FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Former Senior Director Sues Burr Pilger Mayer, Inc. (BPM):  Suit Highlights Retaliation, Gender Discrimination, and Failure to Pay Wages at the “largest California-based accounting and consulting firm”

EL SEGUNDO, CA (October 10, 2014)— Sandy Holder, one of the top professional service business development executives in Northern California, recently filed a lawsuit against Burr Pilger Mayer, Inc. (BPM), where she previously held the position of Senior Director, Business Development, with a focus on the SEC practice, which BPM’s website claims is “one of the largest in the U.S.”

Sandy came to BPM with an established track record of rapidly growing client bases and revenue for her employers – having held senior positions at PwC and Grant Thornton.  According to the lawsuit, just five months after Sandy joined BPM, BPM attempted to materially alter Sandy’s commission structure by seeking to (1) delay the payment date for her bonus and (2) change the payment from lump sum to being spread out over a number of months.  Less than a year later, when her first full year bonus was due, BPM’s CEO, Curtis Burr, stated that rather than pay her according to her contract, the “firm wanted to pay her something that they thought was fair.”

The suit further alleges that Sandy was subject to intimidating, threatening, condescending, and dismissive conduct from BPM’s Chairman of the Board, Richard Bellucci, who ultimately retaliatorily terminated her.  According to the Complaint after a successful “CFO Wine and Dine” event hosted by Sandy on behalf of the firm, Mr. Bellucci attempted to appropriate an unopened $2,500 case of wine to take home with him.  As the wine was property of the firm, and its shareholders, Sandy objected to Bellucci’s demand.  Less than two weeks later, BPM terminated Sandy because she was allegedly not a “good fit” for the SEC Group, which is led by firm Chairman Rich Bellucci.

“While BPM’s website outwardly touts values like “Integrity” and “Respect”, the firm’s conduct as alleged in the Complaint not only lacks integrity and respect for female employees, but also lacks respect for California law and California public policy,” said  Chris Adishian, attorney at Adishian Law Group, P.C. and one of the lawyers representing Sandy.

The lawsuit, filed in San Francisco County Superior Court, seeks damages for lost wages, benefits and career opportunities, emotional distress, special damages, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees and costs. Click here for a copy of the Complaint.

About Adishian Law Group, P.C.

Adishian Law Group (http://www.AdishianLaw.com) is a California law firm with a statewide practice in the areas of Corporate law, Employment law, Real Estate law and Mediation Services. As of June 2014, the firm has represented corporate and individual clients located across 20 California counties, 7 States outside of California and 9 foreign countries in over 380 legal matters.  Adishianlaw.com is one of the oldest continually operating law firm websites on the Internet.  The firm serves its clientele via three offices located in the major business hubs of El Segundo, Palo Alto and San Francisco.

For more information about this press release, contact Chris Adishian:

Telephone: 310.726.0888 | 650.646.4022 | 415.955.0888
Email: askalg@adishianlaw.com
Social Media: @algpc  | LinkedIn | Facebook | YouTube

Unpaid wages, unpaid bonuses or unpaid commissions all refer to the same basic wrong, the employee was not paid!  Litigation for unpaid wages, bonuses or commissions are among the most frequently filed lawsuits in America.

In an earlier blog post, we highlighted that under California statutory law, “wages” are broadly defined, and that case law has specifically included “bonuses” in the definition of wages.

Why it matters….

Pursuant to California Labor Code § 201 et. seq., if an employer discharges an employee, the wages earned and unpaid at the time of discharge are due and payable immediately. Simply put wages are due on the date of termination. If you are employer you should build that into your planning when conducting terminations or layoffs. If you are employee, you should make sure that you are paid all wages due on your date of termination, and certainly prior to signing any release. Failure to properly and timely pay wages can have consequences far in excess of the underlying amount due, including:

  1. waiting time penalties;
  2. interest and
  3. attorney’s fees.
Waiting Time Penalties

California Labor Code § 203 “[i]f an employer willfully fails to pay, without abatement or reduction, in accordance with sections 201, 201.5, 202, and 205.5, any wages of an employee who is discharged or who quits, the wages of the employee shall continue as a penalty from the due date thereof at the same rate until paid or until an action therefore is commenced.”

Interest

California Labor Code § 218.6 further provides that “[i]n any action brought for the nonpayment of wages, the court shall award interest on all due and unpaid wages at [an annual rate of 10 per cent] as mandated by subdivision (b) of § 3289[1] of the California Civil Code, which shall accrue from the date that the wages were due and payable as provided in Part 1 (commencing with § 200) of Division 2.”

Attorney’s Fees

“In any action brought for the nonpayment of wages, fringe benefits, or health and welfare or pension fund contributions, the court shall award reasonable attorney’s fees and costs to the prevailing party…” Labor Code §218.5. With the cost to get to trial in high-stakes cases running well into six figures on the plaintiff’s side, there is substantial exposure to a defendant company that fails to properly pay wages.

About Adishian Law Group, P.C.

Adishian Law Group is a California law firm with a statewide practice in the areas of Corporate law, Employment law, Real Estate law and Mediation Services. Adishianlaw.com is one of the oldest continually operating law firm websites on the Internet. The firm serves its clientele via three offices located in the major business hubs of El Segundo, Palo Alto and San Francisco. As of March 2013, Adishian Law Group, P.C. has represented individual and corporate clients located across 20 California counties, 4 States outside of California and 9 foreign countries — in over 340 legal matters.

For more information about this topic or to speak with Chris Adishian:

Telephone: 310.726.0888 | 650.646.4022 | 415.955.0888
Email: askalg@adishianlaw.com
Social Media: @algpc |  LinkedIn | Facebook | YouTube

What amounts are included in wages? We get variations on this question all the time including, “Is my bonus part of my wages?”

The Law

Wages are defined under California Labor Code § 200 to include “all amounts for labor performed by employees of every description, whether the amount is fixed or ascertained by the standard of time, task, piece, commission basis, or other method of calculation.” This is a very broad definition that includes virtually any form of compensation used in the modern economy, so long as it is “fixed or ascertainable” by some “method of calculation.”

Yes, under California law bonuses are wages. Ralphs Grocery Co. v. Sup. Ct. (Swanson) (2003) 112 Cal. 4th1090, 1103, 5 Cal. Rptr. 3d 687, 697.

About Adishian Law Group, P.C.

Adishian Law Group is a California law firm with a statewide practice in the areas of Corporate law, Employment law, Real Estate law and Mediation Services. Adishianlaw.com is one of the oldest continually operating law firm websites on the Internet. The firm serves its clientele via three offices located in the major business hubs of El Segundo, Palo Alto and San Francisco. As of March 2013, Adishian Law Group, P.C. has represented individual and corporate clients located across 20 California counties, 4 States outside of California and 9 foreign countries — in over 340 legal matters.

For more information about this topic or to speak with Chris Adishian:

Telephone: 310.726.0888 | 650.646.4022 | 415.955.0888
Email: askalg@adishianlaw.com
Social Media: @algpc |   LinkedIn | Facebook | YouTube