How to get EDD benefits while you cannot work due to Coronavirus

Child wearing mask due to Covid


California School Emergency Leave and Unemployment Benefits May Help Some Workers

If you miss work to care for your child after their school closes, you may be eligible for Unemployment Insurance. [JH2] The Employment Development Department is handling school closure applications on a case-by-case basis, and encouraging claims for partial benefits where the employer is allowing reduced hours, but has not yet clarified whether the usual requirements of being available for work will be waived where the employer does not allow reduced hours. Employees should apply right away since the usual 7-day waiting period for benefits has been waived due to COVID-19.[JH3]  Read more about this below.

Also, under California’s Labor Code, employers with 25 or more employees working at the same location must allow employees to take up to 40 hours of leave per year to address an emergency at a child’s day care or school. However, an employee must still notify the employer in advance.


California Workers Can Apply for Wage Replacement for Disability and Reduced Work Hours

Two state-run programs are available for employees [JT4] in need of wage replacement to support social distancing for their health and safety – State Disability Insurance (SDI) and Unemployment Insurance(UI), both administered by the Employment Development Department (EDD). Governor Newsom’s Executive Order waived the usual one-week waiting period for people who are unemployed and/or disabled as a result of COVID-19.

State Disability Insurance eligibility defines disability to include any illness or injury preventing regular or customary work. Benefits cover 60-70 percent of wages up to a maximum of $1,300 per week for up to 52 weeks, and are tax-exempt. A worker must be unable to work for at least eight days, and must submit medical certification by a health practitioner prior to issuance of benefits. Applications may be submitted within 49 days of the first date they had to stop working because of disability.

While the EDD hasn’t yet confirmed that applications citing only age-related vulnerabilities will be approved, they have confirmed that people who cannot work due to “having or being exposed” to COVID-19, if certified by a medical professional, can file a Disability Insurance claim.

Older workers who are in an age-defined vulnerable population and who obtain medical certification of their age related condition as an “illness” may also be eligible for disability benefits, although there is no certain answer to this question yet. When doctors or other healthcare providers are filling in the disability forms, they should consider using “R54,” the International Classification of Diseases code for “age-related physical debility” when there isn’t a more specific condition.

EDD also administers Paid Family Leave (PFL) benefits, allowing up to six weeks of PFL at the SDI rate to Californians who are unable to work because they are caring for an ill or quarantined family member with COVID-19, if certified by a medical professional.

If an employer closes the workplace due to COVID-19 and doesn’t pay or only partially pays its employees, workers can apply for Unemployment Insurance (UI) or, if eligible, SDI. Unemployment Insurance benefits cover approximately 50 percent of wages, up to a maximum of $450 per week, which is taxable. [JH5]

The EDD has outlined how self-employed, independent contractors can qualify for UI. State Disability Insurance is only available for independent contractors who have enrolled in Elective Coverage. Workers are often misclassified as independent contractors, and may have the same rights to benefits as employees under AB 5, even if their employer calls them an “independent contractor.”


Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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EEOC Sues Chipotle Over Rampant Female on Male Sexual Harassment (Including Sex Scorecard)

The EEOC is suing a Chipotle Mexican Grill in San Jose, California on behalf of a male shift manager. The 22-year-old claims that he experienced sexual harassment and retaliation during his employment. Here is what we know about the allegations: 

  1. A female general manager verbally and physically harassed him, including slapping and groping his genitals. 
  2. The female GM kept a daily “sex scoreboard” in the office that revealed details of her staff’s sex lives.  
  3. She told the complainant that she wanted to watch him and his girlfriend have sex. She also told him that she wanted to have a threesome with them. 
  4. The GM frequently discussed inappropriate topics such as her sex life and the sex lives of her staff members.
  5. The complainant reported this behavior to upper management but was later locked in the walk-in freezer and forced to quit. 

Though Chipotle refuses to comment on the specifics of this lawsuit, a spokesperson has come forward saying that the company doesn’t tolerate “discrimination or harassment in any form” and that they will take “appropriate action” whenever reports of harassment come forth in the restaurant. 

How common do you think “female on male” sexual harassment takes place in the workplace?

*image by Mike Mozart

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Independent Los Angeles Movie Theater “Cinefamily” Temporarily Closed Due to Serious Sexual Harassment Problem and “Rape Culture”

An independent (and nonprofit) movie theatre in Los Angeles has temporarily shut its doors after an anonymous email surfaced alleging a hostile working environment and misogynistic company culture. The email accuses Shadie Elnashai, the VP of the Board of Directors and Hadrian Belove, executive managing director, of assaulting and abusing ther younger, female subordinates. Both have since resigned.  The theatre will remain closed until further notice. Here is what we know about the allegations: 

1. 17 former Cinefamily employees chronicled deeply rooted sexism in the workplace, starting from day one of the theater’s opening ten years ago.

2. Shadie Elnashai, former board vice president of Cinefamily, was known for repeatedly flirting with staff and volunteers as well has openly having sexual relationships with them. 

3.  Shadie resigned from Cinefamily after an email surfaced accusing him of raping multiple women and then verbally threatening the women into silence. Because the email is anonymous, it is unclear who the accuser is. 

4. Executive Managing Director Trevor Jones said that when he started two years ago, he made it very clear that relationships between upper management and employees would not be tolerated. 

5. According to screenshots provided to Buzzfeed News, Simon Oré (the former board president of Cinefamily) said that the “only reason [a staff member] is there is cause H wants to fuck her.” H is referring to Hadrian Belove, the now former executive creative director. 

6. Employees say that they often saw Belove leave through the back door after hours with volunteers. 

7. Karina Chacham, a former volunteer, was told that Belove liked to “test the new meat.”

8. Chacham admits that she saw Belove receiving oral sex from a volunteer during a backyard party for employees. 

9. A former programmer, William Morris, alleges that the company culture at Cinefamily was not only misogynistic but an “active rape culture”. 

10. When Matt Cornell, the former theatre manager, was crafting the first mission statement for Cinefamily with Belove back in 2007, he suggested including a sexual harassment policy. Belove was against the idea. 

11. A former employee alleges that Belove once said out loud that he started Cinefamily in order to “get laid.” 

12. Belove slept with employees and then showed them preferential treatment afterward (like offering them promotions.) 

13. Mario Muñoz, a former volunteer coordinator, said that Belove requested he recruit more “hot girls” to be volunteers. 

14. In 2014, a lawsuit was filed against Belove and Cinefamily by a former employee. The case was settled out of court. 

15. During a private screening to wealthy donors, Belove inappropriately introduced employee Christina Poppy to the crowd. “Here is Tina – isn’t she beautiful and stylish! If you are lucky maybe she will give you her telephone number.” Not only did Belove essentially pimp her out to the wealthy donors, but he also made her sleep in the same bed as him during a trip to the Sundance Film Festival. 

Belove has responded to the allegations against him claiming that they were made by bitter ex-employees that he’s fired over the years. He goes on to say that they banded together to ruin the reputation of Cinefamily. If these two men, Shadie Elnashai and Hadrian Belove, are indeed innocent, why did they both resign following the anonymous email? 

Nothing in California (or federal law) outright forbids consensual workplace sexual relationships, but it is illegal if the sexual relationship becomes non-consensual, leads to quid pro quo, favoritism, or exploitation, which seems to be exactly what happened here. 

*image by Jake Hills

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Employment Defense Lawyer Can Be Sued for Retaliation for Reporting Plaintiff to ICE for Deportation

Recently, an employee filed suit against his employer in state court. In what is now being considered retaliation, the employer’s attorney contacted ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to have the plaintiff removed from the United States at his deposition.   

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a retaliation claim can be made against any person regardless of whether the action is directly from the employer as long as the person is acting in the employer’s interest.  

Here is what we know about the case: 

The plaintiff, Jose Arnulfo Arias, began working for Angelo Dairy in California in 1995. When Arias was hired, the form regarding his employment eligibility in the US (I9) was not completed. the Angelos used Arias’ illegal employment status in the US to manipulate him. When Arias informed the Angelos that he was offered another position at another dairy, they threatened to report him to federal authorities. Arias continued his employment with the Angelos for fear of being deported. 

In 2006, Arias sued Angelo Dairy for a multitude of workplace violations including refusing to pay overtime, rest, or meal periods. The California Superior Court set a trial date on August 15, 2011. 

Ten weeks prior to the start of the trial date, Anthony Raimondo, the Angelos’ attorney, contacted ICE so that they would remove Arias from the US, a plan that would single handedly derail Arias’ lawsuit. When Arias became aware of the deportation conspiracy against him, he began to suffer from anxiety, mental anguish, and other emotional distress— fearing that he would be separated from his family. 

It seems that Raimondo has assisted with at least five deportations in the same manner. He reaches out to ICE on behalf of the employers he is representing, turning in employees who have asserted their workplace rights. 

So does this mean that Raimondo can be sued for retaliation, even though he never actually employed Arias? Yes. “Congress made it illegal for any person, not just an employer, to retaliate against any employee for reporting conduct under or related to violations of the federal minimum wage or maximum hour laws, whether or not the employer’s conduct does in fact violate those laws.”

How offensive do you consider the attorney’s conduct?  How much do you think the attorney should be liable for his actions?

*photo by Jenny Hill

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Jury Awards $2.5 Million to Former UC Riverside Chief Counsel for Wrongful Termination

Michele Coyle, the former chief campus counsel at University of California Riverside from 2006 to 2012, was recently awarded $2.5 million by a Riverside jury. The jury concluded that University officials fired her out of retaliation when she reported the “rampant gender discrimination” she and other females were experiencing. Instead of investigating Coyle’s claims, they fired her one week before a federal “equal opportunity” audit was scheduled. Therefore, Coyle claimed that UC officials retaliated against her because she refused to comply with their discriminatory practices or whitewash the facts. 

Coyle claimed that the Gender Discrimination she and other women experienced included: 

  1. Dallas M. Rabenstein, the UC Riverside Executive Vice Chancellor, allegedly preferred hiring, promoting, and increasing the salaries of men over women. 
  2. Rabenstein intentionally lied about the salary differences between his male and female employees in a federal audit. 
  3. Rabenstein refused to accommodate the needs of female employees who were mothers of young children. 
  4. Rabenstein referred to some females as “biddies”.
  5. Rabenstein referred to females asking for raises as being overly aggressive. 

The jury ruled that university officials indeed violated the state labor code and the state Fair Employment and Housing Act. This is just the tip of the iceberg though. The Regents have been heavily criticized for their failure to properly investigate and handle sexual harassment and discrimination claims such as the sexual harassment claims that surfaced against the Dean of the UC Berkeley Law School. The President of the UC Regents, Janet Napolitano, recently stated “We must, and we will, do a better job of investigating all claims of sexual harassment or sexual violence thoroughly and fairly.” Let’s hope she means it.

*image by

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Wells Fargo Being Sued By Former Employees for Refusing to Open Fraudulent Accounts

Former employees of Wells Fargo Bank, Alexander Polonsky and Brian Zaghi (among others) are suing the company for wrongful termination after not meeting their “impossible” quotas. The suit claims that they were made examples of so that the other employees would know that they would have to adopt fraudulent behavior in order to avoid losing their jobs. The senior executives who encouraged the fraudulent behavior, however, were not terminated.

Wells Fargo Bank, one of the nation’s largest banks, is currently being scrutinized for opening accounts (both deposit and credit accounts) without first obtaining permission from customers. The total number of accounts opened may be as high as 2 million (or more.) Regulators fined the bank $185 million last month for the following fraudulent behavior:

  1. District managers of Wells Fargo were constantly monitoring the progress of their employees (as much as four times daily.)
  2. DM’s told employees that they should do whatever it takes to meet their goals. 
  3. Employees were given an absurd sales goal: to open as much as 8 Wells Fargo accounts per household.
  4. Employees who didn’t meet their goals were required to work longer hours, without pay.

What’s In It For Wells Fargo?

The impossible quotas were meant to push employees to a breaking point that would make them comfortable with the idea of cheating their customers. The increased number of accounts would then drive up the stock of Wells Fargo, thus inflating the CEO’s wealth. Wells Fargo could then point the blame at their eager $12/hour sales associates who were just trying to make ends meet, instead of themselves. 

In total, the company fired many employees because they failed to meet the fraudulent sales quotas. It’s expected that more wrongful termination cases against the banking giant will be coming forth very soon, especially in Los Angeles/Southern California area.

What do you think about this widespread fraud that Wells Fargo pushed onto thousands of its employees?

*image by Mike Mozart

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Cheerleaders File Wage & Hour Class Action Against NFL’s Raiders

*UPDATE: This article was updated on December 12th, 2014. 

Can you believe the NFL’s Oakland Raiders pay their cheerleaders only $1,250 per year?!  Well they do.  In fact, the Raiders actually pay many cheerleaders less if you take into account their unreimbursed expenses and fines they give to their cheerleaders.

That is why the Raiders are now being sued for failure to pay minimum wages and overtime and illegally requiring cheerleaders to pay expenses out of their $125-per-game salaries.  The Raiderettes allege they do 2-3 rehearsals per week, performances at 10 charity events each season, and participate in the team’s annual swimsuit calendar photo shoot.  Along with the games themselves, they allege that this makes their wages below $5 per hour. California’s minimum wage is $8 per hour.

The suit also alleges that the Raiders:

1) impose arbitrary fines on the cheerleaders for such offenses as bringing the wrong pom-poms to practice;

2) illegally withhold the Raiderettes’ salaries until the end of each season, in violation of California law requiring pay at least twice a month; and

3) illegally prohibits the cheerleaders from discussing their wages with one another.

A Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader has since filed a similar lawsuit.

What do you think of Raiderettes getting paid so little while the players make millions?

UPDATE: According to this article, the NFL settled a claim with the Raiderettes for $1.25 million. This settlement will cover back pay for over 90 cheerleaders between the years of 2010 and 2013.

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Shirazi Law Firm, PC

Shirazi Law Firm, PC

1875 Century Park East,
Suite 1025,
Los Angeles, CA 90067

Phone: 310 400 5891
Fax: 888 908 7359