California Labor & Employment Lawyer
Federal employment laws are put in place to protect the rights of workers around the country, while additional state-level laws and regulations bolster those federal rules here in California. In many situations, California law provides stronger protection for employees then those afforded under federal law.
Still, with so many laws and regulations in place regarding labor and employment rights, navigating your claims alone can be a difficult process. Whether you are an employee with questions about the laws regarding harassment in the workplace or you have stumbled upon large scale governmental fraud and need immediate legal assistance to initiate a whistleblower lawsuit, the labor and employment attorneys of Scott • Wagner and Associates can provide immediate assistance. No matter your labor questions or needs, contact us today to set up a consultation so that we can begin providing answers as soon as possible. Our California labor and employment law lawyers have experience in the following types of labor and employment disputes:
- California Civil Rights
- California EEOC Charges
- California Employment Discrimination
- California Employee Misclassification
- California Employee Rights
- California Employer Non-Compete Agreement
- California Employer Retaliation
- California Employment Contract
- California Harassment
- California Healthcare Labor & Employment
- California HIPAA Compliance
- California Housing Discrimination
- California Non-Compete Agreement
- California Public Employee Dispute
- California Stark Law
- California Unemployment
- California Whistleblower
- California Unpaid Wages
- California Employment Class Action Claim
- California Pregnancy Discrimination
- California Wrongful Termination
- California Wage & Hour Disputes
California’s At-Will Employment Regulations
Like many states, employment in California without a specified period of duration is considered to be “at-will,” which means that an employer can terminate the employee whenever they so choose and without cause. However, an employer is prohibited from making employment decisions due to an employee’s protected trait (like their race, religion, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, age, disability, or gender identity) Additionally, employers are prohibited from terminating an employee because he or she participated in union activity or refused to perform an illegal action, or the termination was based on grounds of discrimination. Additionally, if the employee and employer had an employment contract outlining the terms of termination, and the termination did not fall under that written or oral agreement, the employee may have an option of pursuing the matter legally with a labor and employment attorney.
Wrongful Termination and Retaliation
If you are an employee who gave information about your employer to a government or law enforcement agency, and that information was relevant to your employer’s violation or noncompliance with a state or federal law, the California Labor Code section 1102.5 prohibits your employer from taking action against you. If you have been wrongfully terminated, or you believe that your employer has taken unlawful action against you or your fellow coworkers, contact us immediately. Other labor and employment areas we work in include the following:
- Claims for Unemployment;
- Discrimination Claims;
- Drug and Alcohol Testing;
- Employee Layoffs;
- Harassment in the Workplace;
- Human Resource Practices and Policies;
- Non-Compete and Confidentiality Agreements;
- Wage and Hour Disputes;
- Minimum Wage;
- Anti-Union Activity;
- Concerted Protected Activity; and
- Wrongful Discharge/Termination.
While an employer may be permitted to choose the best applicant for the job or to give raises and promotions to the most deserving employees – it is illegal for an employer to make employment decisions due to an individual’s protected traits. What are protected traits? These include your race, religion, national origin, gender, gender identity, age, sexual orientation, marital status, pregnancy, for disability.
Equal Employment Opportunity (EEOC) and California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) Charges of Discrimination
Employers who perpetrate or fail to address discrimination in the workplace can be held accountable for their actions by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). Other times, filing a Charge is the first step towards potential litigation to assert your rights in the workplace. While filing a Charge is typically a mandatory first-step in proceeding with your claims for discrimination and harassment in the workplace, the law requires that you do so within a certain amount of time or you may lose the abilities to bring your claim all together. Therefore, if you believe you have been targeted in the workplace because of your race, religion, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, pregnancy, disability, or age, or you have been retaliated against for asserting mistreatment of you or a coworker because of one of these traits, contact the legal team at Scott • Wagner and Associates today to schedule a consultation.
Implied Employment Contracts
California is an at-will employment state, but an employment relationship can change when the parties have entered into an implied contract. In fact, one of the few exceptions to the at-will employment doctrine is when an implied contract between two parties establishes certain expectations in regards to employment practices. Employment contracts can be either written or implied. Written contracts may include information about wages, time off, and causes for termination. The terms of an implied contract, on the other hand, are implied from the oral statements or actions of an employer and the employee, through the information contained in employee handbooks or via company policy.
Just like an employer is prohibited from discriminating against an employee because of a protected trait, California and federal housing laws prohibit discrimination by sellers and landlords/renters of houses.
The Federal Civil Rights Act and various California state laws, including the Fair Employment and Housing Act, help to protect against workplace harassment, such as sexual and racial harassment.
Both federal and California state law prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace, which could take the form of unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, as well as any verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. The law also prohibits quid pro quo harassment – where employees are offered incentives for sexual acts in the workplace.
Labor & Employment Law
Employment laws were enacted to help protect employees from the discriminatory actions of employers. No employee should have to endure a harassing or discriminatory environment at work. Under both California and federal laws, harassment and discrimination due to an individual’s protected traits are illegal. This includes race, religion, gender, gender identity, disability, national origin, sexual orientation, marital status, and age. Laws also prohibit an employer from taking action against an employee who has asserted their rights in the workplace – on behalf of themselves or even a coworker.
Other state and federal laws are in place to prohibit an employer from retaliating against an employee who has reported a violation of a law, rule, or regulation in the workplace – a whistleblower.
Luckily for employees in California, our state has one of the most robust set of laws in place for protections of employees in the workplace.
Non-Compete and Non-Solicit Agreements
Employment agreements that restrict your future employment are not always legal under California law. We can help you determine whether or not an employment that you signed or are considering will be enforceable under California law and what your rights regarding restrictive covenants like non-competes and non-solicits may be in our state.
Public Employee Disputes
As a public employee, you have certain rights before job termination can occur and often specific hearings must take place beforehand. We help our clients through these proceedings and ensure that all of the proper measures were taken before they are terminated or disciplined.
Retaliation for Reporting Harassment
Employers are prohibited from taking certain actions (like demotions, termination, and pay cuts) against employees who report harassment – either on behalf of the employee or a coworker. Employees have the right to report discrimination and harassment without fear of retaliation. For this reason, an employee who reports discriminatory conduct through the appropriate procedures may be protected from retaliatory discharge by his or her employer.
It is not uncommon for recently terminated employees to be denied their unemployment benefits. We work fast with our clients to reclaim their rightful benefits. We also help assist our clients in navigating through the unemployment process.
Unlawful & Wrongful Termination
Certain employment contracts, either oral or written, can include specific measures under which an employee can be terminated. If you were wrongfully terminated (fired for a reason not included in your contract), you may have grounds for legal action.
Wage and Hour Disputes
Our attorneys help employees receive their unpaid overtime, recover their unpaid wages (when an employer violates the minimum wage law) ,deal with wage theft, and address other wage-related disputes, including unpaid wages, last paycheck violations, meal break and rest period violations.
If you stumbled upon illegal actions taken by your employer, you may have a whistleblower case on your hands. The federal and state governments have strict laws that protect against employer retaliation of whistleblowers.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and California state law prohibits employers from making discriminatory employment-related decisions based on an applicant’s or employee’s pregnancy. This includes hiring, firing, wages, promotions, and health insurance.
For unintentional, and sometimes even intentional reasons, some employers may elect to wrongfully classify an employee as an independent contractor. However, an employees’ classification is not determined by an employer’s preference, by rather by evaluating several factors under the law. This means that if you are a worker who has been misclassified as an independent contractor, you may be entitled to unpaid minimum wage or payment for overtime. Purposeful misclassification can result in an employer being required to provide employees with back pay and damages.
Similarly, there may be situations when an employee has been wrongfully classified as an exempt employee under the wage and hour laws – depriving that employee of the benefits of overtime wages. Employees who have been misclassified may be entitled to back payment for the period of unpaid overtime, as well as potential other damages and attorney’s fees in certain situations.
Employment Class Action Claims
When an employer wrongs a large group of employees by utilizing discriminatory practices, committing wage violations, systematic discrimination, or misclassifying employees as independent contractors, the injured parties may have the opportunity to join their claims together and file a single lawsuit against the employer – a class or collective action.
Civil Rights Violations
Civil rights are the rights of individuals to receive equal treatment in regards to education, housing, and employment. If an employer’s practices are based on sex, race, color or another protected characteristic, he or she can be held liable for violating an employee’s civil rights. Employees also have certain rights to privacy in the workplace and in some cases, a right to reasonable accommodation for a disability.
California’s Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) gives private citizens the right to pursue civil penalties that are usually only available to the State of California. For example, under this law, private citizens can seek penalties for violations suffered by other employees in addition to the compensation they are seeking for violations that they personally suffered.
Failure to Correct Harassment in the Workplace
Under the law, when an employee reports harassment in the workplace, the employer is supposed to take measures to correct the situation – and permitted a reasonable time to do so. However, if an employer fails to take action, or redress the situation, the employee may have the ability to pursue a claim for harassment against the employer.
Contact Our Experienced California Labor & Employment Lawyers Today
The California labor and employment law lawyers of Scott • Wagner and Associates are here to answer any of your labor and employment law questions. Contact us today to learn more about our legal services.