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employee rights

A recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision may be a big win for all drivers who work for ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft. On July 27, 2020, the highest court in Pennsylvania held that a part-time Uber driver was not “self-employed,” The designation is significant because Uber has consistently argued in lawsuits across the country that drivers are independent contractors and self-employed, not employees.

By categorizing the estimated 2.6 million Uber drivers in the U.S. as being self-employed, Uber is not required to provide any federal or state benefits. In this case, however, the sole issue was whether his part-time work with Uber disqualified him from unemployment benefits because an applicant who engages in an independent business venture is not eligible for unemployment benefits. While the decision is not binding on other states, it could be a significant victory for all ride-hailing drivers as well as gig workers more broadly.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently held that an Uber Driver is not “self-employed” which could have a signficant impact on pending litigation across the country.

The case in Pennsylvania involves a laid-off behavioral specialist who started working for Uber part-time. The driver, however, was denied unemployment benefits because his part-time work with Uber was categorized as an “independent business venture.” The court, however, ruled that the driver was not self-employed because Uber had “significant control” over his work, and therefore eligible for unemployment benefits due to losing his full-time job as a behavioral specialist. The court acknowledged that drivers do have some autonomy such as setting work hours and rejecting rides, but overall, the court found that there were more significant aspects of the contract that Uber controlled. For example, Uber sets the rate for services, drivers cannot establish work relationships with passengers, and drivers cannot subcontract their work.

While the decision is good news for drivers, the court stopped short of saying the decision should be applied broadly because “individual decisions must be made in specific cases based upon the unique facts presented in each circumstance.” Similarly, the court did not hold that the driver was an “employee” of Uber, which is the question at the core of lawsuits across the country.

Currently, under federal and state laws, independent contractors are generally not eligible for certain employee benefits such as overtime pay, meal/rest breaks, and paid sick time. While that question remains unsettled, litigation is pending in California and around the world and millions of drivers wait anxiously for a favorable decision that would provide them with the benefits and protection they deserve under federal and state law.

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Srourian Law Firm, with locations in Los Angeles, Westwood, Woodland Hills, and Orange County is experienced in all aspects of employment law including the representation of ride-hailing drivers and have aggressively represented employees in Los Angeles, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Orange, Irvine, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Fullerton, Tustin, Mission Viejo, San Clemente, Garden Grove, Laguna Niguel, Brea, Fountain Valley, Aliso Viejo, Yorba Linda, Westminster, Laguna Hills, Cypress, and La Habra.

If you or someone you know suffered employment violations as a ride-hailing driver, you may have certain employee rights under state and federal law, and may be entitled to compensation as a part of the class action lawsuit. Please contact us to speak with one of our lawyers for a free consultation.


Productivity quotas can result in unsafe working conditions when goals are unrealistic.

Losing your job is always difficult, particularly when you have worked very hard to be a good employee. Recently, some large corporations have been criticized for having unrealistic expectations regarding employee performance, and have fired employees for failing to be sufficiently productive at work. Here are some frequently asked questions that you may find helpful if you have been fired for failing to meet productivity quotas:

What are productivity quotas?

Productivity quotas are efficiency standards that an employer sets for employees. In other words, the employee is required to meet certain goals at work. Job performance and employee evaluations can be based on whether they meet productivity goals. For example, in a manufacturing plant, the productivity quota could require an employee to assemble “X” number of units per hour. Another example of a productivity quote would be for a delivery person to deliver “X” number of packages per shift. Failure to meet these goals would result in a poor performance evaluation.

Productivity quotes are often unilaterally established by employers, and employees have little or no input on what the productivity quotas are or whether they are realistic. As a result, employees feel tremendous pressure and stress to meet these goals to avoid a bad evaluation and possibly termination.

Are productivity quotas against the law?

No. Unfortunately, for the most part, productivity quotas are not against the law because employers have the right to evaluate the efficiency of employees. However, there are many local, state and federal laws that protect employees and productivity quotas do play a role in the larger question of whether an employee is the victim of an unlawful termination. For example, an employee may have a disability that is protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act which requires employers to provide a reasonable accommodation which may include an adjustment to any existing productivity quotas.

Also, failing to meet productivity quotes cannot be a pretext for an unlawful termination based on age, race, disability or protected activities including collective bargaining and whistleblowing. Other factors that must be considered with productivity quotas is whether employees are forced to forgo lawful meal and rest breaks in order to meet goals. In other words, employees are entitled to breaks under the law which includes proper compensation for tasks like clocking in or changing in to uniform. Employers are not allowed to penalize employees by setting productivity goals that encourage or require employees to work through breaks or not receive proper compensation. If you have been fired for failing to meet productivity goals, you should consult with an experienced labor attorney to determine whether the termination was lawful.

Can I be fired for failing to meet productivity quotas?

There is no simple answer to whether you can be legally fired for failing to meet productivity goals. Employers should have several ways to evaluate employee performance, and productivity goals should be one of many factors. However, all employment terminations must be lawful. In other words, if the only factor that leads to losing your job is failure to meet productivity quotas, there may be grounds to challenge that decision. For example, federal labor law requires a safe and secure workplace that is free of hazards. Therefore, employers cannot create a situation where the workplace is hazardous due to productivity quotas that would require employees to sacrifice safety in order to reach the goals out of fear of being fired. 

California law offers even stronger protections for employees and requires every employer to have an injury and illness prevention program which must include safety training and safe work practices. Moreover, according to California Labor Code section 6401, employers must “adopt and use practices, means, methods, operations, and processes which are reasonably adequate to render such employment and place of employment safe and healthful.” Therefore, unrealistic productivity quotas could threaten the safety and health of employees which employers are required by law to protect. Labor law is complex and whether your have a cause of action depends on the specific facts. You should consult an experienced labor attorney to discuss your case if you have been terminated.

Is California an “at-will” employment state? What does that mean?

Yes. California is an “at-will” state which generally means an employer may fire an employee at any time for any reason without “good cause.” Good cause means a reason for an employer to fire an employee such as insubordination or dishonesty. Therefore, as an at-will employment state, employers in California do not have to have good cause to fire an employee. However, the employee may not be fired for an illegal purpose or in violation of the employee’s rights.

All employees have rights, and employees in California benefit from some of the country’s strongest protections. So, even though California is an at-will state, which seems to allow an employer to fire an employee for any reason whatsoever, including failure to meet productivity quotas, the reality of labor law is much more complex. In most cases, you will need the advice of an experienced labor attorney to assess your case and file a lawsuit if you have been the victim of an unlawful termination.

FREE CONSULTATION

Srourian Law Firm, with locations in Los Angeles, Westwood, Woodland Hills, and Orange County is experienced in all aspects of employment law including termination based on productivity quotas and have aggressively represented employees in Los Angeles, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Orange, Irvine, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Fullerton, Tustin, Mission Viejo, San Clemente, Garden Grove, Laguna Niguel, Brea, Fountain Valley, Aliso Viejo, Yorba Linda, Westminster, Laguna Hills, Cypress, and La Habra.

If you or someone you know suffered employment violations as an employee including termination based on productivity quotas, you may have certain employee rights under state and federal law and may be entitled to overtime wages, meal breaks and rest breaks; as well as compensation as a part of the class action lawsuit. Please contact us to speak with one of our lawyers for a free consultation.


Employees must know their rights as businesses around the world continue to adapt to the challenges due to the CoVid-19 pandemic. As social distancing and other safety precautions are put in place, businesses must comply with local, state and federal requirements for maintaining a safe work environment and ensure the good health and safety of employees. Most laws enacted in response to CoVid-19 vary depending on whether a business is considered essential or non-essential. For example, non-essential businesses may not compel non-essential employees to report to work, and it is illegal to retaliate against any non-essential employee who refuses to go to work. Essential workers, however, also have protections that require employers to ensure and maintain a safe workplace.

In March 2020, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued new guidelines as a result of the pandemic to clarify existing federal law that protects employees. The guidelines address the additional health risks posed by CoVid-19. Under the “General Duties Clause” enacted in 1970, OSHA (as part of the Labor Code), requires employers ensure the workplace is free from “recognized hazards” that are likely to result in serious injury or death of employees.

29 U.S. Code § 654 (5)(a)(1): shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.

The new OSHA guidelines, for the most part, provide guidance that follows the advice of public health officials that are already recommended for everyone such as washing hands frequently and maintaining social distancing. While the guidelines are not legally binding, they do outline recommended precautions that employers should take in order to ensure the safety of employees.

The new guidelines address four categories, or controls, for businesses to ensure employee safety: (1) engineering, (2) administrative, (3) safe work practices, and (4) personal protective equipment. The first category, engineering, identifies safety measures to separate employees with physical barriers. Administrative controls include ensuring sick employees stay home, and creating enough space for employees to stay six feet apart. Under safe work practices, OSHA recommends that company policies and practices promote good health such as providing hand sanitizer, sufficient time to wash hands frequently, and having disinfecting products available. Finally, personal protection equipment includes providing masks, gloves and eye protection to reduce the risk of exposure to CoVid-19, and would depend on the type of work and level or risk.

Additional federal, state and local laws may provide additional protection to employees. For example, in Los Angeles County, local law requires social distancing in public as well as wearing non-surgical masks by employees of essential business as well as customers. Businesses that fail to provide employees with personal protective equipment or ensure customers are wearing masks are violating the law.

New OSHA guidelines clarify federal law protecting employees from hazards at work.

FREE CONSULTATION

Srourian Law Firm, with locations in Los Angeles, Westwood, Woodland Hills, and Orange County is experienced in all aspects of employment law including OSHA violations and have aggressively represented employees in Los Angeles, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Orange, Irvine, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Fullerton, Tustin, Mission Viejo, San Clemente, Garden Grove, Laguna Niguel, Brea, Fountain Valley, Aliso Viejo, Yorba Linda, Westminster, Laguna Hills, Cypress, and La Habra.

If you or someone you know suffered employment violations as an employee including OSHA violations, you may have certain employee rights under state and federal law. Employees may be entitled to damages as a part of the class action lawsuit. Please contact us to speak with one of our lawyers for a free consultation.


California law protects employees in the workplace and employees are required to maintain a safe and healthful workplace particularly during the current pandemic.

The challenges we are all facing due to COVID-19 have resulted in many changes at home and in the workplace. While everyone must adapt to the rules of social distancing and the mandatory Safer-at-Home restrictions, essential businesses must also ensure their employees are safe at work during this pandemic. Employees of essential businesses continue to provide vital services despite the health risks, and will keep America operating. These front-line workers are important and have rights under California law to ensure their safety, health and well-being.

Under California law, employers must provide “reasonably adequate” safety devices and safeguards to keep the work place “safe and healthful.” Moreover, California Labor Code section 6401 requires “every employer shall do every other thing reasonably necessary to protect the life, safety, and health of employees.” If your employer does not protect your health and safety, they are violating the law. While this is especially challenging during the current pandemic, employees have the right to be safe in the workplace.

EMPLOYERS MUST PROVIDE MASKS, GLOVES, SOAP AND SANITIZER

Even though the current COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented, given our understanding of the virus and how it is spread, essential workers that have contact with the public must be provided with masks, gloves, soap and sanitizing products. In addition, employees must be given time to properly wash their hands frequently, as recommended by health care organizations. Employers must also ensure that the workplace is clean and regularly sanitized for the protection of employees and customers.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) and most health care organizations, properly washing your hands with soap and water is the most effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as well as other disease.

The need for safeguards in the workplace is particularly important for health care providers and first responders who are more vulnerable simply because they are more likely to be in direct contact with contagious members of the public. Every effort must be made to provide sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) to every front-line worker to ensure their health and safety, and avoid further contagion.

State law also requires employers to reimburse employees for any expenses spent by employees to obtain necessary safety equipment. This also includes the cost of lodging if an employee is required to self-isolate because they live with someone who is considered vulnerable to the virus or has been diagnosed with the virus.

EMPLOYERS SHOULD ACCOMMODATE VULNERABLE EMPLOYEES    

Employees who are considered vulnerable to the virus by having a pre-existing medical condition, may request an accommodation to work from home. If the accommodation is reasonable, the employer must accommodate the request or may violate protections granted under California’s Fair Employment & Housing Act (FEHA). Since California is under a state of emergency due to the virus, employees should know what changes have been made to provide workers with protection during the pandemic.

For example, while employers may ask employees whether they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, this information is confidential and the employee’s medical condition remains private. Similarly, if a co-worker has tested positive for the virus, or is believed to have the virus, the employer must follow the guidelines established by the local public health department as well as any current state or federal health recommendations. That may include closing the work place, deep cleaning and allowing employees to work remotely. Most importantly, employers cannot reveal the name of the employees that have tested positive or are suspected of having the virus.

FREE CONSULTATION

Srourian Law Firm, with locations in Los Angeles, Westwood, Woodland Hills, and Orange County is experienced in all aspects of employment law including failure to ensure a safe and healthful workplace  and have aggressively represented employees in Los Angeles, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Orange, Irvine, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Fullerton, Tustin, Mission Viejo, San Clemente, Garden Grove, Laguna Niguel, Brea, Fountain Valley, Aliso Viejo, Yorba Linda, Westminster, Laguna Hills, Cypress, and La Habra.

If you or someone you know suffered employment violations as an employee such as failure to ensure a safe and healthful workplace in California, you may have certain employee rights under state and federal law and may be entitled to unpaid wages, interest, attorneys’ fees and costs, and/or be entitled to compensation as a part of the class action lawsuit. Please contact us to speak with one of our experienced lawyers for a free consultation.


According to a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, employees in the cannabis industry are protected under the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA) even though the sale of marijuana is prohibited under federal law.

In the case, Kenney v. Helix TCS, the lead plaintiff, security guard Robert Kenney, filed a suit against his former employer, Helix TCS, Inc., a service provider to the legal (state-sanctioned) cannabis industry. Kenney is seeking unpaid overtime pay, damages and costs on behalf of all similarly situation security guards and site supervisors.

Workers in the Cannabis Industry May Be Entitled to Overtime Pay

In the complaint, Kenney alleges that Helix misclassified all security guards as exempt employees. and failed to pay overtime required under the FLSA. In an unsuccessful motion to dismiss, defendant Helix maintains that the FLSA applies only to legal businesses, and the sale of recreational marijuana violates federal law. In essence, despite Colorado law allowing the sale of recreational marijuana, Helix argues that due to the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), Kenney, and all Helix employees, are essentially engaging in illegal “drug trafficking” and therefore not protected under the FLSA.

The appellate court affirmed the denial of defendant’s motion to dismiss and held that “employers are not excused from complying with federal laws just because their business practices are federally prohibited.” Moreover, the clear intent of the FLSA is to protect the workers’ well-being, and not to regulate potential illegal activities. Similarly, marijuana workers are not specifically exempt from the FLSA nor does the CSA repeal the protection guaranteed under the FLSA for workers in the cannabis industry. On the contrary, the FLSA has been amended to exclude certain categories of employees in response to the CSA, and has refused to exclude cannabis workers from protection under the FLSA.

The Definition of “Employee” Is Very Broad Under the FLSA

Notably, the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized the “striking breadth” of the definition of employee under the FLSA and purposefully expansive scope designed to maximize the full reach of the Act. As more states legalize the sale of recreational marijuana, this case serves as a reminder that workers in the cannabis industry are protected under the FLSA despite the CSA. Moreover, this is one example of how federal law will not trump a more permissive state law and allow employers in the cannabis industry to deny protections afforded under the FLSA.

California Marijuana Workers and Employee Rights under Federal and State Laws

The California courts have yet to decide the issue of cannabis industry workers and their employee rights under the FLSA. As the courts consider this issue, marijuana workers should be aware of their rights under the California Labor Code and the FLSA. In most cases, workers in the cannabis industry are protected and have employment rights including overtime wages, meal and rest breaks, and protection from missing wages or late paychecks.

California is one of 11 states that permit the sale of marijuana for recreational purposes. Because state marijuana laws are in conflict with federal law prohibiting the sale of cannabis, courts are being asked to protect marijuana workers rights.

FREE CONSULTATION

Srourian Law Firm, with locations in Los Angeles, Westwood, Woodland Hills, and Orange County is experienced in all aspects of employment law including wage and overtime pay and have aggressively represented employees in Los Angeles, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Orange, Irvine, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Fullerton, Tustin, Mission Viejo, San Clemente, Garden Grove, Laguna Niguel, Brea, Fountain Valley, Aliso Viejo, Yorba Linda, Westminster, Laguna Hills, Cypress, and La Habra.

If you or someone you know suffered employment violations as an employee in the cannabis industry in California, you may have certain employee rights under state and federal law. Marijuana workers may be entitled to overtime wages, meal breaks and rest breaks; and may be entitled to compensation as a part of the class action lawsuit. Please contact us to speak with one of our lawyers for a free consultation.


Most people eagerly await payday in order to pay rent and bills on time, or maybe to splurge a little. Getting a late paycheck, regardless of the reason, is not only frustrating, but it could be against the law. Under California labor laws, employers must pay you on time, or they are violating your rights and breaking the law.

In general, employees must be paid by a certain date depending on whether paychecks are issued every two weeks (bi-weekly) or twice a month (bi-monthly). There are some narrow exceptions that apply to certain types of employees, such as salaried monthly executives, but the vast majority of employees are protected under California Labor Code section 204(a).

California Labor Code § 204(a) (in relevant part)

Labor performed between the 1st and 15th days, inclusive, of any calendar month shall be paid for between the 16th and the 26th day of the month during which the labor was performed, and labor performed between the 16th and the last day, inclusive, of any calendar month, shall be paid for between the 1st and 10th day of the following month.

For example, if an employee is paid twice a month, the pay period is often divided into the 1st through 15 days of the month; and the 16th through the last day of the month. Under California law, employers must issue paychecks no later than the 26th of the month for the first pay period, and the 10th of the following month for the second pay period.

For employees that are paid every two weeks, or weekly, the law requires employers issue checks within seven calendar days after each pay period. Failure to issue timely paychecks could subject employers to significant penalties.  

Also, according to California Labor Code section 204(b)(1), Employees have a right to be paid for overtime by the next regular paycheck. That means if you accrue overtime during a particular pay period, those extra wages must be included in the next paycheck. Again, if your employer fails to pay you overtime wage on time, your rights have been violated and you should seek legal advice.

FREE CONSULTATION

Srourian Law Firm, with locations in Los Angeles, Westwood, Woodland Hills, and Orange County is experienced in all aspects of employment law including failure to receive paychecks on time and have aggressively represented employees in Los Angeles, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Orange, Irvine, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Fullerton, Tustin, Mission Viejo, San Clemente, Garden Grove, Laguna Niguel, Brea, Fountain Valley, Aliso Viejo, Yorba Linda, Westminster, Laguna Hills, Cypress, and La Habra.

If you or someone you know suffered employment violations as an employee such as not receiving paychecks on times in California, you may have certain employee rights under state and federal law and may be entitled to unpaid wages, interest, attorneys’ fees and costs, and/or be entitled to compensation as a part of the class action lawsuit. Please contact us to speak with one of our experienced lawyers for a free consultation.


California labor laws provide many protections to employees that often exceed federal labor laws. Therefore, it is important to know the various state laws designed to ensure your rights as an employee are not violated by employers. Fundamentally, labor laws and regulations are highly specific and often difficult to understand since laws are amended, enacted or repealed regularly, so it is important to consult with an experienced labor law attorney to ensure your rights are protected.

Often, employees do not realize that they have the right to timely, accurate wage statements each pay period with nine categories of information included in each wage statement. A wage statement, or pay stub, is the document an employer must provide employees every pay period that explains how the paycheck was calculated.

According to California Labor Code section 226, there are nine categories of information that must be included in every wage statement:

• gross wages

• total hours worked

• piece-rate units earned and any rate if employee is paid on a piece-rate basis

• all deductions from wages

• net wages

• dates of pay period

• employee’s name and the last four digits of social security number

• full name and address of the employer

• applicable hourly rates.

Some requirements are not required for exempt employees such as salaried employees. Additionally, section 246(h) of the California Labor Code requires employers advise employees each pay period of any paid sick leave they have accrued. While this is not specifically required on each wage statement, many employers include this information on wage statements as a matter of convenience. This information is particularly vital to any employee who seeks paid sick leave, which is guaranteed by the California Sick Paid Leave Law.

ACCURATE WAGE STATEMENTS ARE REQUIRED BY LAW

California law is clear that employers have a legal obligation to provide accurate wage statements to employees each pay period even if a third-party payroll company used. An employer who fails to comply with the law and violates an employee’s rights may face large fines and penalties, even for minor mistakes. The requirements are strict, and must be followed exactly. For example, the mandatory wage information must be on the face of the wage statement. In other words, the law is not being followed if the employee must find the required wage information on another document besides the wage statement.

In addition to possible fines and penalties, an employee has the right to file a lawsuit against the employer for “knowing and intentional” failure to comply with the law. If successful, an employee who has suffered an injury due to inaccurate or missing wage statements may be entitled to monetary damages.

FREE CONSULTATION

Srourian Law Firm, with locations in Los Angeles, Westwood, Woodland Hills, and Orange County is experienced in all aspects of employment law including failure to provide accurate wage statements and have aggressively represented employees in Los Angeles, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Orange, Irvine, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Fullerton, Tustin, Mission Viejo, San Clemente, Garden Grove, Laguna Niguel, Brea, Fountain Valley, Aliso Viejo, Yorba Linda, Westminster, Laguna Hills, Cypress, and La Habra.

If you or someone you know suffered employment violations as an employee such as not receiving accurate wage statements in California, you may have certain employee rights under state and federal law and may be entitled to unpaid wages, interest, attorneys’ fees and costs, and/or be entitled to compensation as a part of the class action lawsuit. Please contact us to speak with one of our experienced lawyers for a free consultation.


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