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Seven Minami Tamaki LLP Attorneys Named to 2023 ‘The Best Lawyers in America’ List

Seven Minami Tamaki LLP Attorneys Named to 2023 ‘The Best Lawyers in America’ List

The Best Lawyers in America recognized seven Minami Tamaki LLP attorneys in its 2023 edition. Partners B. Mark Fong, Olivia Serene Lee, Suhi Koizumi, Senior Counsel Dale Minami, and Senior Associate La Verne A. Ramsay made the Best Lawyers list. Associates Lisa P. Mak and Seema Bhatt were selected for Best Lawyers: Ones To Watch.

Lawyers on the Best Lawyers list are divided by geographic region and practice areas. They are reviewed by their peers based on professional expertise and undergo an authentication process to make sure they are in current practice and in good standing. The Ones To Watch awards are recognitions given to attorneys who are earlier in their careers for outstanding professional excellence in private practice in the United States. Lawyers are not permitted to pay any fee to participate in or be recognized by Best Lawyers.

Olivia, Suhi, and La Verne were selected for inclusion in the practice area of Immigration Law. It is Olivia’s sixth, Suhi’s fourth, and La Verne’s second listing on The Best Lawyers in America rankings.

Dale and Mark were selected for the Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs list for the tenth year in a row. Seema made the Best Lawyers: Ones To Watch list for the third straight year. In addition to being recognized again in the Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs category, Seema was also listed in the Medical Malpractice Law – Plaintiffs category.

Lisa P. Mak made the Best Lawyers: Ones To Watch list for the second time in the Litigation – Labor and Employment category. Lisa’s ranking represents the firm’s second listing in the employment law category.

These individual awards qualify Minami Tamaki LLP for consideration by the U.S. News/Best Lawyers Best Law Firms list, which is announced in November. The firm has been recognized eight times on the Best Law Firms rankings, which are based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations, peer review from leading attorneys in their field, and review of additional information provided by law firms as part of the formal submission process. 

Best Lawyers has published its list for more than three decades, striving to earn the respect of the profession, the media, and the public as a reliable, unbiased source of legal referrals. Its first international list was published in 2006 and since then has grown to provide lists in over 75 countries.

Minami Tamaki Attorneys Named to 2022 Super Lawyers

Minami Tamaki Attorneys Named to 2022 Super Lawyers

We’re proud to announce that nine Minami Tamaki LLP attorneys were selected as Northern California Super Lawyers and Rising Stars for 2022. Both Senior Counsels have been named Northern California Super Lawyers for the last 19 consecutive years.

PERSONAL INJURY
Dale Minami (Top 10, 2013-2018; Top 100, 2007-2022; Super Lawyers, 19 years)
B. Mark Fong (Super Lawyers, 13 years)
Seema Bhatt (Rising Stars)

IMMIGRATION AND NATIONALITY LAW
Olivia Serene Lee (Super Lawyers, 2 years)
Suhi Koizumi (Super Lawyers, 4 years)
Dian Sohn (Rising Stars)

CONSUMER AND EMPLOYEE RIGHTS
Sean Tamura-Sato (Super Lawyers. 2 years)
Lisa P. Mak (Rising Stars)

CORPORATE/NONPROFIT
Donald K. Tamaki (Super Lawyers, 19 years)

Each year, no more than five percent of the lawyers in California are selected by the research team at Super Lawyers to receive Super Lawyer honors and no more than 2.5 percent are selected to receive the Rising Star recognition.

Super Lawyers, part of Thomson Reuters, is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The annual selections are made using a patented multiphase process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates and peer reviews by practice area. The result is a credible, comprehensive, and diverse listing of exceptional attorneys.

The Super Lawyers lists are published nationwide in Super Lawyers Magazines and in leading city and regional magazines and newspapers across the country. Super Lawyers Magazines also feature editorial profiles of attorneys who embody excellence in the practice of law. For more information about Super Lawyers, visit SuperLawyers.com.

PHOTO – Top Row (L-R): Sean Tamura-Sato*, B. Mark Fong*, Olivia Serene Lee*, Suhi Koizumi*; Middle Row (L-R): Lisa P. Mak**, Dale Minami*Top 100, Donald K.Tamaki*, La Verne A. Ramsay; Bottom Row: (L-R): Angela C. Mapa, Dian Sohn**, Seema Bhatt**, David Palmer. Not pictured: Ember Oparowski.*Chosen to 2022 Super Lawyers **Chosen to 2022 Rising Stars

California Supreme Court Holds Meal and Rest Break Premiums May Trigger Wage Statement and Waiting Time Penalties

California Supreme Court Holds Meal and Rest Break Premiums May Trigger Wage Statement and Waiting Time Penalties

On May 23, 2022, the California Supreme Court issued its decision in Naranjo v. Spectrum Security Services, Inc., No. S258966 (Cal. May. 23, 2022) holding that meal and rest period premium payments constitute wages under California law. The Court found that employers may be held liable for the failure to properly report and timely pay out such wages.  

Naranjo is a reminder of the importance of strict compliance with meal break and rest break requirements.  Employers should review their written policies and ensure that managers are adequately trained on meal break and rest break rules.  California law generally requires employers to provide non-exempt employees with an unpaid 30-minute meal break prior to the end of the fifth hour of work. Employers also are required to provide employees with a paid 10-minute rest break for every four hours worked (or major fraction thereof). The penalty for failing to provide a legally mandated meal break or rest break entitles the employee to payment of one hour of wages at the employee’s regular rate of pay (the “premium” payment).

Naranjo establishes that meal break and rest break premium pay constitute wages. Failing to pay meal break or rest break premiums during employment violates an employer’s prompt payment responsibilities under California Labor Code Section 203. Failing to include premium pay for missed breaks on an employee’s itemized wage statement violates the employer’s duty to supply an accurate itemized statement reflecting an employee’s gross wages earned, net wages earned, and credited hours worked.

Moreover, failure to pay meal break or rest break premiums permits employees to seek statutory waiting time penalties pursuant to Labor Code Section 223 equal to one day of pay for each day an employee’s final wages are withheld or paid late, up to a maximum of 30 days’ wages. 

For more information, contact Minami Tamaki Consumer and Employee Rights Group attorneys Sean Tamura-Sato and Lisa Mak online or call us at 415-788-9000.

Minami Tamaki LLP and Szeto-Wong Law File Civil Rights Lawsuit Alleging Sutter County Delayed Hate Crime Investigation

Minami Tamaki LLP and Szeto-Wong Law File Civil Rights Lawsuit Alleging Sutter County Delayed Hate Crime Investigation

Rouble Claire, a Sikh American in Sutter, California, was victimized by threats and racial slurs in May 2021 and called 911 for help. Representatives of the local sheriff’s office took no action immediately following the incident, except for a deputy that tried to wash away the evidence. The sheriff’s office ignored Mr. Claire’s repeated requests for help for several months afterward.

Mr. Claire asked the Sikh Coalition for help and their efforts led to the sheriff’s office eventually recommending charges against the two civilian defendants, one of whom is still unidentified, but the district attorney declined to press charges, and the perpetrators were never held accountable.

On May 9, 2022, Minami Tamaki LLP and Szeto-Wong Law filed a lawsuit in the Eastern District of California against officers of the Sutter County Sheriff’s Office (“Sheriff’s Office”), Sutter County, and two civilian individuals.

“No one should have to face this kind of hate and the threat of violence,” said Minami Tamaki Partner Sean Tamura-Sato. “It is truly disheartening to see those entrusted with protecting victims like Mr. Claire abdicate their responsibility.”

 “This civil suit is a first step to remedying that failure, as well as taking legal action against the women who threatened and harassed him, who have faced no consequences whatsoever due to Sutter County’s practice of inadequately investigating and prosecuting hate crimes against racial and ethnic minorities,” said Szeto-Wong Law Principal Attorney Gina Szeto-Wong.

Claire, a first-generation Sikh American whose family has called Sutter, California, home since 1973, was threatened with racial slurs and vehicular violence and then, in a second separate but related incident hours later, subjected to hateful graffiti at his home.

On May 11, 2021, a woman confronted Mr. Claire in the parking lot of a local store. The woman shouted at Mr. Claire, including calling him a “f—— Hindu.”  The woman then sped towards Mr. Claire in her car, only swerving away at the last moment.  Mr. Claire called 911 and waited for the Sheriff’s Office to report to the scene, but no one arrived at the scene, so Mr. Claire returned to his home.

Later that same day, an associate of the woman who threatened Mr. Claire in the parking lot went to his house and wrote “Sand N—–” in chalk on the street and on his driveway, and called him “N—–.”  Mr. Claire again called law enforcement to report this incident, but the Sheriff’s Office failed to make any arrests, failed to further investigate, and failed to even prepare a report of the two incidents that day. 

One deputy who responded to the chalking incident poured water on the chalking in an attempt to wash away the evidence of the racial slurs before taking photos of the scene.

Over the next several months, Mr. Claire continued to contact the Sheriff’s Office about these disturbing incidents, but the Sheriff’s Office refused to take action.  Mr. Claire sought the assistance of the Sikh Coalition, which continued to follow up with the Sheriff’s Office.  The Sheriff’s Office finally prepared a police report that recommended criminal charges against the woman who threatened Ms. Claire in the parking lot. 

However, the Sutter County District Attorney’s Office (the “District Attorney”) declined to press charges.  The District Attorney’s office cited the amount of time that had elapsed between the incidents and the preparation of the report recommending charges as a reason not to prosecute the matter, despite the fact that this delay was due to the Sheriff’s Office’s months-long delay in investigating this matter and recommending charges. 

Mr. Claire’s lawsuit includes a Municipal Liability claim against the County of Sutter for Unconstitutional Policy, Practice or Custom (42 U.S.C. 1983), and claims against Sheriff’s Office Deputies for Violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution regarding the failure to administer police services in a non-discriminatory manner (42 U.S.C. 1983) and Conspiracy to Violate Civil Rights (42 U.S.C. 1985).  The suit also alleges violations of state law, including the Ralph Civil Rights Act, the Tom Bane Civil Rights Act, and claims of Assault, Trespass, and Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress against the civilian defendants. 

The case is Claire v. County of Sutter, et al., 22-cv-00780-WBS-AC, Eastern District of California.

Lisa P. Mak Leads AABA Gala in Honoring Community and AAPI Legal Luminaries

Lisa P. Mak Leads AABA Gala in Honoring Community and AAPI Legal Luminaries

The Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA), one of the largest Asian American bar associations in the nation, held its 46th Annual Gala on March 30, 2022, at the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero. Minami Tamaki LLP was proud to be a Title Sponsor for the gala this year. Minami Tamaki LLP Associate Lisa P. Mak is serving this year as President of AABA.

Some of the Minami Tamaki LLP attorneys and staff at the AABA gala (from left): Katie Chan; Lisa P. Mak; Jack W. Lee (retired); Donald K. Tamaki; Gail Lang; Mark Fong; and Dale Minami. Photos by Bob Hsiang and Lowell Downey.

The AABA gala theme for this year was “Speak Up, Rise Up.” In her President’s Address at the gala, Lisa said the theme “was inspired by how our community and our allies spoke up and fought back against the rising anti-Asian hate and violence in the Bay Area and across the country in the last two years.” Lisa shared her family’s experience with racism after they immigrated to this country, emphasized the importance of speaking up in unity, and encouraged the AABA community to think about how they can make a difference.

The program celebrated several distinguished honorees, including Michael G.W. Lee as the recipient of this year’s Minami Impact Award, named after Minami Tamaki LLP Senior Counsel Dale Minami to acknowledge attorneys who have had a positive impact on the Asian American community and the legal profession.

Dale Minami presents Michael G.W. Lee with the Minami Impact Award, honoring attorneys who have had a positive impact on the Asian American community and the legal profession. Photos by Bob Hsiang and Lowell Downey.

Judge Lucy H. Koh from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit received the AABA Trailblazer Award. The late Justice Harry W. Low was recognized, along with an announcement of the new Justice Harry W. Low Fellowship that will be administered by the AABA Law Foundation later this year.

The gala concluded with a fireside chat between Lisa and Michelle MiJung Kim, an entrepreneur, activist, and author of “The Wake Up: Closing the Gap Between Good Intentions and Real Change.”  

AABA President Lisa P. Mak, a Minami Tamaki LLP attorney, in a fireside chat with Michelle MiJung Kim. Photos by Bob Hsiang and Lowell Downey.

Over 500 guests attended the Gala this year, including over 30 judges, and San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu. Betty Yu from KPIX 5 CBS was the Master of Ceremonies for the event. The gala opened with a musical performance from the Oakland Youth Chorus, the longest-running youth chorus in the East Bay.

Minami Tamaki LLP Managing Partner Sean Tamura-Sato (right) with Doris Cheng (middle) and AABA Treasurer John B. Lough, Jr. Sean is a former AABA board member. Photos by Bob Hsiang and Lowell Downey.

Through her term as AABA President this year, Lisa will aspire to honor and continue AABA’s history of speaking up for our community while elevating our members in the legal profession and keeping our voice at the table.

Watch Lisa’s president’s address below and view the other presentations of the gala awards on YouTube.

Fireside Chat with AABA Women Presidents Shared Insights and Inspiration

Fireside Chat with AABA Women Presidents Shared Insights and Inspiration

The Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area hosted a special fireside chat with former women presidents of the organization on March 23 at Morgan Lewis’s San Francisco office. The program featured Judge Margaret Fujioka, Judge Joni Hiramoto, Joan Haratani, Edith Ho, Emi Gusukuma, and Miriam Kim sharing their insights for AAPI women in leadership and the legal profession. AABA President Lisa P. Mak, a Minami Tamaki LLP attorney, said that the event was part of advancing one of her goals to support and uplift the women in the AAPI community.

Lisa Mak to Keynote UC Davis APALSA Banquet

Lisa Mak to Keynote UC Davis APALSA Banquet

Minami Tamaki LLP Associate Lisa P. Mak will keynote the annual banquet of the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA) at UC Davis School of Law on April 14, 2022. Lisa is President of the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area.

UC Davis APALSA is an organization of law students interested in Asian American legal issues and in the growth of the Asian American legal community. The group sponsors social activities, speaker series, and community service events. Its goal is to foster relationships with professors and practicing attorneys to educate the community about Asian American issues.

Through its annual banquet, UC Davis APALSA expresses its gratitude to the Asian Pacific American legal community for paving the path for future lawyers. To promote this spirit of service, the group aims to award summer grants to students pursuing public interest careers. They also commit funds above the cost of the banquet to future projects that benefit the unique needs of Asian Pacific Americans.
The banquet on April 14 starts at 7:00 p.m. in Alpha Gamma Rho Hall at The Walter A. Buehler Alumni Center, 530 Alumni Lane, Davis, CA 95616. Tickets are $30 to $60 and can be purchased at https://store.law.ucdavis.edu/apalsa.

California Reinstates COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave

California Reinstates COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave

On February 9, 2022, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 114 that provides additional COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (SPSL 2022) under new California Labor Code Section 248.6. This new law will look familiar to employers that were required to comply with California’s 2021 COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave law. 

However, various provisions of the SPSL 2022 law are different from the 2021 law, and thus employers will not be able to simply restart the policies and practices they had in place previously. 

This article focuses on provisions of the 2022 law that apply to employers generally, rather than provisions specifically applicable to firefighters or providers of in-home supportive and/or waiver personal care services.  

The SPSL 2022 law goes into effect on February 19, 2022.  It covers employers with more than 25 employees.  SPSL 2022 leave is retroactive to January 1, 2022, and is currently set to expire September 30, 2022. 

An employee who is unable to work or telework for reasons listed in the law is entitled to paid sick leave under the SPSL 2022 law.  Full-time employees are entitled to up to 80 hours of paid time off, split into two buckets of 40 hours. 

Employees may take paid time off from Bucket A if they make an oral or written request for any of the following reasons:  

  • The employee is subject to or is caring for a family member who is subject to a government or local health department quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19.
  • The employee has been advised or is caring for a family member who has been advised by a health care provider to isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19.
  • The employee is attending an appointment for themselves or a family member to receive a vaccine or a vaccine booster for protection against COVID-19.
  • The employee is experiencing symptoms, or caring for a family member experiencing symptoms, related to a COVID-19 vaccine or vaccine booster that prevent the employee from being able to work or telework
  • The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
  • The employee is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed or otherwise unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19 on the premises.

Bucket B provides up to 40 hours of paid time off if they make an oral or written request for leave because the employee tests positive for COVID-19 or the employee is caring for a family member who tests positive for COVID-19. 

Employers can limit paid time off related to a COVID-19 vaccine or booster shot to three days or 24 hours. This includes time spent attending an appointment and/or for COVID-19 vaccine or booster shot-related symptoms (for each vaccine/booster).  If a health care provider verifies that an individual continues to experience symptoms related to the vaccine/booster, more than three days or 24 hours of time off may be available. 

Employers are not required to pay more than $511 per day or $5,110 in the aggregate in paid sick leave. For exempt employees, the SPSL 2022 leave pay rate is calculated in the same manner wages are calculated for other forms of paid leave time.  There are two pay-rate calculation options available for non-exempt employees.  SPSL 2022 for non-exempt employees is calculated either:

  • In the same manner as the regular rate of pay for the workweek in which the employee uses the paid leave; or
  • By dividing the employee’s total wages (not including overtime premium pay) by the employee’s total non-overtime hours worked in the full pay periods occurring within the prior 90 days of employment.  For non-exempt employees paid by piece rate, commission or other method that uses all hours to determine regular rate of pay, total wages (not including overtime premium pay) shall be divided by all hours, to determine the correct rate for paid leave.

Employers are prohibited from requiring employees to exhaust other paid leave benefits before taking SPSL 2022, such as vacation, PTO, or California’s general paid sick leave law. The law does provide employers with the possibility of offsetting SPSL 2022 with certain supplemental paid leave provided to employees on or after January 1, 2022.  If an employer pays an employee another benefit for leave taken on or after January 1 that is payable for the law’s covered reasons and compensates employees in an amount equal to or greater than the amount of pay the law requires, an employer may count those hours toward the number of hours of SPSL 2022 it must provide an employee.

There is also an itemized wage statement requirement under the new law.  Employers are required to put the amount of used paid sick leave on employees’ paystubs.

Minami Tamaki will continue to monitor and provide insights with respect to this new law and other COVID-19 related topics.  This article is meant to provide an overview of California Supplemental Paid Leave requirements related to COVID-19, and is not a comprehensive list of all changes in the law. 

For more information on COVID-19 regulations and developments, you may contact Minami Tamaki Coronavirus (COVID-19) Task Force members Sean Tamura-Sato and Lisa Mak, online or call us at 415-788-9000.

*The content of this article is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or medical advice. Information in this article may not constitute the most complete or up-to-date legal or other information. Readers should contact a licensed California attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter. Use of this website does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Minami Tamaki LLP.

California Law Expanding Penalties for Wage Theft Goes Into Effect on January 1, 2022

California Law Expanding Penalties for Wage Theft Goes Into Effect on January 1, 2022

A new law making the intentional theft of wages punishable as grand theft, and thus a felony, will go into effect on January 1, 2022.

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill No. 1003 (“AB 1003”) into law on September 27, 2021. AB 1003 creates California Penal Code Section 487(m), which makes the “intentional” theft of wages in an amount greater than $950 from any one employee, or $2,350 in the aggregate from two or more employees, by any employer in a 12-month period punishable as grand theft.

AB 1003 defines “theft of wages” as “the intentional deprivation of wages, as defined in Section 200 of the Labor Code, gratuities, as defined in Section 350 of the Labor Code, benefits, or other compensation, by unlawful means, with the knowledge that the wages, gratuities, benefits, or other compensation is due to the employee under the law.”

Under AB 1003, independent contractors are included under the definition of “employee” and hiring entities of independent contractors are included under the definition of “employer.”

Changing intentional wage theft to a felony may increase the number of charges brought against employers by government authorities. AB 1003 also does not prohibit employees or the California Labor Commissioner from commencing a civil action to seek remedies provided for under the California Labor Code. The new legislation also allows base wages, gratuities, and other compensation that are the subject of a prosecution to be recovered as restitution.

Employers should ensure compliance with wage and hour laws, including, but not limited to, making sure all wages are paid in a timely fashion, ensuring policies are in the place to identify payroll errors, and tracking the payout of all gratuities.

For more information on, you may contact Minami Tamaki Coronavirus (COVID-19) Task Force members Sean Tamura-Sato, Lisa Mak, or Claire Choo online or call us at 415-788-9000.

*The contents of this article is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Information in this article may not constitute the most complete or up-to-date legal or other information. Readers should contact a licensed California attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter. Use of this website does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Minami Tamaki LLP.