News

Walmart Employees Win $6 Million Judgement in Meal Break Lawsuit

April 15, 2019

On April 12, 2019, a California federal jury awarded $6 million to Walmart workers at a Chino, California warehouse who worked as “Associates” as far back as June 8, 2013. During meal breaks, Walmart required Associates to go through a lengthy “asset protection” process that included an anti-theft metal detector checkpoint if they wished to leave the warehouse at lunch. The process took so long that it would significantly cut into Associates’ 30-minute lunch breaks, and Associates... [...]

U.S. House of Representatives Passes Paycheck Fairness Act to Attack Gender Pay Gap

April 09, 2019

The United States House of Representatives passed the proposed Paycheck Fairness Act (the “Bill”) to rid employees of sex-based pay differentials and make wage practices more transparent.  The Bill adds several layers of procedural protections to the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (“EPA”) and requires employers to prove that any wage discrepancies are tied to legitimate business qualifications and not gender.  Once finalized, the Bill will also prohibit employers from taking retaliatory... [...]

DOL Proposes New Rule for Overtime Eligibility

March 08, 2019

On March 07, 2019, the United States Department of Labor (“DOL”) proposed to increase the salary threshold required for executive, administrative and professional (“EAP”) workers to qualify as exempt from overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).  Once finalized, the DOL rule will convert more than one million workers – earning between $23,660 and $35,308 annually – to non-exempt status and thus eligible to receive overtime pay.  Indeed, the DOL proposal... [...]

EEOC Finds Increase in Discrimination Claims in 2018

November 26, 2018

In November, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) released its 2018 Performance Accountability Report which made public a large amount of data regarding the type of claims of discrimination that workers have brought against their employers in the 2018 fiscal year. Some key 2018 performance highlights include:. Beyond its impressive year on the litigation and enforcement front, the EEOC expanded its online inquiry and scheduling system to all EEOC offices. This expansion... [...]

Congressional Democrats Fight for Workers’ Rights

October 31, 2018

On October 30, 2018, Congressmen Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Bobby Scott (D-VA) took a crucial step to combat employer’s use of arbitration agreements to restrict workers’ rights by introducing the Restore Justice for Workers Act (“Act”).  The proposed legislation strives to open “the courthouse doors for workers by prohibiting the use of forced arbitration clauses in employment contracts and prohibiting employers from requiring employees to waive their right to engage in joint,... [...]

Trump Department of Justice Reverses Position on Trans Rights

October 25, 2018

On October 25, 2018, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”), arguing on behalf of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), contradicted the EEOC’s prior position regarding the rights of transgender employees under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  In a brief submitted to the United States Supreme Court, the DOJ argued that federal law does not prohibit businesses from discriminating against employees on the basis of their gender identity.  The brief echoes an... [...]

New York State Increases Protections against Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

October 09, 2018

On Tuesday, October 9, 2018, New York workers will be assured additional resources to combat sexual harassment in the workplace.  Employers in the Empire State will be required to establish a sexual harassment prevention policy in accordance with new standards promulgated by the New York State Department of Labor (“NYSDOL”), and to provide workers with a complaint form to report incidents of sexual harassment.  Further, employers will be required to provide all employees with sexual... [...]

Closing Time for California Employers Who Short Workers’ Wages at the End of Shifts

July 26, 2018

On July 26, 2018, the California Supreme Court ruled that Starbucks cannot rely on the de minimis doctrine to combat its ex-employee’s claims for unpaid wages when closing the coffee shop at the end of the day.  The ruling is a significant win for hourly workers as it ensures that Golden State employers cannot duck liability when failing to pay workers’ wages for only a few minutes of work per shift. Specifically, in Troester v. Starbucks, California’s highest State court held that... [...]

LGBTQ Rights Not Adversely Impacted by Supreme Court’s Masterpiece Cakeshop Decision

June 04, 2018

On June 4, 2018, the United States Supreme Court delivered its much-anticipated decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd., et al. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, et al.  In an extremely narrow ruling, the Supreme Court held that Masterpiece Cakeshop did not have to pay penalties for refusing to prepare a wedding cake for a same sex couple. It is crucial to note that the Supreme Court did not rule on the question of whether the bakery, or any private business, may deny services to same-sex... [...]

New York Court Reaffirms Employees’ Rights to Seek Class-Wide Relief for Wage Violations, Regardless of Immigration Status

May 17, 2018

On May 17, 2018, Justice Jeffrey Brown of the New York State Supreme Court for Nassau County shot down an argument that the plaintiffs, who were former employees of the defendants, could not pursue a class action to recover unpaid wages because it was supposedly “patently obvious” that the plaintiffs lacked proper immigration documentation. Specifically, in Molina, et al. v. Two Bros. Scrap Metal, Inc., et al., Justice Brown held that, even if the defendants were correct about the... [...]

Supreme Court of California Expands Definition of “Employees” Who Are Protected by Wage Laws

April 30, 2018

On April 30, 2018, the Supreme Court of California, the highest court in the State, reached a landmark decision for hourly workers.  In Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Lee, the Court denied Dynamex’s appeal of the lower court’s order, which certified a class of delivery drivers who Dynamex argued were independent contractors, and therefore not entitled to the protection of certain wage laws.  This decision is a huge victory for California workers who are classified as mere... [...]

Cocktail Server Illegally Fired From NYC’s Ascent Lounge

April 26, 2018

On Thursday, April 26, 2018, the National Labor Relations Board ruled in favor of a New York City cocktail server fired two days after complaining at a staff meeting about the wage practices and working conditions at the upscale Ascent Lounge.  The Board agreed with an administrative law judge-finding that the timing of the server’s termination, soon after the staff meeting in which she complained, was suspicious and evidence of the employer’s animus towards the server for voicing... [...]

California Class Action Arbitration Agreement Found Unconscionable

April 25, 2018

California workers obtain a substantial victory as the California Second Appellate District found arbitration agreements, signed by over one hundred employees in the wake of a coworker initiating a wage-and-hour class action, to be procedurally and substantially unconscionable.  The Court held that “the language of the provision and the circumstances under which it was presented to putative class members rendered it unfair, one-sided, and substantively unconscionable.”. Specifically,... [...]

Ninth Circuit Rules That Employers Cannot Use Employees’ Salary Histories to Justify Paying Women Less Than Men

April 24, 2018

Earlier this month, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the highest federal court in California, issued a significant decision that could ultimately have national implications for women fighting to be paid equally with their male peers.  In Rizo v. Yovino, a female math consultant sued the superintendent of a California school district under the Equal Pay Act – a federal law that prohibits paying women less than men based on their gender – after she learned that her male colleagues were... [...]

Second Circuit Confirms More Lenient Standard for Punitive Damages Under the New York City Human Rights Law

March 20, 2018

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals, the highest federal court in New York, held in Chauca v. Abraham that an employee may recover punitive damages against an employer under the New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”) by showing merely that the employer acted with “with willful or wanton negligence” in discriminating against the employee. Conversely, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (“Title VII”) – the federal law that protects against employment discrimination – sets a... [...]

U.S. Senate Seeks to Shine Light on Sexual Harassment in the Financial Services Industry

March 01, 2018

On March 1, 2018, three United States Senators – Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) – wrote joint letters to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) requesting any information that the agencies have regarding the prevalence of sexual harassment in the financial industry.   In their letters, the Senators highlight the “strong ‘cultural and financial forces’ in the industry that... [...]

Second Circuit Rules that Title VII Prohibits Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation

February 26, 2018

On February 26, 2018, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals issued a landmark decision in Zarda v. Altitude Express, holding that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of an employee’s sexual orientation.  While the United States Supreme Court has not yet addressed this issue, the Second Circuit is now the second federal appellate court (along with the Seventh Circuit) to rule that it is unlawful for employers to discriminate against employees based... [...]

91,000 Au Pairs Fight for Minimum Wage and Overtime

February 16, 2018

Au Pairs across the nation recently obtained a huge victory in their fight to gain protection under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and various other laws.  The U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado granted class certification in a case entitled Beltran v. InterExchange, Inc. – a ruling that allows over 91,000 au pairs to collectively proceed in one lawsuit and simultaneously bring claims for unpaid wages against their employers. As previously detailed in our “Au... [...]

NYC Extends Greater Protections to Employees Who Seek Reasonable Accommodations

February 01, 2018

New York City recently adopted amendments to the New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”) to extend new and heightened protections to employees requesting reasonable accommodations.  Starting October 15, 2018, employers are required to engage in a “cooperative dialogue” with (i) employees with disabilities; (ii) pregnant women; (iii) victims of domestic violence; and (iv) individuals in need of religious accommodations, who request reasonable accommodations from their employer. To... [...]

New App “Kendr” Provides Employees with a New Way to Lodge Protected Complaints

January 29, 2018

On Monday, January 29, 2018, a group of Los Angeles attorneys unveiled a new app called “Kendr.”  Kendr, a third-party cell phone app, provides a new avenue for employees to report workplace problems to their employers.  Kendr allows employees in any industry to send messages to their employers – with the option to send a message anonymously – regarding any and all workplace issues. This innovation is significant in light of the recent #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.  Because of... [...]

PAGA Pulls Ahead of FAA

December 14, 2017

California workers received an early holiday present as the United States Supreme Court denied a petition from Prudential Overall Supply – an employer seeking to force workers from state court and into a forum where workers’ claims must be brought on an individual basis.  The petition followed the March 7, 2017 decision of Betancourt v. Prudential Overall Supply, 9 Cal. App. 5th 439 (Cal. Ct. App. 2017), in which a California appellate court held that a pre-dispute arbitration agreement... [...]

Faruqi & Faruqi, Lead-Counsel, Announces Final Approval of Settlement on Behalf of Sales Agents in the Safe Auto Wage & Hour Class Action

October 23, 2017

Faruqi & Faruqi is pleased to announce final approval of the hard-fought settlement in Strong et al. v. Safe Auto Insurance Group, Inc. et al., No. 16-cv-765, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.  The class action settlement represents a remarkable 82% recovery of the unpaid overtime and statutory damages claimed by more than 160 current and former Safe Auto sales agents from Kentucky and Ohio.  Innessa Melamed Huot was lead-counsel for Plaintiffs and the... [...]

Greater Protections for Undocumented Workers

July 25, 2017

Workers receive two big wins in federal court to ensure that their immigration status will not preclude them from raising wage and hour claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act.  First, a Federal District Court in Illinois joins New York and other districts across the country to hold that the immigration status of a worker may not be introduced as evidence in a FLSA lawsuit.  Kim v. Hakuya Sushi & Kim, Case No. 15-cv-03747.   The Ninth Circuit went further and found that a worker can... [...]

Lawsuit Exposes Systematic Discrimination in MLB

July 09, 2017

Last week, Angel Hernandez filed a lawsuit, Hernandez v. The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball and Major League Baseball Blue, Inc., Case No. 17-cv-00456, alleging discrimination in how MLB’s promotion and postseason assignment policies are administered for umpires.  Despite a remarkable 96.88% accuracy rating on calling balls and strikes in 2016, Hernandez was not assigned to work any of the seven World Series games and entered the 2017 season with the same job title he had when he... [...]

New Rights for NYC Independent Contractors

May 16, 2017

With the “Freelance Isn’t Free” Act, NYC Administrative Code § 20-927, et seq., coming into effect this week, New York City workers are better equipped to receive proper payment and protection from prevalent wage theft practices by employers.  A skyrocketing number of freelancers, who steadily dominate today’s on-demand service economy, no longer have to worry that their status as independent contractors will impede their ability to receive full payment for their work in a timely... [...]

Single Use of a Severe Racial Slur Can Lead to a Hostile Workplace

May 03, 2017

Workers in New York, Vermont, and Connecticut may now point to a single utterance of a racial slur when claiming that an employer has created a discriminatory hostile work environment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  This is significant as courts within the Second Circuit generally have sought a steady barrage of racial comments when establishing a hostile work environment, and were reluctant to find isolated or sporadic use of racial slurs sufficient.  This... [...]

Seventh Circuit Rules Sexual Orientation Is Protected By Title VII

April 07, 2017

Employees in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin will be the first workers in the country with the right to sue employers in Federal Court for discriminatory employment practices based on sexual orientation.  In Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 5839, (7th Cir. 2017), the en banc Seventh Circuit ruled that sexual orientation discrimination is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Chief Circuit Judge Diane P. Wood wrote... [...]

Faruqi & Faruqi obtains Collective Certification on behalf of Aldi Store Managers

February 24, 2017

The U.S. District Court, for the Northern District of New York, conditionally certified a collective action brought by Aldi Store Managers alleging the grocery chain misclassified them as exempt employees under the FLSA, in Griffin et al. v. Aldi Inc., No. 5:16-cv-00354.  Faruqi & Faruqi, as co-lead counsel, represents the Plaintiffs and a class of similarly-situated current and former Store Managers employed by Aldi.  Innessa Melamed heads the litigation on behalf of Faruqi & Faruqi. Aldi... [...]

States Increase Minimum Wages

February 07, 2017

New York workers, along with workers in 18 other states, are ringing in 2017 with higher minimum wage laws.  These increases are crucial to low wage workers as the federal minimum wage has remained stagnant at $7.25 per hour since 2009.  With Andy Puzder, Chief Executive of CKE Restaurants and a vocal critic of efforts to increase the federal minimum wage, likely to be appointed as President-Elect Donald Trump’s Labor Secretary, workers will continue to depend on cities and states to... [...]

“Freelance Isn’t Free” Act Signed into Law

November 16, 2016

With overwhelming support from the New York City Council, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law the “Freelance Isn’t Free” Act which provides extensive rights to the freelancers who help keep NYC running strong. The Act signifies a major change in how independent contractors will be treated by providing them certain protections previously extended only to employees. The Act requires written agreements between freelancers and the entities that engage them for services worth $800 or more.... [...]

FedEx to Pay $15.4 Million to Settle Drivers’ Class Action

October 23, 2016

The Oregon Federal District Court approved a $15.4 million settlement in which FedEx will pay $500 to over $100,000 to approximately 400 delivery drivers. FedEx drivers filed suit in 2005 alleging that the company misclassified them as independent contractors and failed to pay overtime and other wages. The case is part of a larger series of lawsuits filed by FedEx drivers in about 40 states that were consolidated for MDL proceedings in the Northern District of Indiana. The settlement comes... [...]

45 Days Until FLSA Overhaul Takes Effect

October 17, 2016

The Final Overtime Rule takes effect on December 1, 2016, and extends overtime protection to 4.2 million employees who are currently deemed exempt under the FLSA. The Final Rule more than doubles the qualifying salary threshold for the Executive, Administrative or Professional (“EAP”) exemptions to overtime. The Final Rule also updates the salary levels of employees deemed exempt under the Highly Compensate Employee (“HCE”) exemption to equal the 90th percentile of full-time salaried... [...]

Third Circuit Declares: Paid Meal Breaks do NOT offset Overtime

October 10, 2016

The Third Circuit unanimously reversed a district court’s decision that allowed an employer to use paid bona fide meal time to offset unpaid overtime. Three DuPont employees sued the Pennsylvania manufacturing plant for unpaid overtime under the FLSA because the employer failed to compensate them for donning and doffing time and for time spent on “shift relief,” i.e. sharing information with incoming shift employees at the end of their shifts. The district court acknowledged that... [...]

Walmart Must Pay $16.2 Million in Gender Discrimination Trial

September 19, 2016

A New Hampshire District Court denied Walmart’s bid for a new trial and instead awarded Plaintiff, Maureen McPadden, $16.2 million for her state and federal gender discrimination, wrongful discharge, and retaliation claims. McPadden v. Wal-Mart Stores East, L.P., No. 14-cv-475, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126789, at *3 (D.N.H. Sept. 16, 2016). This came after a jury awarded Ms. McPadden over $31 million, including $15 million in punitive damages, which was later cut to the statutory maximum of... [...]

Qualcomm Makes Moves To Chip Away At Its Glass Ceiling

September 14, 2016

Qualcomm entered into a “literally unparalleled” pre-suit settlement to stave off a proposed gender discrimination class action. Qualcomm agreed to pay $19.5 million to approximately 3,290 female employees and make systemic corporate changes to its policies and practices to promote equal pay and job opportunities for its female employees. This action began in October 2015 when former Qualcomm employee Dandan Pan filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission... [...]

Au Pairs Gaining FLSA Protection Terrifies Cultural Care, Inc.

September 13, 2016

After suffering a bruising defeat in Colorado federal court, Cultural Care initiates a counteroffensive by filing a suit in Massachusetts District Court to preclude the recently enacted Domestic Workers Bill of Rights from applying to them. See Complaint at 42-44, Cultural Care, Inc. v. Office of the Attorney Gen., No. 16-cv-11777 (D. Mass. Aug. 31, 2016). The Bill of Rights does not directly name au pairs, but protects employees "paid by an employer to perform work of a domestic nature... [...]

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