of the word “commission” as promulgated in Labor Code § 204.1 which states: “Commission wages are compensation paid to any person for services rendered in the sale of such employer’s property or services and based proportionately upon the amount or value thereof.”  This means that the legislature has intended 2751 to apply broadly, to both exempt AND non-exempt employees, and irrespective of how the employer defines the word “commission” (i.e. incentive rewards, bonuses, etc.).

If you’re engaged in a sales job and have no idea how your commission is computed, or have not received the commission structure in writing, chances are that your employer is not in compliance with the law.

Protected Leaves of Absence

PROTECTED LEAVES OF ABSENCE FOR SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES

  1. Time Off For Noble Deeds – If employees want to help save the world, in California, they can do so without fear of losing their job.  Lab. Code §§ 230.3-.4; 1501-1507.  Employers in California are required to allow employees to take unpaid leaves of absence to serve as volunteer firefighters, reserve peace officers, emergency rescue personnel, or as a member of the Civil Air Patrol.  Any employer who discriminates against an employee for taking time allowed under the law is guilty of a criminal misdemeanor, and the affected employee is entitled to reinstatement, lost wages, and benefits. 
  2. Time Off For Saving Lives –If an employer employs 15 or more employees, an employee that has worked for the employer for at least 90 days is entitled to take up to 5 business days of paid leave during any one-year period to donate bone marrow, and up to 30 business days of paid leave during any one-year period to donate an organ.  Lab. Code §§ 1508-1513.
  3. Time Off For Classroom Assistants – Parents, guardians, and grandparents with custody can take unpaid time off (or use vacation/personal leave) up to 8 hours per month and 40 hours per school year to participate in their child’s school or day care activities.  Lab. Code § 230.8.  The penalty for violating this provision includes reinstatement, lost wages and benefits, as well as a civil penalty of three times the lost wages and benefits.
  4. Time Off For Addicts And Those Who Need Help ReadingEmployers are also obligated to allow employees to take unpaid leave as a “reasonable accommodation” to participate in alcohol or drug rehabilitation programs, or adult literacy programs, if they employ 25 or more employees.  Lab. Code §§ 1025-26; 1041.

Fido and Friends

Many people recognize “Guide” dogs, who assist the visually impaired, and may even have seen other “Service” dogs that assist persons with various disabilities, but recent California regulations pave the way for many more furry and feathered friends to assist their disabled owners in the workplace.

The new guidance on disability accommodations in the workplace specifies that allowing an “Assistive animal” to accompany a disabled employee may be a reasonable accommodation that an employer needs to consider.  Specific cases include guide dogs, signal dogs, service dogs, and a new category: “‘Support’ dog[s] or other animal[s] that provide[] emotional or other support to a person with a disability.”  The regulations go on to point out that a support animal may be a reasonable accommodation for a person with major depression or similar mental disabilities. Continue reading “Fido and Friends”

Family Responsibilities Discrimination

Feel Discriminated Against Because You Have to Take Care of Your Family?

It is commonly known that an employer may not ask a prospective employee about his/her marital status or family issues because an employer may not discriminate against an applicant based on their family status. But what about discrimination based on family status after hiring? California may be close to passing a law that adds familial status to the list of protected categories under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Continue reading “Family Responsibilities Discrimination”