AB 2074 – Recovery of Wages: Liquidated Damages
California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill several weeks ago that revises the state labor law and provides additional protections to workers by allowing them more time to seek liquidated damages when pursuing claims against an employer for failure to pay minimum wage.
Also called “Recovery of Wages: Liquidated Damages”, AB 2074 was carried by Assemblyman Roger Hernandez of West Covina, and brings parity between the statute of limitations for minimum wage claims and the statute of limitations for liquidated damages on those claims. AB 2074 amends Section 1194.2 of the Labor Code relating to employment and in any action under Section 98, 1193.6, 1194 or 1197.1 seeking wage recovery for minimum wage violations, an employee may recover liquidated damages in an amount equal to the wages unlawfully unpaid, according to the bill.
“AB 2074 holds companies accountable for wage theft and simplifies the process for recovering illegally held wages,” Hernandez commented about his bill. “AB 2074 only targets businesses who fail to follow the law. It is crucial that we protect the rights of our lowest paid workers, prevent abuse and curb labor law violations in California.”
The measure gained support from several labor groups, including the California Labor Federation, Unite Here, and the California Federation of Teachers. No opposition was officially filed.
Issuing Final Paychecks to Departing Employees
Many tasks must be handled properly when employment ends, especially the tasks related to the accurate and timely issuance of the employee’s last paycheck. Companies operating without proper procedures, or those just unaware of the rules may dock final employee paychecks due to excess sick days, dress code violations, or missing property and equipment. And while violations of company policy or the established code of conduct may warrant docking an employee’s pay, a company is best served if it avoids undue hassle with a departing employee and remains professional throughout the entire termination process. Even when an involuntary departure is triggered by a rule violation or performance problem, the employer should minimize the risk of legal liability, while not providing the departing individual with another reason to file an administrative claim or lawsuit.
Ordinance to Increase Minimum Wage for Select Workers in LA Hotels
On Wednesday, October 1, 2014, the Los Angeles City Council gave final approval to a minimum wage increase for workers in large hotels. Council members passed the ordinance in a preliminary vote last week, establishing a minimum hourly wage of $15.37 for workers at Los Angeles hotels with at least 125 guest rooms. If signed by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, the ordinance would go into effect in July 2015, creating one of the highest minimum wages in the country. The ordinance would apply first to hotels with more than 300 rooms. Those with at least 125 but fewer than 300 would have to comply by July 2016.
Late Paychecks Violate Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
From start-up to the most experienced small business, companies of all sizes can run low on cash due to late receivables or unexpected large expenses. It is in those situations, that some employers may delay payroll to ease the burden created by cash flow problems. If the poor financial condition of your employer’s business caused you to receive a late paycheck or no paycheck at all, your employer may have violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), also known as the wage and hour law.
Case in Point – The Federal Government
In Martin v. United States, the federal government paid its workers approximately two weeks late because of the government shut down in October 2013. A week after the shutdown ended, a group of federal government employees filed suit alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. § 201-219. On July 31, 2014 the U.S. Court of Federal Claims ruled that late paychecks resulted in a violation of the FLSA. The court concluded that the FLSA is violated when an employer fails to pay its employees all wages due on the regular pay day. And while the employees got their paychecks, they were entitled to liquidated damages in an amount equal to the late payments, plus attorneys’ fees.
New Law to Affect 6.5 Million Californians
On August 29, 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill mandating paid sick leave for nearly all employees in California. Lorena Gonzalez, a San Diego Assembly woman authored the bill that will require nearly all California employers to provide a minimum of three paid sick days to their workers, marking a landmark victory for workers’ rights. The bill is expected to affect approximately 40 percent of the state’s workforce, or more than 6.5 million California employees who have no paid sick days.
During a signing ceremony on September 10, 2014 in Los Angeles, Governor Brown remarked, “Whether you’re a diswasher in San Diego or a store clerk in Oakland, this bill frees you of having to choose between your family’s health and your job.”
Franchisor Not Liable for Sexual Harassment of Franchisee’s Employee under FEHA
In Patterson v. Domino’s Pizza, LLC., the California Supreme Court addressed the issue of whether a franchisor, such as Domino’s Pizza, LLC., can be held vicariously liable for claims of alleged sexual harassment by an employee of a franchisee, such as an individually owned Domino’s Pizza store. Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), an “employer” is strictly liable for all acts of sexual harassment by a supervisor. The Court held, in a 4-3 decision, that Domino’s Pizza, LLC was not liable for the actions of a shift manager employed by one of its franchisees because Domino’s did not exercise the requisite level of control over the franchisee.
Patterson v. Domino’s Pizza, LLC, No. S204543, 2014 WL 4236175 (Cal. Aug. 28, 2014).
The plaintiff, Taylor Paterson, filed suit against Domino’s Pizza, LLC., the franchisee, and the
Professional Networking Site LinkedIn to Pay $6 Million for FLSA Violations
After being investigated by the US Labor Department for Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) violations, LinkedIn has been forced to pay out nearly $6 million in damages and unpaid overtime to 359 employees in California, Illinois, Nebraska and New York.
The investigation revealed violations of the overtime and record-keeping parts of the FLSA. Specifically, LinkedIn failed to properly pay and account for “off-the-clock” hours worked by non-exempt employees. These hours should have been recorded on the employee’s timesheets and paid either at the employee’s usual rate or at an overtime rate where such work caused the employee’s hours to exceed 40 in a workweek. Under California law, overtime is required where an employee works in excess of 8 hours in a workday or in excess of 40 hours in a workweek.
Appellate Court’s Opinion
On September 3, 2014 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of class certification (overtime class action) to Jack Jiminez and about 800 other Allstate employees in California who alleged that Allstate has a practice or unofficial policy of requiring its claim adjusters to work unpaid off-the-clock overtime in violation of California law.
The Appellate Court holds that the district court did not abuse its discretion in applying Fed. R. Civ. P.23 (a)(2)’s commonality requirement and that the class certification order did not violate Allstate’s due process rights. Specifically, the panel held that the class certification order preserved Allstate’s opportunity to raise any individualized defenses at the damages phase, and that the district court’s approval of statistical modeling did not violate Allstate’s due process rights.