In the midst of early voting for the Florida Presidential Preference Primary, which takes place on March 17, 2020, legal and community organizations are reminding voters and county representatives that Spanish-language ballots, signage, assistance and related materials are required in 32 Florida counties because of the U.S. District Court’s preliminary injunction order in Rivera Madera v. Lee. The preliminary injunction is a result of the August 2018 lawsuit filed by Altshuler Berzon LLP, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, Demos, and SEIU on behalf of civic engagement groups Faith in Florida, Hispanic Federation, Mi Familia Vota Education Fund, UnidosUS, and Vamos4PR, and individual voter Marta Rivera Madera, a Puerto Rican, Spanish-speaking voter.
On March 5, 2020, Altshuler Berzon LLP attorneys moved to preliminarily enjoin new water project operations and block environmental rollbacks adopted by the Trump Administration that will threaten the survival of multiple west coast fish species. Altshuler Berzon serves as lead counsel to a coalition of fishing groups (including the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations and Golden State Salmon Association) and conservation groups (including NRDC, Defenders of Wildlife, and The Bay Institute). The new federal rollbacks are authorized by October 2019 Biological Opinions issued under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by the National Marine Fisheries Service and US Fish and Wildlife Service and implement a campaign promise to loosen environmental rules made by Donald Trump in 2016 when he was campaigning for President in the San Joaquin Valley of California. The case is PCFFA v. Ross, N.D. Cal. Case No. 3:19-cv-07897-LB.
The motion for a preliminary injunction argues that the Biological Opinions are arbitrary, capricious and contrary to the ESA, and that if the US Bureau of Reclamation relies on them to increase its water diversions and water exports in California’s huge federal Central Valley Project, the result will be irreparable harm to winter run Chinook salmon and a number of other fish species that are already in dire shape. A hearing on the motion is scheduled for this spring. Numerous major water districts and irrigation interests have moved to intervene in the case on the side of the Trump Administration.
Largest ever wage theft settlement against McDonald’s also includes extensive injunctive relief
On March 4, 2020, the L.A. Superior Court granted preliminary approval to a pathbreaking class action settlement in Maria Sanchez, et al. v. McDonald’s Restaurants of California, Inc., et al., that provides $26 million and comprehensive injunctive relief to approximately 38,000 employees of McDonald’s corporate-owned restaurants throughout California.
Although the trial court had awarded only $55,000 in back wages after trial plus $770,000 in civil penalties, with no injunctive relief, Altshuler Berzon LLP attorneys were able to turn the case around while the case was pending on appeal, and negotiated a settlement that requires McDonald’s to:
- Pay $26 million plus all costs of settlement administration and notice;
- Create a mechanism for paying the one-hour wage premium required by California law to all crew members for each day McDonald’s fails to provide them a legally compliant, timely meal period or rest break;
- Permit crew members to leave the restaurants during their meal periods, including on overnight shifts, without restriction or threat of discipline;
- Maintain detailed electronic time records that accurately track the time and duration of each meal period and rest break;
- Provide additional uniforms to crew members whenever their McDonald’s uniforms become stained, greasy or worn out;
- No longer make workers take rest breaks at the start or end of their shifts rather than as close as practicable to the middle of those shifts; and
- Provide extensive training to managers and crew members about the changes required by the settlement agreement.
These provisions resolve each of the legal claims alleged in plaintiffs’ class action complaint, which was filed in 2013.
Under the settlement-approval schedule ordered by the Superior Court, class notice will be distributed to class members on April 15, 2020, and a final approval hearing is scheduled for August 6, 2020.
Altshuler Berzon LLP attorneys Michael Rubin, B.J. Chisholm, Matthew Murray, and Amanda Lynch are class counsel, along with co-counsel from Matern Law Group, PC and Cohen, Milstein, Sellers & Toll PLLC.