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Santa Clara County Employment Law Blog

Silicon Valley tech workers and employers working toward deal

Workers in all types of occupations expect to be fairly compensated for the work that they do. This is true throughout the nation and includes tech workers based in Silicon Valley. When employers in this (or any other) sector take action to deprive workers of fair compensation the workers may be able to take legal action.

In 2011 some workers in this demographic took legal action when they determined that tech companies based in the area had banded together to try to keep the wages paid to workers low. The approximately 60,000 workers who are a part of the class action allege that this was accomplished through an agreement to not hire, or recruit individuals employed at the businesses that were a part of the conspiracy. Those businesses allegedly include:

Federal agency deems professional cheerleaders 'seasonal workers'

Sometimes employment disputes involve one employee and his or her employer. Other times however, a group of workers will collectively take action against their employer. This is the case where the Oakland Raiderettes are concerned. Two cheerleaders for professional football team the Oakland Raiders recently sued the team claiming that the working conditions they are subjected to violate California labor laws.

More specifically, in the lawsuit the cheerleaders allege that the Raiders:

  • Do not pay the cheerleaders until the end of the season.
  • Do not compensate them for certain expenses.
  • Dock pay when they gain weight.
  • Fine them for infractions considered minor.
  • Pay them less than $5 an hour.

Many watching pending EEOC case regarding severance agreements

A case that could have far reaching consequences throughout the nation is currently pending in a federal court located in another state. The matter concerns the terms of the severance agreement of a national drugstore chain. Because of the language included the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently filed a lawsuit against the drugstore.

Unlike some lawsuits which seek compensation for the employment wrongs, in this instance the EEOC is seeking to force the business to use a different separation agreement. It would also like the company to have to tell employees that they may file a discrimination charge against the business without retaliation occurring. There are several sections of the document that, despite a clause that allows an employee to participate in an EEOC proceeding, the agency feels communicates the wrong information regarding an employee’s right to file a discrimination claim.

Sales People Beware of the Pitfalls of Piece Rate, Commission, Sales, & Piece Work: PART TWO

 By Jose Garay, Esq., Long Beach, Orange County, Ontario, Oakland, Irvine, Palo Alto, San Diego, Los Angeles

February 29, 2014

Employers in many industries compensate for the unit value of time or production work and call it "piece rate" or "piece work." Payment for installations, piece or unit production is very common in these industries and positions:

  • Loan Officers
  • Account Executives
  • Technicians
  • Dish Network Installers
  • Solar Panel Sales Representatives
  • Commissioned employees

The piece rate system, as in any production compensation system, is intended to allow highly productive employees to earn more than the average wage for that industry. The system is intended to reward productive employees who contribute above and beyond the average employee. The concept is simple, the more production the employer gets out of you, the more you earn. In reality, piece work and piece rate systems are often illusory and because an employer can predict standard production, the employee soon realizes that his or her check is almost always the same.

Beware the Pitfalls of Commission, Piece Rate, & Piece Work: PART THREE-Are You The Victim of False Job Ad?

By Jose Garay, Esq., Long Beach, Orange County, Ontario, Oakland, Irvine, Palo Alto, San Diego, Los Angeles

Beware of the Pitfalls of Piece Rate, Commission, & Piece Work. Part One

By Jose Garay, Esq., Irvine, Palo Alto, San Diego, Los Angeles

February 28, 2014

Employers in many industries compensate for the unit value of time or production work and call it "piece rate" or "piece work." Payment for installations, piece or unit production is very common in these industries and positions:

  • Auto Techs & Mechanics
  • Construction: Drywall installers, Framers, Stair Tile & Carpet installers
  • Cable installers
  • Truck drivers
  • Plumbers, Electricians & other Skilled Trades
  • HVAC technicians
  • Pet groomers & stylist
  • Delivery Drivers in all industries
  • All Commission, Draw & Sales positions
  • Machinist
  • Furniture & Office Product Assemblers

Misclassification a cause of port truck wage & hour claims?

Many people in the state of California head off to jobs each day. Understanding that the wellbeing of a worker is important for a variety of reasons, the state of California, as well as the federal government, take it seriously when employees are taken advantage of and have passed laws to try to protect workers. One thing these laws are designed to do is hold employers responsible for situations where a worker does not receive the breaks he or she is entitled to or, in the alternative, compensation for overtime worked. These are called wage and hour violations and could lead to an employee filing a wage and hour complaint.  

Nicollette Sheridan's wrongful termination lawsuit reinstated

There are multiple reasons why an employee in the state of California might decide to file a wrongful termination lawsuit against his or her former employer. As is the case in any wrongful termination case it is possible that the proceedings will take many twists and turns before reaching a final resolution. Actress Nicollette Sheridan is well aware of this.

Though the hit show she previously starred in ended in 2012, the lawsuit she filed regarding her exit in 2009 is apparently alive and well. She recently learned that the wrongful termination case she brought against the producers and creator of Desperate Housewives has been reinstated.

Engineers' wage suppression class action vs. tech giants proceeds

In 2010 the U.S. Department of Justice revealed that a group of high-tech giants had conspired for years to limit their workers’ job options, and thereby suppress their wages. This was accomplished through “gentlemen’s agreements” between the CEOs that they would not recruit one another’s employees. As we’ve discussed before, the DOJ ruled that these anti-recruiting agreements were per se violations of antitrust law and “naked restraints on trade.” Adobe Systems, Apple, Google, Intel, Intuit and Pixar all agreed to settle with the DOJ, but the employees were not compensated through that agreement.

Seeking that rightful compensation, several software engineers filed class action lawsuits against those companies and Lucasfilm, the former owner of Pixar. After the cases were consolidated, a federal judge partly certified the class action last year. The part she left uncertified, however, was crucial. She said the five plaintiffs had not yet offered a way to prove the impact of the conspiracy class-wide. Lack of such a method could require the court to assess damages on an individual basis, defeating part of the point of a class action. She ordered them to try again.

Wal-Mart manager fired after bizarre robbery

Sometimes the stories that revolve around the world of employment law are just as complex as the law itself. That seems to be the case with a bizarre robbery -- and firing -- that occurred at a Wal-Mart.

The manager of this Wal-Mart was going about his day as normally as possible. All of a sudden, two people tried to steal 12 cases of beer from the store. Proper protocol, according to Wal-Mart's rules, states that the manager should have written down the thieves' license plate number as they fled. That's exactly what the manager intended to do -- and he had thrice received perfect scores for safety training.

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