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Legal News, Employment, Recent Cases:  September 18, 2013

Chauvel & Glatt Assists a Native Chinese Business Owner in Employee Dispute

A Chinese client recently called our Mandarin-speaking assistant, Elle Zhang, and requested help with an urgent employment-related issue.
 
A disgruntled former employee of a local auto repair shop filed a complaint with the California Labor Commission seeking thousands of dollars in overtime compensation. The employee was mainly serving the front desk and answering calls; however, he also was in charge of accepting new customers, ordering parts, scheduling technicians’ work, etc. Under California law, the employee was arguably an exempt employee and therefore not entitled to overtime pay.
 
California law generally favors employees; thus, it is the employers’ responsibility to provide sufficient proof, including documents such as job descriptions and employment contracts as well as time cards, to substantiate the exempt or non-exempt status of an employee. Our client had not streamlined these internal procedures in the past, which was disadvantageous in this situation. If the Labor Commission decided the employee had the right to receive overtime payment, the actual penalty may have totaled more than what the employee had requested by many thousands of dollars.
 
Managing partner Ron Chauvel and the client agreed that a better option was to make a settlement offer of a smaller amount of compensation to the employee before the date of the hearing set by the Labor Commission Office. 
 
The employee accepted the offer and our client was pleased with the result.  This decision not only saved him the time he would have spent attending the Labor Commission Conference and Hearing but helped him avoid a potentially large wage award. Through this process, the client was also educated regarding the California labor laws and revised its policies accordingly to avoid future wage claims.
 
The client was especially happy to have a native Chinese speaker present during our meetings. “[It was] comfortable to work with Ron and Elle,” he said. “They were very friendly and understood what [I needed]. They worked after hours and responded to my email and call in the same way I rushed to them. Big thanks Ron and Elle.”
 

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