Not Just Another Hot Coffee Lawsuit

Shake Shack Burger + Fries, by Flickr User Kristin Resurreccion, licensed by Creative Commons.

Not just hot coffee this time…

In the past, whenever McDonald’s is involved in a lawsuit, we usually expect it to be because of another victim of their hot coffee. Not this time, “McDonald’s workers in three states filed lawsuits against the fast-food chain this week, saying the company engages in a variety of practices to avoid paying them what they’re owed”. The states involved are California, Michigan, and New York; lawyers targeted McDonald’s because it is an industry leader. The suit mentions a variety of labor violations, which could potentially affect 30,000 employees. The lawsuit seeks back pay and other damages for the affected parties. Read More

Class-Action: Unpaid Interns Change Their Tune

The Library of Birmingham - signs - Construction Site - Keep Out, by flickr user Elliot Brown, licensed by Creative Commons

Men at work (…for free)

The days of unpaid internships might finally be coming to an end. In what many see as the next chip to fall, Warner Music Group and Atlantic Records are being sued by former interns who were uncommonly compensated for their time at the group. Justin Henry, who worked for Atlantic from 2007-2008, represents the class action lawsuit filed in the state of New York, claiming he was improperly classified as an unpaid intern. Federal labor laws state that Henry was technically an employee and would have him at least making minimum-wage. Interns in this field often worked from 10am-6pm and were sometimes asked to stay later, yet they never received proper compensation. Read more

Man Sues Company Over “Kick Me” Sign

Kick by flickr used euskadi_11, licensed by Creative Commons

Can I Kick It?

A man in New Mexico is suing his company after some co-workers placed a “Kick Me” sign on his back. Harvey Palacio of Albuquerque, NM has filed a lawsuit against Intel Corp. seeking damages related to harassment in the workplace. According to the suit, Palacio had the prank pulled on him and was subject to repeated kicking in the backside during a day of work. Palacio, a Filipino man, believes that this was racially motivated and put forth in an attempt to get him to quit the company. Two of the employees involved have already been fired by Intel and also charged with petty misdemeanor battery. Read more

California Workers Given a Break or Two

The California State Supreme Court issued a decision today to define employers’ obligations concerning their employees’ mealtime.  Some confusion was inherent in California’s meal break laws, which state that employers must give employees a 30-minute meal break per every 10-hour-or-fewer shift.  Employers weren’t sure, however, whether employees must abstain from all work during the 30-minutes and whether it was the employers’ problem to ensure that they do.  Today’s ruling makes it clear: employers must provide employees with the ability to take a 30-minute lunch break, but if an employee decides to work straight through anyway, well, that’s their prerogative.

So, employers are let off the hook and employees must be the ones to make sure they don’t overwork themselves.  The pressure to meet deadlines and maximize performance won’t influence low-level employees’ “decisions” to skip lunch at all.  Sounds like a step in the right direction.  Full disclosure: I usually eat lunch and do a little work at my desk, so I might be biased.  The whipping is a little much, but motivation is motivation!

 

Age Discrimination Suit Settled for $570k

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has set a precedent for old geezers everywhere by forcing a law firm to remove restrictions on salary for its older partners as they amble slowly to the grave.  The law firm of Kelley Drye & Warren’s previous policy required partners to give up their salary and controlling interest in the firm when they hit 70 years old, taking only an end-of-the-year bonus as compensation while still practicing law.  Eugene D’Ablemont, a partner in the firm, complained about his forced retirement to the EEOC, who then brought suit against Kelley Drye in 2010. After two years of litigation, Kelley Drye decided that it would be cheaper to settle than continue to wage a court battle. They agreed to drop all pay reductions due to age from their policies and will pay D’Ablemont about $570,000.  Sounds like a pretty sweet deal, though it’s kind of a dubious reward for those of retiring age.  If I’m still kickin’ around at age 70, the last thing I’d want to spend my time doing is practicing law at a law firm, however lucrative the pay may be.