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Serrins & Associates LLC Employment Law Blog

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Employment Law News and Links – June-July, 2017

The label of what we employment lawyers call “employment law” encompasses so many aspects of the day-to-day lives of workers in America, it’s no surprise that week after week, we see news stories popping up across the country that directly touch on our area of the law. Here’s a roundup of some of the recent stories, both local and national, that are directly relevant to employees.

City of Los Angeles hits Carl’s Jr. with whopping wage theft penalty

Fast-food chain Carl’s Jr., known for both its racy ad content and for being something New Yorkers keep hearing about without actually seeing, was found by the City of Los Angeles to have systematically underpaid 37 local LA employees by failing to provide them with the city’s minimum wage of $10.50 an hour. The big news here is the penalty itself. While the total wages underpaid were at $5,400, Carl’s Jr.’s corporate parent must pay the workers $900,000, along with paying the city itself $541,000 in penalties for violating minimum wage laws.

As the article quotes:

“When a person is caught stealing something, they’re not just asked to give it back — they go to jail, they pay fines, they face severe penalties,” said Aaron Sojourner, a labor economist and professor at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. “But when it comes to companies that steal from workers, for a long time, the standard has been, ‘Well, just pay it back.’ There haven’t been very strong incentives to follow the law and respect workers’ rights.”

Exactly. Here’s to Los Angeles for incentivizing large corporations to play by the rules and treat their workers fairly.

CNN and Time Warner face racial discrimination claims from employees

CNN and TBS, both media properties owned by conglomerate Time Warner, are facing allegations this week of racial discrimination, with employees bringing a class action lawsuit claiming that black workers are rarely moved into higher pay grades or more senior positions. Over 175 employees have requested to be part of the lawsuit.

The above-linked article describes a system designed to keep certain candidates – in this case, non-white candidates – out of senior positions. When managerial or other higher positions opened up, rather than conducting a thorough search for qualified candidates, bosses allegedly handpicked favorites in advance and created “preferred qualifications” after the fact that match their preferred candidate. It’s underhanded, and these workers should be commended for doing something about it.

Manager at NYC hotspot La Marina subject of workplace harassment claims

The New York Post, which does a good  job of covering local employment law claims, particularly in the restaurant industry, alerts us to this story: the manager of La Marina, a hip and celebrity-favored American cafe sitting on the Hudson uptown, is being accused of some pretty horrible conduct toward a server. The manager in question is being accused of verbal abuse (read the story for the graphic insults), while the restaurant itself is accused of failing to pay a base salary to its employee, leaving her to survive on tips alone - a clear violation of the law. The employee was allegedly fired.

Former security head at Atlanta Hawks arena claims prominent black artists are being subject to racial discrimination

In a reminder that even high-earning and powerful celebrities can be victims of discrimination in the workplace, a former security manager of the Phillips Arena, Atlanta’s largest entertainment venue and the home of the Hawks, is claiming in a recently filed lawsuit that white performers (including Adele and Jon Bon Jovi) were given special treatment denied to black performers (including, Drake, Future, and Katt Williams). The lawsuit’s essential claim is that black performers were subject to heightened security themselves - being forced to pass through metal detectors and go through other security clearances - while white performers, along with their entire entourages, were given free reign to avoid all security procedures. In some cases, the staff members of white performers are alleged to have become belligerent when asked to pass through security, and were subsequently given a pass.

If true, these allegations appear to be a clear cut instance of racial targeting. Here, the lawsuit is being brought by the security officer who was allegedly being forced to put this discriminatory policy into practice. He claims that he was fired for complaining to the bosses which, if true, would be the basis for a claim of illegal retaliation. Remember – federal and state laws bar firing an employee for blowing the whistle on unlawful practices, just as the laws bar those practices themselves.


If any of the above stories struck a chord or reminded you of certain mistreatment from your boss, give our firm a call. You may have a basis for a lawsuit against an employer, manager, or corporation.




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