Catching up with employee labor lawyer, Karl Gerber, was difficult. First, he traveled between multiple offices throughout California. Then, I realized he appeared in courts across the state. Finally, once a multi-plaintiff wage and hour arbitration was done he found time for this article.
Initially Gerber met four phlebotomists in his Riverside office. There was a fifth but she was a present employee so she dropped out of the case because she feared retaliation. These employees signed an arbitration agreement which prevented them from proceeding as a class action. Gerber knew this when he took the case, but believed the employees had been wrongly denied the opportunity to take meal or rest breaks. They also worked off-the-clock without pay.
Utilizing the Private Attorney General Act Gerber filed a second action in court for PAGA penalties. The California Supreme Court has ruled PAGA actions are not beholden to arbitration. The PAGA trial is set for May and will involve all California facilities of West Pacific Labs. In the PAGA action Gerber was allowed to send questionnaires to the other phlebotomists who worked for West Pacific Labs. A number of phlebotomists from West Pacific Labs responded to the questionnaires indicating they suffered the same labor abuses as Gerber’s clients.
The purpose of the meeting with Gerber, however, was not merely to discuss his recent arbitration. He was supposed to provide the view of a lawyer who represented workers on the number of newly enacted labor laws in California.
For some time now, every year the California legislature has enacted new provisions of the California Labor Code. Many of these new statutes apply to employers of all sizes. Many of these newly enacted statutes are difficult to understand, for even a labor lawyer, Gerber said.
When asked whether Gerber believed these newly enacted laws promoted new lawsuits he said it depended on the new law. Some, such as PAGA, led to volumes of litigation. Other statutes, such as California Sick Pay rules and rules pertaining to time off to go to children’s schools were not hot ticket items in Gerber’s opinion.
Ok folks, I got permission from the author to post the above, but if you want to read the rest of her article I guess you have to subscribe to her news service. Once this goes to hard copy I will let you know where you can find it!
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