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Orange County Employment Law Blog

Discrimination when hiring employees remains troublesome

California residents might like to know about the hiring bias that black and Latino workers face. One meta-study suggests that little improvement has been made over the years when it comes to eliminating this bias.

Researchers at Harvard, Northwestern and the Institute of Social Research conducted a meta-study that reviewed multiple existing studies. The research used 28 studies from 1989 for comparison when looking at how racial bias influences hiring. The results showed that Latinos saw a moderate drop in hiring discrimination while blacks saw no improvement over 25 years.

Employee classification important for insurance and benefits

Workers in California may, in certain circumstances, be difficult to categorize as employees or independent contractors. The distinction is an important one when it comes to things like taxes, insurance and retirement savings. Those who are classified as employees are more likely to be entitled to unemployment benefits and reimbursement of expenses as well.

With the increased level of freedom demanded by today's workers and the explosion of shared-work companies like Uber, Lyft, TaskRabbit and Grubhub, the courts are faced with questions of worker classification now more than ever. A California employee misclassification case may shed light on the issue. The plaintiff in the case performed work for GrubHub and claimed to have been a GrubHub employee. The company classified the worker as an independent contractor.

Judge rules against new overtime wage threshold

California employees may be interested to know that a judge has struck down an overtime rule created during the Obama administration. The ruling was issued on Aug. 31 by the same judge who blocked the rule from taking effect one year ago. If it took effect, the new rule would impact about 4 million workers, and it would allow those making up to about $47,000 to be automatically eligible for overtime pay.

As many as 21 states and various business groups had challenged the rule, and the Trump administration said that it would make changes to it. According to the judge's ruling, implementing the rule could have made managers eligible for overtime pay. Generally, management positions are exempt from overtime pay. The attorney general for Nevada agreed with the judge's ruling and said that it could have led to job losses if implemented.

Revised retaliation complaint form issued by OSHA

California workers who report their employers for violating safety rules and other laws are protected under several federal whistleblower protection statutes. These laws forbid retaliation against people for filing whistleblower complaints or for participating in investigations. If the employers retaliate against the employees for engaging in protected activities, the whistleblowers are able to file retaliation complaints against them.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is responsible for enforcing workplace safety regulations. Because whistleblowers must file their complaints with the appropriate federal agencies, depending on the law that their employer violated, OSHA has published a revised complaint form. The form is available online, and workers may complete it to report retaliation against them by their employers.

Employees may be entitled to overtime pay for certain tasks

Many California workers who are required to make phone calls, send texts or write emails after normal work hours may be interested to learn that their employer may be responsible for paying them for this work. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, employers are required to pay non-exempt employees for any and all overtime hours that they work, which could include any work done on mobile devices after normal work hours.

Even further, employers can be liable for making overtime payments to workers even if they have a written policy that forbids employees from working additional hours. If the employer receives and accepts any work-related emails, texts or phone calls from an employee, for example, it could owe that employee overtime pay. In these situations, however, the employer may actually fail to make that payment due to the written policy preventing employees from working overtime.

How to deal with illegal interview questions

The continuing growth of the nation’s economy and the hiring gains this summer point to a bright future, especially when hiring for this year’s holiday season begins. But even with these gains in the marketplace, there are still countless people who may be discriminated against in the hiring process.

Essentially, job candidates may be asked for information that may violate state and federal anti-bias laws. Even more troubling, interviewees may not know that a prospective employer has crossed the line.  For those candidates who actually realize that they are being discriminated against, they may feel as if they are in between a rock and a hard place. They may want the job, but at what cost?

Former employees accuse Amazon of unpaid wages

Two former Amazon workers are accusing the company of violating wage laws. They allege that the company failed to pay overtime, meal time and other requirements under state labor law.

The plaintiffs worked at Amazon distribution centers in Patterson and San Bernardino. They are seeking to turn the lawsuit into a class-action case. They believe that other workers may not have been adequately compensated.

Newspaper Carriers Are Employees, Court Rules

Newspaper carriers for the San Diego - Union-Tribune (UT) have finally received a favorable ruling from a case that started way back in 2009. While the carriers initially raised a number of claims, including one that claimed the paper failed to pay minimum wage and overtime, most claims were dropped in 2013 except for the claim that the newspaper failed to reimburse workers for reasonable business expenses.

The newspaper carriers have now won a class action suit amounting to more than $3 million. That sum includes compensation for mileage, supplies, warehouse rent and insurance.