Riverside County & Coachella Valley Employment Lawyer For Employees
Working in California means that you benefit from the state’s robust employment-related laws and regulations. Legal protections for employees are important, especially given the fact that most of us will spend about 90,000 hours of our lives at work. Many times, employees suffering from workplace violations feel powerless to challenge their employers. After all, we depend on our paychecks to support our families and ourselves. Challenging an employer can feel as though you are putting your livelihood at risk.
If you believe that your rights at work are being violated by your employer, hiring an attorney is a good way to ensure that you are on an equal footing with that company. Contact our experienced Riverside County & Coachella Valley employment lawyers for more information or assistance.
Challenges Employees Face
Employers may commit a variety of work-related violations that impact employees negatively. At the Law Office of Karen J. Sloat, we frequently handle the following types of employment law claims:
An employer discriminates unlawfully against an employee if that employer makes employment-related decisions based on the employee’s:
- 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
For instance, if your employer used one of the above factors to deny you employment, terminate your employment, or otherwise impact your employment status, your employer may have violated your rights as an employee. To protect yourself, contact a Southern California employment law attorney today.
An employee who is subjected to a hostile work environment based on any of the above factors may also be a victim of workplace harassment.
Unlike general discrimination claims, you may be subjected to workplace “harassment” even if your employer does not make any significant employment decisions related to your membership in one of the above protected categories. A harassment victim typically experiences a work environment that is hostile toward persons in one or more of those protected classes. Unlawful harassment can also occur when an employee victim is subjected to unwanted, serious misconduct related to one or more of the victim’s protected categories.
As you can see from the list of protected classes, unlawful harassment in the workplace can include much more than just sexual harassment. Of course, sexual harassment is a common and serious workplace violation, but it is not the only illegal form of employee harassment. Harassment based upon an employee’s age, disability, race or other characteristics is unlawful behavior that may give rise to a claim or lawsuit.
Wage and Hour Violations
Wage and hour violations occur when employers fail to compensate their employees properly. For example, employees must receive at least the minimum wage for all hours worked. Unless that employee is exempt from overtime under applicable laws and Wage Orders, the employer must pay time and a half for employees who work overtime and double time pay, or two times their regular hourly wage, when appropriate. If your employer fails to pay you the compensation due, you may be entitled to back pay, penalties, or other compensation. The law may also require your employer to pay fines or take other action, when ordered to do so, if they willfully failed to follow the law.
California law also dictates that employers must provide non-exempt employees with breaks for mealtimes and rest periods during the workday. If your employer fails to provide you with the mandated rest breaks and mealtimes, that employer is in violation of the law. Your employer may be required to compensate you for the breaks which you were denied. To protect your rights and get the compensation that you need, contact a Coachella Valley employment law attorney.
Misclassification of Employees
Employees are entitled to certain benefits from their employers. For instance, employers may owe their employees workers’ compensation insurance, benefits, paid leaves, etc. These benefits are not owed to independent contractors. If an employer misclassifies an employee as an independent contractor, the employee will not receive benefits to which he or she is entitled. If your employer has misclassified you, contact a Southern California employment law attorney today.
Employment Contracts and Agreements in California
If you work in Southern California, your employer might ask that you sign an employment contract or other legal documents related to your employment. You must understand what you are signing and ensure that you are treated fairly. Hiring an attorney to review employment contracts could help you understand what you signed, or whether the document protects your rights, and not just your employer’s rights.
Employment contracts contain provisions that the employer and the employee must abide by once they sign the document. Most California employees are hired “at will,” which means that your employer can terminate your employment without any reason, and at any point, without notifying you in advance or finding good cause to fire you. Certain union employees are protected against this “at will” termination, and non-union employers and employees may enter into employment agreements that also limit the reasons an employer can terminate the employee. If you enter into an employment contract that provides certain benefits or sets a fixed term for your employment, your employer must comply with that contract. It is a good idea to have an attorney review the contract before signing to ensure that you understand its terms. If your employer breaches the contract, you should also contact an employment law attorney right away.
Severance agreements are contracts between employers and employees that establish certain terms for the employee’s separation from the company. Oftentimes, employers will ask employees to sign a severance agreement with provisions that prevent the employee from filing lawsuits against the employer. In exchange for the employee’s agreement to release all claims against the employer and waiving their right to file certain types of lawsuits, the employee receives a severance payment from the employer. A severance agreement is limited in what it can require of an employee. For instance, the employer cannot avoid criminal charges or certain proceedings based on the severance agreement. As a result, it is a good idea to have an attorney review your severance agreement before signing.
Contact Our Experienced Southern California Employment Lawyers Today
We have decades of experience representing employees in Southern California. Contact the Law Office of Karen J. Sloat today for assistance with your employment matter.