Public employees who are terminated after they blow the whistle on illegal conduct often have the opportunity to appeal their termination to some type of board or officer. That entity in turn usually has the authority to either rule on their claims or to make a recommendation to a civil service agency regarding whether the termination should be upheld or not. These proceedings hold out the promise of swift justice-a hearing and a decision by an impartial fact-finder in a relatively short amount of time. In practice, however, they rarely result in any type of reinstatement or fairness.
Public employees who make use of these appeals often find that when they try to bring their claims in court, where they have a better chance of getting a fair shake, the public entity argues that they are barred (“precluded”) from suing because they already had a hearing as part of the appeal process. In other words, public entities try to block public employees from suing just because the public employees make use of the civil service appeal process (which, as described above, is rarely fair or impartial).
On September 8, 2019, the Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District issued an important decision in the case of Hawkins v. City of Los Angeles (Case Nos. B279719, B282416). That decision casts light on the following questions: (1) Whether PAGA claims can be brought on behalf of an individual, as opposed to a group of aggrieved employees; (2) Whether PAGA claims can be brought against public entities; and (3) Whether attorneys’ fees are recoverable under Labor Code section 1102.5.
Wage and hour laws require that employers pay minimum wages and overtime wages, provide meal and rest breaks, and pay all wages immediately upon termination of employment, among many other things. Public employees often wonder whether they are covered by these laws, or whether such basic protections do not apply to them. The answer in California, in true lawyerly fashion, is, “it depends.” This post will attempt to sort out which wage and hour laws apply to public employees and which, unfortunately, do not. Continue reading “Which Wage and Hour Laws Apply to California Public Employees?”→
Aurora Le Mere was a Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) teacher for thirteen years. In that time, she filed a number of complaints and claims arising from her employment, including worker’s compensation claims and administrative complaints regarding LAUSD’s violations of provisions of the Education Code. In 2007, she filed a lawsuit against LAUSD and two individuals for discrimination, harassment and civil rights violations. All her claims and cases through 2007 settled. Then, in 2015, Ms. Le Mere filed another complaint against LAUSD and six individuals claiming that she had been unlawfully harassed and retaliated against since filing the 2007 case and worker’s compensation claims.