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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.