Restaurant & Food Service News

California promulga Ley de Acoso Sexual para trabajadores de limpieza

Sacramento, CA.: Una nueva ley laboral de California intenta asistir a los trabajadores de la industria de limpieza en combatir el acoso sexual en el trabajo. La ley, firmada el 15 de septiembre de 2016 por el gobernador Jerry Brown (D), asiste a los conserjes en entender y protegerse a sí mismos del acoso sexual y requiere a los patrones registrarse con la División de Cumplimiento de Normas Laborales de California.

November 4, 2016

FMLA Lawsuits on the Rise

Washington, DC: A new report from Bloomberg BNA (10/24/16) suggests the number of Family and Medical Leave Act lawsuits is on the rise. In California, FMLA lawsuits have been filed against employers, alleging violations of employee rights to family and medical leave.

According to a report by Bloomberg (10/24/16) the number of FMLA lawsuits filed has increased in the past four years. Based on data from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the number of private lawsuits regarding FMLA complaints filed in federal courts in 2012 was 404. By 2015, that number had jumped to 1,181. During the same period, the number of FMLA complaints made to the Department of Labor's (DOL) Wage and Hour Division dropped from 1,723 in 2012 to 1,419 in 2015. Going further back, in 2010 there were 2,094 complaints filed with the DOL.

Among the complaints made about FMLA violations to the Department of Labor in 2015, the highest number of complaints involved job termination, followed by discrimination and refusal to grant FMLA leave. Although not all of the complaints were found to have involved actual violations, 672 cases were found to have violations. Those cases involved 818 employees and back wages of more than $1,900,000.

One possible reason for the increase in lawsuits and decrease in DOL complaints is that under the FMLA, employees do not need to file a complaint with the DOL before they file a lawsuit.

In California, an FMLA lawsuit was reportedly filed by a man who alleges he was fired for taking time off to care for his newborn children. According to the Northern California Record (10/11/16), Stanley T. Shen worked for Recreational Equipment Inc (REI) from March 2005 until October 2015. In both 2013 and 2015, he requested four weeks of unpaid FMLA leave so he could take care of his newborn children. In both cases, he was allegedly only given two weeks of FMLA leave.

The lawsuit alleges Shen was fired in retaliation for taking his FMLA leave.

Employees who have worked for a covered employer (either a public agency or a private employer who has 50 or more employees) for at least 12 months, for 1,250 or more hours during the year prior to the FMLA leave, and are at or within 75 miles of a location where at least 50 employees work are eligible for FMLA coverage.

The lawsuit is Shen v. Recreational Equipment, Inc., et al. 2:16-cv-07308, in US District Court for the Central District of California.

November 4, 2016

Undocumented Workers Have Rights, Represent Value to California Economy

Sacramento, CA: While undocumented workers and illegal immigrants have been taking a pounding (primarily from the Republican candidate) in the US Presidential election, the fact remains that undocumented workers in California make up ten percent of the State’s overall work force and represents a contribution of $130 billion to the gross domestic product in the State.

October 29, 2016

California Nurses File Claims Against Twin Cities Community Hospital

Templeton, CA: Fifty-three nurses have filed administrative claims against Twin Cities Community Hospital, alleging they have been victims of California labor violations, which resulted in them not receiving their legally mandated breaks. An administrative claim is a step before a civil lawsuit, which could be filed depending on the outcome of the administrative claim.

October 22, 2016

A Relationship between California OSHA and Wells Fargo

Pomona, CA: As occupational health and safety regulations continue to be strengthened, California OSHA complaints have evolved from the sensational debacle surrounding allegations that banking giant Wells Fargo established accounts in the names of various Wells Fargo clients allegedly without their permission, in a bid to increase fees. Various fines have been levied against the bank, investigations have been launched and thousands of Wells Fargo employees have lost their jobs in the wake of the alleged wrongdoing.

October 15, 2016

California Enacts Sexual Harassment Law Targeting Janitorial Industry

Sacramento, CA: A new California labor law attempts to assist workers in the janitorial industry combat sexual harassment at the workplace. The law, which was signed on September 15, 2016, by California Governor Jerry Brown (D), assists janitors in understanding and protecting themselves from sexual harassment and requires janitorial employers to register with California's Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.

October 5, 2016

Disappointing Outcome for California FMLA Plaintiff

San Bernardino, CA: In somewhat of a curious outcome to a California FMLA and harassment lawsuit, a jury has found in favor of the City of Redlands in a lawsuit brought by a former employee who alleged discrimination and harassment by the City and a City employee.

September 30, 2016

California ERISA Lawsuit Alleges Pension Underfunding Worth $1.2 Billion

Los Angeles, CA: A California ERISA lawsuit is demonstrative of the interpretation possible with regard to just what is, and isn’t a so-called ‘church’ pension plan. The latter is a less-restrictive, less-regulated entity that is not required to meet the normally strict guidelines and requirements for managing an employee pension plan under provisions of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, as amended in 1974.

September 23, 2016

California Court Finds Employee Contract Clause Unenforceable

San Francisco, CA: California's Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that employer contracts preventing employees from filing class action lawsuits and requiring employees to file claims through separate proceedings are not enforceable. This means that employees who have signed arbitration clauses in their contracts and had their rights violated may be able to file a California labor lawsuit in situations they may not have been able to before. California labor lawsuits are frequently filed in relation to wage and hour violations, but some companies have moved to clauses requiring employees to file individual arbitrations to settle legal disputes.

September 9, 2016

Farm Owners Required to Comply With Overtime Law

Sacramento, CA: When it comes to California compliance overtime laws might be among the laws that are most widely violated. Employers are accused of misclassifying employees as exempt from California overtime, or just full-out failing to pay non-exempt workers for overtime hours. In some cases, workers aren't even eligible for overtime pay, or have different standards for paying overtime. One group of workers - farmworkers - could soon see that change.

Currently, California agricultural workers can receive overtime if they work more than 10 hours in a day and more than six days in a workweek. Proposed changes to the law would see their overtime pay increase over four years, beginning with July 1, 2019, when agricultural workers would receive overtime pay after 9.5 hours in one workday or 55 hours in one workweek. The overtime pay would increase by a half hour each year so that by 2022, agricultural workers would receive overtime pay after eight hours in one workday or 40 hours in a workweek.

The bill was proposed by California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) and was approved by the Assembly 44-32. AB 1066 will now be submitted to the governor.

"The whole world eats the food provided by California farmworkers, yet we don't guarantee fair overtime pay for the backbreaking manual labor they put in to keep us fed," said Gonzalez. "We know this is the right thing to do, and thanks to the hard work of an incredible coalition throughout the state and across the country, we're now one step closer to finally providing our hard-working farmworkers the dignity they deserve."

The bill changes a long history of farmworkers either being exempt from overtime pay or working longer hours until overtime pay begins. When the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was passed in 1938, agriculture workers were not included. In 1941, California exempted agriculture workers from overtime. That lasted until 1976, when legislation established the current 10-hour day overtime modifications.

According to a statement from Assemblywoman Gonzalez, recent data suggests the median personal income of California farmworkers is only $14,000, while the industry as a whole reportedly brought in more than $50 billion in 2014.

Some groups, including the California Farm Bureau Federation, the Western Growers Association and agricultural producers fought against the bill, arguing that it would put California farms at a competitive disadvantage.

But the United Farm Workers said in a statement that excluding farm workers from overtime in 1938 was a grievous wrong.

"This deplorable caste system must end…and it starts in California, which provides over half of America's fresh produce and sets the pace for the entire nation," the organization said.

September 3, 2016
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