In 2019, some 1,500 employees filed a class action against Phoenix Warehouse of California for alleged labor violations committed between 2009 and 2016. The company had initially faced a labor lawsuit in 2015 when employees claimed that the company refused employees their overtime pay. As more complaints emerged against Phoenix Warehouse of California, the labor attorneys who represented multiple victims were able to elevate the case to a class action.
This one case gives us many examples of labor violations in Los Angeles. In this article, we’ll discuss the difficulties that workers in warehousing and storage encounter and the common labor violations their employers commit.
Working Conditions in the Warehouse and Storage Sector
Working in the warehousing and storage sector is physically demanding. It entails long working hours and minimum to average hourly wages. It is also a large workforce: boosted by the demands of the transportation and logistics sector, employed workers in the warehousing sector rose by 5.99 percent from 2018 to 2019, bringing the number to 1.14 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Data USA pegs the average annual salary of a full-time employee at $36,751 or roughly $15-17 per hour in a six-day workweek.
In a nutshell, the industry has hundreds of thousands of workers who are working seven hours a day, six days a week at minimum wage and benefits. It takes little for employers to tip over to the edge and commit labor violations that can have a massive impact on the well-being of warehouse workers.
Common Labor Violations in LA Warehousing and Storage
Going back to the class action against Phoenix Warehouse of California, the workers’ testimonials against the company were damaging: they allegedly made employees work for eight to 12 hours a day, did not allow meal and rest breaks, and did not pay overtime wages. One manager also faced sexual harassment allegations for making sexual advances towards a female employee in exchange for her daily wage.
The employees, who were mostly Latinos who could only speak Spanish, alleged that the company threatened them with deportation if they complained about their abysmal work conditions.
This case is representative of the problems that warehouse workers face across the state:
- Wage theft – Employers who refuse to pay the minimum hourly wage can be charged with wage theft. The minimum wage in California is $13-14 per hour, depending on the number of workers in a company. The rate is higher in some cities and counties like Los Angeles County, Menlo Park, and Fremont (at $15 per hour)
- Violations against meal breaks– California requires employers to grant a 30-minute meal break to employees working for five hours or more, and a second 30-minute meal break to employees working for over 10 hours. If these breaks aren’t possible, employers must give one hour’s worth of additional pay.
- Violations against rest breaks – California workers are entitled to 10 consecutive minutes of rest for every 4 hours of work. Employers should also provide employees with suitable rooms for resting.
- Forced overtime – It is illegal for employers to require workers to render work before they officially clock in for their shift or after they’ve clocked out for the day. They’re also not allowed to make workers report for more than six days every seven days.
Protect Yourself from Labor Violations in California
All workers have a right to just and fair working conditions regardless of their pay grade. Warehouse workers are just as entitled to charge their employers with labor violations as highly-paid, white-collar professionals. If you or someone you know is currently facing the problems discussed above or something similar, we encourage you to get in touch with Haffner Law as soon as possible.
We have experienced employment attorneys who can help employees file a case or class actions against non-compliant employers. We also help clients get the compensation they deserve for the rights violations they had to endure.
Hold your employer accountable and get the compensation you deserve. Talk to Haffner Law today.
(This is an attorney advertisement by Joshua Haffner)