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unpaid wages

A recent decision by a federal appeals court is good news for delivery drivers seeking compensation for unpaid wages and unreimbursed expenses. In an important decision dated July 17, 2020, the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held that Amazon delivery drivers are considered “transportation workers engaged in interstate commerce” even if they never physically cross state lines to complete deliveries.

The decision is important because this means that Amazon delivery drivers may proceed with a class action lawsuit without having to go through private arbitration. Defendant Amazon argued that plaintiffs may only resolve disputes through arbitration, and are prohibited from filing a law suit according to the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). The appeals court, however, disagreed with Amazon’s argument that the FAA required arbitration in this case because the FAA does not require arbitration for “entire categories of workers in the transportation industry just because those workers might not have physically crossed state lines.”

Amazon unsuccessfully argued that “last-mile delivery workers” who do not always cross state lines when traveling the final legs of the delivery did not “engage in interstate commerce” and therefore must settle claims in arbitration, not court. The court’s decision, however, firmly includes these last-mile delivery drivers as engaging in work “within the flow of interstate commerce.” The key to the decision was whether or not the delivery drivers “engaged in” interstate commerce if they did not actually travel across state lines to deliver goods. According to the appeals court, the drivers were entitled to sue employers for claims of labor law violations and it was not important that they did not actually physically cross a state line in order to make the delivery. This reasoning is based on a 2001 U.S. Supreme Court decision that held employees were engaged in interstate commerce even when employees did not actually cross a state line as long as the intrastate portion of their work was part of an overall “interstate journey.” In other words, the court did not want to penalize the drivers for being assigned delivery routes by Amazon that did not require them to cross state lines, but nonetheless was part of interstate delivery of goods.

The recent appeals court decision will allow delivery drivers to proceed in court with claims that Amazon misclassified employees in violation of their rights.

The class action suit against Amazon was originally filed in 2017 by drivers in Massachusetts who claimed Seattle-based Amazon misclassified delivery drivers as independent contractors. This misclassification allowed Amazon to refuse to provide drivers with vehicles or reimburse for expenses incurred by drivers such as insurance, gas, and mileage. Amazon argued that arbitration was the appropriate and only forum available to plaintiffs because of the FAA. Employers favor arbitration because arbitration usually favors employers, awards are binding and not subject to appeal, and arbitration is generally much less expensive than a trial. Moreover, if an employer loses at trial, often the award includes plaintiff’s attorney’s fees.

Additionally, Amazon unsuccessfully argued that Washington state law prohibited the class action lawsuit because the employees were bound by a class action waiver that was part of their employment contract. A class action waiver prohibits employees from filing a class action against employers, but the appeals court refused to apply Washington state law. Instead, the court relied on Massachusetts state law, which is considerably more favorable to employees. Under Massachusetts state law, the appeals court held that the class action waiver was “contrary to the commonwealth’s fundamental public policy” and invalid because it was not possible to enforce the arbitration provision independently from the rest of the relevant section of the contract dealing with dispute resolution.

This decision has significant impact on the pending litigation, as well as other class action lawsuits across the country where employees are misclassified by employers in order to violate labor laws and avoid paying certain wages or reimburse expenses, and will greatly assist employees who have had their rights violated by employers.

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 unpaid wages and unreimbursed expenses 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 delivery driver or employee including unpaid wages or unreimbursed expenses, 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.


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.


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