Hon. David R. Chaffee (Ret.) Mediator • Arbitrator • Discovery Referee
Plaintiff a former employee of defendant company was paid on a “commission” basis for specialty painting labor. Wage/Hour and PAGA claims by plaintiff against defendant. As plaintiff performed no sales work he was improperly characterized as “commission” based employee. In fact, he should have been paid as a “piece-work” employee and compensated pursuant to labor code 226.2. in particular, plaintiff could have been paid for rest and recovery time, and for nonproductive time. Defendant’s lack of detailed records or proper pay stubs exposed it to significant damages and labor code penalties.Plaintiff was a welder at defendant’s shop. Complained about unsafe/unhealthy working conditions, especially lack of ventilation.
Defendant paid plaintiff in cash and failed to provide pay statements. Defendant maintained that plaintiff never made any complaint, came to work drunk and walked off job when told he could only come back to work after drug and alcohol testing.
Plaintiff filed a complaint against her employer, restaurant franchisor, for claims based on violations of FEHA and CFRA. The FEHA claims included disability discrimination, failure to accommodate, failure to engage in the interactive process, and retaliation for exercising FEHA rights. She also alleged a violation of the UCL based on the FEHA violations underlying these causes of action. The complaint also alleged two claims based on violations of the CFRA: (1) interference with the CFRA and (2) retaliations for exercising rights under the CFRA. Finally, the complaint alleged a claim for wrongful termination in violation of public policy. Plaintiff, a lab technician, was promoted to lab coordinator in the quality assurance department. When she began reporting to a new supervisor, she believed that she was being micromanaged and subsequently that she had too much work. Plaintiff began to suffer stress-related medical issues and took a number of days off. After an extended history of medical visits and remedial employer actions, Plaintiff was terminated from her employment.
Plaintiff, an immigrant from Asia, was employed by a high tech medical device company as a technician. Plaintiff was transferred from a clean room to the testing lab before subsequently being transferred back to the clean room. Plaintiff alleged constructive discharge, harassment based on age and race, retaliation, discrimination, and IIED. Defendant alleged that plaintiff’s language skills were not sufficient to perform a testing role, and internal investigations at the time of alleged harassment did not support her claims.
A commissioned sales employee sued his former employer for unpaid wages. Defendant paid plaintiff on a commission basis according to a signed Commission Rate Agreement. Defendant set aside plaintiff’s commission fees in a designated account. Each commission fee was recorded on a commission sheet. Plaintiff designated his own weekly draw amounts which were then deducted from plaintiff’s total earned commissions. After a heated discussion regarding disputed commission fees, defendant allegedly fired plaintiff, a fact disputed by defendant who expected plaintiff to return to work. Plaintiff alleged breach of contract, failure to pay commissions upon termination, willful failure to pay wages, failure to produce documents showing how the commissions were calculated and paid, breach of implied covenant of GFFD, unfair business practices, request for accounting, and fraud.
Defendant advertised for a “Property Manager”. During an in-person interview at defendant’s residence, he advised plaintiff that the job required her to live at “company headquarters” - his Newport Beach residence - with room and board included as part of the compensation. Plaintiff accepted defendant’s offer of employment and she began work the same evening. Shortly thereafter, defendant allegedly made sexual advances and solicited sexual acts from her. Defendant allegedly informed plaintiff he was not interested in a platonic relationship with her, and he instead wanted her to become his caretaker and companion. When she refused, defendant fired her. Plaintiff sued for sexual harassment, breach of the implied covenant of GFFD, wrongful discharge, and Labor Code violations.
Defendants are a nonprofit organization and its executive director. The defendant executive director hired plaintiff, who is openly homosexual, and plaintiff eventually became executive assistant to defendant. At some point, plaintiff and defendant began having an affair. Each testified that the other had become increasingly possessive, had anger problems, and were abusive. Defendant fired plaintiff. Plaintiff’s action contained causes of action for sexual harassment and discrimination, failure to take reasonable steps to prevent workplace discrimination, wrongful termination, interference with prospective economic advantage, tortious breach of contract, breach of the covenant of GFFD, retaliation, and infliction of emotional distress. The discovery battle raged for years with a determination that one of the parties had destroyed her computer hard drive rather than turn it over for forensic analysis.
Plaintiffs were terminated from their senior positions with the OC Sheriff’s Department in what was characterized as layoffs necessitated by budget cuts following an economic downturn. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants violated the Police Officers Bill of Rights (POBRA). In particular, plaintiffs claimed that they had been denied the opportunity for an administrative appeal from the “punitive” act of termination/layoff.
Plaintiff worked as a painter at a coastal Orange County hotel for four years. After surgery on his knee and foot, he developed two autoimmune blood disorders that went undiagnosed for several months. During this period, he used up all available medical leave and took additional time off. After he was diagnosed, his doctor informed defendant hotel that plaintiff needed a part-time work schedule for several more months. Defendant, apparently believing the request for accommodation was not due to a disability but for scheduling convenience, responded by terminating plaintiff’s employment. Plaintiff sued alleging a number of claims including disability discrimination under the Fair Employment and Housing Act.
Plaintiff was denied an appointment to a lifetime tenured faculty position in university. Plaintiff then filed a civil action alleging age discrimination, and a petition for writ of administrative mandate seeking an order directing defendant to make the appointment.