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Q & A

Class Actions

Question:

  Why did I not get any money from the class action I was a part of? I was part of a class action lawsuit settlement that payed out in 2008, but I never received any money. Do individuals always get some money as part of a class action lawsuit?

Answer:

  What individual class members receive in a class action settlement depends entirely on the terms of that settlement. Often the settlement terms provide from a coupon, gift certificate or other form of payment other than cash.

  You should review the notices you received regarding the class action to figure out what you can receive and what steps you need to take in order to collect. If the settlement agreement provides for cash benefits to be paid to each member of the class, perhaps they did not have your correct mailing address or there was a requirement that you submit a proof of claim to receive such benefits by a certain date.

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Religious Discrimination

Question:

  Can my employer fire me because I refuse to attend religious service? I work with handicapped adults and my employer says that I have to take them to church. If I refuse can I be fired?

Answer:

   If one of your job duties is to take the individuals you care for to church, then you have to take them to church. It should not matter where they need to go. It is your job to care for them and take them to places as instructed. You are not “attending religious service;” you are simply taking care of the disabled individuals as instructed by your employer.

 

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  Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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Sales Commissions

Question:

  What are the CA statutes regarding sales professionals that are laid off before the company they worked for would have had to pay out commissions pending the transfer and closing of the proceeds from a pending deal?

Answer:

  This issue will need to be resolved by determining when the commissions were “earned.” The company should have a compensation plan or some document defining when the commissions are earned. If the commissions were earned before the transfer and closing of the proceeds from a pending deal, then the sales employee would be entitled to be paid. However, if the commissions are not earned until after the transfer and closing, then the employee would not likely be entitled to be paid the commission.

  Last year, the California Court of Appeal ruled that an employee was not entitled to commissions post-termination. A Los Angeles-based web hosting company Hostpro, Inc. hired plaintiff Randy Nein as a sales representative. When he was hired, Nein signed a commission pay agreement. Among other things, the commission pay agreement stated that Nein was “eligible for commission pay as set forth in this [agreement], so long as [Nein] remains employed with the Company as a Sales Representative.”

  After Nein was hired, he began negotiating with AT&T for Hostpro to take over providing web hosting services for some of AT&T’s small and mid-sized business clients. Two years later, higher-ups at Hostpro finalized an agreement with AT&T to take over that work. However, a little over month before the deal was finally done, Hostpro terminated Nein. Nein sued, arguing that he was entitled to a commission on the AT&T transaction because he’d initiated the negotiations with AT&T, and remained involved in the activities leading up to the deal.

  The court disagreed, finding that Nein’s commission pay agreement with Hostpro clearly stated that he was only eligible to receive commission pay while he was employed by Hostpro, and that the agreement ruled out the possibility of post-termination commission payouts.

  Therefore, it is essential to examine the exact language of Commission Pay Agreement or other document defining how commission is paid and when it is actually “earned.”

  Please understand that this answer does not constitute legal advice as we have no official attorney-client relationship.

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Time Cards and Pay Practices

Question:

  In California, do employees need to sign their time card at the end of the pay period and before the payroll clerk processes the time card?

Answer:

  Employees do not need to sign the time card. However, your employer has the right to implement a policy requiring employees to sign the time cards. The policy must be implemented fairly and evenly to all employees.

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Trade Secrets/Unfair Competition

Question:

  What are the issues with having customers follow me from my old employer to a new employer? I was recently let go from a services company, in the past month I have had multiple customers and my previous employees contact me and ask where I am going and If I will be able to bring them on. Both employee’s and customers are unhappy with the service they are receiving. What are the legal issues with customers following me to a new company, and the same with my previous employees. The two go hand in hand.

Answer:

  Any answer to this question necessarily depends upon the precise language of any Proprietary Information Agreement or Non-Disclosure Agreement you have signed. Barring a specific contract limiting your rights to take customers with you, you have the right to earn a living in California. Because you were “let go,” it appears that your termination was not voluntary. If this is the case, the company will be hard pressed to claim that you are prohibited from taking customers with you at the customer’s request. You may wish to seek specific legal advise to help with this challenging situation. An employment attorney can guide you through the process.

Please understand that this communication does not create an attorney-client relationship

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Unemployment Benefits

Question:

Can a company change the reason for firing someone or add something to the reason a month after the discharge?

Answer:

  The company is trying to establish “gross misconduct” on your part to get out of paying unemployment benefits. You need to provide evidence that you did not commit misconduct; rather you were terminated for poor job performance. If you received any documents at the time of termination indicating that you were terminated for poor performance, you will want to present those to the EDD employee assessing your claim.

  Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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