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Pacer truck drivers win major $2 million victory

The question of whether or not a worker is an independent contractor or an employee is a contentious one. In some instances, it is very clear how a worker is classified. In other situations, such as the truckers at the Port Authority, it is not as clear-cut. The main issue in cases like this one, which resolved with Pacer truck drivers winning $2 million, is that being classified as independent contractors would and did deny them overtime pay. Being misclassified is a violation of federal and state laws.

The $2 million Pacer Cartage verdict, handed down by a Superior Court Judge, stated the truckers were indeed employees and not independent contractors. Seven drivers filed a class action lawsuit stating they did not receive sick leave, health care or overtime pay because they were classified as independent contractors.

The court pointed out in its decision that the truckers could not be independent contractors because they did not have any control over setting rates or prices, had to fill out job applications, were required to adhere to Pacer’s rules with regard to deliveries, had to sublease their vehicles from the company, had no control over dates or times for deliveries, were required to be on call and had to restrict how much they drove every year or be surcharged. The less discretion and control a worker has, the higher the likelihood they are an employee and not an independent contractor.

The decisive factor in this lawsuit was the fact Pacer had purchased new trucks with emission control devices allowing them to service the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports. Pacer then subleased the trucks back to the truckers. Similar lawsuits with truckers as plaintiffs are pending and this decision may have significant ramifications in the outcome of those suits.

Violating labor laws is a quick way to be sued for significant sums of money. In just about every case, the defendants would have been better off financially following existing wage and hour rules and regulations.

If you are in a situation like this one, consult with a knowledgeable employment attorney. It is in your own best interests to find out your legal rights.

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Altered time records leads to labor violation lawsuit

San Diego-based Party City Corporation allegedly did not provide California workers with their legally mandated uninterrupted 30-minute meal break prior to the fifth consecutive hour of work.

The statement of claim filed (Case No. 37-2014-00042839-CU-OE-CTL), also suggested that Party City changed time records to get away with not paying their workers for all the time they actually worked, including required overtime. Such actions, should a court of law determine them to be true, are in violation of the California Labor Code (CLC).

In addition, if the court finds Party City to be guilty of not providing proper meal breaks, the corporation may face a fine of one hour of pay per employee, which could add up, as Party City allegedly denied the multiple workers in the class action lawsuit meal breaks over a significant period of time.

The CLC states that a worker classified as non-exempt and paid hourly, must be reimbursed for overtime wages for the period of time worked in excess of eight hours and for any time worked that is over a 40-hour workweek.

Also in play in this case are Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Orders requiring companies to pay their workers for all time worked, the time when a worker is subject to the control of a manager/employer and all time when the employer permitted the worker to work.

Lawsuits such as this one are becoming increasingly common. Many younger employees do not know enough about labor law and how it applies to them and, for that reason, a lot of employers have been getting away with violating the law. If you are not sure about your work situation and feel that you are not being paid for all of your hours, seek the counsel of an experienced employment attorney.

Call us today at 916.486.1712 or visit

Sexual harassment common in sports venues, including MMA

Sexual harassment does not just occur in offices. It also happens in sports contexts, including Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). Most ground arts have mixed-gender practices, few female coaches and limited facilities where female athletes are able to train, unless it is with male participants in the same sport.

Ronda Rousey, famous for her performance on the Beijing Olympic judo team in 2008, has called attention to a case of sexual harassment in MMA. Now an A-list sports star and the UFC’s bantamweight champion, Rousey’s opinion carries a lot of weight.

In a post in the, Rousey chastised the sport’s governing body for their apparent indifference towards accusations leveled at then official Fletcher Thornton. Several female athletes said he sexually molested them when they were in their teens after getting them drunk or high on drug. As a result of the news coverage, Fletcher resigned before the start of the 2008 Olympic Games.

Sexual harassment and abuse by instructors and/or other officials is not a new phenomenon. Consider the allegations against hot yoga guru Bikram Choudhury. Most of the cases sound alike because they have many elements in common: largely male-dominated training areas, environmental circumstances that made it difficult to speak up, and a male authority figure exerting influence on the victim.

No woman should have to endure such a physical violation of her person nor the associated social ramifications. No one has the authority to commit such heinous acts. Sexual harassment policies in sports training venues are virtually non-existent and often so are changing rooms for women. A lack of overt acknowledgement of gender in such sports allows such unconscionable behavior to occur under the radar.

When such a lack of awareness of gender issues happens across the board, in sports and other fields, sexual harassment is virtually guaranteed to happen. If you are facing such a situation, feel free to contact my office for assistance and to find out your legal rights.