The Nourmand Law Firm FindLaw IM Template 2020-12-29T16:23:35Z WordPress /wp-content/uploads/sites/1301704/2020/01/cropped-favicon-32x32.jpg On behalf of The Nourmand Law Firm, APC <![CDATA[California gig workers not required to repay pandemic aid]]> 2020-12-29T16:23:35Z 2020-12-29T16:19:33Z
  • Their original PUA application was filed in good faith
  • Repaying the state would result in financial hardship
  • Confusion existed over initial applications

    Under the March 2020 coronavirus relief bill, thousands of gig workers reported their total earnings to the Employment Development Department (EDD), which oversees the state’s PUA. However, they were supposed to report how much they made after deducting expenses. That led to thousands of workers receiving more aid than they should have gotten – some up to $10,000 more. Once the errors became evident, the EDD later tried to get the overpayments back by asking workers to verify their net incomes. Under the initial relief bill, states could not waive efforts to collect overpayment amounts. But that changes under the current extension.

    Waivers are typically granted during recessions

    The National Employment Law Project says state agencies generally approve waivers in these cases. Californians who receive a notice of overpayment can file for the waiver by completing a Personal Financial Statement verifying their income. Mistakes often happen during economic emergencies, and in this case, vague language in the original PUA led to a widespread misunderstanding. The Law Project says the EDD has shown compassion in the past and approved waivers in most cases, especially if repayment causes economic hardship.

    Aid extended through March 2021

    The newly-signed aid bill essentially extends the PUA through at least March 21, which means nothing has changed. However, gig workers and independent contractors who file for aid should report their “net” income, meaning the amount they receive after deducting expenses.

    Some gig workers may qualify for unemployment benefits

    The passage of Proposition 22 redefines gig workers as independent contractors – affecting hundreds of thousands of Uber and Lyft drivers as well as those working for app-based delivery services. However, prior to that measure taking effect in mid-December, many of those workers were classified as employees under Assembly Bill 5. Groups representing gig workers urge those individuals to file for regular unemployment benefits, which could mean thousands of dollars more in payments compared to the PUA. Under AB 5, most of these workers were entitled to receive benefits, including unemployment insurance, for the past 18 months before Prop. 22 went into effect.]]>
    On behalf of The Nourmand Law Firm, APC <![CDATA[Retailer Burlington settles class-action lawsuits for $19.6M]]> 2020-12-17T16:08:59Z 2020-12-21T14:00:08Z A nine-year court battle erupted over worker classifications Hundreds of workers classified as assistant managers (ASM) say the company directed them to do non-managerial tasks identical to those performed by non-exempt employees, forcing them to work extra hours for no pay. These duties included:
    • Loading and unloading trucks
    • Stocking store shelves
    • Assisting customers
    • Janitorial work
    The first lawsuit was filed in June 2011, charging Burlington with wrongly classifying these workers as ASMs to exempt them from overtime requirements.

    Financial stress likely led to settlement

    Like many other retailers, 2020 was a rough year for Burlington, which reported a loss of $333 million during the first nine months of the year. During the same period in 2019, the chain reported nearly $280 million in earnings. The company has 730 stores across the country and reported total sales during that same nine-month period dropped by more than $1.5 billion during 2020. Despite the economic turmoil, the U.S. magistrate overseeing the settlement says the deal was hard-fought during mediation.

    Worker misclassification is a common issue in California

    Employers routinely misclassify their workers, whether they are full-time employees or independent contractors, to avoid paying overtime and offering other benefits, such as health care, sick leave, unemployment insurance and meal breaks. California has some of the most stringent worker protections in the country. Employees are presumed to be non-exempt workers unless an employer can prove they are exempt or independent contractors. If you believe you have been misclassified, working with an aggressive wage law attorney can help you receive the pay and benefits you are entitled to receive.]]>
    On behalf of The Nourmand Law Firm, APC <![CDATA[Battle for California’s app-based gig workers far from over]]> 2020-12-15T22:46:22Z 2020-12-17T14:00:28Z Companies still face challenges Even in the wake of a comfortable Election Day win, many of these app-based companies, which spent hundreds of millions of dollars in support of Prop. 22, face old and new hurdles, including:
    • Previous legal challenges: Three unresolved lawsuits brought by the state attorney general, state labor commissioner and three city attorneys accuse these companies of illegally classifying their workers as contractors. Even though Prop. 22 passed, companies face potential repercussions for how they treated workers before the law went into effect on Dec. 17.
    • Constitutional challenge: Employee advocate National Employment Law Project may challenge a requirement that any future changes to the law must have a seven-eighths legislative majority. The group contends that is too restrictive for regulating collective bargaining agreements.
    • Biden administration: Under the Trump administration, the National Labor Relations Board deems gig workers as contractors, and the U.S. Labor Department has followed suit. However, that could change under President-elect Biden. Biden opposed Prop. 22 and also supports the PRO Act, which would make it more difficult for companies to misclassify gig workers, who would also receive federal labor protections they now lack.

    The future remains unclear for gig workers

    It is not certain how labor laws and protections for gig workers will evolve under the Biden administration. However, the state will continue to try to hold these companies accountable for past violations. Uber and Lyft say they are open to collective bargaining over benefits for drivers. Groups representing drivers say they will continue to keep fighting for benefits and protections, so app-based employees are treated equally with other workers.]]>
    On behalf of The Nourmand Law Firm, APC <![CDATA[Flurry of California employment laws take effect Jan. 1]]> 2020-12-15T16:31:22Z 2020-12-15T16:31:22Z Coronavirus protections for workers While vaccines are approved and being administered to Americans, the COVID-19 crisis will likely impact the state for months to come. California lawmakers approved these measures to protect workers from the impact of the virus:
    • Assembly Bill 685: Establishes strict guidelines for companies to notify employees within 24 hours of potential COVID-19 exposure. Employers must also notify local health officials within 48 hours of an outbreak.
    • Senate Bill 1159: Expands workers’ compensation benefits for healthcare workers, first responders and other employees who test positive for COVID-19 within two weeks of a workplace outbreak.
    Bills expanding leave opportunities Two new laws will impact thousands of California workers extending rights already in place for others:
    • Senate Bill 1383: Expands the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) to include employers with five employees or fewer, requiring them to offer 12 weeks of CFRA leave as long as workers provide enough notice and qualify for leave benefits. The bill also expands leave options for those caring for grandparents, grandchildren or siblings.
    • Assembly Bill 2017: Clarifies that employees can designate sick leave for “kin care.” This aims to prevent designation errors by employers who cannot drain kin care hours for employees who previously took personal sick leave for these absences.

    Expanded reporting deadline and minimum wage increase

    Assembly Bill 1947 amends California’s Labor Code by extending the period that workers can file complaints, such as over discrimination or wage violations, with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) from six months to one year. The new law also allows courts to award “reasonable” attorney fees to whistleblowers. Also, the next phase of California’s statewide minimum wage increase goes into effect on New Year’s when the wage rises to $14 per hour for those working at companies with 26 employees or more. Businesses with 25 or fewer employees must pay a minimum wage of $13 per hour starting Jan. 1. Many cities and counties have enacted their own minimum wage requirements, for which employers must comply.]]>
    On behalf of The Nourmand Law Firm, APC <![CDATA[U.S. Soccer makes concessions to women’s national team]]> 2020-12-03T21:59:19Z 2020-12-03T21:59:19Z USWNT to appeal ruling over unequal pay Team members filed a $66 million lawsuit citing Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act. The settlement does not address the claim over unequal pay, which was dismissed in May by a judge who ruled the players’ collective bargaining agreement (CBA) agreed to waive higher bonuses for more benefits. The judge also decided team members cannot “retroactively” declare that their CBA is less favorable than the one in place for the U.S. men’s national team. However, a spokesperson for the USWNT says the team plans to appeal that ruling, stating that the Federation has not addressed the central issue – that women players are paid less than men for the same job. The USWNT suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in March of 2019, and it was granted class-action status later that year, meaning those who played for the team after February 2015 can be included. While both sides see the settlement as a positive step, the fight appears to be far from over.

    Gender discrimination is illegal in California

    In addition to federal protections, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits sex and gender discrimination. FEHA provides greater protection than Title VII, as it applies to companies with five or more employees. Under FEHA, employers cannot discriminate against anyone due to gender, sex, gender expression or gender identity. Discrimination comes in many ways, including paying someone less for equal work, harassment, termination, not hiring someone or retaliation for those making legal claims. If you experience discrimination of any kind, it’s advisable to work with an experienced attorney who understands the complex state and federal laws that protect workers. Your lawyer will thoroughly review your case and file charges with the appropriate agency or agencies.]]>
    On behalf of The Nourmand Law Firm, APC <![CDATA[Former female execs file retaliation claims against United Way]]> 2020-11-30T19:46:21Z 2020-11-30T19:46:21Z United Way Worldwide accused of “bullying” behavior Lisa Bowman filed an EEOC claim in March 2020 after she was let go two months earlier. The former chief marketing officer made an official complaint to the nonprofit in 2019 over a male colleague’s behavior, saying he ogled and made inappropriate comments about her body. Bowman says after her complaint, her standing at the organization began to plummet until CEO Brian Gallagher told her in January that he no longer needed her, even though she had won a coveted marketing award in 2019. Another former female executive, who asked HuffPost to conceal her identity, says she complained on behalf of a woman who worked for her about the same man Bowman reported. She says she began experiencing a backlash soon after, and she ultimately left United Way for another job as a result. The third case involves the organization’s former vice president for labor participation. Ana Avendano claims she was fired after AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka complained to Gallagher over her work to stop sexual harassment within the labor workforce. Avendano’s EEOC complaint says she had spent years uncovering sexual harassment in the network and appeared to have the full support of Gallagher and other top officials until her actions led Trumka to complain. Avendano says she was fired after being the target of misconduct complaints herself, involving her treatment of others. She believes it was in retaliation for her complaints.

    Retaliation causes devastating consequences

    According to the EEOC, retaliation is the No. 1 workplace discrimination complaint. If you are the target of harassment or other illegal behavior, it is advisable to work with an aggressive and experienced employment attorney who can help you prove your claim. To be successful, you must show you were engaged in a protected activity, you suffered an adverse action, and that those two factors are related.]]>
    On behalf of The Nourmand Law Firm, APC <![CDATA[New OT rules kick in for agricultural workers on New Year’s Day]]> 2020-11-24T21:53:57Z 2020-11-24T21:53:57Z new timetable began for overtime rules affecting farmworkers. The changes are being phased-in until they receive roughly the same treatment for overtime pay as workers in most other professions.

    The law only applies to larger employers for now

    So far, the law has only affected agricultural companies with 26 or more workers. In 2019 those employers were required to pay time-and-a-half overtime to those working more than 9.5 hours per day and 55 hours per week. Last year, that changed to nine hours per day and 50 per week. The final two years of the transition look like this:
    • 2021: OT must be paid for hours worked above 8.5 per day and 45 hours per week.
    • 2022: The thresholds change to eight hours per day and 40 hours per week.

    Changes coming for smaller employers

    Agricultural employers with 25 or fewer workers only have one more year to prepare for the same requirements. As with the larger employers, the changes will be phased-in starting each year on Jan. 1:
    • 2022: OT paid for hours worked above 9.5 per day and 55 per week.
    • 2023: OT paid for hours worked above nine per day and 50 per week.
    • 2024: OT paid for hours worked above 8.5 per day and 45 per week.
    • 2025: OT paid for hours worked above eight per day and 40 per week.
    Once all farmworkers are entitled to receive time-and-a-half OT for working more than eight hours per day and 40 per week, employers must pay double-time for anyone working more than 12 hours per day. That will happen as of Jan. 1, 2022, for employers with more than 26 workers, but not until 2025 for smaller employers.

    Wage and hour violations are common in the Golden State

    The U.S. Department of Labor says nearly 80% of all U.S. employers do not comply with wage and hour laws. If your employer refuses to follow the law, an experienced wage and hour attorney can help you receive what you deserve. Your attorney will investigate your claim and take action, which could include filing a lawsuit.]]>
    On behalf of The Nourmand Law Firm, APC <![CDATA[How will Prop 22’s passage affect gig workers?]]> 2020-11-16T19:56:52Z 2020-11-16T19:54:19Z allows these companies to classify drivers as independent contractors, denying them benefits, such as overtime, paid sick days and even minimum wage.

    Companies agree to provide “some” benefits

    Prop 22’s passage allows companies to exclude drivers from AB 5, passed last year by the state legislature. The law attempted to force Uber, Lyft and others to classify drivers as full-time employees when their roles were in the “usual course” of a company’s business. Instead, as part of Prop 22, companies promise drivers a “guaranteed minimum pay rate” while they’re assigned to a ride, health stipends if they work a certain number of hours and a system for reviewing terminations. However, a UC-Berkeley study concludes those guarantees are worth less than $6 per hour. The measure also places restrictions on legislators over regulating gig companies and requires the legislature to have a seven-eights supermajority to make any changes.

    Immediate effects

    Prop 22’s passage also neutralizes a recent court order that required Uber, Lyft and others to reclassify drivers as employees, in compliance with AB 5. The more than $200 million media blitz appears to have paid off in droves for the companies as the two ride-sharing giants’ value increased by $10 billion after the vote. The campaign’s success will likely lead to these companies seeking similar laws in other states. In addition, DoorDash CEO Tony Xu says his company will attempt to create new benefits packages with its drivers that are “portable, flexible and proportional.” Some companies express a willingness to work with unions over benefits for gig workers.

    Possible impacts of the incoming Biden administration

    Legislation protecting gig workers likely hinges on the outcome of the two Georgia U.S. Senate runoff elections. If the Senate remains in Republican control, there is little hope of achieving a federal law similar to California’s AB 5. However, President-elect Biden has pledged to strengthen worker protections, and some speculate that he could use executive powers to declare that gig workers already meet the definition of employees. If that happens, drivers and others could potentially sue for overtime and minimum wage violations, and the National Labor Relations Board could grant requests for union elections for those workers.]]>
    On behalf of The Nourmand Law Firm, APC <![CDATA[Fired Uber driver files discrimination lawsuit]]> 2020-11-03T21:22:03Z 2020-11-02T15:00:15Z Lawsuit claims race plays a role in star ratings Liu is from Hawaii, and the lawsuit describes him as an Asian man who speaks with a slight accent. He says he was given low ratings because of his race, noting that several people canceled after seeing his picture. He says he also noticed riders asking where he was from “in an unfriendly way.” The lawsuit claims Uber relies on the star rating system and that non-white drivers or those who speak with accents are fired more often than white drivers. The suit was filed in San Francisco and seeks class-action status for minority drivers who were kicked off the app due to low star ratings.

    EEOC dismissed complaint

    Liu filed a discrimination complaint against Uber with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which did not make a determination and dismissed it in August. That allowed him to pursue the lawsuit in federal court. In addition to damages for Liu and other fired drivers, the suit asks the court to prohibit Uber from using rider evaluations to determine whether to keep drivers from using its app, effectively terminating them. Uber disputes the claims but would not disclose how the company factors star ratings into driver evaluations and firings.]]>
    On behalf of The Nourmand Law Firm, APC <![CDATA[Appeals court rules Uber and Lyft must consider drivers as employees]]> 2020-10-23T19:23:06Z 2020-10-26T14:00:21Z Ruling decides lawsuit, but voters may have a say The appeals court ruled in favor of a lawsuit filed in May by the state’s attorney general and the cities of Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, forcing ride-hailing companies to comply with a new state labor law designed to protect gig workers as employees. After a lower court ruled against the companies, Uber and Lyft appealed, allowing them – at least temporarily – to not comply with an order to hire drivers as employees immediately. The companies are now considering creating franchises in the state to avoid directly hiring drivers. All parties await the outcome of a ballot measure, mostly written and paid for by app-based transportation and delivery companies allowing them to classify drivers as contractors, to avoid paying employee benefits. Voters will decide the fate of Proposition 22 on Nov. 3.

    Independent contractors vs. regular employees

    An estimated 53 million California workers are independent contractors, but many of them have been misclassified. To be legally considered an independent contractor, workers have unique characteristics such as:
    • Be in business for themselves
    • Decide where and when they work
    • Set their own pay rates
    • Work with multiple clients
    • Provide their own equipment and materials
    • Have skills or expertise that a company’s employees don’t have
    Independent contractors must essentially be their own bosses. But despite having greater flexibility, they don’t have the same rights as regular employees. They aren’t entitled to overtime pay or even the minimum wage, are ineligible for health and unemployment benefits and aren’t protected by state and federal discrimination laws.

    Fight for the pay and benefits you deserve

    Many employers classify workers as independent contractors just to avoid the costs associated with regular employees. If you believe you have been wrongly classified, an experienced employment attorney can help you recover back pay, overtime and other benefits that you deserve. Your lawyer can help you file a claim with the California labor commissioner. You may also be able to pursue a discrimination or retaliation complaint if a company takes adverse actions against you for seeking the compensation and rights afforded to you under the law.]]>