What’s fair?

As an employee, you may have signed a “mandatory arbitration agreement” when you began work for your employer. This means that the employer has taken away your right to bring certain actions against them through the traditional lawsuit process. Thankfully, all hope isn’t lost! While the arbitration process may not be as “advantageous” to the employee in theory, that may not be completely true. Employers are required to pay for the costs of arbitration, which can be thousands of dollars in up front cost.

Another factor that seems to weigh in the employer’s favor is that “class action waivers” are now implied in all mandatory arbitration agreements. As an employee this means that you and your fellow employees cannot join a single lawsuit against your employer. The good news is that the prevention of a “class” allows for each individual claim to be determined individually by the arbitrator. This means that each employee’s claim will be determined by the facts of their individual case. This not only can cost your employer thousands in filing fees, it can potentially increase the settlement amount for each claim.

Attorney Jay Forester at Forester Haynie, PLLC says,

“While individual mandatory arbitration may be daunting for employees, experienced legal counsel dedicated to employee rights can help you navigate this convoluted process and potentially recover owed wages from your employer.”

If you or someone you know works tirelessly but is not being paid the way they should, please contact the experienced attorneys at Forester Haynie, PLLC. Out attorneys have handled claims for thousands of employees, and have faced down numerous employers with mandatory arbitration agreements.

Forester Haynie Advocates for Workers in D.C.

On February 28, 2019, legislators introduced the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal (FAIR) Act, a bill to amend Title 9 of the U.S. code, which would eliminate the practice of forced arbitration.

Many corporations require as a condition of employment that their employees waive their rights to a trial by judge or jury and instead bring their claims to a private arbitration. These mandatory agreements have faced mounting criticisms, particularly because of the denial of access to the courts and the confidentiality requirements.

During a recent trip to Washington, D.C., Jay Forester met with policy advisors on both sides to to discuss how, in most instances, mandatory  workplace arbitration agreements have negatively impacted the rights of Forester Haynie’s clients and whether the best solution would come through the federal FAIR Act or at the state level.

While in D.C., Jay had the opportunity to visit the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, dedicated to the 32nd President of the United States known for his New Deal that restored prosperity to Americans. It is important to remember and honor the work of historical advocates who have contributed to the betterment of society, just as it is important to strive to become them.

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Recently, Jay has met with and discussed equivalent state level legislation pertaining to arbitration agreements with legislators. While Forester Haynie’s advocacy is typically fought through the courtroom, their attorneys are well aware that advocacy is a long-term game.

Working conditions have greatly improved since FDR’s presidency. Our firm is dedicated to ensuring that workers continue to see improvements–even if that means knocking on the door of the Capitol.

Work Shouldn’t Suck, but for Many it Does

The attorneys at Forester Haynie have subscribed to one consistent message throughout the firm’s existence: work shouldn’t suck. To us, this means a lot more than those three little words might suggest. It means employees’ rights should be protected and their interests should be considered. It means employers should treat their employees with respect and integrity every day. And it means everyone in the office should be appreciated for their hard work.

As a firm that helps members of our community when employers violate the law in their employment practices, we are painfully aware that not every employer shares our firm’s values. What did surprise us, however, was how common it is for law firms in particular to underpay their clerks and interns- or not pay them at all. Unlike other entry-level positions, law firms typically hire law students for these positions, meaning they are hiring individuals with Bachelor’s degrees and career experience at pay rates that simply are not competitive with other markets. According to PayScale, the average hourly rate for legal interns is just $15, meaning many interns make less and could be living in areas with high standards of living. This is, of course, assuming interns are being paid at all.

Unpaid internships are common at many firms, and particularly so in the public interest area, where it has become the norm for those seeking public interest positions to work for free. Over the years, it has remained a consistent practice for many law firms to not pay their legal interns. Partially to blame are the lax regulations and inconsistent case law. The Department of Labor uses a multi-factor test to determine whether interns are employees under the FLSA, thereby entitling them to being paid the minimum wage. This test turns on the unique circumstances of each case, though, making uniformity difficult.

Undeniably, the prevalence of unpaid internships has a deterrence effect, where law students from under-privileged backgrounds or with considerable student loan debt will feel it the hardest. If students cannot afford to take unpaid positions, they may leave the practice of law altogether or feel forced to pursue higher-paying areas of law when other areas are in need of passionate attorneys.

From Day 1, Forester Haynie has understood the value its law clerks, interns, and paralegals bring to the firm. In many ways, our interns are the backbone of our organization, working behind the scenes to better the community and seek justice. Paying our interns, and providing them with the skills and insight they will need when pursuing their own careers, is just one way we show our appreciation for these critical members of our firm. We strive every day to help those in our community who have suffered at the hand of their employers, so we understand that ensuring work doesn’t suck means starting with us.

Forester Haynie’s nationwide wage practice continues to grow: Arkansas and New Mexico

We’ve done it once again!

In this past week, Jay Forester closed two cases in two separate states in a successful attempt to recover lost wages for pizza delivery drivers. Jay is no stranger to the complexities of federal law when it comes to underpaid wages, overtime pay, and the Fair Labor Standards Act.

State lines may cause other law firms to turn down cases, but we’ve successfully handled cases in Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and many others.

Based out of Dallas, Texas, it is not only exciting to secure lost earnings for our clients in other states, but also allows us to assist many more clients who may or may not be within the boundaries of our state

  • Are you working overtime and not having it properly documented or appear on your paycheck?
  • Are you “misclassified” as a worker? i.e. Not paid a proper wages because you are considered an independent contractor or paid only on a salaried basis?
  • Are you forced to clock out when “labor is too high” but still expected to run deliveries, wash dishes, or do prep work until it’s finished or you clock back in to close out the night?

These could all be considered major violations of employment law and you could be entitled to back wages and statutory penalties just like the delivery drivers we’ve helped out most recently in New Mexico and Arkansas.

Whether it be in Dallas, New Mexico, Arkansas, or your state, do not let employers continue to underpay you. Contact us and let’s discuss your options for recovering lost wages that are rightfully yours.

We’re in this Together!

 

Forester Haynie Certifies Another Class Action: How Kentucky law Benefits Employees

January 25, 2019, Forester Haynie certified a class action lawsuit in Kentucky against Papa Johns franchise Willis & Brock Foods, Inc. for failing to pay its delivery drivers the federal minimum wage as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Class actions allow individuals to collectively bring similar claims against the same defendant and give access to the courts to those who may not have the resources on their own to bring a cause of action.

One way many employers across the U.S. have sought to limit employees’ ability to form class actions against them is to require their employees to sign arbitration agreements as a condition of employment. Arbitration agreements are provisions that require employees submit any and all grievances against their employer to private arbitration as opposed to bringing a claim to court.

In Kentucky, however, the Kentucky Supreme Court has held employers cannot force employees to sign arbitration agreements, so the law in Kentucky is particularly friendly to employees seeking the courts and to form class actions.

Forester Haynie is dedicated to ensuring employers across the nation are paying their employees the legal minimum wage. If you have been a delivery driver in the last three years at one of the many Kentucky franchises owned by Papa Johns and want to join this class action, call our office toll-free at 214-210-2100 or email us at info@foresterhaynie.com.