photo-Space-X-300x231A “whistleblower” is an employee who complains of something illegal or unethical internally, to the press or to a government agency and because of that suffers as a result. A lawsuit filed by such an employee, especially when it involves a business doing business with a government entity, can be highly damaging not only in legal costs and potential damages but because the negative light it casts on a company can disrupt relationships with current customers and make it more difficult to get new ones.

Space Exploration Technologies Corp. was cleared by a jury in state court in Los Angeles earlier this month, dismissing a claim by a former technician, Jason Blasdell, he was fired because he told his supervisors (and even company founder Elon Musk) technicians were being pressured by management to falsify test results for rocket and spacecraft parts, reports Bloomberg.

The company stated the plaintiff was fired for poor job performance and he didn’t actually complain of anything illegal or unethical. The company’s attorney argued that Blasdell never saw, performed or complained of unlawful testing and never communicated his concerns to federal authorities. The plaintiff allegedly lost his job because his job performance was unacceptable and fellow employees were worried about their safety because of him.

photo-PAGA-nondisclosure-lawsuit-300x212Though there’s only one Attorney General for the State of California under certain circumstances a state law allows a party to step into the Attorney General’s shoes and file a lawsuit. Current and former Google employees have filed suit under the statute to claim the company’s employee nondisclosure agreement is illegal.

The reason for the lawsuit is that another employee agreement forbids the use of class action lawsuits against Google, so plaintiffs turned to Plan B, the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA), according to the Los Angeles Daily Journal. The law allows aggrieved employees to file lawsuits to recover civil penalties on behalf of themselves, other employees and the State of California for Labor Code violations.

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Do you currently have a hiring policy for your company?

If you don’t, it’s always a good idea to have one for a couple of reasons. First, you can have that policy reviewed by your attorney and make sure that it fits within the legal framework of your state. Second, it will serve as a protocol for the personnel department to follow and to make sure that. during the hiring process, they all follow the same guidelines even if different staff are involved in the hiring.

If you currently have one, you should be prepared to redraft the policy once the Assembly Bill 168 passes. I talked about this before. Assembly Bill 168, if it passes, would prohibit employers from asking the salary history of job applicants, directly or indirectly, even when the information is asked to serve other legitimate purposes. I gave my opinion in the last video. I think the intention of this proposed law is good; I’m just not so sure about the viability of this bill. Regardless, whether or not this is a good bill we won’t know until it’s implemented for about a year or two, but you need to be prepared. Once this bill is passed and implemented, you need to comply and incorporate it into your hiring process.

So, again, you cannot ask for a salary history- directly or indirectly. However, if a job applicants provide the information voluntarily then you are not in violation of the law. So, what do you do need to do? Well if job applicants offer that information, I would recommend that you document the process so that you can show, in the event that there is a dispute, that the information was not requested by you, and that it was provided by the job applicants voluntarily. So, document the process.

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The American civil legal system normally doesn’t allow for a successful party to recoup its legal costs, unless that’s spelled out by statute. Though in other countries a plaintiff brining a lawsuit runs the risk of paying the defendant’s lawyers’ bills, normally unless a claim is particularly groundless and “frivolous” the plaintiff need only cover his or her own costs. A recent Los Angeles County Court case is an exception to that rule, according to the Daily Journal.
Nancy Arambula Corona, a former on-site building manager, sued her ex-employer, Weiss Family Properties, LLC, (which owns apartment buildings in Los Angeles County) under the state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act and its Labor Code. According to the filings in the case,

• Corona suffered an injury on the job.
• Defendant states it reasonably accommodated her by having another employee clean her building.
• Weiss eventually fired Corona because she couldn’t perform her job and plaintiff’s physician stated her condition wouldn’t improve.
• Corona also claimed she was owed unpaid overtime pay while Weiss claimed they paid her for the hours she submitted on her time sheets.

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Good morning!  Let’s talk a little bit about conflict of interest. Conflict of interest arises in two situations.  One is what we call successive representation.  This occurs when  I represented Bob 2 or 3 years ago and now David comes to my office and wants me to represent him because of issue that he has with Bob.  That’s a conflict of interest because I would be representing a new client suing a former client.  That’s a no‑no.  A court in that situation would determine whether or not attorney learned a secret about Bob and that will aid David in this situation.  This is what we call successive representation.

The other situation is we call multiple representation, where we present two or three or more clients in a same lawsuit.  Client always want to share cost with attorney’s fee, which is understandable, but oftentimes we find that each one has their own interest.  For example, each has a different opinion about the direction of litigation.  One might want to settle, while another wants to move forward with litigation, etc..   In this situation, if the defendant side needs to come up with the settlement, often times the defendants will point the finger at each other as to who is more at fault.  So that’s where the situation becomes sticky.

photo-arbitration-record-300x200An arbitration is an alternate dispute method that’s becoming increasingly popular and controversial. Thanks in part to that controversy Governor Brown signed into law in October a bill allowing a party to have a certified shorthand reporter transcribe any related proceedings. This may help in case a party wants to challenge the arbitration decision in court.

An arbitration is essentially a private trial.

  • A single arbitrator or a panel of arbitrators normally sit as judge and jury in the case. They are normally practicing attorneys or retired judges.

Good morning!  I was reading this article written by Gina Rikonova in the L.A. Daily Journal, and she talks about Assembly Bill 168 that was introduced earlier this year which will prohibit California employers from requesting information about a job applicant’s salary history or benefits  The spirit of the bill, according to her, is really to combat the gender disparity of pay between men and women. She also talks about how a lot of states that are moving toward this trend. Then she circles back and introduces what’s pretty much a federal court ruling for this year in April that seems to go opposite direction. That particular ruling in federal court “that federal equal pay act salary history may be considered a qualified factor other than sex so long as it effectuated some business policy and was used reasonably in light of the stated purpose as well as its other policy or practices, and the court further states that on the salary history standing alone may constitute a qualified reason for pay disparity other than sex so long as it serves a legitimate business purpose”.
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photo-LLC-law-change-225x300All good things come to an end and that could include a limited liability company or LLC. California law will change in 2017 and make it easier to dissolve and to wind up its affairs. If you’re involved in an LLC and thinking it’s run its course and time to pull the plug, depending on the circumstances, you may want to wait another couple months.

An LLC is a hybrid business entity. It’s a combination of a partnership and corporation.

  • Its main advantage over a partnership is like the shareholders of a corporation the LLC’s owners’ (members’) liability for its debts and obligations is limited to their financial investment.
  • However LLC members can participate in its management and profits or losses flow through to its members like a partnership.
  • An LLC can’t be formed for businesses that provide professional services that require a state professional license, such as a legal or a medical practice.
  • Forming an LLC is easier to form and maintain than a corporation. LLC’s don’t issue stock, are not required to hold annual meetings or keep written minutes, which a corporation must to preserve the liability protection for its owners.
  • Articles of organization must be filed with the state and LLC members must enter into an operating agreement. An oral one will suffice but a formal, written agreement is a better idea for all those involved.
  • An LLC is normally managed by its members, but they can agree to hire a manager to handle its affairs.
  • For state income tax purposes an LLC will be classified as a partnership if there is more than one owner but members can elect to have it taxed as a corporation.

Earlier this year the California legislature made minor language changes to the Revised Uniform Limited  Liability Company Act (RULLCA) and they will go into effect in January. RULLCA currently states that an LLC could be dissolved and its activities wound up if, among other things, a majority of its members voted to dissolve it. Continue reading

Good Morning.  I still can say it’s good morning even though it’s almost noon time.  I woke up early this morning and went to Torrance courthouse for a hearing. On the way back to my office, I thought about a video that I put out last month where I talked about how your attorney’s character count.

Not only does your attorney’s character count, but also your attorney’s personality, the way that they handle your matter, and how they litigate a case. All of these shape the landscape of your case; Meaning, they can affect whether or not your case is going to find resolution, whether or not your case is going to be litigated efficiently as efficient as possible, and/or whether or not your case is going to be settled within a reasonable time.

I currently have two partnership dispute cases that are in the extreme. They’re both dealing with dispute between partnerships that have a significant amount of real estate holdings.  In one case, I filed on behalf of my client against the other partner and received a call from the other attorney. The first thing that came out of his mouth was, “Hey, what does your client want?”. I told him exactly what I’m expecting and what my client wants in terms of resolving this issue. The other side’s attorney listened and we worked out a resolution plan.

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