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Employment Law Issues and Sweatshop Violations in California

It isn’t very common to find employees in the United States let alone in California working in sweatshop conditions, however this hit close to home. However some employers will never learn and will continue to treat employees unlawfully.  If you have experienced such instances, contact your Los Angeles employment lawyer immediately.

One recent case takes place in Los Angeles.  According to an article from Lawyers and Settlements, O & K Apparel Inc. has been ordered by California Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su to pay its 110 employees $13,785 in California overtime wages plus penalties of $61,450 for failing to pay proper overtime, and $307,250 for issuing improper itemized/deduction statements.

The article continues to explain that, “O & K Apparel Inc., which is based in Los Angeles, makes women’s garments and has been paying its employees by the piece, or piecework.”  The California labor code states that garment contractors are required to provide accurate itemized statements to employees showing total hours worked by the employees, and if paid by the piece, they must show the number of pieces produced for specific manufacturers and the rate of pay for each piece in addition to the total hours worked.

The rest of the article explains a statement from Labor Commissioner Su, explaining that there is no place for sweatshop conditions in our 21st century economy. Su explains, “piece rate payment cannot be used as an end-run around the basic requirement that all workers in California receive a just day’s pay for a hard day’s work, including overtime pay for overtime hours worked. In addition, California law requires itemized wage statements so employees know how much they worked and what they earned. In this case, the pay stubs did not include any of that information, which makes it hard for workers to know when their wages are being stolen right out from under them.”

Future Employment Lawyers: The Top 5 Law Schools with Best Employment Prospects

Whether you have heard or not, lately the trend in law school students finding jobs after graduation has been at an all time low.  According to Policy Mic, “this trend is glaringly rampant in law schools. Only 86% of the nation’s class of 2011 law students found employment after graduation, a figure that is six points lower than four years prior. Those who find employment have an average annual starting salary of $60,000, which is $12,000 less than was the median in 2009.”

A law degree is exciting and an awarding accomplishment to have under your belt. Hard work and valuable knowledge comes with sacrifice in order to fulfill a rewarding career in the future.  Often people graduate students attend graduate school in order to continue to pursue what they love or are interested in, in hopes of finding a fulfilling career post graduation.  If you are a future law student in the making, whether you are looking to get into employment law or other fields, your hard work will pay off.  Check out the top 5 law schools with the best employment prospects according to Policy Mic.

  1. Columbia University School of Law
  2. University of Chicago Law School
  3. University of California at Berkeley School of Law
  4. Northwestern University School of Law
  5. New York University School of Law

For more information on the starting median salaries and percentage of students finding work after graduation read here.

Employment Law: Everything You Need to Know About Family and Medical Leave Act

There are many cases where an employee feels the need to take time off of work to care for a sick loved one.  Many may not know that could qualify for their company’s Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).  It is important to understand your employee privileges in case a situation should arise.  If you have encountered issues with FMLA contact your Los Angeles employment lawyer today.

What does the Family and Medical Leave Act entail?  According to US News, “The Family and Medical Leave Act took effect in 1993 to help balance workplace demands with the medical needs of employees and their families. You’re entitled to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period for your own serious health condition, or to care for an immediate family member who has a serious health condition. You may also use the FMLA for what the Department of Labor website refers to as “birth and bonding:” an extended parental leave for the birth or adoption of a child, and for bonding with a new foster child.”

Check out these facts on determining your eligibility according to US News:

  • Not every employee is eligible.
  • Your employer may require that you use paid leave first
  • Your employer may require proof of the serious health condition
  • A job is guaranteed to you, but not necessarily the same job you had before.

You may request additional time to care for a member of the military

Find out everything you need to know about FMLA here.

Your Los Angeles Employment Lawyer Talks Law School Financial Aid

If you are in the process of applying to law schools, often you are more concerned about studying for the LSAT or researching schools rather than thinking about the financial costs of attending, which is often considered a burden for many.  The top law schools, such as Yale and Harvard’s tuition can often run over $50,000 per year and that doesn’t include the cost of living.  However, the cost shouldn’t be the determining factor on chasing your goals.  Don’t stress, your Los Angeles employment lawyer explains all you need to know about making the process less complicated.

• Need-based aid: Those looking to apply need-based financial aid are typically required to provide parental financial information, however each school varies on the type of information required. It is important to note that receiving grants is typically more difficult to receive as loans are readily available.

• Merit-based aid: According to US News, this source of paying for law school is often overlooked by applicants since there is often no special application for it, and it is usually not highlighted by law schools. However, merit-based aid can substantially reduce the cost of law school from the start, so parents should focus their efforts on helping their children attain the highest possible merit-based packages.

When it comes to receiving scholarships, your LSAT score, GPA, extra-curricular activities and internships are highly considered in the process when awarding aid. The application process can be quite challenging, it is recommended to set up an appointment with an admissions counselor to help guide you through any possible inquiries.

Military Members/Veterans and Employment Law Violations

American troops are proud for what they stand for, fighting for our country’s rights.  Unfortunately the story isn’t so sweet upon their arrival back to the states.  Many veterans come home, struggling to find careers in order to make ends meet.  The process is difficult as employers often aren’t fond of the idea of having a veteran work for them.  If you have experienced veteran and military status discrimination, contact your Los Angeles employment lawyer for a consultation.  Check out these common signs of discrimination against veterans.

1.    An employer claims the job is no longer available. 

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act protects returning veterans from job loss due to their military service. If you held a position before deployment, many employers don’t realize that returning veterans have the right to return to their previous job.

2.    The employer has no desire to hire veterans

Unfortunately some employers fear that military members will be re deployed missing a significant amount of days.  USERRA explains that employers cannot refuse to hire a military service person because of their status.

3.    The employer takes away accrued vacation time.

USERRA protects any benefits or vacation time accrued while in service.  In other words you are still entitled to vacation time as if you were working there.

4.    Harassment.

Under President Obama’s Veterans Opportunity to Work (VOW) to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, harassment against military service members or veterans is illegal.

5.    Discrimination Against Disability.

There are cases when veterans come home with disabilities acquired while in combat.  Under The Americans With Disabilities Act, disability discrimination is illegal. This includes demotion, firing and refusing employment. According to the act, “if a veteran can perform all the duties of the job with a reasonable accommodation, the accommodation must be provided.”

FedEx Deals with Employment Law Case

A California woman was terminated from FedEx for entering her time card incorrectly.  Although her employer most likely has not violated California Labor Laws, the woman claims that she was wrongfully terminated.  If you have experienced time card manipulation issues contact your Los Angeles employment law attorney for a confidential consultation.

According to online legal news source, Lawyers and Settlements, California’s Labor Code states that an employment relationship with no specified duration is presumed to be employment “at-will.” In theory, this means that the employer or employee may terminate the employment relationship at any time, with or without cause. But it isn’t black and white. The at-will rule created by statute, the courts or public policy has exceptions. An employer can terminate a worker at will and, as long as it isn’t for the “wrong” reason, they won’t violate the California labor code.

The woman claims that she was fired for “stealing” from the company for entering the wrong information on her time card.  The woman, who began with FedEx in 2006 as a lead project coordinator, claimed that her job was going well until eight months into the job, a dispute took place between with her assistant manager over leaving work to pick up her daughter from school.

Ever since then, her work environment turned hostile.  She was able to transfer locations, however her home life took a turn for the worse, filing for divorce after 20 years of marriage.  She became clinically depressed and was prescribed anti-depressant pills with caused her to become forgetful, her main claim for forgetting to clock out and miscalculate her hours.  Even with a doctor’s note, FedEx still does not buy the claim and till today the woman has yet to return to work.

Employment Law: Difference Between Independent Contractor and Employee

An independent contractor is a person or business that provides good or services to another entity under the terms of a contract of agreement.  An independent contractor, also known as a freelancer, does not work regularly for an employer, but as needed.  If you have been misclassified as an independent contractor, contact your Los Angeles employment lawyer for a confidential consultation.

The benefits of working with an independent contractor, generally means the employer saves money via lower taxes, no benefits, workers compensation and lower taxes.  However, if legal issues were to arise serious claims may result from unpaid taxes, wages civil fines, attorney fees and the possibility of criminal charges.

The United States Supreme Court explains that there are no clearly defined rules that determining employees and independent contractors. Rather, overall relationship plays a key role in determining.

  • The skill required
  • The source of the instrumentalities and tools
  • The location of the work
  • The extent of the hired party’s discretion over when and how long to work
  • The method of payment
  • The hired party’s role in hiring and paying assistants
  • Whether the hiring party is in business
  • The provision of employee benefits
  • The tax treatment of the hired party

Who Would Have Thought? The 10 Weirdest Laws

We figured we would spice it up this week  and switch gears from employment law and talk about the weirdest laws you have probably never heard of, but in fact are illegal! Crazy laws are in fact true around the country and the world.  Who ever thought that up until recently, it was illegal to throw a Frisbee at the beach in Los Angeles County without a lifeguard’s permission? Annoying, weird, we know.  We figured we’d find a few more wacky laws to inform you about via AOL travel.

1. In Alabama, it is unlawful to wear a false mustache in church and cause “unseemly laughter.” The state also keeps a law against driving while blindfolded on the books, just in case you are in a hurry to get to church and do not want to be sidelined by even the possibility of seeing someone with a false mustache and risk breaking into a gale of chortles.

2. In Phoenix, Arizona, the law states that every man who enters the city limits must wear pants. Maybe this was aimed at Scottish bagpipe players, but the law has ensured the city stays clean of men in skirts from wherever they hail.

3. In Hawaii, coins may not to be placed in one’s ears. You can wear them in your nose, on your toes and under your arms but the ears are definitely out. Magicians take note.

4. In Montana, it is illegal for married women to go fishing alone on Sundays. And it is illegal for unmarried women to fish alone at all. This law is so critical to the upholding of ethical behavior in the state that the Billings Convention and Visitors Bureau featured the tidbit of information on its website.

5. In Vermont, women must obtain written permission from their husbands to wear false teeth. But a note from hubby should make it all ok again no matter where the spectacle occurs.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act Violations

In tough economic times, finding employment is tough, unfortunately even harder for older employees.  Some employers often assume that older employees are close to retirement and don’t need a job, have too many medical issues resulting in missing work.  However this is all too false, especially in this day and age.  If you believe that you are being discriminated against at work because of your age, you should be aware that laws exist to protect you from unlawful age discrimination contact your Los Angeles employment lawyer today.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) is a Federal law that protects certain employees who are over 40 years of age from employment discrimination. The ADEA applies to most employers with 20 or more employees.  Age discrimination is illegal for most companies.  If you notice any of these signs, you may be a victim of age discrimination.

  • Biased comments from other co-workers, supervisors
  • Pay attention to how younger employees are treated, are they treated better?
  • Unequal discipline
  • Less qualified, younger employee receiving promotions
  • Older employees excluded from work functions, meetings, leads, etc.
  • Company hiring only younger employees

It is against the law to discriminate for your age.  Do not let the above explained affect your work environment. Get advice today

Employment Law: Pregnancy Discrimination Accommodations

Last month, a California Court of Appeal voted yes on Sanchez v. Swissport, Inc. a case where a California woman was terminated for being unable to return to her job after a 19 week pregnancy disability leave.  The case is a “wake-up” call of sorts for employers to understand that simply complying with California pregnancy disability laws is not necessarily enough.   It is unlawful in California for employers to discriminate in hiring, providing for leave, benefits or other conditions of employment due to pregnancy.  Contact your Los Angeles employment lawyer, if you believe you are a victim of pregnancy discrimination.

According to CalLaborLaw.com, the court held that an employer’s providing of the 16 weeks of leave for pregnancy disability does not automatically shield the employer from claims for failure to accommodate a disability or for gender/pregnancy discrimination under FEHA. The court reasoned that an extended leave of absence (beyond 16 weeks of pregnancy disability leave) may be a “reasonable accommodation” for a disability required under FEHA, and that Swissport may have been required to provide the additional leave time absent a showing of undue hardship.  The case was, therefore, remanded to the trial court level so that the employee’s FEHA claims could be litigated.

It is important for employers to understand the employee’s needs for any additional time needed after the expiration of their leave, rather than face the possibility of facing claims due to disability discrimination.  Pregnancy discrimination is a form of sex discrimination and should not be treated less favorably.