I am pleased to announce that I am the new Los Angeles Alumni Network Leader for the University of Minnesota. I look forward to meeting fellow alumni and their families in 2019. Please be on the lookout for an announcement setting forth information about the first alumni event scheduled for next month. Ski-U-Mah!
A couple of weeks ago I received my summons for jury duty. As a trial attorney, I deeply appreciate the important role the public plays in the jury system and its critical role in our legal system. I also do not believe that any attorney takes for granted the sacrifice jurors make when sitting on a jury, but I do believe that the appreciation attorneys feel towards jurors is probably not as great as it perhaps should be. Receiving my jury summons truly makes me appreciate what jurors have to go through once they are asked to report for jury duty.
In Los Angeles, when you receive a Summons for Jury Service you have to take affirmative actions in order to ensure that you do not run afoul of your legal obligations. Specifically, the Summons sets forth the duties, you as a potential juror, are required to comply with upon receipt of the Jury Summons.
Registration with the Los Angeles County Superior Court
There are two ways to register with the Los Angeles County Superior Court after receiving your Jury Summons, either by telephone at 213-972-0970 or online at https://www.lacourt.org/jury. You are required to register within 5 days of receiving your jury summons, so do not waste time and miss this deadline.
When calling by telephone at 213-972-0370, be sure to have your Summons for Jury Service in front of you because you will need to provide your Juror ID Number, Pin Number and answer several questions regarding your availability to serve on a jury. The process is rather quick and only takes a couple of minutes.
When registering on-line, you will also want your Summons for Jury Service handy because you will also need to provide yourJuror ID Number, Pin Number and answer several questions regarding your availability to serve on a jury. During this initial registration process, you can ask for a delay in serving on a jury, however simply asking for a delay to serve does not mean your request will be granted. The County of Los Angeles clamped down on bogus excuses for delaying jury service several years ago, so if you do not have a strong, legitimate reason for delaying jury service, your request for a delay will be denied.
On-Call Jury Duty
Jury duty always begins on a Monday, so the Sunday evening before you are to begin jury duty you are required to call the registration telephone number (213-972-0970) or use they jury service portal on the Los Angeles County Superior Court website at www.lacourt.org/jury. You will be informed whether you have to report for jury duty on Monday. If you are not required to report for jury duty on Monday, you do not have to appear at the Superior Court. However, that does not mean you are finished with jury service. Instead, you are required to check on Monday evening to see if you need to report for jury duty on Tuesday.
You keep checking to see if you report for jury duty until, (1) you are required to report to the courthouse for jury duty; or (2) you checked-in everyday from Sunday to Thursday to see if you are required to report for jury duty and on none of those days were you required to report for jury service.
The Los Angeles County Superior Court has a good system in place that only calls people to jury service if they are needed. It lessens the burden on the individual and businesses, while also ensuring that every litigant gets the opportunity to have his or her case heard before a jury of peers.
With the end of 2018 just around the corner, it is time to look at the new California employment laws that will affect your rights as an employee. The following is a list of new employment laws that will govern the employee-employer relationship beginning on January 1, 2019.
AB3109 (Disclosure of Sexual Harassment): This new law prohibits an employer from putting any provision in a settlement agreement or contract that prevents an employee (current or former) from testifying about criminal conduct or sexual harassment in an administrative, legislative or judicial proceeding. Often when an employer settles a sexual harassment claim, there will be a confidentiality provision in the settlement agreement which prevents the employee from speaking about the harassment. This provision essentially removes the confidentiality provision as it relates to an employee testifying at an administrative, legislative or judicial proceeding.
SB 224 (Sexual Harassment): Under this law the types of relationships that can be subject to a claim for sexual harassment will be expanded. In particular, this law provides examples of professional relationships where sexual harassment claims may authorize the DFEH to investigate the claim. These professional relationships include lobbyists, elected officials, directors, producers, and investors.
SB 820 (Settlement of Sexual Harassment Claims): This law will prohibit a settlement agreement, entered into after January 1, 2019, from containing a provision that precludes an employee from disclosing information relating to claims of sexual assault, sexual harassment, gender discrimination or retaliation that was filed with the court or an administrative agency. However, the settlement agreement can contain a provision that prohibits an employee from disclosing the monetary settlement amount. Lastly, at the employee’s request, the settlement agreement may contain a provision that limits the disclosure of the employee’s identity or facts that would lead to the discovery of the employee’s identity.
SB 826 (Female Inclusion on Board of Directors): This law will require publicly held domestic and foreign corporations with principal executive offices in California to have at least one female director on the board by the end of 2019. By the end of 2021, these corporation will have to comply with the following standards:(1) If the number of directors is six or more, the corporation shall have a minimum of three female directors; (2) If the number of directors is five, the corporation shall have a minimum of two female directors; and (3) If the number of directors is four or fewer, the corporation shall have a minimum of one female director.
SB 1123 (Expansion of Paid Family Leave): Under this new law, an employee will be entitled to paid family leave benefits beginning on January 1, 2021 for taking time off for if it is due to being called to active duty or a spouse, domestic partner, parent, or child being called to active duty.
SB 1252 (Payment for Copying of Payroll Records): This law clarifies that when an employee requests copies of his or her payroll records, the employer is responsible for the copying costs associated with copying the employee’s payroll records.
SB 1300 (FEHA Sexual Harassment Provisions): This law expands the Government Code by including a provision making it unlawful for an employer to require an employee to release a harassment and/or discrimination claim in exchange for a bonus, raise or continued employment. It also makes employers liable for any kind of unlawful harassment by non-employees where the employer knew or should have known about the harassment and failed to take action. Lastly, it makes it more difficult for harassment claims to be dismissed through the summary judgment process.
SB 1343 (Sexual Harassment Training): Employers with 5 or more employees will be required to provide sexual harassment training. Furthermore, employers will be required to provide at least 2 hours of harassment training to supervisory employees and at least one hour so harassment training to non-supervisory employees by January 1, 2020.
SB 1412 (Criminal History Inquiries): This law limits an employer’s criminal history check by having the employer consider only a “particular conviction” that is relevant to the job when screening applicants using a criminal background check. Meaning the employer cannot go and scour an employee’s background looking for irrelevant crimes, giving the employee privacy relating to his or her background.
SB 1619 (Increase in the Sexual Assault Statute of Limitations): The statute of limitations for a sexual assault civil lawsuit is increased to ten years after the assault or 3 years after the plaintiff discovered or should have reasonably discovered injury as a result of the assault, whichever is later.
SB 1976 (Lactation Accommodation): This law modifies the current lactation law by requiring a lactation station to be something other than a toilet stall. The law further provides that the station should be permanent, but can be temporary if:(1) the employer is unable to provide a permanent location due to operational, financial, or space limitations; (2) the temporary location is private and free from intrusion while being used for lactation purposes; and (3) the temporary location is not used for other purposes while being used for lactation.
If you have any questions about these new employment laws, please contact an attorney at The Rinka Law Firm, PC. Our telephone number is 310-556-9653.
A common wage dispute that arises between an employee and his or her employer at the time that the employee either quits or is fired is what are the final wages the employee should be paid. In addition, when is the employer required to pay the final wages.
WHEN AM I ENTITLED TO MY FINAL PAYCHECK?
The timing of when you should receive your last paycheck depends on whether you quit or are fired. When you are terminated from your position, your employer is required to provide you with your final paycheck at the time of your termination. See Labor Code Section 201.
If you quit your job without giving any prior notice and you do not have a written employment contract, then your employer has seventy-two (72) hours to pay all wages owed to you. See Labor Code Section 202(a). The final check can be mailed to your residence if you so desire and you provide your employer with the address.
If you provide your employer with at least seventy-two (72) hours notice that you intend to quit your job, then your employer is required to provide you with your final paycheck on your last day of work. See Labor Code Section 202(a).
WHAT WAGES AM I ENTITLED TO ON MY LAST PAYCHECK?
Regardless if you quit your position or if you are terminated, the wages you are entitled to when you leave your employment is the same. Specifically, when you leave your employment, you are entitled to all wages worked, including all overtime hours. In addition, you are entitled to payment of all accrued and unused vacation time.
The wages must be paid to you by check. If you had direct deposit with your employer, the direct deposit ends on your last day of employment. Furthermore, your final paycheck can be deposited only if you authorize your employer to directly deposit your final paycheck.
WHAT IF I AM NOT TIMELY GIVEN MY FINAL PAYCHECK?
If you are not paid all your wages when you quit or are terminated, you may be entitled to waiting time penalties as prescribed by law. Namely, if it is determined that the employer willfully withheld wages owed to you, you may be able to obtain waiting time penalties in an amount equal to your daily rate of pay for each day the wages remain unpaid, up to a maximum of thirty (30) calendar days.
However, if there is a good faith dispute as to the amount of final wages owed to you, then waiting time penalties will not be assessed. Also, if you refuse to accept your final check from your employer, then you will not be awarded waiting time penalties.
If you have any further questions, please contact an attorney at The Rinka Law Firm, PC at 310-556-9653.
Just like every new year in California, changes in the law are in store for California employers and 2018 is no different. With the ringing in of 2018, Californians can expect changes to their pay checks and employers with have to be more conscientious when interviewing. Here is a list of significant employment law changes that will go in effect in 2018:
Increase in Minimum Wage
The minimum wage for employers with 26 employees or more is increasing from $10.50/hour to $11.00/hour. The minimum wage for employers with 25 or fewer employees is going from $10.00/hour to $10.50/hour.
Do Not Ask About Criminal Convictions or Salary History
Starting on January 1, 2018, employers cannot ask about an applicant’s past criminal conviction(s). The reason for this is to prevent an employer from dismissing an ex-con, who has the skills for the position, as an applicant, simply due to his/her past criminal history. The law does not, however, prevent an employer from performing a background check and discovery of the applicant’s past criminal conviction.
Employers are also prohibited from asking about an employee’s salary history. The California legislature has made the sexist determination that female employees are not as good of salary negotiators as men, so to assist women in negotiating a salary, the legislature has prohibited employers about asking an employee’s salary history. The legislature’s belief is that by eliminating the salary history question, employers will offer the same salary to an equally qualified woman as it would to a man. The law does not prevent an applicant from volunteering his or her salary history.
Similar Pay for Similar Work
Starting in 2018, employers are prohibited from paying white males more than females and other minorities for work that is “substantially similar.” If there is a discrepancy in pay between a white male employee and a female or other minority, the employer must be able to explain that the reason for the pay discrepancy is something other than race, sex or ethnicity.
This could be an issue that could become very contentious when comparing employees whose jobs do not involve mundane actives, such as a register clerk. It is very easy to compare salaries of register clerks and whether there is a discrepancy. Furthermore, since the role of a register clerk is very limited, the type of work will be substantially similar making it very simple to determine if there is a discrepancy in pay between register clerk employees who are white male and minorities. If there are, then there better be a good explanation by the employer, i.e. length of employment, experience, no write-ups, etc.
However, once you get into a situation where the employees jobs vary and involve discretion and individual judgment, it can become more difficult to decipher if the jobs are similar. In addition, in jobs involving discretion by the employee, pay raises may be based on the quality of the independent discretion by the employees, with those making better decisions getting better pay raises. These are all factors that can make the law difficult to know if it is being violated and costly by employers to prove the reason(s) for their salary decisions.
Harassment Training for Supervisors
Employers with 50 or more employees must provide sexual harassment training within six months of the hire date of individuals hired to supervise employees. In addition, the training must not only include sexual harassment training, but training related to bullying and harassment based on gender identity.
If you have any questions about the new laws being implement in 2018, please contact us at The Rinka Law Firm. Our phone number is 310-556-9653.
Under California law, an hourly employee who works six or more hours a day is entitled to an unpaid and uninterrupted 30 minute meal period. During this 30 minute meal period, the employee is not required to perform any work related activities. However, if the employee does not take the 30 minute meal period that does not necessarily mean that the employer is at fault.
In a case called Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court, the California Supreme Court held that while an employer is required to allow an employee an uninterrupted 30 minute meal break when he or she works 6 or more hours, the employer is not required to police the employee to make sure the lunch is taken. In other words, if your employer tells you that you are allowed to take a lunch period during a certain time period and you take your lunch breaks on certain days and you decide not to take lunch breaks on other days, the employer will likely not be found liable to you for your missed meal periods. The California Supreme Court has shifted the responsibility of taking the lunch break onto the employee.
Now, under California Labor Law, if an employee misses a lunch period, that employee is entitled to one hour of additional wages for the day that the meal period was missed. If the employer fails to pay the employee for the missed meal period, it potentially opens the employee up to significant fees and penalties. However, if an employee chose to skip the meal period, then the employer is not required to pay the employee the additional hour’s wage for the day that the employee skipped his or her meal period.
In the instance where the employee is required to work through lunch at the request of the employer or attend a mandatory meeting during the lunch hour, the employer is required to pay the employee the one hour wage for that lunch period. The hour wage that the employer is required to pay is the straight wage, not overtime, regardless if the employee worked more than 8 hours on the day that she or he was required to work through lunch.
An employer is required to provide a paid 10 minute rest period for every 4 hours worked or fraction thereof. Accordingly, if one is scheduled to work 8 hours that would entitle the employee to two paid 10 minute rest periods. As is the case with lunch periods, an employee is entitled to one hour’s pay for missing a rest period. However, if the employee misses both mandated rest periods, he or she is still only entitled to only one hour of wages.
During these rest periods, the employer must relieve employees of all duties during rest breaks and relinquish any control over how the employee spends his or her break time. In addition, it is the employee’s responsibility to take the rest period. If the employee decides to work through the rest period, despite being allowed to take a break, the employer will not be responsible to pay the employee an hour’s wage.
If you have any further questions about missed meal and lunch periods, please contact an attorney at The Rinka Law Firm, PC at 310-556-9653.
The Rinka Law Firm has joined The Law Offices of Thomas W. Falvey and Knapp, Petersen & Clark, LLP in filing a Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) action against I Care Credit d/b/a ICare Financial. Continue reading
As anyone can tell you that has been through a lawsuit, it is a long, challenging and arduous experience. Starting from the filing of the complaint, serving the defendant(s) with the complaint, conducting written discovery and depositions to the trial, there are many obstacles in the way of obtaining a judgment against a defendant. Assuming, for purposes of this article, that you have overcome the legal hurdles necessary to obtain a judgment; congratulations, you now have another fight on your hands. Continue reading
A class action lawsuit allows a civil lawsuit to be brought by numerous plaintiffs, either individuals or business entities, against one or more defendants. The purpose of a class action lawsuit is to make the resolution of similar claims by multiple plaintiffs against defendants more efficient for both the courts and the parties. Continue reading
While it is illegal to drive in California without liability insurance coverage, unfortunately, due to the number of California drivers, there are many individuals who drive without insurance. In order to protect yourself from losing compensation for injuries suffered in a car accident with an uninsured driver, you can obtain uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Continue reading