Despite a successful keynote appearance at a safety conference, this has been a hard week.
I am passionate about the work that I do, and most of the time I really enjoy it. It provides me with a very good quality of life, for which I am grateful. I generally feel pretty fortunate most of the time.
But none of it comes for free, and I am not talking about overhead. It can wear you down. Wage and hour law in California has become nothing but straight out extortion, and a money game for lawyers. The class actions all settle, and the workers get pennies apiece while attorneys take 6 or 7 figures in fees and costs. It doesn’t matter what the actual truth is, and I have never seen one of these cases make workers’ lives better. It has stripped me of any idealism I ever had about the practice of law.
A case I am working on involves a crew of workers at a ranch. They come to work, park their cars, and walk a couple of hundred yards from the parking lot to the time clock. After they punch in, they sit around and shoot the shit while their foremen prepare their work materials, which takes 5-10 minutes. Then the formen call them over, and they ride on little jackrabbit carts (think kei farm truck) and they ride out to work on the ranch. They roll back in at lunch, usually 5-10 minutes before their actual lunch time. They wait around for a few minutes until it is time for lunch, they they punch out for lunch. After lunch, they punch back in, wait for a few minutes for the foremen to get their afternoon supplies together, and ride out to work again. At the end of the day, they roll back in, wait around and socialize for 5-10 minutes for quitting time, then punch out and leave.
These attorneys claim my client os shaving down the workers’ hours by shaving time through rounding and work that occurs off the clock. But they won’t say how, and they will not acknowledge the facts above, which I have seen with my own eyes. They are demanding $1.9 million, and saying they will never settle for less than a million dollars. It will cost my client hundreds of thousands of dollars to make a record to defend this case. There is no answer.
I have seen plenty of bad behavior by employers, and plenty of meritorious cases. But this is bullshit, and no one is getting cheated. But there will be no justice of any sort for this family farm, just lawyers, including me, draining their money. It disgusts me.
This is why I am on a five year plan to get out of this business after my kids are out of high school. It’s wearing me out.
Sorry for the downer, Oppo. I will perk up after I work on Halloween today. I will unload some strategy and direction to my litigation team this morning, and will come home to work on my animatronics.