Forced Kickbacks at Work??? Yeah, Sadly, It Can Happen

Some bosses actually expect their employees to ‘give’ them something for the right to keep a job. Or to get enough hours of work. What’s going on there? They want a kickback. They’re demanding a payment you’re forced to make every month or so. Something for the team lead for him or to keep you on the job.

If it’s happened to you, it might have been some portion of your pay, say $50 or more a payday. Or it might be something else, like tickets to a ballgame. Or something like a case of beer, or a bottle of tequila.

That’s not supposed to happen. You know it. They know it. But you also know if you stop agreeing to ‘giving the boss a gift’ – which is no gift at all – you might get fired. Or find yourself being given a much shorter workweek or workday.

Hopefully, this never happens to you. Is this happening to you right now? If so, start keeping track of it somehow. Write down the dates on a calendar, or a notebook. Or maybe even record it on your phone, perhaps. But be sure to keep it to yourself.

If it starts getting bad, and you complain about it and are let go, maybe you have a chance at getting paid back for what happened to you. You might let us know, show us what you’ve written down or have on your cellphone.

If this has gone on during the past few years, did you complain about it? If so, did you lose your job or work? Perhaps something can still be done to make it more fair.

Plain and simple, having to pay a kickback or bribe to a manager or supervisor to keep a job shouldn’t happen. Call us at 626-795-0205 or 818-547-5200 if that is – or was going on in the past.

You were just fired! No Reason Given! Now What?

Depending on your circumstances, you should definitely consider whether you should file a workers’ compensation claim, a disability claim, and/or a claim for unemployment benefits.

You might also be entitled to unpaid overtime, minimum wages, sick leave and vacation benefits. Maybe you’re even owed money for expenses you incurred, such as your purchase or cleaning of uniforms, shoes, and/or special equipment.

But one of the things you should also do is to try to figure out – not so easy, admittedly – why you might have been fired out of the blue. If it was an illegal reason, you might have avenues to pursue to make it right.

With a few exceptions, for example, if you’re subject to a union collective bargaining agreement, you can probably be fired without cause, at any time – as long as the firing is legal.

But one can also be fired for illegal reasons. For example, it might well be illegal, and you could sue for wrongful termination and more, if you were fired because of your age, race, nationality, gender, and/or religion. The same might be true if you were terminated because you might have a physical or mental disability.

If you’re pregnant when you’re fired, that might be something to consider as another illegal reason for your being let go. If you complain about unpaid wages, overtime due you, or an unsafe or unclean working area or environment, that’s another reason when you’re firing might be illegal.

Similarly, if your employer fired you in retaliation for some reason, e.g., defending a co-employee, or pointing out some safety or problem within the company, that might be reason to seek legal relief and damages.

If you’re unsure, but still feel you shouldn’t have been fired? Maybe you should contact us so we could try to talk through what might have happened. Feel free to write, or call us at 818-547-5200 or 626-795-0205 if you’d like to see what might be done.

Thanks very much. If any of this applies to your, your family or friends, we hope to hear from you.

Donning and Doffing Protective Clothing – Your Time Matters!

Does the work you perform require you to put on a uniform before you actually start work?

If that’s the case, it’s probably because your employer knows that it has to follow OSHA rules, and protect you from injury.

Is that’s the case? Is your job is so dangerous you need the physical protection of a uniform? Then you may well be entitled to be paid for the time it takes to put that uniform on to start work and take it off when work concludes.

Are you told to clock in after you have the uniform on? It may well be that you’re being denied pay for the time you’re donning and doffing that protective clothing.

Whether you are doing this now, or did it in the past few years, or if you know someone who is going through this situation, maybe you’d like to give us a call. We’d be glad to talk with you.

Thanks very much. We hope this helps you or someone you know.

OVERTIME! 40 hours is not the ‘tell’ in California!

Does your boss tell you, “Overtime begins after 40 hours”? If you work in California, that’s sort of how it works, SOMETIMES – but not all the time.

Here’s how it really works. Overtime BEGINS after you’ve worked 8 hours in a day, OR 40 hours in a week. AND, depending on whether you work 6 or 7 days a week, different overtime factors may come into play!

Guess what else! If you work a 9-5:30 shift, and are scheduled for a half-hour meal break, AND you are forced to miss that meal break, because you can’t leave your workplace, or your work is too demanding, then you’ve worked overtime!

What if you worked overtime for that half hour for every day of the week for 50 weeks a year for 4 years? That would be 3/4 of an hour’s pay for 4 years, or 3/4 of what you make in a year!

Say your earned $10/hr. So you missed .5 hours of overtime at $15/hr. So you missed out on $7.50 each day, $37.50 each week, and in 4 years (200 weeks), you are owed – plus interest, $7,500. What if you earn $20/hour in that scenario? $15,000!

And that doesn’t even include meal break penalties, which are an hour’s pay for each day you miss such a meal break. Meal breaks go back 3 years. So that would be $10 x 5 days a week x 150 weeks, which would be another $7,500!

Were you fired recently? Let go in a reduction in force? Told your job had been eliminated? Maybe you’re owed overtime! Call us! 818-547-5200 or 626-674-5509. Or email us at

PRETEXT – What They “Make Up” for Why You Got Fired!

Has this happened to you? Or a family member, or close friend?

You (or they) have worked at a job for a number of years. Then suddenly someone claims inventory or equipment is missing, and they hang it on you – even if you normally didn’t work at that location and/or were only there one day?

If you didn’t do it, if someone else did, then what they’re doing is using a PRETEXT – a phony reason – to get rid of you.

Or does this happen? You’re told they don’t believe it was you, but you have to take a lie-detector test? Then when you refuse, you get fired because only a guilty person wouldn’t take the test?

Maybe the people who really took the goods figured out a way to throw you under the bus and take the heat off themselves. Maybe you lost your job not because of anything you did, but because you were at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Then later, you hear that people are being told that’s the reason you’re gone? You were fired?

If any of these things happened, maybe there’s a remedy. Maybe there’s a way to regain some of what you lost. Maybe you would want to call us to talk about it. If you do, call either 626-795-0205 or 818-547-5200. Thanks for reading, and keeping this in mind.

April 15th – Watch out! Your Tax Withholding May Be Withheld!

You know each week, or every other week, or twice a month, when you get your Earnings Statements? Do you ever look to see how much is being taken out in taxes?

You should!

Some employers have decided a good way to keep their employees’ money is to pocket the taxes they withheld from their paychecks. Have you heard about that recently in the news!!!???

When you go to file your taxes, be sure to ask whoever is doing that for you (or if you’re doing it alone) to check to make sure ALL the money withheld from your paycheck for taxes got to the right taxing authority. In California, that would be the Franchise Tax Board for state taxes, and of course the IRS for federal taxes.

Don’t get cheated on your taxes because of where you work. If you find this happens, contact an attorney who represents employees. If you don’t know any other attorneys in California, maybe you should call me. Hopefully, of course, this trick hasn’t been played on you and won’t happen to you or anyone you know. But if it does, please protect yourself and friends and relatives – and make that call!

Funeral Home Workers – Everyone’s Time Is Valuable

Sooner or later, we’re all faced with having to deal with decisions relating to the possibility of funerals, be it for friends, families, or our own.

The people we meet with at the mortuaries, funeral homes, and cemeteries, are all trained to try to give us the best possible service, all the while engaging in a business which requires success to continue in operation.

So we’re glad, aren’t we, when we do have to travel to such locations, be it memorial parks, graveyards or mausoleums, to find someone who will take the time to try to help us?

If you work for such an institution, you know this to be a fact: Most people are not well-prepared for that first visit. It may take more than one visit. It may require meetings after regular business hours, on week-ends, or even to the person’s home or place of business.

Just because you are doing such a fine service doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be paid for every hour you put in to help all those individuals who require and appreciate your help. If you are employed in this field, irrespective of how your employer pays you, we recommend you track every minute of time spent with visitors and customers, including travel, text, phone and email time, whether at the office or anywhere else.

Your time is valuable. You should be paid in full for that time.

Independent Contractors – The Great Escape for Some Employers

Chances are you – or someone you know – carries the title of Contractor. But think again if you imagine that those contractors have anything to do with any home improvement seen on HGTV.

Lots of large companies are using the job title of “Independent Contractor” as a way out of having to pay wages and benefits. It can happen, for example, in truck driving, delivery, or taxi service. It also crops up for in-house staffs, and even in hotel workers’ classifications.

The biggest out for such employers relates to benefits. These ‘employers’ almost never pay – and thus those Contractor workers don’t get – employer tax coverage, social security benefits, vacation, sick leave, paid time off, overtime or even minimum wage.

But these contractors have no Independence. They can’t choose when they want to work. They have to keep schedules, just like employees. They may even do the same work right along with or next to actual employees who do get those benefits. They may even wear the same uniforms, drive the same type of vehicle, work the same long hours. But they have none of the protections they would if they were employees.

Even worse, the contractors may be required to pay for the tools of the trade, e.g., vehicles, in such a manner that the cost of the vehicle can eat up a major chunk the contractor is supposed to earn for doing this work.

Are you a Contractor (whether called Independent or not) findingi yourself in such a situation? Keep your own record (a daily record of your own, paper or otherwise) of every aspect of your working time. Do you pay for phones, gas, parking, washing, uniforms, shoes, anything like that at all, while working 5-7 days a week, 8-12 hours a day? Write down and save receipts of every penny of expense that comes out of your pocket.

Maybe you can still get some of those benefits. Perhaps you are owed back straight or overtime. You might be owed reimbursement for all those expenses. If any of this applies to you, we recommend you give us, or an attorney representing employees a call.

In-Home Nursing … Sometimes Hazardous to Nurse’s Well-Being

Nurses are often necessary to treat patients in their own homes.  Oftentimes, such nurses are designated as providing two types of care, palliative and hospice.  Palliative care relates to services  provided in hopes that the person can recover from injury or surgery, for example.  Hospice care is often associated with end of life care, concentrating on the quality of one’s life in terms of comfort and assistance.  
They have a tough job, don’t they?  They either are doing their very best to nurse the patient back to health, or trying to help their patient get through the last days of life.  The toll on their days and bodies can be overwhelming at times.
Not only that, delivering in-home care can be hampered for reasons having nothing to do with the care itself.  The nurse often needs to bring along equipment, supplies, and medication, in order to do the job.  The ability to bring those items into the patient’s home, in turn, depends on traffic, parking, and weather.  As a result, while such nurses may be scheduled to see a certain patient at a certain date and time, they might be delayed for reasons beyond their control, in terms of traffic and parking to visit the home.  
Why does this matter? How, exactly, is this a threat to a nurse’s health, i.e., her/his well-being? Some medical providers set up a schedule identifying how much time a visit should take, and want to pay not a penny more for the visit.  So when one has to take more time, whether they get paid for all that time depends on the nurse’s recording all the hours and minutes needed that day.
Nurses!  Document that time, along with heavy traffic, parking problems, or anything that interferes with your ability to get to the patient on time and provide that treatment.  Sooner or later, maybe sooner than you think, you’ll want to be able to show all this time – in case you find yourself shorted, whether it’s for straight time or overtime. If you depend on your employer to do this, you might need a further check-up on down the line.
Employ prophylactic care!  Keep your own complete record (including all unavoidable delays, e.g., traffic, parking, etc.) of all your time worked each day – and do a check-up with your earnings statement from time to time.  You protect others.  Protect yourself.

Warehouse Work! Hot Summers? Cold Winters? Really Long Walks?

Are you working in a large warehouse? New ones are being built all over California and can be over a million square feet in size. We currently have a case involving a warehouse that big. If you work in a warehouse, you’re probably aware on a daily basis of three important factors.

Heat – Is it hot – Really Hot – in the summer, or Way Too Cold in the Winter? California law requires that all work environments be safe in which to work.

Do you have to take your breaks in restricted areas, that require you to work 5-10 minutes or more to get there and back top your workstation?

Do you have to wait in lines while leaving work – after you’ve clocked out? Whether to leave to take a break or to go home for the day or night?

If any of those factors apply to you, your employer may be taking advantage of your health, safety and time, If this is happening to you (or friends or family), perhaps you should contact an attorney.