Employers Can’t Average Piece-Rate/Flag-Rate …

Employers Can’t Average Piece-Rate/Flag-Rate Pay to Meet Minimum Wage Compliance

Flag RateA California appeals court ruled that auto mechanics paid on a piece-rate basis were entitled to minimum wage for time spent waiting during their shifts and that the employer could not average their compensation to show that they complied by paying them minimum wage by averaging total compensation over total hours worked in a given pay period.

The Gonzalez v L.A. Motors case dealt with an issue of whether an employer that compensates its automotive service technicians on a piece-rate basis for repair work must also pay those technicians a separate hourly minimum wage for time spent during their work shifts waiting for vehicles to repair or performing other non-repair tasks.

Wage Order No. 4 clearly states that “[e]very employer shall pay to each employee…not less that the applicable minimum wage for all hours worked….” The employer argued that they paid their employees more than minimum wage for all their working hours. The Court applied the ruling from the 2005 case, Armenta v. Osmose Inc., which held that using an averaging method to determine an employer’s minimum wage obligation violates California law, and concluded that a piece-rate formula that does not compensate directly for all time worked does not comply with California Labor Codes, even if, averaged out, it would pay at least minimum wage for all hours worked.

The appeals court upheld the trial court’s award of $553,653 in uncompensated time, $1,555,078 for waiting time, and another $237,840 in penalties for willful failure to pay wages.

Jury Awards $1 Million in Sexual Harassment Case

Jury-awards-Millions-sexual-harassment

A Los Angeles jury awarded over $1 million in damages to a former Merle Norman Cosmetics employee for finding that the company retaliated against her after she reported its two top officers for sexual harassment.  allegedly making sexually offensive remarks to her and a co-worker.

The victim, Stephanie Kelley, said that she initially felt comfortable at the cosmetic firm but things changed when her supervisor, Jack Nethercutt, started making sexually offensive remarks to her and a co-worker. Nethercutt inappropriately commented to Kelley about the attire of Sarah Tillman, her co-worker, stating Tillman should do more to show off her breasts. Continue reading “Jury Awards $1 Million in Sexual Harassment Case”

Sharon Stone Sued for Firing Her Injured Housekeeper

sharon-stone-suedAngelica Castillo hurt her back while loading groceries for Sharon Stone. A few months later, Ms. Castillo was placed on modified work duty as a result of her back injury and instructed to take a short period of bed rest. Sharon Stone denied her request for medical leave and told her to report to work the next day.  When Ms. Castillo arrived for work, Stone insisted she lift heavy objects despite her doctor’s warning not to do so. When Castillo reminded Stone that her doctor had placed her on modified work duty, Stone fired her.

Ms. Castillo’s wrongful termination claims include retaliation for requesting medical leave and modified cleaning duties to accommodate a work-related injury as recommended by her physician, failure to engage in the interactive process, and wrongful termination. By way of her lawsuit, Ms. Castillo is seeking general and special damages with interest, incidental and coincidental damages, punitive and exemplary damages, and costs and interest, including attorneys’ and expert witness fees, as well as injunctive relief and a declaration that Stone engaged in unlawful employment discrimination.

The case is Angelica Castillo v. Sharon Stone, Los Angeles Superior Court Case Number BC502597.