NEW LAWS THAT MIGHT IMPACT YOU IN 2017

Some new California laws that might affect you in 2017:

Assault weapons: The new gun-control regulations broaden the definition of illegal assault weapons, require background checks for the first time for ammunition purchases and limit the lending of guns to family members. California bars purchasing, semi-automatic, centerfire rifles or semi-automatic pistols that lack a fixed magazine and have one of a number of features that include a protruding pistol grip or a folding or telescoping stock. If you already own one of these weapons you’ll have to register it.

Gender-neutral bathrooms: While North Carolina waged a proxy war in its restrooms over gender identity, California quietly went in the opposite direction. Assembly Bill 1732 requires all single-toilet bathrooms in businesses and public agencies to be gender neutral.

Minimum wage, equal pay and paid parental leave: The statewide minimum wage goes from $10 to $10.50 an hour for businesses with 26 or more employees — a rate that will rise to $15 by 2022. Under another law, Assembly Bill 1676, an employer can’t pay a woman less than her male colleagues because of her prior salary. Assembly Bill 2393 gives up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave to all K-12 and community college employees, including classified workers and community college faculty.

ON THE ROAD

Motorcycles: Current law does not change; lane splitting by a motorcyclist remains legal if done safely. This bill defines lane splitting as driving a motorcycle, which has two wheels in contact with the ground, between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane. The bill permits the CHP to develop lane splitting educational safety guidelines in consultation with other state traffic safety agencies and at least one organization focused on motorcycle safety.

Child safety seats: Although this law was passed during the 2015 legislative session, it takes effect Jan. 1. Children under two years of age must ride rear-facing in an appropriate child passenger safety seat. Children weighing 40 or more pounds, or standing 40 or more inches tall, are exempt. California law continues to require that all children under the age of eight be properly restrained in an appropriate child safety seat in the back seat of a vehicle.

Use of Wireless Electronic Devices: Motorists are no longer permitted to hold a wireless telephone or electronic wireless communications device while driving a motor vehicle. Rather than holding the device, it must be mounted in the 7-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield farthest removed from the driver or in a 5-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield nearest to the driver. Another option is to affix the device to the dashboard in a place that does not obstruct the driver’s clear view of the road and does not interfere with the deployment of an airbag.

The law does allow a driver to operate one of these devices with the motion of a single swipe or tap of the finger, but not while holding it.

Driving under the influence - Ignition Interlock Device: Starting in 2019, a driving under the influence offender will be required to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle for a specified period of time in order to get a restricted driver license or to reinstate their license. The law also removes the required suspension time before a person can get a restricted license, provided that the offender installs an IID on their vehicle. The law extends the current four-county (Sacramento, Los Angeles, Alameda, Tulare) DUI IID pilot program until Jan.1, 2019, at which time all DUI offenders statewide will be required to install an IID to have their license reinstated.

School bus safety: This law requires all school buses, school pupil activity buses, youth buses, and child care motor vehicles used to transport school-age children to be equipped with a “child safety alert system.” Every school is required to have a transportation safety plan with procedures to ensure that a pupil is not left unattended in a vehicle.

Tour bus inspections: This new law requires the CHP to develop protocols for entering into a memorandum of understanding with local governments to increase the number of inspections for tour buses operated within their jurisdictions.

Docs and prescription drugs: Inspired by the Bay Area News Group’s Drugging Our Kids investigation, which revealed the state’s dependence on psychotropic medications to control troubled children, lawmakers passed legislation to hold physicians accountable. Senate Bill 1174 puts doctors who recklessly prescribe psychiatric drugs at risk of losing their medical license. Senate Bill 1291 will require more transparency and tracking of mental health services for foster kids.

Consumer protection: Landlords will be prohibited from showing, renting or leasing a vacant unit that they know has a bedbug infestation. Rental car companies won’t be able to rent out cars subject to a manufacturer’s recall until the vehicle has been fixed.

Sex crimes: Assembly Bill 701 broadens the definition of rape to include “all forms of nonconsensual sexual assault.” And after the worldwide outcry over the six-month jail sentence given to former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner, Assembly Bill 2888 makes sexually assaulting an unconscious person a crime with a mandatory prison sentence. Rape, sexual assault and other sex offenses committed in 2017 will no longer be subject to a statute of limitations, under Senate Bill 813.

Head Injury and Children’s safety: Schools already have strict rules for athletes who may have suffered head injuries — such as removing the athlete for the rest of the day and keeping them sidelined until they have been cleared by a licensed health care provider. Assembly Bill 2007 extends those rules to youth sports organizations, along with training for coaches on concussions.

Sources: Orange County Register (Digital First Media archives, California Highway Patrol, Department of Motor Vehicles, The Associated Press, California State Legislature, CalChamber)

L.A. Conservancy sues City of Los Angeles over Frank Gehry project

As reported in the Architects Newspaper, the Los Angeles Conservancy is suing the City of Los Angeles for “blatantly disregarding environmental law” and violating the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by approving the Gehry Partners—designed 8150 Sunset development last month.

The $300 million mixed-use project has faced community push-back from all sides, especially from wealthy neighbors who contested the project’s height, density, and parking provisions, even though the project is located on the Sunset Strip commercial corridor. Those partisans won out over the course of the approval process, as developers and even Frank Gehry himself, in an in-person testimonial before the Planning and Land Use Management Committee (PLUM), pledged to rework the project to ameliorate community concerns. At that meeting, the architect said, “I’m going to make it, as best I can, something special for the community. Something that we would all be proud of.”

The development was ultimately approved by PLUM and, later on, the L.A. City Council, but with a few caveats. In a nod to the neighbors’ concerns, the project’s residential towers were approved with a 56-foot height reduction, an additional number of affordable housing units, and increased number of parking stalls. Overall, the project will contain 229 market rate units, including 38 affordable units, 65,000 square feet of commercial space, and 494 parking spaces in a group of rumpled towers located on a site featuring multiple public plazas and ground-floor retail.

Read the full article on the Architect Newspaper website

City of Los Angeles Frank Gehry Project 

California Employment Law Update

Reported by the National Law Review, as we come to the end of 2016, all employers should be planning ahead for any changes that will need to be implemented in 2017.  For California employers, those changes may be extensive, as the California Legislature has been busy this year, passing several new laws that will impact California employees and their employers.  Although there are a number of industry-specific employment laws that will impact some employers(e.g. agriculture, domestic workers, janitorial service workers, etc.), the following laws will apply to most California employers.  Below is a brief review of some key legislation that will go into effect in 2017.  Make a resolution to be prepared now!

Minimum Wage Increase

As the battle over the minimum wage continues, California is not waiting.  SB 3 increases California’s minimum wage each January 1 from 2017 through 2022 (or 2023 for employers with less than 26 employees).  Come January 1, 2017, the new minimum wage will be $10.50. This means more than just raising the minimum wage – exempt employees in California must also earn no less than 2 times the state minimum wage for full-time employment (defined as 40 hours per week) to maintain their status as exempt.  Therefore, employers must analyze exempt employees at or near the minimum salary cutoff.  At $10.50, the new cutoff will be $43,680 (assuming the federal overtime rule does not pass scrutiny).

Equal Pay Act Expansion

California has long been a frontrunner when it comes to income equality.  On January 1, 2017, two new laws (AB 1676 and SB 1063) will combine to expand the California Equal Pay Act to:  eliminate prior salary as a bona fide exception to equal pay based on gender, and to preclude employers from paying employees of a different race or ethnicity different rates for substantially similar work.

Juvenile Court Information Prohibited in Interviews

AB 1843 prohibits employers from asking about or considering, for purposes of hiring or any condition of employment, any information about the employee/applicant’s arrests, convictions, or other proceedings involving juvenile court.

Notice of Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Leave Rights

Employees must be notified at time of hire of their rights to take protected leave when victimized by domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.  By July 1, 2017, AB 2337 will further require the California Labor Commissioner to develop a form employers may elect to use to comply with this notice requirement.

Arbitration Contracts

SB 1241 is a brainteaser, but the message is simple: employees that work and reside primarily in California cannot be required to adjudicate claims outside of California, or adjudicate claims using the law of another state even in California, as a condition of employment.  This applies specifically to arbitration agreements. Any agreement entered into on or after January 1, 2017 must not contain any such provisions.

Tracking Hours Worked for Certain Exempt Employees

Under AB 2535, employers no longer will have to track hours worked by certain employees that are exempt from minimum wage and overtime regulations.  Specifically, the bill adds a subjection (j), which identifies seven circumstances where exempt employee hours do not need to be tracked.

State Sponsored Retirement Savings Program

SB 1234, passed in 2012, goes into effect on January 1, 2017.  Practically speaking, the imposition on employers should be minimal.  The bill requires employers to either maintain a private, qualified retirement savings plan, or enable employees to make automatic contributions from their paycheck to a California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program savings account.  Employers may also be required to provide information about the program to employees.

Fair Employment and Housing Act Expansion

AB 488 expands FEHA’s reach to include employees hired under a special license, specifically those with physical or mental handicaps.  The expansion provides corresponding affirmative defenses, and provides that it is not disability discrimination to pay less than the state minimum wage to disabled employees employed pursuant to California Labor Code sections 1191 or 1191.5.

Workplace Smoking Prohibitions

Although it took effect on June 9, 2016, it is important to remember that ABx2 6 has expanded smoking prohibitions in workplaces to expand the definition of “smoking” to include “the use of an electronic smoking device that creates an aerosol or vapor, in any manner or in any form, or the use of any oral smoking device for the purpose of circumventing the prohibition of smoking.”  Employers should be certain that employees are aware of these changes.  Owner-operated businesses are now covered by SBx2 6.

All-Gender Toilet Facilities

Effective March 1, 2017, AB 1732 will require that all single-user toilet facilities in any business establishment, place of public accommodation, or government agency, be identified as all-gender toilet facilities.

Read the full article on the National Law Review website

Five New Laws Facing California Employers in 2017

In an article by the California Employment Law Report, this summarizes five new laws that were approved by the Governor and California Employers need to heed going into 2017. 

1. AB 1843 – Juvenile Criminal History

The new law prohibits employers from asking or taking into consideration juvenile convictions.

The law states, “employers [are prohibited] from asking an applicant for employment to disclose, or from utilizing as a factor in determining any condition of employment, information concerning or related to an arrest, detention, processing, diversion, supervision, adjudication, or court disposition that occurred while the person was subject to the process and jurisdiction of juvenile court law.”  Effective January 1, 2017

2. AB 1676 – Wage Discrimination

Existing law generally prohibits an employer from paying an employee at wage rates less than the rates paid to employees of the opposite sex in the same establishment for equal work for work performance that requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility that are performed under similar working conditions.  This law now establishes that an employee’s prior salary cannot, by itself, justify any disparity in compensation.  It is important to note the bill was modified to take out language that would have prohibited employers from obtaining an applicant’s prior salary.

3. AB 1063 – Wage Differential – Fair Pay Act Expanded to Protect Race and Ethnicity

Current law prohibits an employer from paying any of its employees at wage rates less than the rates paid to employees of the opposite sex for substantially similar work.  This law expands the prohibition of a wage differential based on an employee’s race or ethnicity for substantially similar work.

4. SB 1001– Immigration Documents

This law prohibits employers from doing any of the following:

  1. Request more or different documents than are required under Federal law.
  2. Refuse to honor documents tendered that on their face reasonably appear to be genuine.
  3. Refuse to honor documents or work authorization based on the specific term of status that accompanies the authorization to work.
  4. Attempt to reinvestigate or reverify an incumbent employee’s authorization to work using an unfair immigration-related practice.

For any violations, workers may file a complaint with the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement and can recover penalties up to $10,000.  The law is effective January 1, 2017

5.  AB 2337– Notice: Domestic Violence Protection

Employers with 25 or more employees must provide employees written notice about their rights under the domestic violence protections under California law.  The Labor Commissioner must develop a noticed employers can use by July 1, 2017.  Employers do not have to provide the notice until the Labor Commissioner posts the notice.

(Bonus – It is California, and I could not limit the list to only five) SB 1241 – Arbitration Agreements Venue and Choice of Law

This law restricts employers from requiring employees who primarily reside and work in California to adjudicate claims outside of California when the claim arose in California, or deprive employees of California law with respect of claims arising in California.  Employers should carefully review their arbitration agreements with California employees to ensure that the agreement does not have a choice of law provision that applies another state’s law to the agreement or require any claims be adjudicated outside of California.  The effective date for the law is January 1, 2017.

Read the full article on the California Employment Law Report website

Higher Minimum Wage goes into Effect in Los Angeles

As Reported in the Daily News, Los Angeles area employers will pay a higher minimum wage and offer at least six days of paid leave benefits under city and county laws that went into effect Friday.

The local laws require businesses with more than 25 workers to increase their minimum wage from the state-mandated $10 to $10.50 per hour. The hikes are taking place in Los Angeles and a few nearby cities, including Santa Monica and Pasadena, and unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County.

A provision in the city’s minimum wage law requiring employers with more than 25 workers to offer at least six days of paid sick leave also went into effect Friday. State law requires three days of paid sick leave.

Smaller businesses have an extra year to implement both provisions.

On Friday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti joined other city officials and speakers at the Boyle Heights Technology Youth Center to discuss the wage increase, which is the first step of a gradual minimum wage increase to $15.

A free resource fair was held at Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles for workers to learn more about efforts to enforce the new wage.

Garcetti said Los Angeles led the way for other local wage increases.

“Today, Los Angeles becomes the first big city in America to begin the climb to a $15-an-hour minimum wage,” Garcetti said Friday. “Our decision to end poverty wages in L.A. caused a ripple effect that spread to six other cities in L.A. County, then statewide — and now New York state has followed suit.”

Under the city and county ordinances, the minimum wage will reach $15 per hour in 2020, with future increases pegged to the Consumer Price Index. Employers with 25 or fewer workers have an extra year to adjust to the new city wages, with the minimum wage reaching $15 per hour by 2021.

Read the full article on the Daily News Website

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti Discussing Wage Increase

J&J Ordered to Pay Record $1 Billion for Faulty Hip Implants

As reported by Bloomberg, Johnson & Johnson was ordered by a Texas jury to pay more than $1 billion to patients who claimed the company hid flaws in its Pinnacle artificial hips that had to be surgically removed.

Officials of J&J’s DePuy unit, which makes the Pinnacle hips, knew the devices were defective, but failed to properly warn doctors and patients about the risk they would fail, the federal jury in Dallas concluded Thursday. The verdict includes over $30 million in actual damages for the six plaintiffs and more than $1 billion in punitive damages, according to court filings.

J&J still faces almost 9,000 lawsuits accusing the company of mishandling the metal-on-metal hips. J&J stopped selling the devices in 2013 after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration toughened artificial-hip regulations.

Read more on the Bloomberg Website

Johnson&Johnson 

25 Worst Hospitals in the U.S.

As reported in Health, a new report on hospital performance in terms of infection rates, medical error, injuries, and medication misfires finds that four of the worst offenders are in Chicago, while Massachusetts medical centers rate best. Hospital errors are responsible for 180,000 deaths per year, and 400 per day.

The report was issued by Leapfrog, a coalition of public and private purchasers of health insurance benefits. The group recently updated its June list of poor-performing hospitals, giving D and F grades to “the most hazardous environments for patients in need of care.”

Perhaps the biggest name among the 25 hospitals flunked by Leapfrog is the University of California Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. In response to the Leapfrog grade, the academic medical center told Medscape that UCLA’s mission of delivering “the safest, highest quality, cutting-edge care” is reflected in numerous rankings and reports.

Regardless, one doesn’t want to find themselves at one of the worst -performing hospitals in the country until they clean up their act.
Here’s the list:

  1. Wiregrass Medical Center, Geneva, Alabama
  2. Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital, Hollister, California
  3. Palo Verde Hospital, Blythe, California
  4. University of California Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles, California
  5. Western Medical Center Anaheim, Anaheim, California
  6. Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, Albany, Georgia
  7. Madison Memorial Hospital, Rexburg, Idaho
  8. Jackson Park Hospital and Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois
  9. Jersey Community Hospital, Jerseyville, Illinois
  10. Loretto Hospital, Chicago, Illinois
  11. Norwegian American Hospital, Chicago, Illinois
  12. Roseland Community Hospital, Chicago, Illinois
  13. Daviess Community Hospital, Washington, Indiana
  14. Richardson Medical Center, Rayville, Louisiana
  15. Texas County Memorial Hospital, Houston, Missouri
  16. Holy Rosary Medical Center, Ontario, Oregon
  17. Clarendon Memorial Hospital, Manning, South Carolina
  18. Wallace Thomson Hospital, Union, South Carolina
  19. Christus Spohn Hospital Beeville, Beeville, Texas
  20. Gulf Coast Medical Center, Wharton, Texas
  21. Renaissance Hospital, Houston, Texas
  22. Renaissance Hospital Dallas, Dallas, Texas
  23. Renaissance Hospital Terrell, Terrell, Texas
  24. Buchanan General Hospital, Grundy, Virginia
  25. Valley General Hospital, Monroe, Washington

Read the full article on the Health website

Sanctuary Cities Brace for Trump Crackdown on Immigration

As reported by US News, from border to border and coast to coast, hundreds of cities, counties and police departments that have resisted compliance with federal immigration laws are girding for a showdown with the Trump administration over so-called "sanctuary cities."

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat whose city is set to receive $7.7 billion in federal funds next year, was quoted by Bloomberg as saying he'd consider deleting a database of roughly 850,000 residents who entered the country illegally and were granted city identification cards to keep it out of Trump's hands. The San Francisco Examiner reported that officials in that city, which declared itself a sanctuary as early as 1989 and receives more than $1 billion in federal funds, would hold fast to its policies limiting cooperation with federal immigration officials.

Even in the District of Columbia, a federal enclave where the federal government operates the courts and city agencies are heavily dependent on federal funding, Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser reaffirmed the nation's capital will remain a sanctuary.

"The values, laws, and policies of Washington, D.C., did not change on Election Day," Bowser said in a statement. "We are a sanctuary city because we know that our neighborhoods are safer and stronger when no one is afraid to call on our government for help, and when our police can focus on protecting and serving."

The reactions come in response to Republican President-elect Donald Trump, who vowed last week to "cancel all federal funding to Sanctuary Cities" within his first 100 days in office, threatening to deprive nearly 400 jurisdictions of hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars in grants and other money for policing, jails, courts, housing, roads and education. In a subsequent interview with "60 Minutes" aired Sunday, he pledged to immediately deport people in the country illegally who have criminal records – a subset he estimated could include as many as 3 million people.

Read the full article on the US News website

Sanctuary City Protest

DWP Customers Due $67 Million in Refunds under Preliminary Settlement

As reported by ABC7, preliminary approval has been granted to a settlement that would refund more than $67 million to Los Angeles Department of Water and Power customers who were over-billed during an upgrade of the utility's billing system.

The overcharges occurred when PricewaterhouseCoopers overhauled the DWP's customer information system in 2013.

Customers will receive 100 percent of the over-billed amount, as verified by an independent monitor. If they disagree with the amount, they may file a reimbursement claim.

The refunds are expected to go out next summer.

Read the full article on the ABC7 website

Los Angeles Department of Water & Power

L.A. Tentatively Agrees to Pay $4 Million in Fatal Shooting of Homeless Man by LAPD Officer

As reported by the Los Angeles Times, Attorneys for the city of Los Angeles have agreed to a $4-million payout to settle lawsuits filed by the family of an unarmed homeless man fatally shot last year by an LAPD officer in Venice, court records show.

The tentative deal comes as prosecutors weigh whether to charge the officer, Clifford Proctor, in connection with the May 5, 2015, killing of Brendon Glenn. In a highly unusual move, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck recommended that prosecutors file criminal charges in the case.

Attorneys representing Glenn’s family and the city reached the settlement this fall and notified the court about their agreement two weeks ago, according to documents filed in federal court. U.S. District Judge Manuel L. Real dismissed the case a day later, citing the proposed settlement.

Read the Full Article on the Los Angeles Times website

Los Angeles Brandon Glenn

Drug Side Effects have Led to Increased ER Visits in Older Americans

As reported by Stat News, side effects from medication are causing more older Americans to visit emergency rooms and leading to more hospitalizations, according to an analysis of ER data from 2005-2006 and 2013-2014. And across all age groups, the drugs most often causing side effects that sent people to an ER were the same ones identified a decade ago —anticoagulants, antibiotics, diabetes agents, and opioid analgesics.

These were among the findings in a study that examined emergency department visits for adverse reactions to medicines in 2013 and 2014, compared with 2005 and 2006. The goal was to determine the characteristics of side effects that lead to ER visits in hopes of identifying outpatient prescribing patterns that could mitigate adverse events.

The analysis, which was funded by the federal government and published on Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, examined nearly 42,600 cases from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System — Cooperative Adverse Drug Event Surveillance project, which is a public health surveillance system based on a nationally representative sample of US hospitals.

The prevalence of potentially inappropriate medication use in adults aged 65 and up remained high and the study authors suggested that the Beers criteria, a widely used guideline to improve safe prescribing, had “limited utility in identifying patient populations who are at highest risk for adverse drug events.”

The study authors, several of whom work for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also noted that three drug classes — anticoagulants, diabetes and opioid analgesics — that were recently targeted by federal patient safety initiatives were also implicated in nearly 60 percent emergency room visits due to side effects experienced among older adults.

Read the full article on Stat News website

Drug Side Effects Dangerous for Older Americans

How Safe is your Hospital? A Look at California Ratings

As reported in the Los Angeles Times, consumers might think twice about dining at a restaurant with a poor health grade posted in the window. And patient advocates say it shouldn't be any different when going to the hospital.

A detailed look at performance data shows many California hospitals continue to struggle with medical errors and injuries to patients — despite industrywide efforts to remedy those problems.

"We know there are still far too many deaths due to medical errors and far too many patients harmed," said Missy Danforth, senior director of hospital ratings at Leapfrog Group, an employer-backed nonprofit that tracks healthcare quality. "Not all hospitals are the same."

Leapfrog has been analyzing information it collects as well as data reported to Medicare to issue hospital scores in California and nationwide. The percentage of A-rated hospitals in California reached 43% late last year — the seventh-highest rate among states nationwide. That was up from 40% two years ago.

Healthcare giant Kaiser Permanente consistently has some of the highest scores and shows little variation across its 35 hospitals in California. Other top performers across the Southland include Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach and Inglewood's Centinela Hospital Medical Center.

Overall, however, scores in California have shown no improvement in recent years. The Times reviewed three years of Leapfrog data, and the overall letter grade remained a solid B.

After converting letter grades to scores of 0 through 4, the statewide composite for 250 California hospitals went from an average of 3.06 in fall 2012 to 3.04 two years later.

Some of the laggards include UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center with a C letter grade. Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center got a D, partly because it was in the bottom 1% of hospitals nationwide for leaving objects like sponges in patients during surgery.

Read the full article on the Los Angeles Times website

California Hospital Grades

L.A. to Spend More than $200 Million to Settle Suit on Housing for Disabled

In the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles will spend more than $200 million over the next decade to settle a federal lawsuit alleging that the city failed to provide enough apartments for people with disabilities in its publicly funded housing developments.

Under a deal approved Tuesday by the City Council, city officials will be required to ensure that 4,000 units are accessible to people who use wheelchairs, have hearing impairments or live with other disabilities. The city could reach that goal by building additional apartments, redesigning existing ones or demonstrating that units already built are, in fact, accessible.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti endorsed the settlement, saying in a statement that the city “stands for inclusiveness and access for all.”

"If we have fallen short of that commitment, we need to fix it as quickly as possible,” he said. “This settlement allows us to resolve a long-standing legal issue with a predictable level of investment. More importantly, we are working to meet the needs of our disabled community now and for decades to come.”

The settlement puts Los Angeles on the hook for another costly, multi-year legal payout centering on facilities for the disabled. Last year, city lawmakers agreed to spend $1.3 billion over 30 years on sidewalk repairs — ending a lawsuit  that argued broken walkways were a nightmare for wheelchair users.

Read the full article on the LA Times website

Los Angeles Minimum Wage Law Changes

According to the City of Los Angeles, here are the minimum wage requirements. 

Employer

Employer means any person, as defined in the California Labor Code including a corporate officer or executive, who directly or indirectly or through an agent or any other person, including through the services of a temporary services or staffing agency or similar entity, employs or exercises control over the wages, hours or working conditions of any Employee. 

Employer Requirements

  • Employer must pay hourly minimum wage for hours worked within the geographic boundaries of the City.
  • Employer must post the Office of Wage Standards Wage Notices in a conspicuous place at any workplaces or job sites in English, Spanish, Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin), Hindi, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Korean, Japanese, Thai, Armenian, Russian and Farsi, and any other language spoken by at least five percent (5%) of the Employees at the workplace or job site.
  • Employer must keep payroll records for four (4) years.
  • Employer must provide employees with the Employer's name, address, and telephone number in writing at the time of hire.

Retaliation against any Employee exercising rights under the Minimum Wage and Wage Enforcement Division Ordinances is prohibited. 

Employee

Employee means any individual who in any particular week performs at least two (2) hours of work within the geographic boundaries of the City of Los Angeles for any Employer. This Employee is covered by the Minimum Wage Ordinance regardless of immigration status or employment status whether the Employee is full-time, part-time, temporary, etc.

Employee Remedies including, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Payment of wages unlawfully withheld;
  • Payment of Sick Time Benefits unlawfully withheld; and/or
  • An additional penalty of up to $120 to the Employee and up to $50 to the City for each day that either violation occurred or continued.
  • In cases of retaliation, the Employee may be entitled to reinstatement and trebled the above.

An aggrieved Employee may file a civil court action.

For more information visit the City of Los Angeles website


 

Los Angeles Superior Court Self-Help

Many visitors to Los Angeles Lawyers have questions about a variety of issues, some of which they may desire to investigate on their own for various reasons.  The Los Angeles Superior Court maintains a self help website that some people feel is a very helpful place to start on seeking answers to various questions.  We provide this link as a courtesy to visitors, and caution that you should consult a lawyer about legal questions: http://www.lacourt.org/selfhelp/selfhelp.aspx

Los Angeles County Superior Court

Wells Fargo wants Claims over Fake Accounts Settled out of Court

As reported by The Washington Post, Wells Fargo is calling for dozens of customers suing over bogus accounts opened by the bank’s employees to resolve the dispute through arbitration rather than federal court.

The lender also asked for the lawsuits, filed by 80 customers in Salt Lake City, to be thrown out. Wells Fargo noted in a filing that a judge in a similar class-action lawsuit in Northern California has already ruled that arbitration agreements can be enforced.

The San Francisco-based bank has faced a torrent of criticism and the ire of regulators after agreeing to pay $185 million in September to settle claims that employees opened potentially more than 2 million unauthorized accounts. It fired 5,300 workers over five years. John Stumpf resigned as chairman and chief executive in the wake of the scandal. Carrie Tolstedt, the executive in charge of the community banking unit, retired this year.

Three Utah customers sued in September shortly after the settlement was announced and blamed the scandal on the lender’s push to increase the number of accounts held by clients. That strategy, called cross-selling, is designed to boost the number of accounts on which the bank can collect fees. Wells Fargo vowed to eliminate sales goals linked to cross-selling.

The plaintiffs in the Utah lawsuit seek to represent other customers in a class action and to recover at least $5 million in damages from the bank.

Read the full article on The Washington Post website

Wells Fargo

LADWP's Overcharged Customers get at least $67.5 Million under Settlement

As reported by Daily News, a judge gave a preliminary nod to a class-action settlement for customers of the Los Angeles Department of Power who were overcharged at least $67.5 million as a result of a botched billing system.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle granted preliminary approval to the proposed settlement related to customer overcharges and complaints as a result of the faulty billing system designed by PricewaterhouseCoopers and launched in September 2013, according to an LADWP news release.

A class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of customers across Los Angeles called for the utility to repay the overcharged amounts. 

Mayor Eric Garcetti said he was glad the settlement included guarantees new LADWP reforms to its billing and metering practices.

“LADWP exists for the people of our city — nothing is more important than giving customers the highest quality water, electric and customer service,” Garcetti said in a statement. “With the judge’s ruling today, we’ve finally taken an important step forward in making our customers whole.

“Next year, customers will receive refunds for every penny they were overcharged, and that process will be carried out with rigorous oversight from both the court and our independent monitor.”

It says that every customer who was overcharged will receive a credit — or a refund if they are no longer an LADWP customer — for the full amount they were overcharged. The credits and refunds will be reviewed by an independent third-party appointed by the court.

Any customer who disagrees with the amount of the credit or refund can have their claim reviewed by an independent special master, who will consider the merits and make a recommendation to the court.

If the customer disagrees with the recommendation, they can have it reviewed by the judge overseeing the settlement.

Multiple layers of review ensure every refund or credit will fair and accurate, the LADWP claims, making good on a promise by the agency to refund every penny customers were overcharged.

Read the full article on the Los Angeles Daily News website

Los Angeles Department of Power Settlement for Overcharged Customers

Settlement Ends the Threat of a Toll Road through San Onofre State Beach

Reported by the LA Times, ending a long environmental battle, Orange County tollway officials agreed in a legal settlement Thursday to preserve San Onofre State Beach and withdraw their approval of a six-lane highway through the popular park.

The new agreement ends five lawsuits that targeted plans to lengthen the Foothill South toll road 16 miles to Interstate 5 in north San Diego County, using a portion of the state beach, which includes wildlife habitat, campgrounds, Indian sites and heavily used surf breaks, including Trestles.  

The settlement also requires the Transportation Corridor Agencies in Irvine to rescind approval of the proposed 5½-mile Tesoro Extension, which environmentalists called a possible attempt to resurrect the route through San Onofre.

“This agreement will guarantee that millions of Californians will be able to enjoy this magnificent park, its beaches and natural areas for years to come,” said Elizabeth Goldstein, president of the California Parks Foundation and representative for the Save San Onofre Coalition, a group of 12 state and national environmental organizations.

Read the full article on LA Times website

San Onofre State Beach

The 10 Worst Los Angeles Freeways

Reported by Complex, when you're asked to name the top defining characteristics of Los Angeles, "freeways" will probably be in your top five. Traveling on the freeways can make or break your week. It could be traffic, construction, accidents or police chases, making it to your destination on time is never a guarantee. 

Here is our top ten worst Los Angeles freeways.

10. The 91

A.K.A.: Gardena Freeway
Route: Gardena to Artesia

The 91 Freeway is L.A.'s connection to Anaheim. How your trip will go largely depends on the day of the week, hour of day and if it's a holiday or not. The 91's traffic can be decent when it's good, and horrific when it's bad. Regardless of these variables, once you hop on the 91, you are entering a virtual minefield of potholes and cracks that could potentially steer you out of your lane.
 

9. The 5

A.K.A.: Santa Ana Freeway into the Golden State Freeway
Route:  El Toro Y to East L.A. Interchange, East L.A. Interchange to Wheeler Ridge

For L.A. residents making the drive to the Bay Area, getting on the 5 Freeway marks the start of a more than five-hour trip. For those heading south, the 5 is a major chunk of a two-hour trip to San Diego. Plagued with bumps, narrow lanes, morning traffic jams and nighttime congestion during its long stretch, the 5 Freeway is a long, necessary evil. 
 

8. The 605

A.K.A.: San Gabriel River Freeway
Route: Seal Beach to Duarte

The 605, in of itself, is not too bad of a freeway. It's the merging in from other freeways you'll have to watch out for. Those coming in from the 10 Freeway during rush hour are going to face a mad house, to say the least. Likewise, if you're driving on the 605 and see those drivers flooding in from the 10, you'll probably feel inclined to speed up. 
 

7. The 405

A.K.A.: San Diego Freeway
Route: El Toro Y to San Fernando

The 405 is the "old lady who keeps breaking her hip" of freeways - this stretch of road is always in need of some fixing, and you'll almost always run into some construction. If you're looking for a smooth ride on this freeway, save it for midnight or a Sunday afternoon. 
 

6. The 710

A.K.A.: Long Beach Freeway
Route: Long Beach to Alhambra

If you ever had to travel to Long Beach in the morning on the 710 Freeway, you probably stared at the rear end of a big rig for the better part of an hour. The 710's main purpose is to serve as a major artery for those trucks to travel to and from the Long Beach Ports. The freeway follows the course of the L.A. River, but when you're surrounded by big rigs, there isn't much to see. 
 

5. The 210

A.K.A.: Foothill Freeway
Route: Tunnel Station to Redlands

If you take the 710 on the weekends, you'll be in for a breeze. 210 going west? Good luck. Planning on an evening trip to Pasadena on the 210 East? Plan again.
 

4. The 105

A.K.A.: Glenn Anderson or Century Freeway
Route: El Segundo to Norwalk

Get ready for an intimate time getting to know your radio while on the 105. From lunch to about 3 p.m., you might be able catch a smooth ride, but hell breaks lose right after that. The 105 has a pretty extended rush hour, and you'd be smart to stay away between 3-8 p.m. 
 

3. The 10

A.K.A.: Santa Monica Freeway
Route: Santa Monica to the East L.A. Interchange

Constant thick traffic and new construction-related detours springing up every week make the 10 Freeway a permanent headache. Unlike the others on the list, the 10 doesn't get any better on the weekends. The sections to watch out for that get hit the hardest are near the 405 and 110 intersections. If you're coming from the South Bay, make sure to leave an hour and a half early to get to your destination.
 

2. The 101

A.K.A.: Hollywood Freeway
Route: Four Level Interchange to Route 134 and Route 170 junction

Planned on making it back home from Hollywood early? Expect half of the lanes to be closed for a traffic accident. 
 

1. The 110

A.K.A.: Harbor Freeway into the Pasadena Freeway
Route: San Pedro to downtown L.A., four level interchange to Pasadena

Meet the grandfather of California freeways. Literally. It' the oldest freeway in the state, having been largely completed in the 1960s. It has a bit of everything: gridlock, crazy drivers, speedsters and police chases. It's the epitome of the classic Los Angeles Freeway.

Read the full article on the Complex website

Metro will Pay $300 Million More to Company that Widened the 405

As reported by the Los Angeles Times, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has agreed to pay nearly $300 million more to the contractor of the 405 Freeway widening project, capping a years-long dispute over responsibility for schedule delays, design changes and cost overruns.

The settlement will push the cost of the controversial Sepulveda Pass project above $1.6 billion, about 55% higher than the original budget.

The $297.8-million agreement follows years of disagreements between Kiewit Corp. and Metro over how the freeway widening was managed. Kiewit has said in legal filings that Metro’s repeated changes to the project’s design and failure to identify and relocate utilities added significantly to delays.

The 10-mile northbound carpool lane through the Sepulveda Pass opened more than a year behind schedule. Its construction caused five years of traffic headaches on one of the nation’s most congested corridors. 

Metro’s directors approved the settlement in closed session earlier this month. They will be asked Thursday to formally increase the project budget to nearly $1.61 billion.

Read the full article on the LA Times Website.