Minimum Wage Raised in LA County, But Not For Everyone

California and Los Angeles County’s Minimum Wage Inches Closer to $15.00 per Hour Although the California minimum wage is now $12.00 per hour for large employers and $11.00 per hour for small employers, that hasn’t stopped many counties and municipalities across the state from increasing their minimum wages. Starting July 1st, 2019, workers in the City of Los Angeles and Unincorporated Los Angeles County received [a small bump in pay](https://abc7.com/society/cities-across-la-county-see-new-minimum-wage-increase/5375233/) as part of the county’s plan to raise the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour by 2021. What are LA County’s New Minimum Wage Laws? Cities all throughout California have varying wage and hour laws—in fact, California has some of the most complicated minimum wage laws in the country. The actual minimum wage paid out depends on a few things, namely: the location, the employer’s size, and the employee’s line of work. In Unincorporated LA County, the new minimum wage laws are as follows: Employers with fewer than 26 employees must pay at least $13.25 per hour. If an employer has 26 or more employees, they are now required to pay at least $14.25 per hour. Both figures represent a $1.00 per hour increase over the previous minimum wage. Although the City of Los Angeles raised its minimum wage in accordance with Los Angeles County, special provisions have been granted to hotel workers within the City of Los Angeles. Wages for hotel employees made a small jump from their previous rate of $16.10 per hour to $16.63 per hour. Where Else Has The Minimum Wage Changed? These developments are not unique to LA—localities stretching from San Francisco to Santa Monica are pushing their minimum wages higher in-step with Los Angeles. But cities like Long Beach and Torrance are failing to keep pace, refusing to raise their minimum wage above the state-required levels. For a complete list of all recent minimum wage changes in California, The National Law Review has compiled a complete list of changes throughout the state.

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Can a Volunteer Sue For Wrongful Termination?

California is considered an “at-will” state, meaning you can be fired for any reason except for those listed under the California Fair Housing and Employment Act (FEHA). It is due to FEHA that an unpaid volunteer and intern may sue their employer if they were unlawfully terminated because of discrimination or as a form of retaliation. Volunteer Discrimination Law FEHA’s protection extends beyond paid employment. It also serves to protect those in unpaid positions as well. According to FEHA’s Unpaid Interns and Volunteers section, it is unlawful for an employer to: “Discriminate against a person serving an unpaid internship or other program providing unpaid work experience in the selection, termination, training, or other terms of treatment of that person on any protected basis (section 11009)(e).); or Subject unpaid interns and volunteers to unlawful harassment (section 11019(b).)” An employer can terminate you for anything except for race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, creed, age (over 40), mental disability, physical disability, sex, gender, pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, and military/veteran status. Furthermore, if you receive an “employment benefit” while working as an intern or volunteer, your case may be under the purview as an employee, strengthening your claim. An employee benefit could include gratuity and bonuses while on the job. There are laws to protect you regardless of your working status, but not all employers follow these laws. When this is the case, contact an attorney with details about your case. When you can and can’t sue As dictated above, an employer is allowed to fire their volunteers and interns for almost any reason. You could be lawfully terminated because an employer does not like your personality, but they can’t terminate you for discriminatory or retaliatory reasons. But how do you know if you were terminated because of discrimination, especially since discrimination is not always apparent? If you are a member of a protected class and you experienced any of these adverse actions while working, you may have a case on your hands: Employers giving you work tasks that are impossible to complete successfully Employers giving you work tasks that are consistently less than other volunteers You were subjected to demeaning conversations Tones are harsh or belittling Discriminatory jokes Offensive comments These are only a few examples of discrimination a volunteer or unpaid intern can face and is nowhere near an all-inclusive list. Not sure you were wrongfully terminated? Talk to an employment lawyer about your case. A lawyer can better guide you through what to do next and offer invaluable representation. What should you do next? Discrimination and wrongful termination should never be allowed to stand. If you don’t fight employers and companies who implement such practices, even for jobs that are voluntary, whose to say they won’t do the exact same thing to another worker? You can fight to change this. Filing a strong lawsuit requires evidence. The more evidence you obtain, the better. Unfortunately, finding physical pieces of evidence, like a letter or memo detailing discrimination, is difficult. A simple method to document discrimination is to write it down in a journal. Include a summary of what happened, date, and time. A journal may not be enough, though. You’ll also want to have the following for your claim: Witnesses Personnel file, if one is available An employee handbook or company policies regarding discrimination Discriminatory/retaliatory emails and text messages The firing process is another opportunity for you to gather evidence of discrimination. When terminated, ask your employer to put it down into writing as to why you were terminated. Keep evidence in a safe place and bring it to an employment lawyer. It may seem like a hassle to get a lawyer involved, but if you strongly believe you were wrongfully terminated from your volunteer or unpaid internship, you should discuss your case with an employment lawyer as soon as possible. On principal, no matter if it’s an unpaid or paid job, employers who engaging in discriminatory practices should be brought to justice. Call an employment lawyer at Wilshire Law Firm today to discuss your case at 1-800-522-7274. Disclaimer: The information provided is not meant to serve as legal advice, nor does it constitute a guarantee or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter.

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