Employees in California have rights, and laws in our state protect employees from certain types of employer mistreatment. It is important to understand those rights and to have a champion on your side when you need to fight for your rights and recover damages.
Discrimination & Harassment
Employers cannot discriminate against or harass employees based on their status in any protected group, including the following California categories:
- Age (40 and over)
- Ancestry, national origin (including language)
- Disability (including mental and/or physical, genetic, cancer, HIV/AIDS)
- Domestic Violence Victim Status
- Gender identity, gender expression
- Marital Status
- Medical Conditions (including genetic characteristics/information)
- Military or Veteran Status
- Political Affiliation (when a civil rights violation)
- Race, color
- Religion, creed, ethnicity
- Requests for certain leave
- Sex, gender (including pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding or related medical conditions)
- Sexual orientation
Some examples of unlawful discrimination or harassment include being fired, or not hired, based on the above characteristics. No one should have to face unlawful conditions just to earn a living or pursue their career.
Employees & Independent Contractors
Employers may sometimes categorize a worker as an independent contractor when they are actually serving as an employee. The difference between employees and independent contractors is not simply based on how the employer wants to categorize the worker. Certain aspects of the job the individual performs will determine whether the person is actually an employee. If the worker is an employee, then the employer owes that person certain rights and benefits that are not available to independent contractors, such as paid overtime, meal period and rest breaks.
Breach Of Contract & Severance Agreements
Employees and employers are bound by the terms of signed employment contracts and severance agreements. If you are asked by your employer to enter a written agreement, it is a good idea to have that agreement reviewed by an employment law attorney before you sign on the dotted line.
Employment contracts may define how your employment may be terminated, how compensation will be calculated, or what rights you may waive if you work for that company. A severance agreement will detail the terms of your termination or separation from the company. Employers are not required to enter into severance agreements, but they often do so to protect themselves from legal claims. When you sign an employment agreement or a severance agreement, you might forfeit your right to sue your employer for certain violations. Contacting an employment law attorney before entering such agreements will ensure that these legal documents protect your rights.
Employment Law ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution)
It is important for employees to get legal advice before trying to go through a formal dispute resolution process, and before signing a settlement agreement with their employer, to make sure the process and the resolution are fair.
Arbitration is one of the most common ways that employers seek to resolve employment disputes with their employees. Arbitration is typically a binding process, which means that if the neutral arbitrator reaches a decision on your case, you and your employer must accept that decision. The courts will almost always confirm the arbitrator’s decision. For this reason, the arbitrator has a lot of authority over your case.
Mediation is different from arbitration. A mediator is a neutral go-between person who tries to help an employee and an employer come to an agreement about settling a claim. However, the mediator does not have the authority to make a binding ruling.
Litigation Employment Law Claims
Sometimes the only path forward is to file a lawsuit. Your labor law attorney will advise you as to whether your best course of action is filing a complaint in court to initiate a civil lawsuit. Most lawsuits never make it to trial because they resolve during the proceedings. It is often possible to reach a favorable settlement to bring the litigation to an end.
Wage & Hour Disputes
Employers must follow California law and provide the minimum wage, overtime wages in certain circumstances, as well as meal periods, rest breaks and other workplace compensation for all of their workers. If you employer is not complying with the state’s wage and hour laws, contact our employment law attorneys. Remember, you are also legally protected from retaliation at the hands of your employer, so if you assert a valid complaint about your wages, the employer cannot retaliate with negative personnel action.
The experienced employment law attorneys at the Law Office of Karen J. Sloat understand the challenges you face as a wronged employee. Contact us today at 760-779-1313 to discuss your employment law claim and learn how we can help.
Our litigation attorneys and paralegals aggressively pursue unlawful conduct in the workplace, to get employees the best result possible. In litigation on behalf of an individual or a group of employees, our settlements can range from $200,000 to well over One Million dollars, depending on the claims and facts. Contact us with your individual concerns and complaints. You may have the ability to bring an action on behalf of a group, such as a Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) or Class Action, to redress many wrongs and provide your workplace team with the justice and monies they deserve.
We can often provide referrals for matters outside our practice areas, such as Workers’ Compensation, Social Security Disability, and union or public administration matters.