SELECTED CASES

To protect our clients and with an abundance of caution to adhere to the terms of certain agreements we are not using real names of parties or their counsel in some of the posted matters on our site.  These are all real cases our office has resolved and where we have co-counseled with another firm to successful resolution together.  Our office has handled matters valued as little as $2,000 to well over $2 million and as quickly as 1 month to as long as 4 years or more including but not limited to, meal & rest break, overtime, misclassification of independent contractor or exempt v non-exempt employee, Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) and class actions, sexual harassment, disability discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, race discrimination, FMLA/CFRA family bonding time, discrimination, retaliation and wrongful termination against public policy and auto accident and slip and fall premise liability matters involving all the major carriers.  We have dealt with opposing counsels from small local law offices to the largest global multinational firms like Littler Mendelson, Jones Day, and others.  In no way does this constitute advertising, solicitation, or any promise or guarantee for results.  Every matter is unique and the facts of each individual case must be analyzed separately.


I. Are truck drivers who sign an “independent contractor” agreement who also own their trucks or lease them from the employer, pay for their own expenses, fuel, and repairs, misclassified “employees” with all the applicable rights under the law?

Client: Truck Driver A (truck owner) and Truck Driver B (truck lessee)  

Defendant: Fortune 100 global multinational corporation.  

The Law: Various wage and hour issues such as Failure to pay Overtime, Missed Meal and Rest Breaks, Failure to Reimburse Business Expenses, Private Attorney General’s Act, Willful misclassification, and Disability Discrimination, and Retaliation, failure to accommodate.

Conclusion: After two years of litigation, an agreement was finally reached to settle as a class action for roughly 160 truck drivers (both A) owners and B) lessees).  The agreement was reached 4 weeks after mediation with Jeff Krivis for a healthy $2.5 million.  

Our office co-counseled in representing Truck Driver A at first for a single wage and hour issue which later ballooned into a class action and FEHA claims for disability discrimination.  Pedersen Law, APC led the litigation efforts, Jackson Law APC led the final steps towards settlement,  and Law Office of Joshua Y. Lee was co-counsel every step of the way.  Harlene Miller, Esq., also became involved to assist with bankruptcy issues for Truck Driver A which impacted the matter.  This was a complex case involving individual wage and hour issues, individual discrimination issues under the FEHA for disability leave and associated retaliation, PAGA, and bankruptcy issues.  Truck Driver A represented those who had “owned” their trucks while Truck Driver B represented those who “leased” them from the defendant (Company X) in a class action settlement.  Company X transitioned their name after litigation commenced.  The final outcome came about due to expert mediation, plaintiff’s team putting forth strong credible evidence.


II. Does the employer owe wages for an employee who failed to submit his timesheets accounting for those over-time hours (OT) he claims were worked?

Client: Engineer TD.  

Defendant: Global Fortune 500 IT Company.  

The Law: California Labor Code §§ 510, 1194 and 1198; IWC Wage Order 4 Section 3 failure to pay overtime, and associated claims for wage statements and final paycheck.  

Conclusion:$195,000 settlement in mediation and favorable non-monetary terms.  The employer is required to pay for all wages “it knew or should have known” were worked.

Law Office of Joshua Y. Lee started this matter and associated in Pedersen Law, APC to successful resolution.  Client worked for IT company in the same department in the same position for 33 years. When he started, he was one of three and in the last 10 years he maintained this 24/7 department alone.  When it was a 3 person staff, they rotated and backed each other up.  However, in the last 10 years, he went at it alone.  Despite that fact, his timecards only showed that he worked 40 hours M-F and about 12 hours of overtime Saturdays and Sundays.  We alleged the employer knew or should have known our Client worked at least an additional 40 hours of unpaid overtime M-F that was not compensated, despite the fact he did not clock in on his timesheets.

After much negotiation, defense finally conceded our Client did work over-time hours that were not compensated and the fact he did not clock-in during the week was not by itself sufficient excuse not to pay him what was owed.  Although the deal came extremely close to falling through, the parties eventually did come to an agreement weeks after mediation.

 


III. Can the employer be held responsible for sexual harassment even if the plaintiff was not the target of the unwanted sexual behavior?

Client: A professional Jane Doe.  

Defendant: Utility company.  

The Law: The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) violations – Sexual harassment and retaliation and also Wrongful Termination against Public Policy.  

Conclusion: Negotiated a six figure severance and very detailed and favorable non-monetary terms including a recommendation letter.  To be a victim of sexual harassment does not require that the harasser has “sexual interest in” or “attraction” directed towards the plaintiff.

Law Office of Joshua Y. Lee handled this matter directly from start to finish.  After working 13 years in progressively senior roles within the same company (at one time even offered and turning down the CEO position), our Client was abruptly wrongfully terminated with the pretextual reason of insubordination and poor performance.

In the past year, she had submitted numerous complaints to HR of sexual harassment allegedly committed by her boss (the CEO) which also involved his outspoken secretary. Inexplicably, HR failed to investigate any of those complaints. During this time, our client was demoted, responsibilities stripped from her, her title changed, and for the first time in her career, received a negative performance review which ultimately led to her termination.  In the totality of her 13 years with the company, she has had no negative remarks, except and until the incident around the time she began to complain about sexual harassment.

Our office initiated communication with her former employer and they hired a national 12-office law firm to defend them.  After rigorous efforts and negotiations, ultimately our client settled for a nice package including over $100,000 severance pay as well as favorable non-monetary benefits. The settlement included extended health benefits not typically found in settlement nor severance agreements, and something even more rare and what our client specifically wanted, a favorable recommendation letter from a company executive.


IV.  Is it illegal to terminate someone on pregnancy leave if the reason given is “elimination of the position”?

Client: A pregnant administrative assistant Jane Doe.  

Defendant: Medical clinic/doctor’s office.  

The Law: The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) violations – Pregnancy discrimination, retaliation, and wrongful termination against Public Policy with missed break violations under California labor code.  

Conclusion: More than two year’s wages.  Pretextual firing is illegal when the evidence proves a discriminatory motive and no other reasonable justification for the termination.

Law Office of Joshua Y. Lee handled this matter from start to finish to successful resolution.  The client called our office and we successfully led the efforts to a quick and sizeable resolution.  Our client worked as a Medical assistant earning $16 per hour, 40 hours per week, for roughly one year at this medical clinic under the supervision of several physicians.  She was a good employee, proficient with her duties, and a pleasure to work with by all objective and subjective accounts.  Having met with her, we found her extremely easy to work with and a fantastic witness.   We initially found that the employer never allowed her 10-minute rest breaks in violation of Labor Code 226.7.

Several months into her employment, our client discovered she was pregnant.  She informed her employer and gave 30-days advance notice of her first doctor’s visit. Since that time, she endured frequent inquiry and harassment for no apparent reason other then to intimidate her into not taking authorized pregnancy leave.  The questions became so invasive into her privacy that it created a persistent, pervasive, and severe and systematic atmosphere of harassment in the workplace.

Eventually, she was told that purportedly due to restructuring, her position would be eliminated in 30 days.  After hearing this notice, she went to her previously scheduled and approved doctor’s visit, and was promptly terminated upon her return (many weeks earlier than the 30 days she was already told).

We took on the case and made sure we advocated for her to the fullest.  Her former employer tendered it to their carrier who hired a national multi-location firm with over a dozen attorneys. Ultimately the parties came to an agreement and resolved the dispute giving our Client more than she anticipated.


V. Can you recover for injuries if the person who rear ended you has no car insurance and the driver of the car you are in also has no insurance?  Normally no.  In this case, yes.

Clients: Five passengers in a multi-car auto accident.  

Defendant: Joint with independent contractor drivers and Uber.  

The Law: Torts / Personal injury.  

Conclusion: Settlements over $267,000 in addition to car repair and all medical bills paid.

Law Office of Joshua Y. Lee successfully handled this injury case from start to finish.  The clients were in two separate Uber vehicles who were hit by a drunk driver without insurance.  They came to our office and we handled it to successful resolution.  Two Uber vehicles were stopped at a red light behind one another when a drunk driver rammed his Ford truck into a third vehicle behind both of them which then caused a chain reaction resulting in a 4 car collision. Injuries were sustained requiring several surgeries to one client with breast implants and another with a broken wrist. The other three of the five needed soft tissue chiropractic services. The drunk driver readily admitted he was drunk and that he didn’t have a license to the police officer filing the report.  We experienced a few hurdles with this case.

Hurdle #1. The drunk driver had no insurance.

Hurdle #2. The driver of one of the two Uber vehicles let his own personal insurance also lapse. Pursuant to Uber policy, where the individual driver’s insurance lapses, Uber’s insurance is not effective.

Hurdle #3. Uber initially rejected our claim for recovery.

Despite the obstacles and hoops we had to jump through, we eventually got Uber’s carrier to accept responsibility and pay under its uninsured motorist provision.  After two years, our office eventually settled for a total of a little over $267,000 which covered all medical bills and gave our clients an amount they were happy with for their pain and suffering. We reduced some of our fees so that a larger share could be given to our clients.


VI. If you are an employer who terminates a long term problem employee with a history of poor performance, can you still be held liable for discrimination if they are on FMLA at the time of termination?

Client: Defended; good guy small engineering company employer.  

Plaintiff: Disgruntled problem ex-employee.  

The Law: Allegations of disability discrimination, retaliation under the FEHA and wrongful termination against public policy.   

Conclusion: Defended small employer.  Settled for a small fraction of the original near six figure demand by the plaintiff’s attorney, saving many tens of thousands and perhaps much more and countless hours and possibly years in litigation.  

The plaintiff was a long term employee who was terminated and thereafter alleged that she had been retaliated against due to her ongoing purported medical issues which led to her taking approved leave. The plaintiff had been an employee of the defendant’s company for 17 years. She had been promoted once from accounting to Accounting Manager (although there was no employees reporting to her). She had taken leave that amounted to several months requiring the employer to hire a temp. The temp performed so well she was eventually hired on full-time and the plaintiff was terminated in a letter specifically citing her poor performance in recent years, excessive absenteeism, tardiness, and leave without notice. The letter also specifically addressed that her termination was not due to her lawful right to take leave for medical reasons. Plaintiff hired a well known employment attorney who sent a demand for settlement. The employer called our office for help and upon review of the facts, decided to represent him and take on the case.

Although much of the facts were in dispute, plaintiff had doctor’s notes and had properly filed for medical leave.  She was eventually terminated after her second “return to work date” had lapsed gain and had called in days later than expected with a text message stating she had a doctor’s note.  Plaintiff had dozens of documented disputes with coworkers and vendors who had officially filed complaints against the Plaintiff, and her insubordination defying direct orders.  However, employer ahd soft heart, as the Plaintiff had recently lost her husband and he did not want to further traumatize her during that time of deep personal suffering.  As such employer  did not terminate Plaintiff for prior misconduct.  Our point was that this is one of the good guys and it would be immoral and unjust to punish him for his compassion and to twist the law to make him liable for nothing short of a good deed.  We also had evidence, Plaintiff was perpetually months behind in her work.  Plaintiff often complained that there was too much work and that she needed to hire support staff.  Client repeatedly offered to go to a temp agency but plaintiff insisted on hiring her daughter, which she did on two occasions without consent or approval and on one of those two occasions, specifically against a direct order.  There was also a calendar, which the plaintiff herself maintained in her own hand writing, that indicated many unexcused absences, lates, and early leaves that were not approved and unrelated to any legitimate medical or business purpose or authorized leave.

During the time of Plaintiff’s leave of absence, which was extended at least two times, Client had to hire a temp.  The temp performed exceptionally well, only confirming for our Client his suspicions that Plaintiff had long been underperforming and taking advantage of his kindness.  The temp cleaned up Plaintiff’s office and was fully caught up on all work, even asking for more work, by just the 3rd week on the job.  Our Client then terminated the Plaintiff which caused her to seek counsel to threaten action.

Considering the evidence, ultimately our Client wisely and happily settled for a very small fraction of what was originally demanded, saving countless hours and tens of thousands in legal fees and also allowing him to focus on growing his business with this new better employee.

Selected case updates as of March, 2019:

  1. Pregnancy discrimination, retaliation for taking pregnancy leave, and workplace harassment against a clothing designer and manufacturer in LA: SETTLED AT MEDIATION IN OCTOBER, 2018.  
  2. Wage & hour missed meal & rest breaks and related causes of action against a valet parking company and one of the largest hotel chains in the world: SETTLED IN LATE 2018.
  3. Disability discrimination, failure to accommodate, and wrongful termination against a medical company SETTLED IN LATE 2018.
  4. Ongoing personal injury auto accident cases.
  5. A slip and fall matter against a major restaurant chain SETTLED EARLY 2019.
  6. A slip and fall against a major casino IN NEGOTIATIONS.
  7. A dental malpractice case where the dentist negligently removed healthy teeth and caused trauma SETTLED March, 2019 for six figures.
  8. A race discrimination, retaliation and wrongful termination case against a major vocational organization SETTLED APRIL 2019.
  9. A sexual harassment and meal & rest break and wrongful termination matter against a franchisee of a major restaurant chain ongoing.
  10. Many others.

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