Broward County Florida Adopts Wage Theft Ordinance

Finally, in Miami-Dade and Broward County, wage theft has been deemed to be illegal.  Imagine that?  Now when an employee does work for an employer, they actually have to be paid for it.  In all seriousness though, there are Florida and Federal (FLSA) statutes that pertain to wage theft, but kudos to Broward County for trying to make it easier for employees to get paid for services performed for their employer.

On Tuesday, October 23, 2012, Broward joined Miami-Dade County as the second county in Florida to adopt an ordinance prohibiting “wage theft.” The wage theft law will make it easier for employees to sue their employer for unpaid wages.

According to the ordinance, an employer is liable for wage theft if the employer fails to pay any portion of wages due to the employee within a “reasonable time” from the date on which the compensation was earned. The law presumes that a “reasonable time” is no later than 14 calendar days from the date on which the work was performed, unless the employer has an established (by policy or practice) pay schedule whereby employees earn and are consistently paid wages according to regularly recurring pay periods.

If an employee believes they are owed $60 or more for work performed in Broward County, the employee must notify their employer within 60 days after the wages were due that they have not received the correct compensation.

The notice must identify all wages the employee claims he/she is owed, the actual or estimated work dates and hours for which payment is sought, and the total amount of the alleged unpaid wages through the date of the notice.

If the employer does not pay the wages specified in the employee’s notice within 15 days or otherwise resolve the claim to the employee’s satisfaction, an employee may file a complaint with the county. An employee has up to one year to file a claim for wage theft.

If an employer has imprecise, inadequate or nonexistent time or payroll records, then the employer has the burden of disproving the claim.

In the event an employee proves wage theft, the employer will be ordered to pay back wages, an amount equal to the amount of earned wages that were unpaid, the cost of the administrative process and the employee’s attorneys’ fees.

If your employer has failed to pay you for your wages, commissions, vacation pay or overtime, feel free to contact the Behren Law Firm for a free consultation.

Posted in Behren Law Firm, Commissions, compensation, Fair Labor Standards Act, Overtime, U.S. Department of Labor, Wage Theft, Wages | Leave a comment

Same Sex Sexual Harassment Suits on Rise-Especially at Car Dealerships

Not too long after we filed our same sex harassment suit against Rick Case Fiat in Weston, Florida, we have come across other cases around the country where employees have brought same sex sexual harassment cases against co-workers and supervisors.

For instance, in another proceeding, there was an injunction entered against a car dealership forbidding it from retaliating against male employees who allege they were sexually harassed—and who, the judge found in the case of one former employee, received death threats.   In a ruling last week in an Albuquerque, N.M., hearing, Chief U.S. District Court Judge Bruce Black issued the preliminary injunction against Albuquerque-based Pitre Inc. after hearing testimony from numerous current and former male employees expressing concern about retaliation by the car dealership, which Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has sued.   The underlying lawsuit, which was filed Sept. 29, 2011, alleged the dealership subjected a group of men to sexual harassment for more than 10 years and retaliated against those who complained to management. According to the suit, male co-worker James Gallegos “grabbed, slapped and/or touched” male employees on various parts of their bodies, frequently exposed himself to other male employees and solicited sexual relations, among other acts. When the workers complained, they were subject to retaliation, according to the suit, which said Mr. Gallegos was terminated in 2010. Fear of participating After holding an evidentiary hearing in December, Judge Black issued a “court’s findings and fact and conclusions of law,” which said half of the individuals interviewed by the EEOC’s paralegal had “expressed extreme fear” about participating in this lawsuit because of retaliation concerns. The named plaintiff in the case, Richard Yob, felt forced to move to another city. When he returned at one point to speak to the FBI, “he found his vehicle had been vandalized with a threatening message on the windshield,” according to the EEOC’s suit. The preliminary injunction prohibits the dealership from contacting any other area car dealerships and asking them to refuse to hire any of the participants in the litigation. “We want to make sure witnesses and victims of discrimination are able to come forward without fear of physical harm and without fear they’ll be blackballed in the industry they’re working in,” Ms. O’Neill said. A spokesman for the dealership could not be reached.

If you believe you have been the subject of same sex sexual harassment or any other type of workplace discrimination, feel free to call Scott Behren and the Behren Law Firm for a free consultation.

Posted in EEOC, Hostile Work Environment, same sex sexual harassment, Sexual Harassment | Tagged | Leave a comment

American Apparel Settles EEOC Disability Suit for $60,000

American Apparel, Inc., a clothing manufacturer employing thousands of workers at its production facility in Los Angeles and at retail stores around the country, will pay $60,000 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

In its lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (EEOC v. American Apparel, Inc., Case No. CV 10-7280-MMM (MAN), the EEOC charged that the company violated federal law when it fired a garment worker while he was on leave because of a disability, and thereby failed to accommodate him based upon that disability, a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

As part of the three-year consent decree settling the suit, American Apparel has adopted a comprehensive ADA policy; agreed to provide training to its managers and supervisors regarding the ADA; will inform employees about their rights under the ADA and how to seek accommodations under it; and will designate an ADA coordinator who will oversee implementation of the decree and the company’s ADA policy going forward. In addition, American Apparel will pay the terminated garment worker $40,000.

If you believe you have been discriminated against or terminated due to a disability, feel free to contact Scott Behren and the Behren Law Firm for a free consultation.

Posted in ADA, ADAA, Americans with Disabilities Act, EEOC | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nichiha USA Ordered by Department of Labor to Pay for FMLA Violations

The Family Medical Leave Act provides that an employee can’t lose their job, for at least 12 weeks, if they need to take care of serious medical conditions of family members.  An employee is entitled to this benefit so long as the employer has at least 50 employees and so long as the employee has worked for at least 12 months and 1250 hours for the employer.  An employee may also take intermittent leave, which means that the employee can take the leave a few hours at a time rather than all at once.  It is intermittent FMLA leave that was at issue with Nichiha U.S.A.

Nichiha U.S.A. was ordered to pay a former employee more than $20,000 after an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor found the company violated the Family and Medical Leave Act, according to a news release from the department.

The investigation, conducted by the department’s Wage and Hour Division Atlanta District Office, concluded a Nichiha U.S.A. employee at the company’s Macon plant was terminated for taking intermittent leave to care for his mother, who had undergone surgery for a serious health condition, the news release stated.

The company failed to recognize the employee’s situation as an FMLA-qualifying event and fired him for excessive unexcused absences.

The Japanese company manufactures fiber cement products at its Macon plant, and its U.S. headquarters are located in Norcross.

“The Family and Medical Leave Act allows for workplace flexibility by providing eligible employees with the right to take a total of 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period — without the risk of losing their jobs — to provide care for spouses, parents, children or other covered dependents due to serious health conditions,” Janet Campbell, the Wage and Hour Division’s Atlanta district director, stated in the news release.

“The U.S. Department of Labor values families and, as demonstrated by the resolution of this case, we are committed to ensuring that workers receive all the protections they are entitled to under federal labor law.”

If you believe you were denied your rights under the Family Medical Leave Act, feel free to contact Scott M. Behren and the Behren Law Firm.

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Bank Loan Officers Bring Suit for Unpaid Overtime-Claims Should Not Have Been Paid Commission Only

We have blogged before about the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act and some of its exemptions.  For years, many banks have been trying to avoid paying overtime to loan officers, paying them on a commissions only basis and trying to invoke an inapplicable exemption to prevent having to pay overtime.

Some of the  laws on this issue are starting to change and hopefully  more bank employee will come forward with these types of claims.

A former loan officer has filed a lawsuit against an East Texas bank for violating federal labor regulations by not paying its loan officers overtime wages.
Claiming violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, Dennis Rock, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, filed suit against Great Western Financial Services Inc., Fred E. McDonald III and Fred E. McDonald IV on Nov. 23 in the Eastern District of Texas, Sherman Division.

Rock was employed as a loan officer for the defendants from approximately April 2010 to approximately December 2010. According to the lawsuit, he and the class members routinely worked in excess of 40 hours per week. They were paid on a commission-only basis and were not paid overtime pay for the hours worked in excess of 40 per week.

“Defendants knowingly, willfully, or with reckless disregard carried out its illegal pattern or practice of failing to pay overtime compensation with respect to Plaintiff and the Class Members,” the lawsuit states.

The plaintiff is seeking damages for unpaid back wages, liquidated damages, court costs, attorney’s fees and interest.

If you believe you may be owed unpaid wages or overtime, contact Scott Behren and the Behren Law Firm for a free consultation.

Posted in Fair Labor Standards Act, FLSA, Wage Theft, Wages | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

La Campina Mexican Grill Fined by U.S. Department of Labor

Restaurants continue to be the most flagrant violators of wage and hour laws as evidenced by this most recent action brought by the Department of Labor against two mexican restaurants.

Atlas Inc., doing business as two La Campina Mexican Grill restaurants in Tennessee have agreed to pay $39,232 in minimum and overtime back wages to 23 restaurant workers after investigations by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division disclosed willful and repeat violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act at both locations. The department also assessed $4,301 in civil money penalties for these willful and repeat violations. The company was investigated previously by the division in 2008 and found to be in violation of the FLSA’s record-keeping requirements.

“The Wage and Hour Division is committed to strengthening compliance in Tennessee industries that employ low-wage workers, such as restaurants, where we often find FLSA violations due to practices like requiring employees to work only for tips or not recording all hours worked, to avoid making legally required overtime payments,” said Sandra Sanders, director of the Wage and Hour Division’s Nashville District Office. “FLSA provides protection not only to workers, but also to employers who depend on the Labor Department to ensure that no company receives an unfair advantage by dodging the law.”


Investigations conducted by the Wage and Hour Division’s Knoxville Area Office revealed that the company willfully and repeatedly failed to record and compensate employees for all hours of their work, in violation of the FLSA’s minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions. After conducting employee interviews and reviewing payroll documents, investigators determined that restaurant workers were often made to work more than 40 hours per week – without regard to overtime compensation – and were paid a flat salary that did not yield at least the minimum wage of $7.25 for all hours of their work. Investigators also found that the company created and maintained inaccurate records of its employees’ work hours, rates of pay and wages actually paid.

La Campina Mexican Grill restaurants and owner Ricardo Sanchez have agreed to come into compliance with the FLSA, and have committed to implementing new business procedures to record and compensate employees accurately for all hours of their work, in accordance with the law.

The FLSA requires that covered, nonexempt employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates of pay, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers are required to keep accurate records of all hours worked by covered employees.

The FLSA permits an employer to take a tip credit toward its minimum wage obligation for tipped employees that is equal to the difference between the required cash wage, which must be at least $2.13 per hour, and the federal minimum wage. Employers may create a tip-pooling or sharing arrangement among employees who customarily and regularly receive tips, but a valid tip pool may not include employees who do not customarily and regularly receive tips, such as dishwashers, cooks, chefs and janitors.

For more information about the FLSA, you can go to the U.S. Department of Labor site  In addition, if you need to consult with an attorney call Scott Behren and the Behren Law Firm for a free consultation.


Posted in Fair Labor Standards Act, FLSA, Overtime, tip pools, tips, Wage Theft, Wages | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hilton Forced to Pay $715,507 in Minimum Wages and Overtime for Call Center Workers

Under Federal and state law, not only are you entitled to be paid minimum wage and overtime, but you are required to be paid for work performed prior to the start of your shift and for hour worked even if not on the clock.

Former employees of Hilton Reservations Worldwide LLC’s call center will be getting back wages.  The company, doing business as Hilton Reservations and Customer Care in Carrollton, Texas, has agreed to pay $715,507 in minimum and overtime back wages to 2,645 current and former customer service employees .

The agreement follows an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division that found violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the department said in a press release.

The investigation found that the company failed to pay employees for work performed prior to clocking in at the start of their scheduled shifts, such as booting up a computer, opening programs required to assist customers and reading pertinent emails, according to the Department of Labor.

Consequently, the employees did not receive at least the minimum wage for that time as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act. In addition, because the time was not included in employees’ total hours worked, which is used to calculate overtime wages, they did not receive the correct overtime rate of pay.

The department also said Hilton failed to maintain the required records.

The Fair Labor Standards Act requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates of pay, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers also are required to maintain accurate time and payroll records.

If you believe you are not being paid for all hours worked, contact the U.S. Department of Labor or an attorney such as Scott Behren and the Behren Law Firm to discuss the issues.

Posted in Fair Labor Standards Act, FLSA, Overtime, U.S. Department of Labor, Wage Theft, Wages | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

AT&T Settles Nationwide Age Discrimination Suit Brought by EEOC

Under Federal law and that of most states, it is not permissible for an employer to refuse to hire or make employment decisions based upon the age of an employee.  It is also illegal to pay an employee less because of his/her age.

Back in 2009, the EEOC brought a lawsuit against AT&T accusing it of age discrimination.  AT&T Inc has settled this nationwide lawsuit by the EEOC accusing it of age discrimination for refusing to rehire tens of thousands of workers who had retired from the largest U.S. telephone company.

The three-year consent decree resolves around an August 2009 lawsuit by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which enforces federal anti-discrimination laws.

It requires AT&T to end any prohibitions against rehiring workers who left under two retirement programs between 1998 and 2001 and one related to SBC Communications Inc’s 2005 purchase of the former AT&T Corp, which created the current company.

AT&T must also update its databases to ensure former workers are not “blocked” from being rehired and certify annually in writing it is complying with the decree.

The EEOC had accused AT&T of having no legitimate reason not to rehire workers who retired under the programs, a number it estimated as exceeding 50,000.

The EEOC brought the case on behalf of John Yates, who was 57 years old .

If you believe you have been the subject of age discrimination, file a complaint with Human Resources or the EEOC or contact Scott Behren and the Behren Law Firm for a free consultation.

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MTV Sued For Violations of Sexual Harassment and Overtime Laws on Hills Show

The MTV show the Hills is no stranger to being sexually provocative, but sexual harassment on the set?  Well that is what is alleged in a new lawsuit filed against MTV.

Eliza Sproul, a fomer field clearance coordinator and production coordinator for the MTV reality series filed suit against the network claiming that she had been sexually harassed, was pressured to smoke drugs, was denied meal and rest breaks, and finally was denied overtime and other pay.

Read the lawsuit here.

According to Eliza Sproul’s suit, the problems began during a May 2010 trip to film the series in Costa Rica.

Sproul says that she was paired with a local resident, Andres, whom MTV had hired, and Andres immediately set to hitting on her and pressuring her to smoke marijuana with him. Worse, according to the suit, the crew members refused to help her.

Sproul also claims that the male cast members were “extremely inebriated and made crude and offensive jokes and comments throughout …” the trip.

Sproul, who claims she was subjected to sexual harassment, a hostile work environment, wrongful termination, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, is seeking lost wages,  and emotional distress, and other damages.

If you believe you have been subject of sexual harassment or violations of overtime laws speak with an experienced employment law attorney.  Scott M. Behren and the Behren Law Firm remain available for a free consultation.


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Florida Seeks to End Dwarf Unemployment-Seeks to Repeal Ban on Dwarf Tossing

It’s interesting that in our great State of Florida, where employees have been restricted in their receipt of unemployment benefits and welfare recipients are drug tested that we do look out for at least on class of the downtrodden, the dwarfs.

That’s right Rep. Ritch  Workman of Florida is seeking to repeal a 1989 law that prohibits dwarf tossing.

For those who are unaware, dwarf  tossing, originally made popular in Australia, involves little people suiting up in Velcro-clad suits, usually at bars. Then patrons compete to see who can through the person farthest up a Velcro surface. The Little People of America lobbied to have the practice outlawed in Florida.

Rep. Workman stated”All that it does is prevent some dwarfs from getting jobs they would be happy to get,” he added. “In this economy, or any economy, why would we want to prevent people from getting gainful employment?”

Will keep you posted on whether this law passes and whether dwarf unemployment dips as a result.
In the interim, feel free to contact Scott Behren and Behren Law Firm with any of your employment law questions.

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