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May 2013 Archives

University of Pennsylvania Health System Accused Of Wrongful Termination

Freda Willis, a 56 year-old former employee of The University of Pennsylvania Health System  has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the organization, claiming that after 20 years of service she was fired because of her medical conditions. (2:11-cv-05294-JD)

Los Angeles is the dog bite capital

Last week was national Dog Bite Prevention Week and the U.S. Post Office is shining a spotlight on U.S. cities where mail carriers are most at-risk for getting bitten.  Unfortunately,  Los Angeles has received the dubious distinction of being the dog bite capital at #1 on the list.   http://about.usps.com/news/national-releases/2013/pr13_052.htm

Insurance Adjusters...Scarier Than The Boogieman!

One of the most difficult and delicate aspects of handling an auto accident claim is dealing with the dreaded insurance adjuster. Generally, within a few days of an accident you will be contacted by an adjuster from the responsible party's insurance company attempting to settle the claim. Regardless of how friendly or sympathetic the insurance adjuster seems, beware...the adjuster is not your friend!

What to do if debt collectors keep calling you for someone else...

After a long day at work, the phone rings and your child answers it and says. "There is someone on the phone saying that  you owe them money!"  Annoyed, you grab the phone and on the other end is a debt collector demanding payment for a debt you do not owe, to a creditor you have never heard of.   You inform him that you do not owe any money, but he insists that you do. He reads your name back to you, and you confirm that he has the right name, but the wrong person.

Panda Express to pay $150,000 after an EEOC investigation into sexual harassment

Panda Express, a Chinese fast food restaurant with 1,547 locations throughout the United States must pay $150,000 to settle an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) lawsuit on behalf of 3 female teenagers who were allegedly sexually harassed while working in a Kauai, Hawaii restaurant.

Consumer Sues After Receiving 1,026 calls

In a recent Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) lawsuit heard in a Federal Court, plaintiff Heather Nelson alleged that debt collection agency, Santander Consumer USA called her cell phone 1,026 times and left 116 prerecorded messages over the course of a year.

Owners of a San Diego restaurant criminally indicted for wage theft and other violations

Julie Su, the California Labor Commissioner along with Bonnie M. Dumanis the San Diego County District Attorney recently  announced a grand jury indictment charging father and son team, David and Barry Dadon, owners of the State Street Grill  with 21 felony counts in an ongoing payroll scheme that violated minimum wage laws and California theft laws.

$500,000 in fines against Ursawa and two other Restaurants

Julie Su, California Labor Commissioner Julie issued citations totaling approximately $505,000 to 3 California restaurants for minimum wage, overtime and rest break violations.  The restaurants cited are Urasawa of Beverly Hills, Ikebana  of Salinas and Seoul Jung of Santa Clara.

"All workers are entitled to payment for work they perform.  These citations serve as an important reminder that the Labor Commissioner's Office continues to effectively fight on behalf of California workers," said Christine Baker, Director of the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR).

Los Angeles Clothing Company Fined For Labor Violations

Julie Su, California Labor Commissioner issued citations against O & K Apparel Inc., a Los Angeles based wholesale woman's clothing company, to pay $113,785 in overtime wages for 110 employees, plus penalties of $61,450 for failing to pay proper overtime and $307,250 for issuing improper itemized deduction statements.

Debt collector caught suing the wrong person

New Jersey based debt collection agency, Pressler & Pressler is accused of suing the wrong person, even though that person had told them that he was not the man they were looking for.   According to Marke Hoyte, he was sued by Pressler & Pressler even though his social security number and date of birth did not match the Marke Hoyte's information  in Pressler & Pressler’s file.  It was not until Pressler & Pressler’s attorney spoke with Hoyte in the court's hallway that they finally admitted that they had sued the wrong person and agree to dismiss the case.

Usher sued for wrongful termination and unpaid overtime

Grammy award-winning R&B artist, Usher is being sued by his former nanny, Cecilia Duncan for unpaid overtime wages and wrongful termination.  Usher was ranked named one of the  best-selling artists in American music history by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) after selling a record-breaking 23 million records in the United States and 65 million records worldwide.

AT&T has reached a settlement in an employment lawsuit regarding overtime pay

AT&T, a leader in telecommunication services, including home phones, cell phones and hi-speed internet has reached a settlement with Cathy Birdsong, a former AT&T employee, accusing the company of  failing to pay overtime or provide meal and rest breaks.

The EEOC has filed suit against a nursing home for employment law violations

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a lawsuit against The Founders Pavilion, a nursing and rehabilitation center for alleged violations of federal employment law by asking for genetic information during the hiring process.  The EEOC is also alleging that Founders violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. (Case No. 6:13-cv-06250)

Debt Collector Accused Of Abusing A Consumer Over A Zombie Debt

A consumer has accused Global Holding & Investment Co. of threatening her with a lawsuit in regards to a 20-year old "zombie" debt.   The term "zombie debt" refers to debts that are “obsolete” as defined in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Under the FCRA, accounts are obsolete after 7 1/2 years after the first default which was never cured.

The EEOC makes revisions to its disability discrimination protections

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued four revised documents regarding protection against disability discrimination, consistent with the  agency's strategic plan to provide up-to-date  clarification regarding the requirements of antidiscrimination laws.

Clarifying The CAN-SPAM Act

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)  recently made some clarifications regarding the CAN-SPAM Act. The clarifications include:

BMO Harris Bank is accused of disability discrimination by the EEOC

BMO Harris Bank, one of the largest banks in the Midwest serving personal, commercial and affluent customers will pay $400,000 to 14 former employees under a consent decree resolving a disability discrimination case brought by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  Case: EEOC v. Harris Bank, Civil Action No. 12-cv -7793

Student Loans, Debt Collectors and You

Many desperate debt collectors threaten debtors with immediate wage or bank account garnishment as a tactic to intimidate them into payment.  However, it is important to know that debt collectors who threaten to garnish a consumer’s wages, without being entitled to do so are in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).  Until a creditor has obtained a judgment against a debtor, the collection agency should not be making threats of garnishment.

Rawlins & Rivera caught violating the FDCPA by the FTC

Collection agencies, Rawlins & Rivera, Inc., Ryan & Reed, Inc. and their lawyer has been permanently prohibited from falsely representing the character, amount, or legal status of a consumer’s debt.  As well as, representing that their collector is a lawyer or represents a lawyer, or that if the consumer does not pay, the defendants can or will file a lawsuit against the consumer.

Merck has been slapped with a $100 million discrimination lawsuit

Merck & Co., one of the world's seven largest pharmaceutical companies, is being sued by Kelli Smith, a  Merck sales representative for at approximately $100 million. In her claim Smith alleges that Merck does not give women equal opportunities for advancement and punishes female employees for taking maternity leave.

A $7.5 million racial discrimination settlement is reached with Wet Seal

A three-year investigation conducted by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) determined that clothing retailer, Wet Seal Inc.,  favored a caucasian workforce.  Additionally, the EEOC found that Wet Seal's upper level management had discriminated against Nicole Cogdell, a former store manager  by removing her from her manager's role.

EEOC sues Dynamic Medical for religious discrimination after forcing employees to attend Scientology Courses

Dynamic Medical Services, Inc., a medical and chiropractic services company is being accused, in a lawsuit by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)  of violated federal law by requiring  employees to attend Scientology courses. (Case No. 1:13-cv-21666).

Bank of America is facing a lawsuit claiming unpaid overtime violations

Bank of America is facing an "unpaid overtime" class action lawsuit on behalf of approximately 850 Mortgage Origination Employees including (but not limited to) Retail Sales Managers, Account Executives, LoanLine Sales Manager, Sales Leader, Manager NCS Production, LoanLine Sales Assistant Manager, Renovation Loan Originator, Home Loans Manager, and Mortgage Loan Associates.   (1:12-cv-8681)

Debt collector sued for FDCPA violations after allegedly pretending to be an attorney

Debt Collection agency, National Credit Audit Corporation was accused of violating the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act (FDCPA) after one of its debt collectors allegedly misrepresented herself as an attorney to a debtor's husband in an effort to intimidate them into paying an alleged debt.   After the call the debtor's husband contacted National Credit Audit Corp's main line and was told by the operator that the debt collector who called him was  NOT a lawyer.  The lawsuit further claims that National Credit Audit Corp. falsely threatened to file a lawsuit to attempt to collect a $ 2,118 balance.   The calls from National Credit Audit became so repetitive and harassing that the couple eventually had to change their phone number because of the collection agency’s frequent phone calls.

San Francisco Giants must pay $700,000 in back wages and fines following a Labor Department Investigation

According to a recent San Francisco Chronicle report,  "as a result of  a federal audit by the U.S. Labor Department, The San Francisco Giants baseball team has agreed to pay approximately $700,000 in back wages and penalties to 74 batboys, cooks, clubhouse attendants and other employees for alleged improper salary practices."

Yes! You can sue a debt collector even if you owe the debt

Over the years, many clients have asked me if they are able to sue a debt collector for harassment under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), even if they owe the debt they are being harassed about.  My answer to them is a resounding YES!  The FDCPA protects all consumers against debt collection abuse, whether the consumer owes the debt or not.  In fact, most of my clients who sue debt collectors for FDCPA violations, owe the debt.

You can not go to jail for being late on your credit card

A fairly common, yet illegal tactic of overly aggressive debt collectors is to threaten consumers with arrest if they do not pay their debt.  Some shady debt collectors have even go as far as to illegally impersonate a  police officer and claim to have  a warrant for the consumer's arrest.   This tactic is illegal on a couple of different levels.  For one thing,  it is a felony to impersonate a police officer, but on the consumer level, it is a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) for a debt collector to lie or threaten consumer with arrest.  You cannot go to jail for not paying your debts. End of Story! Any debt collector that tells you differently has violated FDCPA.

FDCPA § 807.  False or misleading representations  [15 USC 1692e]


A debt collector may not use any false, deceptive, or misleading representation in connection with the collection of any debt.  The following conduct is a violation of this section of the FDCPA:

Attorney General Attempts To Close Down A Debt Collector For Violating The FDCPA

New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo sued debt collection agency,  Benning-Smith Group, for allegedly violating approximately 1,000 state and federal laws.  Cuomo claims that his office received 850 complaints against Benning-Smith debt collectors from consumers located in several different states.

Debt collectors need to be careful when leaving you a voicemail

According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), debt collectors must disclose in every voice mail left for a consumer, that the communication is from a debt collector.  However, the FDCPA also prohibits debt collectors from telling third parties that the consumer owes a debt.  Consequently, this creates a conundrum for debt collectors who leave voice mails for consumers. On the one hand, the debt collector must disclose that the communication is from a debt collector in their message. But on the other hand, disclosing that the communication is from a debt collector may violate the FDCPA’s prohibition of telling third parties about a debt.

The Center for Clinical Research is being sued for alleged ADA violations.

University of Texas Health Science Center, University Health Science Center at Tyler, and the Center for Clinical Research are facing a lawsuit from former employee, Debra Ellen Cohen, who claims they violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by not providing equipment to accommodate her disability. (Case No. 6:11-cv-00650)

How to ask a debt collector for a validation of debt

According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), all consumers have the right to request a validation of a debt.  A debt collector who is in compliance with the FDCPA must send a consumer a written notice within 5 days of their first communication with them. The notice must tell the consumer, among other things, about their right to request validation of the debt.

Fake Magazine Telemarketing Scam Brought To Justice

Attorney General John Suthers has filed a lawsuit against  Publications@Mile High, Publications@Mile High 2, Subscription Solutions, C&R Marketing & Associates, 5280 Publication LLC, Magazine Man,  along with the owners of the companies, Raymond B. Jones Jr., his mother, Cora Jones for an alleged telemarketing scam.
This mother and son team is accused of duping victims by calling them, pretending to be the publisher of a magazine to which they subscribe, and asking to "verify" some financial information.

Prison management company, GEO Group has reached a settlement in a sexual harassment suit with the EEOC

The GEO Group, Inc., a prison management company, that runs over 100 private prison facilities across the country, has reached a  $140,000 settlement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Arizona Civil Rights Division (ACRD).

What are the rules regarding tip-pooling in California?

It seems, as long as there have been waiters, waitresses and other service industry workers, there has been tip-pooling. For the protection of these service industry employees, California legislature passed a law in 1929, prohibiting employers from taking any portion of their employees’ tips. However, the law did permit employers to credit tips against employees’ wages, i.e., use tips in place of wages.  The legislature eventually passed a law, in 1975, that prohibited the practice of “tip credits”.

Allied Interstate Inc., reaches a $1.75 million settlement for FDCPA violations

Debt collection agency, Allied Interstate Inc., has agreed to a $1.75 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), following allegations that Allied Interstate violated the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) by trying to collect debts from people who did not owe the debts.

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