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Santa Barbara Employment Law Blog

Trucker lunch breaks under attack in California

Truck drivers in California and all across America are tired. There is no doubt about it. These drivers have some of the toughest and most dangerous jobs in the country, working long hours on the road away from family and friends. Companies are struggling to find enough truck drivers to keep up with consumer demands. As a result, currently employed truck drivers are taking on more loads than they otherwise might have, further contributing to driver exhaustion.

As if this was not enough, the federal government has now launched an all-out attack against lunch breaks for truck drivers. According to Business Insider, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration decided last December that trucking companies in California were under no obligation to provide paid rest and meal breaks for truck drivers who drive in and outside of the Golden State. This is despite the fact that virtually all other laborers in California get a 30-minute break so long as they work more than five hours for a shift.

You can sue if an employer violates the Fair Labor Standards Act

You've been worried about your pay for some time. You find discrepancies each paycheck, and your employer ignores your attempts to talk through why your hours aren't matching with your pay.

You decided to make a complaint to the Wage and Hour Division, because talking to your employer wasn't helping you. Now, your employer has started acting differently toward you, going as far as to reduce your hours to next-to-nothing. You'll have to find a new job because of these sudden changes. Essentially, your employer is hoping you'll quit, and you're being penalized for filing a complaint.

How can I deal with microaggressions at work?

Microaggressions are small, seemingly minor slights that target minorities in the workplace. While these issues may not seem significant, over time they add up to create a hostile and unwelcoming environment for some workers. Knowing how to counter these slights in a meaningful and constructive way is crucial, according to CNBC.com

Comments about appearance are hardly ever welcome in the workplace. This is especially true regarding comments about a person's hair, which many women of color are unfortunately subjected to. In this case, it's best to consider who is responsible for the slight. If it's a co-worker, feel free to pull the person aside and explain why comments like that are offensive. If the person is in a position of authority, it's usually best to seek out a sympathetic individual who is on the same professional level. While it's unfortunate, the words of this person could hold more weight, especially if they are in good standing in a company or organization. 

Sneaky ways age discrimination occurs in the workplace

So you feel like your job is in danger since you turned 50? Have you seen coworkers that have suddenly been laid off when they reached retirement age?

Since laws have been passed that make age discrimination illegal, employers have become more creative in the ways they weed out older employees. For instance, there might be a sudden "downsizing" or perhaps a restructure that eliminates certain positions held by an older workforce.

3 common ways that employers steal wages

Wage theft is a serious issue that affects employees across all industries and in various cities, including the Santa Barbara area. Federal and state laws guarantee employees certain rights, such as a minimum wage. When employers violate these rights and steal those wages, they are committing a crime. In fact, the Economic Policy Institute estimates that among the 10 most populated states, approximately 2.4 million workers fall victim to wage theft.

One of the ways you can protect yourself from becoming a victim of such a crime is to know how employers take advantage of employees. Here are some of the most common ways that your boss could be stealing from you.

Victim of wage theft? You have rights

Have you ever opened your paycheck and thought that it seemed light? Maybe your Santa Barbara employer asked you to work overtime but the pay isn't reflected in your check. Or, maybe your boss asked you to work off the clock for some reason and you are wondering if you can refuse without risking your job. Maybe you are working at a restaurant and your employer is keeping your tips. Whatever the reason for these lost wages, you might have some options to recover them.

If you are not receiving the minimum wage or overtime pay that the law requires, there are steps you can take to get the money you worked hard for. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law that requires employers to pay at least the federal minimum wage. Employees who work overtime (more than 40 hours per week) should receive "time and a half." If an employer fails to do this, the employee can file a complaint for the backpay. Here are a few things you should know about wage theft and how to fight back.

Can I get fired for a non work-related injury?

If you get an injury in California, such as from a car accident, sports accident or other unfortunate incident, and you are unable to work at your job for a period of time, you may worry your employer could fire you. Depending on the situation, there are a number of laws that protect your job. Some include benefits to help cover expenses, while others may force you to take unpaid time off. 

According to the Chron, if your injury is long-term or permanent you may qualify for disability, which includes cash benefits and health insurance. As part of the Americans With Disabilities Act, an employer cannot fire you due to a disability and must respect and accommodate your needs. This may include giving you a period of time off, changing your hours to part-time or making accommodations to your work space so you can perform your duties. If you receive disability benefits, and you cannot perform your current job, you may receive vocational training to help get you into a different position.

Overall, California is a worker-friendly state

If you live and work in California, you are the recipient of laws and regulations that are worker-friendly. From minimum wage to time off to take care of your family, the state is a good place to work.

According to CalChamber, the protection of California workers is a priority of labor laws, and one of the ways workers benefit from this is through overtime laws. A recent Supreme Court ruling determined that when an employer pays a flat bonus, the regular rate of pay takes into account only the nonovertime hours as opposed to the total number of hours. The state also requires employers to pay a premium overtime rate.

Learn whether your job is exempt before filing a wage theft claim

If you are an employee in California and work more than a standard day or week, overtime wages may be due. Unfortunately, businesses do not always pay as the law requires. At Anticouni & Associates, we represent clients who have experienced wage theft by their employer.

According to Findlaw, if you are not “exempt,” you are entitled to overtime when you work more than 40 hours in a week, work more than eight hours in a day and when you work on a seventh consecutive day. Under these conditions, you are eligible for overtime, which is time-and-a-half pay.

What is disparate impact?

You probably understand what discrimination means, but disparate impact is a term that fewer people in California have heard. Disparate impact is a type of unintentional discrimination against a particular group of people, and it is illegal for a company to do it.

According to FindLaw, disparate impact is when employment practices have no specific intent to discriminate but they negatively impact a protected group of people, and that minorities and women are often the ones whom this type of discrimination affects. Actions by an employer that may indicate disparate impact include practices such as skills testing during the hiring process and layoffs.

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