An employee of 99 Cents Only Stores has sued the company, its president Richard Anicetti, and its managing agent Tony Year in Superior Court in Los Angeles claiming he was wrongfully terminated after 33 years of employment at the store.
Jose Gomez was the first employee ever hired by 99 Cents and the manager of the first ever 99 Cents store. In 1997, Gomez was promoted to Vice President of Retail Operations. Gomez subsequently moved his family to Houston and bought a house in order to fulfill this role. However, when the founder of the company died in April 2013, defendant Anicetti asked Gomez to move to California, where he would be given the title of Vice President of New Store Openings and Remodeling.
One hour into Gomez’s first day at work in California, he was called into a meeting and informed that 99 Cents no longer needed a V.P. of Store Openings and that his employment was thereby terminated.
Gomez is seeking punitive damages as well as damages for loss of income and lost earning capacity. California law provides causes of action for employment fraud, breach of employment contracts, and wrongful termination. Further, employees such as Gomez can also sue employers for misrepresentation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
If you or someone you know has been wrongfully terminated, please contact Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for a confidential consultation.
A company that assists the disabled has engaged in discriminatory hiring practices by refusing to hire an otherwise qualified woman because of her disability. The Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has brought a disability discrimination lawsuit against Pace Solano (Pace), a California company that provides training and employment services for adults with developmental disabilities.
Katrina Holly had her employment offer withdrawn from Pace after a pre-employment physical, when she disclosed that she had a condition that caused her to suffer from partial paralysis in her left hand. Despite her condition, Holly had successfully completed all tests and was given clearance by Pace’s own occupational health provider to pursue employment. As a result of its conduct, Pace agreed to a consent decree, which will require Pace to pay $130,000 and implement preventative measures. More specifically, Pace will be required to pay Holly $130,000 over a five year period and will also be required to provide anti-discrimination training to human resources, develop written policies on disability discrimination, post notice of the decree, and make periodic reports with regards to hiring and training to the EEOC.
Pace’s conduct is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Our firm investigates conduct involving discriminatory hiring practices. If you or anyone you know has been a victim of discriminatory hiring practices, please contact Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for a consultation.
In 2011, five software engineers sued a few of the biggest names in Silicon Valley – Google Inc., Apple Inc., Intel Corp. and Adobe Systems Inc., among others – over their hiring practices. The lawsuit alleged violations of the Sherman Act and Clayton Act antitrust laws by conspiring to eliminate competition for labor and depriving workers of job mobility. Moreover, the plaintiffs claimed these Silicon Valley companies entered into an “overarching conspiracy” to artificially lower employee compensation and claimed lost compensation in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Much of this case has been built on email exchanges between top executives, including the late Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs and former Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt.
Judge Lucy Koh recently certified the proposed class of technical employees, which includes software and hardware engineers, component designers, application developers, and others. The plaintiffs believe the proposed class will include upwards of 50,000 members. The original complaint sought certification of an “All Employee” class which included every salaried employee in the United States who worked for the defendant companies between 2005-2009, estimated to be more than 100,000 people.
This case, In re: High-Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation, Case No. 11-02509, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, is being closely watched in Silicon Valley.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of violations of antitrust laws, you may be entitled to relief. Please call Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for a confidential consultation.
A hospital in Houston was investigated for systemic violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Its employees alleged that it failed to properly record their hours worked, and that this resulted in many hours of unpaid overtime. The hospital, doing business as Harris Health System, agreed to pay more than 4 million dollars in back wages and liquidated damages after an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour division. Thousands of employees were affected by the hospital’s errors.
Specifically, the Department of Labor found that the hospital failed to pay the correct amount of overtime owed to certain employees who worked more than forty hours in a week. In addition, the record keeping system in which employees logged their time was found to have systemic defects that went uncorrected during the time period that was at issue in the settlement. Both of these actions constituted violations of the FLSA.
The FLSA requires employers to maintain accurate records of their employees’ hours. Moreover, employees who work overtime are required to make time and a half of their regular rate. Furthermore, the FLSA provides that violators, as a general rule, pay both back wages and an equal amount of liquidated damages directly to the affected employees. Liquidated damages usually come into play when the violations are found to be willful.
If your employer has failed to accurately record your hours, or refused to fully compensate you for overtime hours worked, you may be entitled to relief. Please contact Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for a confidential consultation.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed suit against Farmers Insurance Exchange, alleging a violation of federal law due to the termination of employees on account of their race.
Two of the claimants, who are of Hmong descent, constituted the only Asian-American employees at the company’s Fresno office. According to the lawsuit, Farmers Insurance employees had been instructed to code insurance payments in a specific manner so as to avoid automated prompting of customer surveys. When an audit revealed several cases of improper coding, the two Asian-American employees were terminated. A Caucasian employee who had a similar number of coding cases was not terminated. The Caucasian employee later testified during the EEOC’s investigation into the charges and was placed on leave soon after providing this testimony.
The EEOC brought suit alleging race discrimination and retaliatory termination in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. The lawsuit was filed after first attempting to reach a settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking back pay, compensatory damages, and punitive damages.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act makes it unlawful for employers to retaliate against employees for opposing a discriminatory practice or for making charges, testifying, assisting, or participating in an investigation of unlawful employment practices. Title VII also makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate against employees based on race or national origin. Further, California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), makes it illegal to discriminate against employees on the basis of race or to retaliate against employees for reporting discrimination in the workplace.
If you or someone you know has been discriminated against at your place of work, please contact Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for a confidential consultation.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has sued a Mobile catastrophic insurance company out of Alabama for violating federal law by discriminating against an applicant for her hair style.
The company, Catastrophe Management Solutions, was conducting a group interview of recent applicants on May 12, 2010. Chastity Jones, a black female with blond hair that was dreaded in neat curls (also called, “curllocks”), was among the group of applicants selected for the interview that day. After the interview, Jones was offered a position as a customer service representative. When meeting with the HR department later that day, the manager informed Jones that the company did not allow dreadlocks and that the only option was to cut her hair. She refused to do so, and the offer was immediately rescinded.
The EEOC has sued the company in Alabama federal court, arguing that its ban on dreadlocks and the attempt to have Jones remove them discriminates against African-Americans based on physical and/or cultural characteristics in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
C. Emanuel Smith, regional attorney for EEOC’s Birmingham office, explained, “This litigation is not about policies that require employees to maintain their hair in a professional, neat, clean or conservative manner. It focuses on the racial bias that may occur when specific hair constructs and styles are singled out for different treatment because they do not conform to normative standards for other races.”
If you or someone you know has been the victim of employment discrimination, please contact Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for more information.
It’s the moment when a dream vacation, or even just a relaxing weekend getaway, can turn into a nightmare: You are injured because the hotel you paid good money for didn’t clean the sheets, forgot to mop the excess water on the deck by the pool, served you contaminated food, the list goes on. Sometimes these defects have the potential for causing very serious injury.
For example, the Halekulani Hotel, nestled in the middle of the paradisiacal Waikiki strip, is in hot water over numerous hazards and safety violations. The U.S. Department of Labor cited the luxury establishment for fourteen “serious health and safety violations” that posed a “substantial probability of causing death or serious physical harm.” (See, OSHA News Release.) The violations included failure to properly train staff in handling hazardous waste and in responding to emergencies, and failure to maintain fire extinguishers, among other violations. (OSHA News Release.)
The Halekulani may have gotten away easy. In citing the hotel, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA,” for short) found that the Halekulani’s management either knew or should have known of the defects and safety hazards. (OSHA News Release.) Therefore, if a hotel guest was injured by one of the hazards, the Hotel could have been liable to the guest in a civil action for premises liability.
Premises liability cases arise when a guest on someone else’s land is injured by a defective or dangerous aspect of the property. Injuries run the gamut; from slip and fall injuries, to injuries caused by loose or falling debris. A strong case for premises liability exits where the guest is using the premises normally, and the where the landowner knew, or should have known, of the dangerous condition. (See, Policy Oscillation in California’s Law of Premises Liability, © 2008, Ronald Steiner)
Additionally, the law recognizes a special relationship between an inn-keeper and their guests. Hotel guests pay for more than just lodging; they pay for the peace of mind that the Hotel will prioritize their health and safety. Because of this special relationship, an inn-keeper owes a higher duty of care than a typical landowner, and must engage in ongoing, reasonable inspections of the premises to ensure guest safety. (Peterson v. Superior Court, 10 Cal. 4th 1185, 1206 (Cal. 1995)
If you or someone you know has suffered injury while staying at a hotel, or a similar business, such as a bed and breakfast, contact Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for a confidential discussion about your rights and potential remedies
NBC is being sued by Peabody Award-winning journalist, Frank Snepp, for age discrimination and retaliation.
Mr. Snepp joined NBC in 2005 and shortly thereafter, won the Peabody Award for his investigative piece “Burning Questions” on the local network KNBC. The story exposed the potentially dangerous environmental features threatening the safety of one of Southern California’s largest commercial-residential projects, Playa Vista. Since then, Mr. Snepp allegedly participated in around two hundred investigations involving public matters.
Prior to joining NBC News, Mr. Snepp was a former chief analyst of North Vietnamese strategy for the CIA in Saigon during the Vietnam War, he is a published author whose articles have appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Newsweek and McCall’s. He also taught at the University of South California and Cal-State University at Long Beach. The complaint notes that despite Mr. Snepp’s many qualifications and expertise as an investigative reporter, he was terminated by NBC just short of his 70th birthday and was replaced with a “substantially younger” reporter.
Mr. Snepp notes that his termination follows the same pattern that local news anchor Paul Moyer faced in 2009 when he was terminated by the network at the age of 67. Throughout his tenure at NBC, Mr. Snepp was vocal over the network’s treatment of older news anchors and journalists and believes he was replaced in part as retaliation from the network.
Comcast, which bought out General Electric’s interest in NBC Universal earlier this year, is named as a defendant. Mr. Snepp seeks punitive damages for his claims of age discrimination.
If you or anyone you know has been the victim of a discriminatory employment practice, please contact Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for a confidential consultation.
In June, the American Medical Association (AMA) declared obesity to be a disease, rather than a condition as it had previously been identified. Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher, and according to the AMA, it is a “multimetabolic and hormonal disease state” that results in serious health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
The new classification now provides employees with an argument that they are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a protection individuals suffering from obesity did not have. With the new classification, employers will have difficulty arguing that obesity is not an impairment covered by the Act.
The first lawsuit alleging ADA violations since the AMA’s new obesity policy was filed in August. The plaintiff, Joseph Whittaker, was fired from his job as a general manager at America’s Car-Mart. His employer claimed that his obesity made it difficult for him to walk, which is an essential function of his job as general manager. However, according to documents filed in Missouri federal court, he was “able to perform the essential functions of his position” without accommodation. Whittaker is suing for compensatory and punitive damages, including payment for emotional and mental anguish.
This case is important because before the AMA’s new definition, Michigan was the only state that prohibited discrimination based on personal appearance and obesity. However, the AMA’s new definition not provides protections that will likely result in more lawsuits, especially since an estimated one-third of American adults are classified as obese. Employers will need to be very careful from this point on.
If you or someone you know has been terminated from employment or suffered emotional harm as a result of discrimination, please contact Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for a private consultation.
Although many household employees in California are already entitled to overtime pay, those who spend more than 80% of their time caring for others were previously left without the right to such remuneration. Effective January 1, 2014, nannies, housekeepers, maids and personal attendants will become eligible for overtime if they work more than 9 hours in a day, or more than 45 hours in a week.
The new law complements a recently enacted federal provision that requires overtime pay for home health aides when they work over 40 hours in a week. Both the federal and California laws mandate the standard time and a half pay for each overtime hour worked. The California statute contains a sunset provision that will cause it to lapse in 2017 if it is not extended by the legislature.
Opponents claim that the new law will cause a reduction in the number of household employees hired due to the higher cost of employment that will result from overtime pay. However, domestic workers feel that their work was not garnering the respect it deserved, which was reflected in the lack of overtime pay. Many employers may be unaware of this new law, or attempt to ignore it and refuse to pay overtime to their employees. Beginning on January 1, 2014, this will be illegal under California law and any domestic worker who works over 9 hours a day or 45 hours in a week will have a method by which to seek legal redress.
If you have are a home health aide, and have not been receiving overtime, you are currently entitled to relief under federal law, and should contact Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for a confidential consultation. If you are a domestic worker who was previously not eligible for overtime, but are a nanny, housekeeper, maid or personal attendant, you will be protected by the new law beginning on January 1, 2014. After that date, if your employer refuses or fails to pay you for overtime hours you have worked, please contact Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP as you may be entitled to relief.