employment law, Legal

An Employee Just Threatened To Sue Me For A Missed Lunch! Legal Reasons #44

As Employers in California know, we are in a state with a tons of protections for employees especially in the area of wage and hour, meal and rest breaks. I often get calls from harried employers who, it seems, regularly get threatened with lawsuits by disgruntled employees. The reality is that while it is the attempt of most employers to ensure their employees get proper rest and meal breaks, call outs, scheduling conflicts and customer flow can interrupt those breaks.

Sometimes, it is also due to an untrained supervisor improperly scheduling meals and rest periods.  While it is understandable that some employees may feel that they can sue (my law professor  said, you can always sue, but will you recover, is the real question), they may be unaware that if they are receiving a one hour penalty for miss meals and breaks, their claim is significantly reduced or eliminated.

Moreover, an employer may consider offering a wage settlement if there are consecutive missed time periods. My point is that do not assume the worst if an employee threatens a lawsuit, always consult with counsel to ascertain if there is a legitimate claim or not.

Legal

Oh I Will Just Make Them Independent Contractors: Legal Reasons #33

2049877A recent client called and claimed that they would go the “Uber” route and classify all of their current employees as Independent Contractors as they no longer “wanted the hassle of overtime, lunch/rest breaks and payroll taxes.”  I listened politely as they continued to explain how so many companies they had heard of including call centers, delivery services and retailers now just used Independent Contractors instead of full-time employees, and saved hundreds of thousand dollars in labor expenses. I asked them a few simple questions.  Would the person control their time? An emphatic no.  Could they work from home? Maybe. Would they have to be in uniform. They sounded unsure.

Based on just those few answers, I told them that it was unlikely the employees could be classified as Independent Contractors. Moreover, while it sounded like an easy way to reduce costs, the costs and possible liability for a miss-classification by even one person could run into  those same hundreds of thousand dollars that my client wanted to save, making not only unwise, but potentially disastrous for their company.

It is always advisable to seek legal counsel for company wide changes especially those involving classifications, pay changes, and difficult terminations.