Wage and Employment lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm report that the writers of the popular E! show Fashion Police are suing their employer for more than $1 million in back wages. At least eight writers filed the claim with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement office.
Fashion Police is hosted by Joan Rivers and Kelly Osbourne who, along with their guests, comment on and critique celebrity stylings. The Writers Guild of America stated that California laws do require an employer, in this case the E! network, to pay hourly employees regular wages for all time worked in an eight-hour shift. The laws also require employers to pay workers for any overtime beyond those eight hours, or beyond 40 hours in a workweek.
Salaried employees, however, are exempt from overtime wages, and it is not clear whether the plaintiffs are classified as hourly or salaried. One writer stated that the company needs to start paying him and his colleagues for their time and hard work. He said they have helped make Fashion Police one of E!’s highest rated shows, and the network needs to start treating the writers as professionals.
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Spokespeople for E! stated that it pays its writers fairly an in full legal compliance. Another writer, however, said that she regularly puts in between 12 and 32 hours of overtime per episode, but the most she has ever been paid for is an eight hour work day. As stated, the writers are seeking more than $1 million in back wages.
Also in Southern California, though far from Hollywood, warehouse workers for Walmart are suing the retail giant in a federal wage-theft lawsuit. This is the first contracted warehouse worker lawsuit in which Walmart itself is named as a defendant – past suits named only the company’s subcontractors, which are outsourced to operate some of the larger warehouses.
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These subcontractors hire low-paid temporary workers to perform the brunt work, and have become targets for wage litigation from several union-backed organizations, such as Warehouse Workers United. In this case, representatives for the workers affirmed that, although Walmart’s name does not appear on these employee’s checks, it has become increasingly evident that the labor violations can be traced solely back to the retailer, who must have ultimate liability.
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Employees argue that Walmart holds the moral responsibility to oversee the conditions in its warehouses and the treatment of those workers. They are hoping to prove the company is legally and financially responsible for its warehouse worker’s wellbeing by arguing that Walmart controls operations and is the ultimate beneficiary of their labor.
Workers are alleging that they are made to work in excessively hot conditions, are paid less than the minimum wage, and are frequently retaliated against by their superiors. One of the plaintiffs stated that he and his co-workers are mostly Latino immigrants, who are forced to work 12 to 16 hour days without overtime pay. He said they receive a lunch break but no other breaks, which is illegal under both federal and state laws.
They are now seeking class-action status for the suit, which could potentially involve up to 1,800 employees. Plaintiffs are saying that Walmart is aware of even minute details of the goings-on in its warehouses, including tracking every truck and container and the behavior of each worker. Walmart owns every piece of equipment and material in the warehouses, down to the shrink wrap, and employees are alleging the retailer is simply turning a blind eye to the mistreatment.
Other defendants named in the suit include Schneider Logistics, which has been named in several other cases filed by warehouse workers in Illinois. Schneider denies all allegations made in the suits. The California Labor Commissioner, however, begs to differ, as she recently filed numerous labor-law citations against it and other temp companies within Walmart warehouses. She told the Huffington Post that the violations epitomize the larger problems evident in these subcontracting companies, and that warehouse workers are just one example of the troubling low-wage economy in the United States.
Wage and employment lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm highlight these stories to make Americans aware that justice is available to those who are paid unfairly or forced to work in adverse conditions. If you or a loved one is consistently made to work long hours without appropriate pay or without breaks, you have important legal rights, and may be entitled to significant compensation for back wages and emotional distress.
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