After Winning an Emmy, Anchor Karla Amezola Prepares for Wrongful Termination Suit Battle

Karla Amezola recently won her 1st Emmy award for the special series, “Atrapados en la frontera.” The series is about the plight of Haitian refugees trapped in Tijuana on their way to seek asylum in the United States. The refugees left their own country after the 2010 earthquake to work in Brazil for the Olympics and World Cup. Later they made their way through Mexico towards the United States where they planned to seek asylum. Amezola was up against 5 other nominees from Univision, KTLA and NBC.

Amezola sees the Emmy as an excellent reminder of how much she loves journalism. And it couldn’t have come at a better time because she is having a very difficult moment in her career. While an anchor at LBI Media’s Estrella TV, Amezola filed a sexual harassment complaint with Human Resources in 2016 against her boss at the time, Andres Angulo, VP of News. This led to her filing a lawsuit alleging that the company did nothing to curb the illegal behavior. Only months after filing the lawsuit, she was fired.

Amezola has been driving for Uber and Lyft since June to make a living, although she has also been actively applying for jobs in her chosen field. Se hopes that her lawsuit against Angulo and Estrella TV can move forward. There have been a number of delays that her legal counsel suggests are company stalling tactics. Amezola’s attorney feels that the company probably hopes the delays will result in the public forgetting about the allegations and that the plaintiff’s resolve will falter.

The original complaint was for sexual harassment, but it has since been refilled to add wrongful termination and seeks $15 million in damages.

If you feel you have experienced wrongful termination, please get in touch with the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik.

Petaluma Poultry Facing Lawsuit

The Petaluma Poultry lawsuit seeks class action status. The lawsuit was filed against Petaluma Poultry and its parent company based on allegations the company violated a number of different wage and labor laws throughout the previous four years of their business practices.

The original complaint was filed June 9, 2017 in Sonoma County Superior Court on behalf of employees, both former and current, asserting that they were not paid overtime wages. Plaintiffs assert that the company, Petaluma Poultry, failed to pay overtime and compensate their workforce for the time they spent changing out of protective gear when their shifts were completed. Additional claims allege that the poultry company did not provide their employees with the required 30-minute meal breaks. They also claim that when required meal breaks were missed (or not provided) that the company did not provide the employees with compensation.

Each individual violation can be considered “small” on its own. But when taken as a whole and applied across the entire population of Petaluma Poultry workers, they had a significant effect over time. Plaintiffs’ legal counsel notes that this is the exact situation that is well suited for class action procedure.

The original complaint was filed on behalf of Angelica Gutierrez. Gutierrez worked in Petaluma’s production department at the processing plant from 2011 through 2016. During that time, 200 or more workers may have been impacted by the alleged violations.

The lawsuit seeks unpaid compensation on behalf of employees who worked overtime and missed meal breaks, etc. It also seeks penalties, damages and attorneys’ fees as is standard. The plaintiff brought the suit against the poultry company in order to protect her rights as an employee as well as to protect the rights of her co-workers in accordance with the California labor code.

In addition to Petaluma Poultry, the lawsuit also names Delaware-based Coleman Natural Foods and Maryland-based Perdue Foods, owner of both Petaluma and Coleman. The spokesman for the companies declined to comment, as litigation is pending. Although the spokesman did reference Perdue Foods’ statement on wages and working conditions posted on the company website.

The statement posted on the company’s website reads, “We continue to comply with all applicable wage and hour laws and regulations, including those related to minimum wage, overtime compensation, piece rates, and any/all legally mandated benefits. Further we ensure all associates work within the limits of regular and overtime hours. Where overtime is required, those associates are normally granted at least one day off in every seven-day period.”

There are 563 workers employed by Petaluma Poultry. The majority of the workers are hourly and unionized.

If you have trouble obtaining your overtime compensation or if you work overtime without receiving overtime compensation, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik.

Applicants Win Certification in Disneyland Background Check Lawsuit

On July 6, 2017 a California judge certified two classes of potential Disneyland employees alleging that the most magical place on earth violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Allegations indicate that Disneyland did not provide prospective employees with copies of their background checks prior to making the final decision in the hiring process. In failing to provide copies of their background checks they deprived them of the chance to contest any inaccurate reports.

California Superior Court Judge Ann I. Jones granted certification to a class of job applicants who were subject to “no hire” recommendations for Walt Disney Co. The “no hire” recommendations were based on info obtained in prospective employee background checks. Class certification was also granted to a class of applicants who signed a consent form later alleged to be insufficient in effectively disclosing that a screening would occur.

The class period for both will run from November 2011 through the present. During that time there were 715 “no hire” recommendations made for prospective employees. There were also 43,000 signed consent forms the plaintiffs’ allege were insufficient to comply with the law. Roger L. Culberson, plaintiff, alleges that he was deprived of his legal right and opportunity to correct inaccurate reports before Disney took adverse employment action resulting in him not getting the job.

In 1998, Culberson was convicted of batter, but the charge was later expunged from his record (2010). In 2011, Culberson was hired by Disney, but then told him not to bother reporting to mandatory orientation when they had a chance to look at his background check. Culberson claims the background check inaccurately reported 2010 as the date of the conviction. Culberson filed a complaint in 2013.

The “no hire” recommendation was placed in Culberson’s file by the Disney security department on December 8th, 2011. This was just one day after Disney received Sterling Infosystems Inc. background check including the inaccurate report of the conviction date. Culberson learned of the mistake when he called to check the status of his job application. He was advised he did not have a job. He contacted Sterling to contest the inaccurate information on December 9, 2011. On December 15th, 2011, the background report company issued a revised report removing the inaccurate reference to 2010 as the date of conviction. Culberson still wasn’t hired.

Disney claims it removed the “no hire” recommendation when the corrected report was received, but that once the issue was sorted out, they no longer needed to hire for seasonal work.

If you feel your rights were violated during the hiring process or if you had a company take adverse hiring action following a background check without first providing you with a copy, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik.

Postmates is Getting Closer to a $2.5M Deal with Drivers over Credit Check Issue

At the end of June 2017, a California judge gave every indication that a Postmates $2.5 million deal would get the green light. The deal would end class allegations made against the on-demand delivery service. The suit was based on allegations that the Fair Credit Reporting Act was violated when Postmates did not notify 190,000 prospective couriers about their use of background checks.

The deal states that class members must object in writing before attending the final fairness hearing. The judge stated that he would allow class members to object at the final hearing whether they submitted a written objection or not. If the deal is approved, it would end the putative class action originally launched by lead plaintiff Lorretta Nesbitt in July 2015 based on allegations that the company purposefully violated the FCRA’s stand alone disclosure requirement when conducting credit checks for prospective drivers.

According to the lawsuit, Postmates’ required disclosure was hidden in the midst of a legal document that was 10 pages long and surrounded by extraneous information including a very verbose confidentiality agreement. Plaintiff argued that this presentation of the required disclosure did not fulfill legal requirement that it be clear, conspicuous, and in a stand-alone document.

Throughout the life of the case, Nesbitt amended the complaint, adding two additional lead plaintiffs and another putative class action claim with allegations that the company was also in violation of the FCRA’s pre-adverse action notice requirements which requires employers to inform their job applicants if they were to take any adverse action, such as not hiring them for the job at hand, as a result of information pulled in a background check. Employers are also required to provide the background checks to the individuals. According to the allegations in the suit, Postmates did not abide by these regulations.

Postmates continues to defend their practices stating that their disclosures comply with the law. But since the beginning of the suit, the company has made modifications to their disclosure documentations and both parties now agree that it is FCRA compliant.

If you have questions about the FCRA or if you fear you were unfairly treated during the job application process, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik.

Eddie Money’s Ex Drummer’s Wrongful Termination Lawsuit Moves Forward

If you’ve been keeping up with the case involving Eddie Money’s ex drummer, you will be interested to discover that Money lost the motion to dismiss and the wrongful termination lawsuit will move forward. His ex drummer, Glenn Symmonds, made claims – some of which the court refused to dismiss and the suit is scheduled to go to trial in November 2017.

Major publications have reported that Money plans to appeal the decision and still insists that Symmonds’ suit is without merit. Money’s legal representation stated that he is defending his right to decide who plays in his “faceless” back-up band. They called into question the legality of forcing well-respected and seasoned artists to retain specific support musicians stating that this would be a major blow to overall artistic integrity. The Defendant claims that he is fighting for the rights of musicians everywhere as he seeks to defend the freedom to choose how musicians express themselves. Money’s lawyers pointed at Glenn Symmonds allegedly poor character as sufficient reason for Money chose not to have him back, stating that Symmonds is ungrateful, vindictive, and awful. They also insist that “everything” alleged in the lawsuit by Symmonds is false. 

The court did rule in Money’s favor when they agreed to attempts at limiting how much info from depositions can be made public. Yet some info has already made it into the public record, particularly his off hand commentary comparing his justifications for firing Symmonds to an imaginary album titled The Reasons Why I Fired Glenn.

Money claims that after he fired Symmonds, his former drummer sent angry text messages, complained about the situation on social media and even threatened concert promoters. Symmonds denies these accusations.

Symmonds filed the suit in October 2015 when Money decided to replace his band with his own children. The suit effectively ended a professional and personal relationship that dated back to 1974.

Symmonds suit alleges that Money often mocked him while he was recovering from bladder cancer and a back injury. Symmonds’ fiancé also joined the suit claiming that Money sexually harassed her by making repeated lewd comments, attempting to kiss her in 2013 during a private party performance where, according to Symmonds’ fiancé’s allegations, Money unzipped his pants, put a thumb through the zipper and started to gyrate and dance while wiggling his thumb and facing her.

Money denies the allegations made against him.

If you have questions about what constitutes wrongful termination or if you have been harassed on the job, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik.

West Covina Police Officers File Suit Seeking Overtime Pay

Five police officers from the West Covina Police Department allege that the city is not paying them proper overtime pay. The plaintiffs filed their California overtime lawsuit in the U.S. District Court Central District of California on May 17th.

The five-page complaint includes allegations that the city is in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act as a result of not providing proper compensation for overtime to their police officers/employees. According to the complaint, the Defendant is not paying for all hours worked above/beyond the overtime threshold and they are also not including all forms of compensation in the calculation of the Plaintiffs’ regular rate of pay, which reduces the amount of overtime they receive for hours over 8 in one day or 40 in one work week.

Officers represented in the California overtime lawsuit are:

  • Keith Freeman
  • Bryan Gaboury
  • Anthony Huacuja
  • Joseph Meyers
  • Doug Weischedel

All the officers involved are seeking to recover their unpaid overtime compensation, as well as other damages and attorneys’ fees appropriate for the case.

Officials for the city (Defendant) state that the lawsuit stems from a similar case out of San Gabriel where police officers argued that the benefits program in place (that allows all city employees to collect cash in replacement of health benefits) should be factored into their regular rate of pay prior to using the regular rate of pay to calculate overtime compensation. While the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the police officers in the San Gabriel case last year, the city appealed the case and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case on May 15th.

According to City Attorney Kimberly Hall Barlow, the two city benefits programs are not identical, but some employees could be eligible for additional overtime compensation if they are receiving cash payments as a replacement for health coverage through the benefits program. She stated that she is currently in the midst of evaluating the appeals court ruling on the San Gabriel case in order to pinpoint how and if it applies to West Covina’s benefits program and current situation. If it does apply, she will also be attempting to determine how many employees would be affected and how much they would be owed in unpaid overtime. The city hopes for a speedy resolution of the matter.

If you aren’t receiving overtime compensation for overtime hours, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik.

Compass Group USA, Inc. Facing Allegations of Failing to Pay Overtime

Compass Group USA, Inc. is facing a federal class action lawsuit filed on behalf of all employees who worked as route and delivery drivers in California since June 20, 2013. The California lawsuit claims that the company failed to comply with the California Labor Code mandates. As a result, Plaintiffs allege that they have been underpaid, and denied rest breaks/meal breaks as required by employment law.

The complaint against Compass Group USA, Inc. alleges that the company failed to pay route and delivery drivers for ‘Canteen’ and/or ‘Canteen Vending’ brands minimum wage and overtime wages as required. Drivers for these divisions service vending machines and corporate cafeterias on behalf of the company throughout the state of California. The lawsuit goes further claiming that the Compass Group’s violations are a systemic problem and that they are in violation regularly in a number of ways:

·       Failure to keep and maintain appropriate records of time worked

·       Engaging in policy and/or practice of refusing to offer workers meal/rest breaks

·       Failing to offer a method for workers to receive payment for missed breaks

·       Failing to compensate workers for “off-the-clock” work

·       Failing to reimburse workers for company-mandated use of cell phones

·       Failing to pay all wages in accordance with California employment law

·       Failing to pay overtime wages in accordance with California employment law

·       Failing to pay commissions in accordance with California employment law

The attorney for the Plaintiffs stated on the record that employees such as those represented in this lawsuit are feeling more and more pressure to do more in less time in order to improve the company’s bottom line – and keep their positions at the company. He further indicated that this is the case with the drivers he represents. In an effort to keep their jobs amid the company’s labor practices, they have lost out on wages, reimbursements, and other rightful compensation they are due in accordance with the law.

If you feel you are due overtime compensation that you are not receiving or if you have questions about the legality of your employer’s policies and practices, please get in touch with an experienced California employment law attorney at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik.