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Labor and Employment Law

Ca. Labor & Emp't Rev. March 2018, Volume 32 No. 2

Message From the Chair

By Thomas A. Lenz

Thomas Lenz is a partner in the Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo law firm (Cerritos and Pasadena offices). He advises and represents employers on labor and employment law. He attended Marquette University (B.A.) and Louisiana State University Law Center (J.D.). He began his career with National Labor Relations Board Region 21 (Los Angeles). He teaches at the USC Gould School of Law. Serving the Section since 2012, he has participated in conferences and presentations as well as programming and appearances on the Your Legal Rights radio show (KALW-FM 91.7 San Francisco and www.kalw.org) on topics of workplace law.

Recently, I thought back on a case I tried early in my career, while I was at the National Labor Relations Board. I was assigned the case from the time a charge was filed by an individual against his employer. I investigated the case, interviewing and taking statements from numerous Spanish-speaking witnesses. I contacted the employer to explain the allegations. The employer did not seek advice of counsel during the investigation. My inquiry into the issues was unencumbered by objections or, for that matter, any of the procedures of civil discovery process, since this was a federal administrative proceeding.

The largely undisputed facts were these. A group of nearly 20 janitors worked in office buildings in Orange County. They were paid at various rates, some of which were task-based rather than hourly. Some of the employees received pay that was less than the minimum wage. (At the NLRB, we had no jurisdiction to enforce minimum wage laws. Still, this spoke to me about how employees might be treated in their workplace.)

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