Hariri Law Group

California Civil Litigation Firm

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San Diego Missed Rest Breaks at Work

California law requires that employers give employees paid rest breaks under certain circumstances.  Under California Labor Code Section 226.7 and an accompanying Industrial Wage Order, employees that work more than 3.5 hours in a day are allowed a 10-minute rest break.  Simplified, the law states that for every four hours of work, an employee must be allowed a 10-minute break.

Similar to meal breaks, during a rest break, an employee must be relieved of their duties and allowed a proper break.  Employers can require employees to remain on the premises during their breaks. 

Time for a Break 2

An employee can choose not to take their break, however, if they are denied breaks by their employer, the employee must be compensated for one hour at their regular pay rate.

Current case law is unsettled on certain issues, such as whether employers are permitted to offer one 20-minute break for an eight-hour shift, instead of two 10-minute breaks.  Some courts have held that this is allowed only if there is adequate justification for it, and it does not unduly harm the employee.  There is also an unsettled issue as to whether employees who are on-call are truly on a break if they must remain on-call during that time.

If you have been denied rest breaks and have not been compensated, an attorney can help you determine if you may have a valid claim, and, if so, against whom.  Please contact the Hariri Law Group at 619-363-2889 for a free consultation. We look forward to speaking with you regarding your case. *Disclaimer: Every case is fact specific. In order to properly assess your case please contact one of our experienced attorneys.

San Diego Missed Meal Breaks

California law requires that employers give certain employees mandatory breaks for meals.  Under California Labor Code Section 512, most employees must be provided with no less than a 30-minute meal period if they work more than five hours in a day.  If an employee works more than ten hours in a day, then a second 30-minute meal period must be allowed. shutterstock_135523706-2

In order to qualify as a “meal break,” an employee must be relieved of all duties, and must be free to leave the premises.  In other words, an employer can’t just say that a meal break is available, they have to actually relieve the employee of their duties and give them a reasonable opportunity to take the 30 minutes to enjoy a meal.  Therefore, things such as penalizing employees for taking a lunch or strongly discouraging it are not permitted.

If an employee is not allowed to take their 30-minute break, they must be compensated for one hour at their regular rate of pay.  If this is a regular occurrence, then an employee can collect back pay for every missed meal break.  Generally speaking, there is a three-year statute of limitations on recovering for missed meal breaks.

It is possible for an employer and an employee to agree to waive the required meal breaks.  However, it must be clear that this waiver was mutually agreed to by both parties.  Oftentimes, employers will try to get new employees to sign a form saying they agree to waive all meal breaks, since new employees will often sign whatever is asked of them in order to get a new job.

If you have been denied meal breaks and have not been compensated, an attorney can help you determine if you may have a valid claim, and, if so, against whom.  Please contact the Hariri Law Group at 619-363-2889 for a free consultation. We look forward to speaking with you regarding your case. *Disclaimer: Every case is fact specific. In order to properly assess your case please contact one of our experienced attorneys.

Bodily Injury Caused by Vape Pen and E-Cigarette – Lawsuits on the Rise – San Diego

cig

As the use of e-cigarettes has risen steadily over the past few years, the dangers of using those products have began to arise.  Initially, there were claims that the chemical flavorings used in the cigarettes were linked to cancer-causing ingredients.  Now, in recent months, there have been a growing number of cases of people suffering injuries when their e-cigarettes or vape pens have malfunctioned and exploded.

In late 2014, the U.S. Fire Administration released a report on the dangers of e-cigarettes catching fire or exploding.  Up to that point, when e-cigarette use had been relatively rare compared to its use in 2017, there were 25 known incidents of malfunctions causing fire or explosion.  Almost all these incidents occurred when the e-cigarette was charging, and it was mostly due to battery failure.  Due to cylindrical design of e-cigarettes, the lithium ion battery has its weakest structural point at its ends.  When the battery overheats, the pressure inside builds quickly and the device instantly ruptures.

Therefore, the most common danger with e-cigarettes is either overcharging, or using an incorrect USB charger that does not provide proper voltage.  Also, many e-cigarettes involved in explosions are imitation products made in China, lacking the safety standards required of U.S.-made products. 

 A number of lawsuits have been filed in California over exploding e-cigarettes that exploded or caught fire and caused either personal injury to someone, or caused property damage due to the fire.  In September 2015, a Riverside County Superior Court jury awarded a woman nearly $1.9 million after she sued the distributor, wholesaler and store where she bought an e-cigarette that exploded and caused her injury.

If you have been injured by a malfunctioning e-cigarette, an attorney can help you determine if you may have a valid claim, and, if so, against whom.  Please contact the Hariri Law Group at 619-363-2889 for a free consultation. We look forward to speaking with you regarding your case. *Disclaimer: Every case is fact specific. In order to properly assess your case please contact one of our experienced attorneys.

 

 

San Diego Hostile Work Environment

Hostile

Many employees would probably describe their work environment as “hostile” simply because it is unpleasant.  However, there is a standard for when a workplace actually becomes hostile under the law.

In order for a workplace environment to meet the legal definition of “hostile,” the following must occur:

  • The employee must belong to a statutorily protected class
  • The employee must have been subjected to harassment because they were or were believed to be part of the protected class
  • The harassment was severe, widespread, or persistent
  • The harassment unreasonably interfered with the employee’s work performance by creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment
  • A supervisor with authority over the employee engaged in the conduct OR the employer and/or supervisor should have known about the conduct and corrected it

The work environment must be hostile from the perspective of a “reasonable person” standard, i.e. if the employee personally believes the work environment to be hostile, but no reasonable person would agree, then the employee cannot bring a claim.

A key part of the hostile work environment claim is the first bullet point – that the employee has to be part of a protected class.  This is what separates merely an annoying or unpleasant work environment that many people may experience with one that is considered hostile under the law.

The U.S. Supreme Court states that whether an environment is hostile “can be determined only by looking at all the circumstances. These may include the frequency of the discriminatory conduct; its severity; whether it is physically threatening or humiliating, or a mere offensive utterance; and whether it unreasonably interferes with an employee’s work performance.”  (Harris v. Forklift Systems, Inc. (1993) 510 U.S. 17, 23.)

The two main types of cases brought under hostile work environment laws are for harassment based on gender and race.  Both of these classes are protected by California law (Fair Housing and Employment Act) and federal law (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964).  In addition, it can also be based on age, disability, or religion.

Because there are both state and federal laws on this issue, it is important that you seek legal counsel to assist you with any possible claim.  There are different methods for pursuing a claim based on whether you are a state or federal employee, and which agency you choose to file with.  For instance, if you file a claim with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and you are a federal employee, you only have 45 days to file your claim, while other employees have 180 days.  If you choose to file with  the California Department of Fair Employment & Housing (DFEH), you have one year from the date of the last act of harassment.

 

San Diego Wrongful Termination

you-are-fired

Both California and federal law provide protections against an employer demoting or firing an employee for certain reasons.  As a general rule, unless there is a written employment agreement, all employees in California are “at will,” which means they can be fired for any reason, however unfair or petty it may seem.  This also allows employees to leave their job at any time for whatever reason they like.

However, there are certain situations where it is illegal for an employer to demote or fire their employee.  Those situations involve a violation of a fundamental public policy.  In order to fall under this rule, the following must happen:

  • There must be a violation of a policy that is supported by either constitutional or statutory provisions (i.e. a state or federal law must have been broken)
  • The policy must be public in the sense that it “’inures to the benefit of the public” rather than serving merely the interests of the individual
  • The policy must have been articulated at the time of the discharge
  • The policy must be “fundamental” and “substantial”

Examples of violations of public policy are:

If an employee can prove that the violation of the public policy at issue was a motivating factor in their demotion or firing, they can potentially bring a claim against their employer for wrongful termination in violation of public policy.

With these issues in mind, an attorney can help you determine if you may have a valid claim, and, if so, against whom.  If you believe you have a case for wrongful termination, please contact Hariri Law Group at 619-363-2889 for a free consultation. We look forward to speaking with you regarding your case. *Disclaimer: Every case is fact specific. In order to properly assess your case please contact one of our experienced attorneys.

San Diego Premise Liability – A Landlord’s Duty

landlord

Injuries at apartment complexes or rental properties are quite common.  Many people are injured in the common areas of apartment complexes due to unsafe conditions such as leaks, electrical problems, or just general defects in the construction of the complex.  Or, a party may be injured because of some unknown danger inside their rental unit.

In those instances, if you are injured, you can bring a lawsuit for premises liability against the landlord of your rental unit.  To bring a case for premise liability, you have to prove the following things:

  • That the landlord owned/leased/occupied/controlled the property in question;
  • That the landlord was negligent in maintaining the property;
  • That you were injured in some way; and
  • That the landlord’s negligence more likely than not caused your injury.

Unlike with other property owners, e.g. the owner of a business, California law has a special duty for landlords when it comes to preventing injury on their property.  A landlord must conduct reasonable periodic inspections of their rental property to try to prevent injuries.  Before giving possession of a property to a tenant, a landlord must conduct a reasonable inspection of the property for unsafe conditions, and must take reasonable precautions to prevent injury due to conditions they could have discovered.

Also, a landlord cannot escape liability for failing to maintain a property in a safe condition by delegating the duty to an independent contractor (the “nondelegable duty” rule).

However, a landlord’s duty to keep their property safe is limited to what they could have reasonably discovered through a normal inspection.  The landlord’s obligation is only to do what is reasonable under the circumstances, and they need not take extraordinary measures to try to discover hazards.

With these issues in mind, an attorney can help you determine if you may have a valid claim, and, if so, against whom.  If you believe you have a case for an injury you suffered on someone else’s property, please contact Hariri Law Group at 619-363-2889 for a free consultation. We look forward to speaking with you regarding your case. *Disclaimer: Every case is fact specific. In order to properly assess your case please contact one of our experienced attorneys.

San Diego – Inaccurate Wage Statements

Pay-DayCalifornia law requires specific information on each wage statement issued to employees.  Under California Labor Code Section 226(a), the following information must be included:

  • gross wages earned
  • net wages earned
  • hourly rate the employee is being paid at
  • dates of wages earned
  • name of employee and the last four digits of their Social Security Number
  • total hours worked by the employee
  • all deductions
  • name and address of legal entity of employer

If any of this information is missing or inaccurate, the employee is first entitled to recover whatever wages they are owed which was not reflected on the statement, such as unpaid overtime.  More important, the employer can be liable for a civil penalty of $50 for the initial pay period where there was a violation, and then $100 per subsequent violation (these fines are capped at $400).  If an attorney assists you in recovering unpaid wages and civil penalties, the law also allows for a recovery of attorney’s fees and costs.

If your employer has been issuing you inaccurate wage statements, please contact Hariri Law Group at 619-363-2889 for a free consultation. We look forward to speaking with you regarding your case. *Disclaimer: Every case is fact specific. In order to properly assess your case please contact one of our experienced attorneys.

San Diego Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Claims

accidentCalifornia law requires that all drivers carrier auto insurance.  However, sometimes people get into accidents caused by other drivers who do not have proper insurance coverage to cover the damages.  The most obvious reason for this is that some people either intentionally or intentionally drive without insurance.

More commonly, they carrier insurance, but it is not sufficient to cover the costs involved in an accident.  California law only requires that drivers carry insurance starting at a $15,000 bodily injury liability limit for one individual, and a $30,000 total limit (meaning no matter how many other people may have been in the car, the insurance company will only pay out a total of $30,000 for one accident).

As most people know, due to the rising costs of health care, one trip to the hospital for serious treatment can end up costing you $15,000 just by itself, to say nothing of the follow-up care you might need.  Even for people who are in minor accidents, the long-term cost of care can exceed $15,000 rather easily.  This is even without factoring in additional compensation for injuries that can’t be quantified, i.e., pain and suffering.

When you are injured because of another driver, and their insurance is insufficient to cover your bills, you have two options: 1) pursue the other driver personally; 2) go to your own insurance company.

The first option is not ideal, because very few drivers, especially those with low policy limits, have sufficient personal assets to cover a fair settlement.  Recovering money from an individual’s assets can be a difficult and time-consuming process.

The second option is where Uninsured or Uninsured Motorist (UM/UIM) coverage comes into play.  UM coverage is when the other driver has no insurance at all, and UIM coverage applies when the other driver’s policy limits have been reached.  UIM coverage can be used for expenses like medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. 

For example, say you have $50,000 in expenses due to an accident.  The other driver had the minimum $15,000 coverage, but you had $30,000 in UIM coverage.  After collecting the $15,000 from the other driver, you make a claim with your insurance company to trigger the UIM coverage, which would allow you to collect an additional $15,000.  You do not get the full $30,000, even though your expenses are higher than that, because an insurance company is only legally obligated to pay you the full coverage amount minus other contributions that are made.

If you have been in an accident and are having issues with insurance coverage, please contact Hariri Law Group at 619-363-2889 for a free consultation. We look forward to speaking with you regarding your case.  Southern California personal injury attorneys: San Diego, Orange County, Murrieta, Los Angeles.  www.haririlaw.com *Disclaimer: Every case is fact specific. In order to properly assess your case please contact one of our experienced attorneys.

 

San Diego Premise Liability – Slip and Falls

Lawsuits to recover injuries suffered by a person on someone else’s property are one of the most common types of suits.  Commonly, these are called “slip and fall” lawsuits, although, more broadly, premise liability cases can include any type of injury suffered on someone else’s property.  When you are hurt somewhere that is not your home or in public, it can be difficult to determine who is the responsible party, and if they are truly responsible for your injury.

Slip-and-FallCalifornia has a law governing premise liability, Civil Code section 1714(a), that essentially says “everyone is responsible for injuries to the public on their property if it was caused by a failure to take care of the property.”  There are many cases that state this as well, e.g. Ann M. v. Pacific Plaza Shopping Center (1993) 6 Cal.4th 666, 674 which says “It is now well established that California law requires landowners to maintain land in their possession and control in a reasonably safe condition.”

To bring a case for premise liability, you have to prove the following things:

  • That the defendant owned/leased/occupied/controlled the property in question;
  • That the defendant was negligent in the use or maintenance of the property;
  • That you were injured in some way; and
  • That the defendant’s negligence more likely than not caused your injury.\

To decide whether a property owner was negligent, i.e., that they failed to take reasonable care in making their property safe enough to avoid injuries, there are a number of factors at play, such as:

  • Location of the property
  • Likelihood that someone would be injured in that way that you were
  • Whether the property owner should have known about the danger

So, for example, a party who owns a store that is heavily trafficked by customers will likely to be found to not have taken reasonable care of the property if someone slips on a grease spot on the floor.  At the same time, a party who owns an isolated piece of property rarely visited by anyone from the public will be granted some leeway if someone is injured in a freak accident on the property.

With these issues in mind, an attorney can help you determine if you may have a valid claim, and, if so, against whom.  If you believe you have a case for an injury you suffered on someone else’s property, please contact Hariri Law Group at 619-363-2889 for a free consultation. We look forward to speaking with you regarding your case. San Diego personal injury lawyers. *Disclaimer: Every case is fact specific. In order to properly assess your case please contact one of our experienced attorneys.

Chemical Flavorings Found In E-Cigarettes Linked to Lung Disease

 

A recent study done by researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has raised concerns about the long-term effects of electronic cigarettes.  In a study published in December 2015, researchers stated that they found traces of a potentially dangerous chemical called diacetyl in 75% of all e-cigarettes and their refill liquids.

E-CigMAIN

Beginning in the mid-1990s, a number of workers in manufacturing plants that dealt with food additives began to show signs of obliterative bronchiolitis, an inflammation of the lungs.  A large amount of the cases were discovered in workers in microwave popcorn plants, which eventually lead to the condition known as “popcorn lung.”  A chemical named diacetyl, a flavoring agent used to give microwave popcorn its buttery taste, was linked to the disease.

In 2000, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health officially linked bronchiolitis to former workers of microwave popcorn plants.  

Absent exposure to industrial inhalants, obliterative bronchiolitis is a rare disease, which is irreversible, and highly lethal.  The five-year survival rate for patients who do not receive a lung transplant is less than 50%. Therefore, the recent study done by researchers at Harvard has raised concerns about e-cigarettes, which are currently not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. 

Unknown

Given that e-cigarettes have been heralded by many as a safer alternative to cigarettes, the fact that they contain a highly-dangerous chemical could lead to new claims of obliterative bronchiolitis from individuals who have suffered injury due to e-cigarettes. 

Unlike the cases involving popcorn lung, when there was a lack of information involving the risks of diacetyl exposure, the manufacturers of e-cigarettes and their refills should know and understand the risks involved.  The question then remains, why would they even take a chance in using this chemical?  

Many have chosen to use e-cigarettes for health reasons, and thus, they should be informed of all health risks, including the link between diacetyl an obliterative bronchiolitis. 

If you have been injured and would like more information on potentially filing a claim, please contact Hariri Law Group at 619-363-2889 for a free consultation. We look forward to speaking with you regarding your case. *Disclaimer: Every case is fact specific. In order to properly assess your case please contact one of our experienced attorneys.