In an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19, Srourian Law Firm is now offering virtual meeting opportunities for clients and prospective clients who wish to abstain from coming into our office. Please call our office to schedule your remote appointment. We wish you & yours health and safety during this time.

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FAQs on PPP Fraud

Many businesses have benefited from PPP loans during closures due to COVID-19. PPP funds, however, are supposed to benefit employees by providing financial assistance to businesses to maintain payroll, employee benefits and other business expenses. If you are aware of any PPP fraud by your employer, you have an obligation to report the fraud. Moreover, you are protected from any retaliation for reporting any violations.

Q: What is PPP fraud?

A: PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) fraud includes any misuse of funds from the Small Business Administration (SBA) in response to COVID-19. In an effort to provide financial assistance to businesses during the pandemic. Any business that received PPP money, must use the money for specific business expenses such as payroll, employee benefits, rent, interest on mortgages, and utilities. The intent of the PPP was to ensure that businesses could continue to pay employees and cover necessary businesses expenses during mandatory closures.

Unfortunately, there is a growing concern that businesses have been violating the requirements of PPP. This fraudulent behavior has resulted in the money not being used to pay employees as intended. Examples of PPP fraud include falsifying information on PPP applications, providing inaccurate data regarding employees, and misdirecting PPP funds away from payroll.

Q: What happens if I learn my company committed PPP fraud?

A; If you learn that your company has committed PPP fraud, you must report the fraud. However, there are steps you can take to protect your rights. First, you should review any paperwork you signed as a condition of employment. This will include any employment contract, documents signed during orientation and training, as well as any employee handbooks. These documents often include a company policy that employees will act honestly and report fraud. In other words, you could be violating a company policy by not reporting the fraud. Second, you should consult with an experienced labor law attorney who can not only advise you of the legal issues, but more importantly, will protect your rights.

A: Can my company fire me for reporting PPP fraud?

A: No. If you report PPP fraud, you are protected by federal and state laws as a whistleblower. Any punitive action taken by an employer against an employee for reporting PPP fraud (or any violation of a law or regulation) is specifically protected under laws against whistleblower retaliation. In addition to federal protection, California has very strong labor laws that protect whistleblowers. Specifically, California Labor Code section 1102,5 (in part) states:

An employer, or any person acting on behalf of the employer, shall not retaliate against an employee for disclosing information, or because the employer believes that the employee disclosed or may disclose information.

The broad protection under California law not only protects whistleblowers from retaliation, but also protects an employee who are believed to be a whistleblower by the company. Other forms of retaliation that are prohibited by law include threats, demotions, reduced hours or pay, blacklisting or denying a promotion that is merited.

Q: Can I sue my company if they retaliate against me for reporting PPP fraud?

A: Yes. If you report PPP fraud by your company, and are the victim of retaliation because of the report, you have a right to sue under federal and state law. Moreover, the company can also face significant civil penalties. An experienced labor law attorney can review your case and help you decide what course of action is best. More importantly, consulting with an attorney will protect your rights as an employee and possible whistleblower.

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 PPP fraud and whistleblower retaliation, 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 due to PPP fraud or whistleblower retaliation, 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.


The CARES Act provides expanded unemployment benefits to eligible workers.

As the country continues to struggle with the challenges due to COVID-19, labor laws have been adapting to the pandemic, and employees must be aware of their rights. One area that has been significantly impacted by COVID-19 is the laws regarding unemployment benefits. The federal and state laws that govern unemployment benefits have always been complicated, and are especially difficult to understand now with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) that was enacted in March 2020. CARES expanded weekly unemployment benefits by as much as $600 a week to eligible workers and have proven to be vital to many families during the pandemic. While there have been a myriad of issues and concerns regarding CARES, there is no denying that to many unemployed workers relied on the additional funds as the nation’s unemployment rate sky-rocketed. Moreover, many states were overwhelmed with the volume of applications, and benefits were delayed.

While it is uncertain whether the CARES Act will be extended, the federal government provided some clarification on July 22, 2020.  For example, a worker may refuse to accept a job offer because the job is unsafe and continue to collect the additional financial benefits provided under CARES. The states, however, will determine what is considered to be safe work conditions, and if a state determines the job or work conditions are not “suitable,” then the worker may receive the expanded unemployment benefits under CARES. Most states already had suitable work place provisions in place prior to COVID-19, and the general criteria is whether the work unreasonably exposes the worker to unsuitable safety risks. Labor laws have always guaranteed a safe work environment, which is particularly important during a pandemic. Notably, a worker cannot refuse a job offer and seek expanded unemployment benefits due to a general fear of COVID-19.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the state may also determine that a job is unsuitable if a worker refuses the job due to virus-related reasons such as increased risk of COVID-19 due to an underlying medical condition. The state may also determine a job is unsuitable if a worker claims “good cause,” although the federal government has not specifically defined what is considered to be “good cause” which means that states must decide that issue. Fortunately, workers in California benefit from some of the country’s strongest state labor law protections, and this is one example of how an experienced labor law attorney will be able to argue your case by understanding state laws to protect your rights when federal law is not clear.

The federal government also clarified that some out-of-work employees are not eligible for CARES benefits depending on what caused the loss of the job. For example, if a worker is unemployed due to a reason not related to COVID-19, that worker is not eligible for expanded benefits even if jobs are not available due to COVID-19 related circumstances. The reason for this is because CARES was enacted to assist workers who faced unemployment specifically due to the pandemic, and is not broad enough to include workers who did not lose their jobs due to reasons unrelated to COVID-19. Fortunately, those workers may still be eligible for regular unemployment benefits.  

Prior to COVID-19, workers who quit their jobs without “good cause” were generally not eligible for unemployment benefits. However, under the CARES Act, certain reasons related to COVID-19 would allow a worker to qualify for expanded unemployment benefits under CARES. For example, a worker who quits a job because of mandatory quarantine, or the need to provide care to a family member with COVID-19 could be considered “good cause” for the purposes of CARES benefits.

While the federal government continues to debate whether to extend benefits under the CARES Act or perhaps craft new legislation, the states may decide to adopt new policies regarding eligibility in the meantime. However, since unemployment benefits are a hybrid of federal and state law, the states must adhere to federal law and provide at least the minimum benefits afforded under federal laws. Also, as more states work towards re-opening and more businesses are hiring, states may become stricter in determining eligibility for unemployment benefits. As we have learned, during a pandemic, it is important to be informed and be ready to take full advantage of any benefits you are eligible for. Plan ahead and consult an experienced labor law attorney so you will have an advocate that will not only understand the quickly changing laws and benefits, but will be able to guide you and protect your rights during these uncertain times.

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 unemployment benefits 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 involving unemployment benefits, 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.


The Americans with Disabilities Act protects your rights as an employee with a disability.

As the country continues to combat COVID-19, employees must be aware of their rights and ensure that their employees comply with all federal, state and local labor laws including the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). Under the ADA, federal law requires employees provide reasonable accommodations for disabilities covered under the act. However, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the most common complaint being filed by employees during the pandemic is employers failing to accommodate their disabilities.

The ADA has specific provisions regarding accommodations that employers must provide to employees with disabilities regardless of the extenuating circumstances due to COVID-19. Generally, the ADA requires employees to modify an employee’s job or work environment in order to ensure an employee with a disability is able perform the essential functions of their job. According to the law, the employer must make all “reasonable accommodations” as long as there is no “undue hardship.”  As with many statutes, the legal definitions may not be obvious, so you should consult an experienced employment law attorney to explain the law and your rights.

The protections under the California state equivalent to the ADA are found in the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). The FEHA protects employees with a physical or mental disability and requires employers provide reasonable accommodations such as changing work schedules, relocating the work area, modifying job duties and providing leave for medical care.

With the additional health and safety concerns due to COVID-19, all employees, particularly employees with disabilities must ensure their rights are not being violated. For example, some employees may have an underlying condition that creates a greater risk for COVID-19. Under both federal and state labor laws, the employee is entitled to reasonable accommodations to ensure their safety in the workplace if the risk is directly related to the disability.

The added health risks due to COVID-19 have impacted many aspects of labor law and the workplace, particularly if an employee has an existing qualified disability under the ADA or FEHA. Federal and state labor laws offer a wide range of protection besides accommodations. For example, all medical information of employees, related to a disability or COVID-19, must be confidential. Moreover, the ADA and FEHA provides protections to prospective employees and require hiring policies that provide equal opportunities to applicants regardless of any disability. Again, the employer must provide a reasonable accommodation to an applicant as long as it would not create an undue hardship.

If you believe your employee is violating your rights as an employee under the ADA or FEHA, you should consult an experienced employment law attorney to discuss your case and options.

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 ADA and FEHA 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 ADA or FEHA violations, 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.


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.


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