Employment law can be a complex field to navigate, but an overview of the issues can be helpful - especially in understanding when you've been wronged in the workplace. If you've experienced any problems at work, you may be able to pursue legal action against your employer. Give us a call to discuss your options with an attorney.
The COVID-19 pandemic changed the nature of work in the United States. Sadly, many employers used the pandemic as an opportunity to engage in unlawful activities. If you are facing or have faced any workplace problems related to COVID-19, whether it be violation of safety protocols, problems with vaccine mandates, furloughs, or layoffs, call us today for a free consultation.
Employment in California is generally “at will.” Contrary to popular belief, however, this does not give employers free reign to terminate employees for any reason. If an employee is terminated for unfair reasons, it may give rise to a wrongful termination claim and the employee will be entitled to damages. If you think the circumstances surrounding your termination were unfair, contact us for a free case evaluation.
Harassment occurs when an employee experiences unwelcome behavior in the workplace that makes it more difficult for them to do their job. The “#MeToo” movement shed light on the scourge of sexual harassment in the workplace, but harassment may also occur when an employee is targeted because of their race, ethnicity, age, religion or any other “protected characteristic.” If an employee is subjected to unlawful harassment, they may be entitled to substantial compensation. Whether or not you are currently employed, if you feel you have been harassed, contact us for a free case evaluation.
PREGNANCY & DISABILITY LEAVE
California is among the most progressive of all states in requiring employers to provide employees leaves of absence from work. There is a complicated framework of laws regarding leaves of absence, but generally speaking employees are entitled to leave for pregnancy, pregnancy-related disabilities, physical and mental disabilities, and military deployments or training. The duration of leave and whether employers are required to provide leave depends on the size of the employer, the tenure of the employee, and the specific reasons for the requested leave. If you have any problems taking a leave of absence, or questions regarding whether you are legally entitled to a leave, call us to discuss your situation. Evaluations are always free.
Employers in California are required to provide employees reasonable accommodations. One common example is a scheduling accommodation for religious observances (e.g., Sundays off to attend church services). Another common example is an accommodation granted for a disability, like additional breaks for an employee with diabetes to monitor her blood sugar. It is a violation of California law for an employer to refuse to grant a reasonable accommodation or engage with an employee to discuss whether an accommodation can be provided. If you are in need of a workplace accommodation or feel that you were denied a reasonable accommodation, call us to discuss your circumstances.
In California, it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against employees on the basis of “protected characteristics.” Discrimination takes many forms but, in simple terms, employers cannot mistreat employees because of who they are (race, color, gender, sexual orientation, etc.), where they’re from (national origin, ethnicity), their beliefs (religion) or because of their differences (disabilities, age, et cetera). If you feel that you have been discriminated against, contact us to discuss your options.
If you are being terminated and your employer is offering you a severance package, there is a good chance that your rights have been violated. It is not “free money.” Instead, your employer may be trying to settle your claims for pennies on the dollar. Your employer certainly has an attorney involved - you should too. Call us today to discuss your options. Consultations are always free.
MISSED MEAL & REST BREAKS
In California, employees are entitled to meal and rest breaks throughout their shift. Over an eight (8) hour shift this generally means that employers are required to provide two paid 10 minute rest breaks and one unpaid 30 minute meal period. Employers may not require you to work and cannot restrict you from leaving the workplace during your breaks. If you miss a break, or one is interrupted, the employer is required to pay you an additional hour of pay for that shift. If your employer does not provide breaks, you may be entitled to substantial compensation and should call to discuss your options.
UNPAID WAGES & WAGE THEFT
When an employer underpays an employee, California law refers to it as “unpaid wages.” In reality, the employer is stealing from the employee and, as such, “wage theft” is a more appropriate term. Wage theft is rampant in the United States. This is because many employees don’t even realize that employers are stealing their time. If you have ever worked before or after clocking in/out, been called on your day off, been sent home early in a shift, or had your time punches rounded - your employer is stealing from you. You would not take money from the register; your employer should not take money from your paycheck. If you have been a victim of wage theft, call us to discuss the best way to get the money you are owed.
Retaliation occurs when an employee engages in “protected activity” and, in response, their employer discharges, demotes, or otherwise punishes them. Common examples of “protected activity” include making complaints, threatening to make a complaint, taking protected leave, cooperating with governmental agencies (including court proceedings), and refusing to engage in unlawful activity. If you feel that you have been retaliated against for any reason, call us today for a free case evaluation. You may be entitled to substantial compensation.
REIMBURSEMENT FOR BUSINESS EXPENSES
California requires employers to reimburse employees for business expenses. If you use your personal cell phone or computer for business, drive your personal vehicle for business purposes, purchase your own uniforms, provide your own tools, or otherwise spend your money or resources for the benefit of your employer, you are entitled to reimbursement. Don’t subsidize your employer. If you have not been reimbursed for business expenses, call us to discuss how to recover your money plus any penalties you may be entitled to.
One common trick employers use to underpay employees is “misclassification.” For example, employers may categorize an employee as “exempt” from overtime by paying them a nominal salary. Another example is an employer hiring a person as an “independent contractor” when, in reality, the employee should be receiving regular wages and overtime. If you feel that you have been misclassified as a salaried employee or independent contractor, call us to discuss your options.
Employers often feel they can operate with impunity when violating laws and regulations because they believe their conduct will never be uncovered. Whistleblowers are employees that discover that their employer is engaging in unlawful conduct and report it to the proper authorities. If you discover that your employer has engaged in unlawful conduct and need help determining your next steps, contact us to discuss your options. Case evaluations are always free.
CLASS ACTION & PAGA
Class action and the related Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) claims enable employees to pursue compensation not only on behalf of themselves, but also on behalf of their coworkers. This makes it economically viable for employees and their attorneys to pursue smaller claims. When a claim is suitable for the class action option, the employee bringing the claim (aka the “class representative”) is usually entitled to an additional award as compensation for acting as the class representative. This essentially makes every claim, no matter how small it may seem, worth pursuing. If your case is appropriate for class and/or PAGA treatment, we will discuss this option with you during your free consultation.
OTHER WORKPLACE ISSUES
Employment law is complicated. If you're facing any issues in the workplace, whether listed above or not, please give us a call to discuss your options.