Wednesday, July 17, 2013

My Last Blog ... Here ... So Go There

Over the past few months we have developed a new website at Fishman, Larsen, Goldring & Zeitler.  I hope you like it.  We recently added our blogs as part of our website development.  So from now on, I will blog from there.  Just click here and you will be transported to my new blog page. 

When you arrive at the new web page, click the button next to "Alert me when new articles are available" and complete the sign-in information. 

I hope you enjoy the new format.  You are welcome to sign up for our other blogs too. 

To encourage you to sign up for the alerts, I have posted a blog about a situation at Kaweah Delta hospital.  I will send a Starbucks card to you if you are the first to sign up and answer the question:  What are the two theories to impose liability on the employer because of the bad acts of employees?  The answer is in the blog. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Amy's Baking Company Would Be In Big Trouble In California!

I read an interesting article about Amy's Baking Company in Scottsdale, Arizona.  Perhaps they can bake a mean cake, but they can't manage people. 

The company compels employees to sign an agreement with these, and other, provisions: 
  • Employees pay the costs of any damage to company equipment or products due to employee negligence;
  • Employee gives up his/her right to tips, which belong to the restaurant, in lieu of receiving a wage of $8 to $12 per hour;
  • Employers are penalized $250 per day if they miss a shift on a weekend or holiday; and
  • Employee's can't work for a competitor within 50 miles for a period of one year. 
My advice for employees -- STAY AWAY

With that said, let's have a little fun.  I will send a Starbucks or Jamba Juice card to the first person who emails me the correct answer to this question:  Identify the Wage Order Provision, the Labor Code provision, and the Business & Professions Code Provision that would be violated if Amy's Baking Company was in California.  

Friday, July 5, 2013

Black Swan -- A Dirty Little Secret in Hollywood

Another seedy side of Hollywood is making an appearance in the mainstream media.  Interns who worked on the film, Black Swan, have sued Fox Searchlight claiming they were employees entitled to wages under state and federal law.  Other "interns" and lawyers are jumping on the bandwagon in an attempt to recover wages and fees, respectively. 

The interns claim that they did not meet the test as interns under the Fair Labor Standards Act.  I wrote about this in the blog a few months ago.  Here's the link to that blog.

The interns claimed that they really did not receive training in an educational setting as is required to have a valid internship.  Instead, these interns performed "grunt" work that would have been performed by employees if the interns were not present. 

Fox Searchlight has countered with an intriguing defense.  It claims that it was not the employer of the plaintiffs.  As it turns out, when Hollywood makes a film it creates a separate company.  In the case of Black Swan, a company called Lake of Tiers Inc. was created to hire the interns and other workers.  Once the movie is produced, these companies, like Lake of Tiers Inc., cease operations.  Importantly, these companies lack any assets from which a judgment could be obtained.  Fox Searchlight claimed that this "production" company, not Fox, was the plaintiffs' employer. 

The court recently issued a ruling rejecting the argument made by Fox.  It found that Fox had unbridled discretion to fire interns, and supervised them closely.  Under the law, the actions by Fox made it an employer subject to liability under the FLSA. 

So how has this practice escaped scrutiny for so long?  Probably because interns did not want to make waves and become blackballed in the industry.  Fortunately, this lawsuit will put the spotlight on Fox Searchlight and other Hollywood companies.  People should be paid an honest day's wage for an honest day's work.  With the unbelievable compensation paid to many in the industry, there is no reason not to pay interns for performing services rendered.