$30 Million Verizon 401(k) Settlement Preliminarily Approved

On July 26, 2023, the Honorable Paul G. Gardephe granted preliminary approval of a settlement between Plaintiffs and Defendants in the case of Jacobs v Verizon Communications Inc. et al (Case Number: 1:16-cv-01082).  The settlement includes a gross settlement amount of thirty million dollars ($30,000,000). 

California, New York and Washington Warehouse Quota Laws – Explained

Growing concern about warehouse employers use of work quotas, including quotas for how quickly warehouse workers must complete tasks, or what percentage of workers shift must be “time on task”, has driven three states to pass laws limiting warehouse centers quotas. The laws also require written disclosure of quota data to employees, prohibit using non-disclosed quotas against employees and protect against retaliation. 

Quotas affecting warehouse workers in California, New York, and Washington (when the WA law goes into effect in 2024) must be disclosed to workers. Quotas must not prevent workers from taking rest breaks, meal breaks, bathrooms breaks, or prevent compliance with health and safety standards. 

California Supreme Court: Section 1102.5(b) of the California Labor Code Prohibits Whistleblower Retaliation

The Supreme Court of California issue an opinion on May 22nd, 2023, stating plainly at the start of the opinion that: “The Labor Code prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for disclosing information concerning suspected violations of the law either internally or to government or law enforcement agencies. (Lab. Code, § 1102.5, subd. (b) (section 1102.5(b)); all undesignated statutory references are to the Labor Code.) Violators are subject to various sanctions, including civil penalties remitted to the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) of the Department of Industrial Relations.”

“Dark Patterns” Making Online Subscriptions Harder to Cancel Draws Lawsuits, Settlements and Government Scrutiny

A “dark pattern” is a user experience design (UX) that makes it harder to cancel an ongoing paid service with an online service provider, or fail to recognize you are signing up for auto renewals or other expenses.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has launched lawsuits and settled with some defendants, while plaintiffs in California and other states are suing to recover alleged money lost after subscriptions continued despite attempts to cancel a service.

Heat Stroke, Heat Syncope, and the Death of New Workers

Workers, especially new workers not accustomed to their environment, can be injured or killed by heat exposure. Older workers, obesity, pregnancy and other factors can combine to increase risk, and by occupation the most common industry for a reported heat death was in construction, followed by agriculture and mining. 

Heat stroke, heat exhaustion, syncope, kidney failure or injury and rhabdomyolysis are all possible when a worker is exposed to excessive heat and not given sufficient water, breaks and if working outside shade or in a hot interior.

Official government trackers show a problem but a small one, only 40 or so deaths per year, and several thousand injuries, but due to failure to report and self-reporting mechanisms, it is acknowledged the problem is much larger. When researchers used larger more complete data sets, including workers compensation claims across California, they discovered a likely 20,000 additional injuries occurred during high heat than would have occurred in lower temperatures. These 20,000 additional injuries are just for California. For all of the United States, injuries at this rate could exceed 150,000 per year. 

WARN Act Notices – Q1 2023

The federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act requires employers in the United States with 100 or more full time employees to provide 60-day notice in advance of mass layoffs or plant closings.  The WARN Act applies to full time workers and provides workers with time to prepare for the transition between the jobs they currently hold and new jobs. States such as California, New York and others maintain their own state level WARN Acts, requiring additional employer obligations.

We have reviewed the WARN notices available for the first quarter of 2023.

California Labor Department – Wage Theft Claims and Judgments – 1st Quarter 2023

The California Department of Industrial Relations maintains a database of wage theft claims presented to the office by employees, and Wage Claim Judgments against individuals and corporations. We have reviewed this database for judgments from January 1st to March 31st, the first quarter of 2023.

Schneider Wallace Files Antitrust Case Against Walmart and Energizer for Battery Price Manipulation

On April 28th, 2023, Schneider Wallace Cottrell Konecky LLP filed lawsuits in the Northern District of California against Energizer Holdings Inc. and Wal-Mart Inc. The complaints alleges that Walmart and Energizer violated federal and California antirust and consumer protection laws by entering into anticompetitive agreements to inflate wholesale and retail prices for disposable batteries.

SEC Issues Largest Award Ever at $278 Million, Federal False Claims Exceed $2.2 Billion for Fiscal Year 2022

The Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) released a press release on May 5th, 2023 to announce their largest ever award, over $278 million, regarding an unnamed case. The award is more than twice the size of the previous largest award, $114 million awarded in October 2020.

Amazon Alleged to Have Sold “Suicide Kits” to Teenagers In New Lawsuits

Amazon, the largest online retailer, has been accused in multiple lawsuits of selling “suicide kits” to vulnerable teens and young adults. The lawsuits accuse Amazon of selling and continuing to sell highly concentrated sodium nitrite, an industrial chemical that is lethal to ingest. The complaint alleges despite Amazon receiving notifications of children dying after purchasing sodium nitrite, they continued to offer it for sale. 

The complaints further alleges shoppers on who typed “sodium nitrite” in the Amazon search bar received “sodium nitrite suicide” as an autocomplete prompt, and Amazon recommended additional products including a book on suicide and medication to assist in keeping sodium nitrite down during a suicide attempt.