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Guess Retail Inc. former worker alleges unpaid meal breaks, improper payment of wages

This lawsuit is the third launched against Guess Retail Inc. this year and has the potential to become a class action lawsuit. Burgos v. Guess Retail Inc., Case No. BC592087, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles.

Former employee Kriss Burgos alleges that she was not paid for missed meal breaks, was improperly paidlater than mandated by law on termination and that there were other irregularities relating to wage payment and her employment records. Court documents indicate that Burgos was a non-exempt hourly worker and required to work without rest or meal breaks and was never compensated for them.

According to California labor law, employers must provide for regular rest breaks and an uninterrupted 30-minute meal break after the fifth hour of working.

There are five claims of violations, and the lawsuit is seeking straight time, overtime and double compensation due to Guess’s alleged failure to pay, as well as other compensatory damages and penalties.

Any worker who believes they have been unfairly denied meal or rest breaks or who were not paid according to the existing labor laws of their state should seek experienced legal counsel to determine their rights and how to proceed with a lawsuit, if that is the appropriate course of action.

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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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Elder abuse still largely hidden nationwide

Shockingly, one in 10 Americans over the age of 60 is the victim of abuse. Strangers are not always the abusers, either. Often, the abusers are those who in actuality are supposed to care for these elders. Such abuse may be physical, mental, emotional, financial, psychological or sexual, and can be premeditated, deliberate abandonment or neglect. However, another aspect of elder abuse is also coming to light – inter-resident abuse.

According to the Gerontological Society of America, the various forms of abuse perpetrated on seniors-in-care has seen a dramatic uptick in nursing homes and other elder care facilities. Even though this seems to be a poorly kept secret, the issue still remains largely hidden. Sadly, for every reported case, there are an estimated 23 unreported cases. This means that there are more than 5 million cases of elder abuse in U.S. facilities, homes and community settings.

The City and County of Los Angeles noted an increase of 500 elder abuse cases in 2014 at board-and-care homes, nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. Many of those cases involved other residents, but some also involved abuse by a staff member or a younger adult with a disability. Many do not realize that nursing home residents can range in age from 18 to 100.

Weill Cornell Medical University and Cornell University have just complete some startling new research that shows that inappropriate, hostile and disruptive behavior among nursing home residents is a growing issue. This issue has another companion riding its coattails, which is abuse by others living in the same nursing home.

With such a diversity of ages and disabilities, ranging from mental illnesses to dementia, the probability of hostile interactions is very high. Forced to live in close quarters with others with physical or mental problems that culminate in possible incompatibility issues, often results in serious anger management and personal boundary breaches for those who feel or think they have no other recourse but to act up and act out.

Anyone who suspects elder abuse is occurring in any setting should speak to an elder abuse attorney and find out what can be done to stop it.

City of Los Angeles pays garbage truck drivers $26 million to settle lawsuit over ban on lunchtime naps

First, the city banned garbage truck drivers from sleeping in their trucks. But city officials also issued an edict that sanitation workers were not to congregate in large groups in restaurants during their meal breaks.

Close to 1,100 sanitation workers filed a class action lawsuit. The resulting settlement paid each worker approximately $45,000 in lost pay. The case did not go to court, as the city’s attorneys indicated they would likely have to pay more money if the case did go to trial. Los Angeles taxpayers footed the final bill to reimburse garbage truck drivers for lost wages. 

California labor law mandates that non-exempt employees must have a 30-minute, uninterrupted, off-duty break no later than five hours into their shift, and a 10-minute rest break for every four hours worked. Reacting to the controlling restrictions imposed on them, sanitation workers argued that their legally entitled breaks were, in essence, being denied. It appeared that the court would likely side with the drivers — hence the $26 million out-of-court settlement recommended by the city attorney’s department.

Ignoring or attempting to circumnavigate California labor laws can be a costly misstep for employers. Employers must set aside an uninterrupted 30-minute break period for workers, allow them to come and go at will while on break, and not intimidate or prevent them from taking breaks. You can’t pay lip service to California labor laws.

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Nursing home abuse in California is not being dealt with in an appropriate manner

Consider the case of Elsie Fossum. Fossum was 95-years-old when she checked herself into as assisted living facility. Instead, she died and her family has been waiting for seven long years to find out what happened. All they know is that she died as a result of injuries sustained at the assisted living facility. In fact, the home’s administration suggested Fossum had fallen.

As it turned out, the real cause of her death was revealed by the home’s former nursing director, who stated her injuries did not come about as the result of a fall, but because she was punched. The former director described the woman’s injuries as miserable: swollen eyes, knuckle shaped bruises, and damaged eyes. Apparently, no one knew who inflicted such horror on Fossum and there have been no charges filed.

This case is just the tip of the iceberg. According to the Center for Investigative Reporting, abuse complaints are steadily increasing, but many of those complaints are in limbo or on hold. In fact, it appears state regulators created cold/hold files for over 900 incidents, even files that included death under suspicious circumstances. It seems the Department of Public Health has hundreds of uninvestigated and unassigned cases waiting for attention, which they may never get.

With a change of department management in 2011, things have begun to slowly turn around, with screening within two days. Unfortunately, it also appears that many current investigations are being done only by phone, not by going to the scene, a situation that may result in missing vital information and leaving vulnerable seniors at risk.

Elsie Fossum’s case, now deemed a homicide, is now in the hands of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for a closer look. If you have concerns about a loved one in care, contact an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer. Do not wait.