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California Labor Law Attorney Answers Five Most Commonly Asked Questions

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Beverly Hills, CAEmployment attorney Shaun Setareh answers five commonly asked questions regarding California labor law by employees that are thinking of filing a wage and hour claim against their employer.

LawyersandSettlements (LAS): What is the most common complaint you are hearing from workers right now?

Shaun Setareh (SS): Time shaving—not paying employees for all the time worked. Typically employers will try not to pay their employee for about 3–10 minutes of work each day, such as booting up your computer. This seems like a pittance, but it can add up when you take into consideration five days a week, year round, involving many employees.

Recently, one of my clients contacted me and said that after he and his co-workers clock out, they have to log out of a computer in the main register and then go in the back room, work again on the system to upload data that takes another few minutes, and then turn on the alarm to leave. So why not clock out just before the alarm? Company policy and/or the company system require them to clock out first before the data is uploaded. So an employer could feasibly save a lot of money at the end of the month—at the employee's detriment.

LAS: What do you think is one of the biggest challenges facing California workers with regard to wage and hour violations?

SS: We deal with conservative judges a lot and we know they will give us a hard time because we are advocating on behalf of employees that are entitled to proceeds due to California labor law violations. Judges have an agenda and they typically don't like these employment cases. They have the power to dismiss a case or make it difficult for a lawyer to litigate successfully. Of course we have a good legal system in place where we can appeal those bad decisions—my firm currently has a number of appeals pending and sometimes they are uphill battles.

LAS: How long does it typically take to resolve an unpaid overtime claim in California?

SS: It varies. We can settle some cases within a few months while other cases can be litigated for three or four years. On the other end of the spectrum, if the defendant wants to vigorously litigate the case, we have the resources to fight them in the courtroom. Of course we prefer to try and settle all cases as soon as possible

LAS: Some California Overtime victims may be confused as to whether they need an attorney or if they need to go to the Labor Board—what's really in their best interest and what should they do?

SS: The labor board is a good venue if you work for a smaller company, less than 50 employees. What you cannot recover at the labor board are PAGA penalties (Private Attorney General Act pursuant to Cal. labor code 2698), meaning that for most labor code violations there are additional penalties that can be recovered in a regular lawsuit but you cannot recover them through the labor board.

LAS: Many workers fear retaliation if they report a violation—what's your advice to them?

SS: You will be protected by any retaliation because retaliation itself is a violation of the labor code and employers would be wise to study the labor law—it can be very costly if they even intimidate an employee who makes a claim against them. And if you fear that you are on your way to being fired, then you have nothing to lose.


And you have nothing to lose by calling an employment attorney. Shaun Setareh works on a contingency basis, meaning that he doesn't get paid until you get paid. His firm has successfully recovered more than $30 million over the past few years from labor class actions against companies like UPS, Staples and AIG, just to name a few.

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READER COMMENTS

Posted by

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I finished my labor board meeting today we did not reach a settlement and are now being sent to a hearing what is my next step?

Posted by

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I worked for a big corporation for about 4 years, I was a union employee. I was told during orientation it was mandatory to show up 15min early to get ready for the shift, (that meant get in line to sign off on work equipment such as radios, gladiators, pallet jacks). for the last 4 years Ive clocked in every day 15 minutes before my shift started, but didnt' get paid for that time. I believe Im entitled to get paid since I feel those are work related task. Im pretty sure this can become a class action, this is a big corporation and all employees are subject to follow this rule. please share your thoughts??
thank you!

Posted by

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I feel that I have a case of labor violations.....not getting breaks over the 7yyears of employment, retaliation,never got my longevity bonus,was terminated but never shown my error in my work,my employer as told me that overtime is mandatory "just be thankful you have this job, three years ago they restructured my department I was told that either I ate the pay cut and have the job, or find a job else ware . I hav seen many hipaa violations and not all employees held accountable nor held to the same standards....I need you help

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Hello I had a question I requested several times after I left my job to have a copy of last pay-stub to be mailed to me. They have ignored my requests despite all my attempts to contact them. I have even gone to the owner of the company. I had my unemployment hearing today and from the looks of it they are refusing to mail it to me. Is there a way I can force them to send it to me because I am not sure they are paying me the correct hours which was sent pass 72 hours after I quit. Also Under California Labor Code section 227.3, unless otherwise provided by a collective bargaining agreement, an employee who is terminated without having taken all accrued vacation time must be paid for the vacation time as wages to his final rate of pay. Which I did not receive at all my employer lied at the hearing and said that the pay stub that says $1000 bonus was my accured vacation however the amount does not equal what is owed to me. Plus the pay-stub stating bonus does not have how many vacation hours I accured or how much my rate is. Is there anyone I can go to report this or force him to go by the labor code. I also have knowledge that he is not paying his workers overtime or allowing them meal and rest breaks. Also offering child care for one employee and not all employees. Also uses one of the employee who is tax exempt to purchase office supplies. Also in my opinion abuses foreign workers who are trying to work for their visas. Promising them sponsorship for free labor. I am not looking to sue but just asking any law enforcement agency to please investigate. I have proof of other workers not getting paid for overtime but are afraid to come forward because of retaliation. Company has no written policies and changes and lies about benefits that are being given.

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