California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed Senate Bill 62, which requires garment industry employers to pay workers an hourly wage instead of piece-rate compensation.
The new law applies to employers with 26 or more employees and ensures workers earn a minimum wage of $14 per hour. About 85% of garment workers earn two to six cents per piece, which works out to only $5.15 per hour.
According to the bill, some retailers and manufacturers tried to avoid liability for stolen wages by “adding layers of contracting between themselves and the employees manufacturing the garments,” according to the bill.
In a statement, Newsom said, “California is holding corporations accountable and recognizing the dignity and humanity of our workers, who have helped build the fifth-largest economy in the world.” He continued, “These measures protect marginalized low-wage workers, many of whom are women of color and immigrants, ensuring they are paid what they are due and improving workplace conditions. We are committed to having their backs as we work to build a stronger, more inclusive economy.”
The bill will revise existing law to, “make clear that a person contracting to have garments made is liable for unpaid wages, damages, penalties, and other compensation owed to workers who manufacture those garments regardless of how many layers of contracting that person may use.” The bill doesn’t prohibit local municipalities from enacting their additional protections for garment workers.
Whenever laws that protect workers are enacted, corporations are quick to claim they will be forced to leave California (apparently to exploit workers elsewhere in States that do not have robust worker protections). So, it’s not surprising that American Apparel and Footwear Association said the bill would “drive garment manufacturing out of California” and reduce garment-making jobs available in the state.
Los Angeles is the center of garment manufacturing in the US, with about 2,000 manufacturers employing more than 40,000 workers. Many small factories often operate without proper registration or enforcement, which increases the risk of exploitation in the industry.
This bill is a big step in the right direction. After all, protecting California workers is the right thing to do.
While the pandemic has dominated the news this year, the war over workers’ rights to free speech and fair pay and benefits has raged on. Here are a couple of recent wins for us workers:(more…)
In Ferra v. Loews Hollywood Hotel, LLC, the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled that employers must pay premium payments to employees for missed meal, rest, and recovery breaks at the employee’s “regular rate of pay” instead of their base hourly rate, as many employers were doing. The regular rate of pay must include all non-discretionary incentive payments, such as bonuses and commissions. As a result of this decision, California employers should expect a wave of class action and Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) claims.
Jessica Ferra was a bartender for Loews and earned an hourly wage, in addition to quarterly non-discretionary payments. The employer-provided employees with payments for meal, rest, and recovery breaks at the base hourly wage. The case was ruled in favor of Loews by the trial court and appellate court but was reversed by the California Supreme Court.
California law requires daily overtime rates to be multiples of employees’ regular rates of pay. According to National Law Review, “The overtime rate for workers who are paid a guaranteed hourly rate and performance-based incentive bonuses or piecework earnings take those incentive payments to be part of their regular rates—making the overtime pay greater than their base hourly rate. An employee is thus entitled to one and one-half times his or her regular rate of pay for time worked in excess of 8 hours in one day and double his or her regular rate of pay for time worked more than 12 hours in one day.”
The reasoning behind the decision took into consideration research that shows long work hours are linked to increased rates of accident and injury. In addition, family life is negatively impacted when one or both parents are away from the home for an extended period of time on a daily basis. The court mentioned that the higher overtime rate will disincentivize employers from requiring overtime.
The decision was applied retroactively, despite the risk of potential lawsuits targeting employers for “millions” in liability. However, Loews did not provide any evidence that the retroactive application will expose employers to “millions” in liability.
In light of this ruling, California employers should update their premium pay systems, provide restitution payments, consider modifying or eliminating compensation programs, adopt waiver programs, and implement an attestation program that allows employees to confirm they received legally compliant opportunities to take meal, rest, and recovery breaks.
Sam Sarkis Solakyan, 40, of Glendale, was convicted by a San Diego federal jury of orchestrating a scheme in which more than $250 million in claims for medical services were fraudulently submitted through the state workers’ compensation system.
According to the US Department of Justice, “Solakyan conspired with Steven Rigler, a Solana Beach-based chiropractor; Fermin Iglesias, the former CEO of MedEx Solutions, a patient-scheduling company; and others to perpetrate a scheme in which physicians were paid bribes and kickbacks in exchange for the referral of workers’ compensation patients.” Also known as a cross-referral scheme, the compensation offered to the corrupt doctors consisted of either cash or referrals of new patients.
The conspirators entered into various sham agreements, such as contracts for “marketing”, “administrative services”, and “scheduling”, to obscure the true nature of their financial relationships. In reality, the money paid by Solakyan amounted to volume-based, per- magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan bribes and kickbacks to induce physicians to refer and continue referring patients to Solakyan’s companies.
Solakyan’s recruiters — Fermin Iglesias and Carlos Arguello — earned more than $8.6 million for obtaining MRI referrals. These payments were concealed from patients and health insurance companies.
According to the US Department of Justice:
- Rigler pleaded guilty in November 2015 to one count of conspiracy to commit honest services mail fraud and was sentenced to six months in federal prison.
- Arguello pleaded guilty in August 2016 to conspiracy to commit honest services mail fraud and health care fraud and was sentenced in April 2019 to four years in federal prison.
- Iglesias pleaded guilty in December 2016 to conspiracy to commit honest services mail fraud and health care fraud and was sentenced in February 2019 to five years in federal prison.
An October 4 sentence hearing has been scheduled, at which time Solakyan will face a statutory maximum sentence of 240 years in federal prison.
Solakyan was the CEO of several medical-imaging companies, including San Diego MRI Instute and Glendale-based Vital Imaging Inc. He operated diagnostic imaging facilities throughout California, including San Diego, Los Angeles and Orange counties, and the Bay Area.
If you have suffered a work-related injury and are planning to file a claim, it is important to hire an experienced California work injury lawyer to handle your claim. The guidance offered by the lawyer can not only make the claims process less stressful for you, but also help you get the compensation and benefits you are entitled to.
What can an experienced work injury lawyer provide for you to help you get the compensation you deserve? Let us take a look.
Legal Advice And Guidance
If you have never filed a work injury claim before, you might be wondering whether you are eligible to file one, how the claims process works, and what kind of benefits you are entitled to receive.
An experienced lawyer can answer all your questions, explain your rights as a worker, and tell you how much you can expect to receive in compensation. They will also tell you how the claims process works, how long it usually takes to settle a claim, and whether your case is likely to go to trial.
Handling The Paperwork
One of the biggest advantages of hiring an experienced California work injury lawyer is that they can take care of all the paperwork related to your claim. From gathering the required medical records to taking depositions of medical experts, the lawyer will take care of everything and allow you to focus on your recovery.
Dealing With The Insurance Company
The last thing you want to do when you are recovering from an injury or illness is to deal with a belligerent insurance adjuster who might try to delay or deny your claim for the flimsiest of reasons. With an experienced work injury lawyer by your side, you do not have to worry about handling the insurance adjuster, as the lawyer will do it on your behalf.
Moreover, insurance companies tend to be aggressive while dealing with injured workers who do not have proper legal representation, as they know that the claim can be easily settled for a fraction of what it is actually worth.
On the other hand, when you are represented by an experienced work injury attorney, the insurance company is likely to be reasonable in their approach, as they know that your attorney will not hesitate to let the case go to trial if needed. This is why injured workers who are represented by qualified attorneys tend to get more compensation and receive more benefits compared to those who represent themselves.
Looking For The Right Work Injury Attorney to Handle Your Claim? Look No Further!
Attorney Thomas F. Martin has been handling work injury claims for over 25 years and has a track record that few other attorneys can boast of. Having handled thousands of claims over the years, Mr. Martin knows how to deal with insurance companies and get the settlement you deserve.
No matter how complicated or contentious your work injury claim is, attorney Thomas F. Martin can handle it and fight aggressively to get the compensation and benefits you are entitled to.To obtain the best legal advice about your workers’ comp claim, you should speak to dedicated California work injury attorney Thomas F. Martin as soon as possible. Call us at 714-547-5025 or send us a message online to set up a free case evaluation.
Losing a family member due to a work-related injury or illness can be devastating. Especially, if you were financially dependent on the deceased person, you might be worried about your financial security and wellbeing.
Under California law, dependents of a worker who die as a result of a work-related injury or illness are entitled to receive workers’ compensation death benefits, which are meant to cover the loss of financial support caused by the worker’s death.
Who is Eligible to Receive Death Benefits in California?
Under California law, family members and relatives – who were partially or totally dependent on the deceased worker – are eligible to receive workers’ compensation death benefits. These include:
- Children (biological as well as adopted)
- Uncles and aunts
- Nephews and nieces
The following people are considered total dependents under the law and are not required to show any proof of their dependency on the deceased worker.
- The deceased worker’s spouse (if they made $30,000 or less in the year prior to the worker’s death)
- Children under the age of 18
- Children over the age of 18, but are incapable of earning a living due to a physical or mental disability
If the spouse earned more than $30,000 in the year prior to the worker’s death, they have to prove that they were totally or partially dependent on the worker in order to be able to file a California workers’ compensation death benefit claim.
Similarly, other family members and relatives (apart from the ones listed above) are required to prove dependency in order to be able to file a claim and receive compensation.
How Much Can Dependents Receive by Filing a Workers’ Compensation Death Benefit Claim?
The amount of compensation paid in these claims usually depends on the number of dependents and whether they were partially or totally dependent on the deceased worker.
As of today, the compensation offered for dependents of deceased workers includes:
- $10,000 for burial expenses
- $250,000 (if there is only one total dependent)
- $290,000 (if there are two total dependents)
- $320,000 (if there are three or more total dependents)
If there is only one total dependent and one or more partial dependents, the workers’ compensation death benefit is paid in the following manner:
- $250,000 for the total dependent
- Four times the annual earnings of the worker (as long as the amount does not exceed $290,000) for the partial dependents
If there are no total dependents and one or more partial dependents, a sum of money equivalent to eight times the annual earnings of the deceased worker (as long as it does not exceed $250,000) will be paid as compensation.
Looking to File a Workers’ Compensation Death Benefit Claim? We Can Help You!
Attorney Thomas F. Martin has over 25 years of experience in handling work injury and death benefit claims. If you have lost a loved one due to a work-related illness or injury, attorney Thomas F. Martin can help you file a death benefit claim and make sure you receive the compensation you deserve.
To explore your best legal options, you should consult with dedicated California workers’ compensation death benefit claim attorney Thomas F. Martin. Speak to us at 714-547-5025 or simply reach us online to request a free case review.
California businesses may soon see their workers’ compensation insurance rates rise. On June 7, the Workers Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau (WCIRB) hosted a hearing to discuss updates to rates.
At the beginning of 2021, the rate was $1.45 per $100 of payroll. The rating board, which evaluates trends in claims to determine the appropriate rate, recommended $1.50 for $100, a 2.7% increase.
Mark Priven, the public actuary who represents organized labor and advises the commissioner while working for the Bickmore risk management firm, recommended lowering the rate to $1.34. This would be nearly 20 cents lower than the current benchmark, and less than half the $2.50 rate set in 2015 in California.
Rating bureau CEO Bill Mudge said the rates in the competitive market have been going down, but the question is, how long will they last?
According to Mudge, “(Carriers) may choose to just be competitive. But if carriers feel like they’re having to recover those costs, they may raise the rates — unless they’re just going to be competitive.” Nationally, workers’ compensation is valued at $55 billion.
The factors cited for the suggested increase in rates include costs associated with medical-legal and primary care services. The effects of COVID-19 on the workplace were not considered.
California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara will be reviewing rates recommended by WCIRB and has promised to be on the lookout for changes or challenges to the marketplace.
Lara said, “With the pandemic continuing to create uncertainty for the near future, we need to continue to review the data along with the impact of both vaccine distribution and additional and necessary public health measures to bend the curve.” He added that he’s, “not persuaded that there is sufficient and reliable data upon which to base an adjustment for COVID-19 costs.”
In response to COVID the bureau is adding a new worker classification — remote worker. Industry insiders believe the remote working trend is here to stay and agree this has created a major shift in how employees work.
It remains to be seen, however, how the new class of workers will affect rates.
A recent study found that rising temperatures caused an additional 20,000 workplace injuries per year, costing an estimated $1 billion for workers, employers, and the state.
The researchers gathered data on 18 years’ worth of claims from the California workers’ compensation system and found that “workplace injuries and accidents increased by as much as 9% on days when temperatures were in the 90s and rose by as much as 15% on days in the 100s,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
Contrary to popular belief, high temperatures not only impact outdoor workers, but also indoor workers employed in manufacturing, warehousing, and wholesale. Heat may have a calming effect on workers, creating a false sense of security and impairing judgment.
Heat has a much greater effect on people than previously thought. For example, one study found that New York City students were more likely to fail an important state exam on a 90-degree day, than when it was 72 degrees outside.
In the workplace, heat increases the risk of a fall, being hit by a moving vehicle, or mishandling dangerous machinery. Men and younger workers are more likely to suffer injury on a hot day, even in indoor settings. Low-wage workers suffer the most, partly because they tend to have more dangerous jobs and are more likely to live and work in the hottest parts of the state. According to the study’s findings, the bottom 20% of earners were five times more likely to be injured on a hot day, than workers in the top 20%.
The connection between heat and workplace injuries began to have less of an effect on workplace injuries in 2005, around the time when California adopted a heat illness prevention regulation that required employers to provide outdoor workers with shade, water, and training on how to avoid heat exhaustion. However, enforcement has been sporadic and California farmworkers are still at risk of dying during heat waves.
The study’s researchers cautioned that more research is necessary to determine whether the state’s outdoor heat regulation was truly effective.
Suffering a career threatening injury can be a frightening experience. The physical pain and suffering aside, the fact that you might not be able to work for the foreseeable future can make you feel anxious.
As unnerving as the situation might be, it is important for you to take certain steps so that you can receive the compensation and benefits you are entitled to under California law.
Steps to Take after a Career Threatening Injury
Get Medical Help
Call 911 or ask one of your coworkers to get you to the emergency room right away. Tell the doctor that your injury or illness is work related. Do not try to exaggerate or hide any symptoms from the doctor.
Report Your Injury
As soon as you are physically able to do so, inform your supervisor or employer that you have been injured or that you have developed a work-related health condition. Do not – for any reason – wait to report your injury or illness. If you fail to inform your employer about your career threatening injury within a span of 30 days, you might not be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
Fill Out The Workers’ Compensation Form
After you report your injury, your employer will provide you with a Workers’ Compensation Claim Form (DWC 1). You need to fill out the ‘employee’ portion of the form and give it to your employer. Once you do, your employer will fill out the ‘employer’ portion of the form and give it to the claims adjuster.
Contact a California Workers’ Compensation Attorney
This is perhaps the most important step you need to take after suffering a career threatening injury. It is critical for you to be represented and guided by a skilled workers’ comp attorney, as it is the only way you can make sure your rights are not violated by your employer or the insurance company at any point during the claims process.
The attorney will review your claim, tell you what kind of benefits you are eligible to receive, and make sure you do not make any mistakes that could delay the claims process.
In case your claim is unfairly denied by the insurance adjuster, your attorney can help you challenge the decision by filing an appeal with the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB).
Follow the Doctor’s Instructions
While recovering from the injury, it is important for you to follow your doctor’s instructions. Not doing so can not only affect your recovery, but also make it difficult for you to receive all the benefits you are entitled to.
Need to File a Claim for a Career Threatening Injury? Thomas F. Martin Can Help You!
If you have suffered a career ending injury, attorney Thomas F. Martin can help you get the compensation and benefits you deserve. Over the last 25 years, Mr. Martin has handled thousands of work injury claims and helped his clients get the compensation and benefits they are entitled to under the law.
A highly successful workers’ compensation attorney, Thomas F. Martin is aware of all the underhanded tactics that the insurance company might employ to delay or deny your claim. He can counter them effectively and help you get a substantial compensation that covers the cost of your medical care and lost wages.
For a complimentary consultation, call us at 714-547-5025 or fill out this contact form today.
The term ‘work injury’ is generally associated with physical injuries sustained by workers on the job. However, California is one of the few states that have adopted a much broader definition of the term – which includes psychological disabilities as well.
What is a Psychological Disability?
A psychological disability – also referred to as a psychiatric injury – is a mental disorder which is caused as a result of working conditions and requires medical treatment. Psychological disabilities can be caused by a number of factors including:
- Excessive workload, unreasonably short deadlines, and next-to-impossible targets
- Harassment and abuse in the workplace
- Witnessing or being exposed to a violent act in the workplace
How Psychological Disabilities Can Affect Workers
Research shows that mental health problems can take a toll on a worker’s performance, productivity, and their overall health and wellbeing. If not treated in a timely manner, mental disorders can reduce a worker’s cognitive performance by as much as 35%.
The drastic drop in productivity and performance can make it harder for the worker to compete with their coworkers and stay on top of the tasks assigned to them.
What Are The Criteria to be Met For a Psychiatric Injury Claim?
- You must have been employed at your current workplace for a period of at least six months. It does not necessarily have to be six months of continuous employment. Even short stints of employment over a period of time are applicable – as long as they add up to six months and under the same employer.
- The event of employment or adverse working condition in question must have been the predominant cause (at least 51%) of your mental health problem.
- The condition you are suffering from must be listed in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM – IV).
It should be noted that the predominant cause provision (51% rule) listed above does not apply to psychological disabilities caused as a result of a violent event or act at the workplace. In such cases, the worker only needs to prove that the violent act or event in question was one of the contributing factors (35% to 40%) to their mental health problem.
Importance of Choosing The Right Attorney to Handle Psychological Disability Claims
The eligibility criteria for a psychiatric injury claim are much stricter compared to that of a physical injury claim. Your employer will argue that the actions that caused your psychiatric injury were in fact good faith personnel actions and were not abusive or discriminatory in nature.
The insurance company, on the other hand, will dig into your personal life and try to find any information that can be used to counter or disprove your psychological disabilities claim. A skilled and experienced California workers’ compensation attorney can take on the insurance company’s legal team, prove that your psychiatric injury was caused as a result of adverse working conditions, and make sure your claim meets all the aforementioned criteria.
Looking to File a Claim for Psychological Disabilities? We Can Help You!
With his unmatched legal knowledge, experience, and resources, attorney Thomas F. Martin can provide you with high-quality, passionate legal representation and fight hard to recover the compensation you deserve. To explore your legal options, call us today at 714-547-5025 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.