Fenwick Partners with Legal Aid Marin to Help Underpaid Worker Get His Due

Mountain View, CA (March 1, 2013)- Fenwick & West partnered with Legal Aid of Marin (LAM) staff attorney Joanna Shalleck-Klein, a Fenwick-sponsored Equal Justice Works Fellow, to help Francisco Hernandez, a monolingual, low-wage worker, on a claim alleging that his former employer, Larkspur Econo Gas, had systematically underpaid him over the course of his six-year employment.

In June 2011, Mr. Hernandez came to LAM’s weekly clinic at Canal Alliance in San Rafael seeking help with unpaid wages for work he had performed as a cashier at Larkspur Econo Gas. LAM’s investigation suggested that the gas station had underpaid Hernandez – who had regularly worked five days a weeks, eight to sixteen hours per day – by approximately $30 to $200 per week, largely through two main schemes. First, according to Mr. Hernandez, his manager regularly required him to work hours under false names to avoid paying him overtime. Second, Mr. Hernandez reported that his manager forced him to work some of his hours completely off the books.

After months of unsuccessfully pursuing Larkspur for production of payroll records as provided by the Labor Code, on April 3, 2012, LAM filed a lawsuit on behalf of Mr. Hernandez in Marin County Superior Court. The complaint alleged that, under the California Labor Code and the Business and Professions Code, Larkspur Econo Gas owed its former employee over $43,000 in unpaid wages, premium wages for withheld meal and rest breaks, waiting time penalties and damages for failure to provide wage stubs. Ms. Shalleck-Klein then sought assistance from Fenwick, which the firm provided on a pro bono basis through Saundra Riley, a senior associate in the employment practices group.

Prior to engaging in any formal discovery, the parties entered private mediation. While Larkspur Econo Gas denied any wrongdoing, it agreed to pay, and has now paid, Mr. Hernandez $25,000. Mr. Hernandez expressed satisfaction with the settlement and deep gratitude for Fenwick and LAM’s efforts on his behalf.