On October 15, 2020, Lauren Teukolsky spoke at a press conference announcing a new class action lawsuit filed by Teukolsky Law against HMS Host, the largest operator of airport concessions in North America and at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). HMS Host laid off almost 1,000 LAX workers in March and April 2020, including named plaintiffs Plaintiffs Debra Lewis, Marlene Mendoza and Lotus Perez-Silva, who each worked for HMS Host at LAX for more than 30 years, most recently as servers in Point the Way Café by Golden Road and Campanile, two LAX concessions operated by HMS Host.
The lawsuit alleges that HMS Host failed to pay its laid-off workers wages they are owed under the Los Angeles Living Wage Ordinance. The lawsuit also alleges that Host failed to comply with California's "timely payment provisions" by waiting over six months to send laid-off workers their final paychecks for accrued vacation time.
Law360, which covered the filing of the lawsuit, quotes Ms. Teukolsky as saying "that the workers have struggled because of the layoffs. 'The workers by and large have not been able to find other employment. Many of them have had to go on to unemployment benefits, and for many of our clients, they are having to make really hard decisions between paying rent, paying medical bills, getting groceries,' she said."
On October 21, 2020, the week after the lawsuit was filed, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously voted down a relief and lease extension package that HMS Host was seeking, estimated to be worth tens of millions in lease extension-related revenue and rent relief for HMS Host.
If you have been laid off and have questions about whether your employer paid you all of the wages you were owed, contact us today for a free consultation.
One of the propositions on the ballot on November 3, Proposition 22, could have major implications for the future of AB 5 enforcement in California. If passed, the proposition would allow gig-economy companies like Uber, Lyft, and Instacart to classify their drivers as independent contractors instead of employees. These companies would be exempt from AB5, the new California law that requires most employers to classify their workers as employees. Courts have consistently ruled that Uber and Lyft have violated AB5 by refusing to reclassify their drivers as employees since AB5 went into effect on January 1, 2020. As recently as October 22, 2020, a California appeals court ruled that Uber and Lyft must reclassify their drivers as employees rather than independent contractors.
If Prop. 22 passes, Uber and Lyft would not need to comply with these court rulings. As independent contractors, their drivers would not receive many of the benefits and protections of the employment relationship, like minimum wage protections, paid sick leave, workers' compensation benefits if they are injured or unemployment benefits in they become unemployed.
Backers of Prop. 22, including Uber, Lyft, Instacart, Postmates (owned by Uber) and DoorDash, have poured more than $187.5 million into backing the bill, making it the most expensive proposition in California history and dwarfing the $15 million raised by the opposition, spearheaded by labor groups who have traditionally represented the interests of working people over corporate interests. Prop. 22 would not only apply to Lyft and Uber drivers, but would cover all drivers who work for a "delivery network company," potentially including FedEx, Amazon, Walmart, UPS, and any other companies that makes deliveries in California.
If passed, Prop. 22 would set a dangerous precedent in California. Companies who don't like laws that the Legislature passes, and who don't like court rulings requiring them to treat their workers fairly, could simply open their coffers -- filled with the profits they earn by not spending money on employee benefits -- and buy themselves a ballot proposition. Significantly, Prop. 22 contains a provision stating that it cannot be amended except by a 7/8 majority of the Legislature, effectively tying lawmakers' hands for the rest of eternity absent a new ballot proposition. California voters should reject this company-sponsored initiative and let the California Legislature do its job to govern in the interests of the people.
If you think you have been misclassified as an independent contractor, contact Teukolsky Law today for a free consultation.
On Wednesday, September 30, Governor Newsom finished out the legislative season by signing a flurry of legislation, including several that benefit employees. The bills are as follows:
Lauren Teukolsky is the founder and owner of Teukolsky Law, A Professional Corporation.