Restaurant & Food Service News

Wage and Hour Lawsuits Continue to Percolate in California

San Mateo, CA: Yet another California based health care facility has been hit with a California wage and hour lawsuit, alleging that hourly employees have not been paid their correct overtime wages, nor have they been provided with rest breaks and meal periods in accordance with California labor law.

August 28, 2016

Pulitzer Prize Winner Files Discrimination Lawsuit

Los Angeles, CA: The Los Angeles Times is used to reporting on lawsuits, but now it faces a California discrimination lawsuit of its own, filed by a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. Jeffrey Gottlieb filed the lawsuit, alleging age discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.

August 24, 2016

Makers of Rooster Sauce Sues over California Harassment

Irwindale, CA: Harassment can take on many forms, and in this case it’s not so much an employee feeling harassed by an employer at the workplace, but the manufacturer of a hot sauce suing the City of Irwindale, for California harassment.

August 19, 2016

Gretchen Carlson's Wrongful Termination Lawsuit Against Fox

Sacramento, CA: Women who have been victims of sexual harassment at work may have given a little cheer when Gretchen Carlson filed a wrongful termination lawsuit and sexual harassment lawsuit against Roger Ailes, Carlson's former boss at Fox News. And although the lawsuit was filed in New Jersey, the implications of the suit will likely be felt across the US, as the defendant argues the lawsuit should be dismissed and sent to arbitration. In the meantime, more women have come forward alleging a pattern of sexual harassment from Ailes.

August 4, 2016

Yet Another Wage and Hour Lawsuit Claims Lack of Overtime From Uber

San Francisco, CA: A proposed class action wage and hour lawsuit by a former UberX driver is accusing the San Francisco-based company of failing to pay its drivers overtime. While plaintiff Jaswinder Singh hails from New Jersey, which is where the lawsuit was filed, the proposed class action becomes a California Wage and Hour lawsuit by default, by virtue of the California headquarters for Uber, and a proposed class action that could potentially benefit drivers from the Golden State.

July 30, 2016

Florida Blue Agrees to Settle ERISA Lawsuit

Sacramento, CA: Florida Blue has agreed to settle an ERISA lawsuit, in a move that could have implications for a similar lawsuit filed in California. The lawsuit involves the insurer's refusal to cover Harvoni, a potentially life-saving drug that has been shown to successfully treat hepatitis C.

Florida Blue was one of multiple insurance companies - including Blue Shield of California and Anthem Blue Cross Life - that face lawsuits alleging violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and/or other acts designed to protect patients and policyholders.

Harvoni has been proven successful at treating hepatitis C in up to 95 percent of cases, and with few side effects. But patients with hepatitis C say their insurance companies have denied them the treatment, finding their livers are not damaged enough to warrant the medication, or arguing that the treatment is too experimental.

Plaintiffs say the real reason claims for the treatment are turned down is the price. An eight-week treatment course costs around $63,000 while a 12-week course is around $99,000. So even though it is effective, it's also costly.

As a result of the denials - which policyholders say put their lives and their health in jeopardy - lawsuits were filed against multiple insurance companies. That's because hepatitis C is linked to permanent liver damage, liver cancer, and death. According to the lawsuits, up to 70 percent of patients with hepatitis C will develop chronic liver disease. Patients without liver damage are still reportedly at a higher risk of heart attack, joint pain, and arthritis. Lawsuits filed against insurance companies encompass both ERISA-covered plans and those that are not covered by ERISA.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida (doing business as Florida Blue) has now reportedly agreed to settle the ERISA lawsuit filed against it. According to court documents, plaintiffs in the lawsuit alleged Florida Blue's actions "increase the risk of developing liver cancer by 15%."

Bloomberg BNA (6/23/16) reports Florida Blue has now agreed to cover Harvoni for its policyholders with hepatitis C. Plans covered by ERISA and those not covered by it are included in the settlement, which was given preliminary approval by Judge Robin L. Rosenberg.

What effect this settlement will have on similar lawsuits remains to be seen.

The lawsuit is Oakes v. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Florida, Inc., case number 9:16-cv-80028, in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The Blue Shield of California lawsuit is Homampour et al v. California Physicians' Service, case number 3:15-cv-05003, in US District Court, Northern District of California.

July 22, 2016

TrueCar Truly Believes It Is Compliant with California Law

Santa Monica, CA: In an ongoing California compliance battle between the California New Car Dealers Association (CNCDA) and TrueCar Inc. (TrueCar), the former continues to chase the latter in the courts over what the CNCDA feels is unlawful pricing, together with false and misleading advertising on the part of TrueCar, or so it is alleged.

February 8, 2016

California Minimum Wage Increases

San Diego, CA: As of January 1, 2016, the California minimum wage has increased to $10.00 per hour. That means all eligible employees must be paid at least $10.00 per hour for regular hours. Employees who are not properly paid the minimum wage may be eligible to file a wage and hour lawsuit against their employer.

January 10, 2016

Judge in Uber Case Rules on Arbitration Agreements

San Francisco, CA: Plaintiffs in the Uber misclassification lawsuit have been handed another victory in their litigation against the ridesharing company. The judge in the lawsuit has ruled against Uber’s arbitration agreement, setting the stage for thousands more plaintiffs to join the lawsuit.

December 28, 2015

California Fair Pay Act About to Take Effect

Sacramento, CA: On January 1, 2016, California’s Fair Pay Act, SB 358 (Jackson), will take effect. The bill will give more grounds for employees to challenge pay discrimination. In addition to addressing wage disparity, the bill is designed to prevent employers from retaliating against employees who discuss their pay.

According to the California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA), women working full time in California lose more than $33 billion annually to the wage gap, earning around 84 cents for every dollar a man earns. The statistics are even bleaker for minority women, who earn as low as 44 cents per dollar earned by white men. The California Employment Lawyers Association further argues that employers effectively prohibit or discourage employees from discussing their pay, preventing lower paid employees from fighting against pay disparity out of fear of retaliation.

Although there are existing state and federal laws that address pay inequality, those laws contain loopholes that make it easier for employers to prevent employee discussions of their pay. For example, one of the provisions in the existing California law regards wage differentials only when they occur at the same establishment, not within the same company. So a woman doing the same work as a man, for the same company but at a different office could still be paid less without breaking the law.

“Pay secrecy also contributes to the gender wage gap, because women cannot challenge wage discrimination that they do not know exists,” the bill states. “Although California law prohibits employers from banning wage disclosures and retaliating against employees for engaging in this activity, in practice many employees are unaware of these protections and others are afraid to exercise these rights due to potential retaliation.”

Revisions to the bill would mean employers would have to prove a wage differential is based not on gender but on seniority, merit, quantity or quality of production, or another legal factor other than sex. Otherwise, if men and women do substantially similar work, they must be paid the same even if their job titles and employment locations are different. Furthermore, employers would be prohibited from retaliating or discrimination against any employee who attempts to protect her rights based on the bill, and would further be prohibited from preventing employees from discussing their wages or the wages of other employees.

Employers who are found to violate the law could face legal action. The new bill could see a rise in gender pay discrimination once it takes effect.

December 20, 2015
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