Articles Posted in Unfair Labor Practices

A new study by researchers at the University of California, Riverside reports on unfair and unsafe working conditions within the Inland warehouse industry. warehouse.jpg

Riverside Employment Attorney Houman Fakhimi understands that these allegations include a range of issues, including sleep deprivation that led to injuries, lack of appropriate training and constant pressure to work faster.

The study was recently published in the quarterly journal, Policy Matters.

The report indicates that about half of the warehouses’ workers are migrants, who in general face a greater level of exploitation than other employees because of their citizenship status and the fact that many do not speak English. According to the California Employment Development Department, nearly 115,000 people were hired in 2010 by the warehouses, and the majority of workers are Latino, mostly working temporary positions that pay poorly and lack benefits.

The study was conducted through a number of methods, including survey data, field research, secondary literature and a number of interviews with workers, managers and representatives of temporary employment service agencies.

Among the findings are that:

1. Nearly half of all workers felt they had endured pressure from their superiors that led to illness or injury. They indicated that work schedules often meant they were forced to do their job with very little sleep. This is a well-known contributing cause to workplace injuries.

2. Less than a quarter of workers believed they had received proper training in order to do their job safely. Some said they were simply left to figure it out on their own. What’s more, the vast majority said they felt pressure from their bosses to complete their tasks more quickly.

3. Funding to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration has meant diminished resources for workers and a lack of safety-protocol oversight.

The study also highlighted data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The agency reported that 4.5 percent of the nearly 2 million warehouse workers in the U.S. had suffered some sort of injury in 2009. About a quarter of a percent suffered some form of work-related illness.

What that means is that warehouse work is more treacherous than other danger-prone fields, such as mining, logging or construction. By comparison, about 3 percent of construction workers were hurt in 2009, and warehouse workers were about four times more likely as a construction worker to get sick from his or her work environment.

The study also indicates that more than half of the workers in 2011 either themselves got injured or sick from work or witnessed someone become ill or injured.

According to OSHA’s worker safety series on warehouses, the standards that were most frequently cited in warehouse safety issues included:

Improper stacking of products;

Unsafe use of a forklift;

Failure to follow proper procedure with lockout/tagout;

Failure to use proper personal protective equipment;

Repetitive motion injuries;

Inadequate provisions for fire safety.

The lead researcher on the study team was quoted as saying that both federal and state officials need to more closely monitor the working conditions of warehouse industry employees, and that retailers should be held accountable when their factory workers are subjected to unfair and potentially unsafe treatment.
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Two Los Angeles police officers were awarded $2 million after a jury determined the LAPD supervisors retaliated against the pair for complaining about meeting alleged traffic ticket quotas, according to the Los Angeles Times. The two previously rejected a $500,000 settlement.

The two veteran motorcycle officers of the department’s West Traffic Division claimed they were punished with bogus performance reviews after failing to meet citation quotas. The two sued the department back in 2009 accusing the department of harassment and using threats of reassignment and wrongful termination after they objected to demands from commanding officers. The officers were allegedly instructed to write a certain number of tickets and violations each day, which breaks state laws.
Our Orange County Employment Lawyers understand that while many types of employment positions are considered at-will — meaning either the employee or employer can terminate a working relationship at any time — employees are still protected against many forms of discrimination, including race, age and sex. In this case, the officers were ordered by their supervisors to issue a specific number of tickets per work day — something that is strictly against state law.

The determining factors between pushing your officers to increase productivity and setting an actual quota are fuzzy for field supervisors as they’re often under pressure to generate more citations. Still, employee positions cannot be threatened for not meeting department generated goals when those goals include illegal quotas.

Although the two claimed to be ranked against other officers based on the number of cars impounded and tickets issued, both violations of state law, the department denied in testimony that there had been any sort of instructed quota presented to the men. The defendants claim there must have been confusion over the difference of a “goal” and a “quota.”

In the end, 11 of the 12 jurors sided with the officers, agreeing that the failure to meet these quotas affected their careers after the two reported the misconduct and harassment of their supervisors.

“You can’t violate the law to enforce the law,” City Councilman Dennis Zine, a former LAPD motorcycle sergeant, said. “You can’t mandate the number of tickets.”
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The government’s largest contract provider of security services has agreed to pay $1.26 million to 26 female employees for pregnancy discrimination, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Our Los Angeles employment attorneys represent women in the fight for fair treatment in the workplace. Whether the charge is pregnancy discrimination, age or gender bias or sexual harassment, women have the right to work in an environment free of such issues.

Akal Security, which provides contract security guards at U.S. military bases, was accused of forcing pregnant employees to take leave and discharging them because of pregnancy. The company was also charged with subjecting pregnant women to less favorable terms and conditions of employment, including preventing them from taking annual physicals or firearms training or forcing them to take such tests before their certification expired.

The company also reportedly retaliated by filing criminal charges against an employee who complained of the discrimination.

Akal is one of the nation’s largest contract security companies and operates in 40 states and 20 countries. It was accused of violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which prohibits gender discrimination in employment.

“This is a very important settlement that will help protect an entire class of women from discrimination on account of pregnancy,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien. “This agreement reinforces the EEOC’s commitment to securing fair and equal treatment for all women in the work place.”

In addition to the monetary settlement, the company must report to the EEOC when an employee is required to take a leave of absence while pregnant or is terminated while pregnant. It must also report any testing of pregnant employees and provide additional training for managers.

“Akal operated its business without regard to federal law,” said Barbara Seely, an EEOC attorney. “Employees who become pregnant and can continue to perform their jobs should not be pushed out of traditionally male jobs just because they don’t fit the employer’s image. We are confident Akal now understands the price of allowing this type of illegal stereotyping to drive employment decisions, and that it will ensure pregnant employees are treated fairly going forward.”
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The California Attorney General’s Office has filed an employment lawsuit in Los Angeles against eight car washed owned by the family that runs the trendy Koi restaurants popular with celebrities around the world.

Businessweek reports that the lawsuit accuses owners of the car washes of not paying the minimum wage, refusing rest and meal breaks to employees and forcing them to show up early or otherwise work without pay. It also says that employees who quit or were fired were not paid and others received bad checks.
Our Santa Ana employment lawyers handle cases against employers who refuse to pay employees money owed for time worked. Wage and hour disputes in Los Angeles are common and often result form an employee not being paid upon termination of the working relationship.

Employers must also abide by state and federal laws that require adequate time for meal and rest breaks. Additionally, an employer may not permit (let alone demand) that an employee work without pay. In some cases, the classification of an employee as a salary worker is done in an effort to avoid overtime. Frequently this is against the law and an experienced employment attorney in Los Angeles can assist you in seeking back wages.

The California Attorney General’s Office is seeking $6.6 million in the lawsuit against the 8 car washes after an investigation revealed a “widespread pattern of worker exploitation.”

“The owners routinely denied wages, breaks and overtime pay to workers at their unlicensed car washes,” the Attorney General said. “This lawsuit seeks to end this widespread pattern of worker exploitation.”

The car washes are in Fair Oaks, Folsom, Irvine, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Santa Monica, San Ramon and Venice. The five-month investigation interviewed more than 80 workers and found they were routinely denied minimum wage and overtime. False record keeping was used to cover up the violations.

The business also required employees to arrive hours early and be available unpaid until business picked up.

Here is the complaint, which was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court.
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