In our work as longtime Los Angeles employment attorneys, we’ve become closely familiar with the types of business practices that land many employers in hot water when it comes to California employment law compliance. These include things like failure to implement easy/accurate timekeeping systems, not maintaining employment handbook and policies, failure to document everything, and brushing off the seriousness of employee complaints when they’re first made.
We represent employees and prospective employees when companies skirt labor laws and fail to respect workers’ civil rights on-the-job. Cases we commonly take on include claims of wage theft, employee misclassification, sexual harassment, discrimination (race, age, gender, religion, LGBTQ, nationality, ethnicity, disability, pregnancy, and other protected classes), wrongful termination and retaliation.
Employees who experience workplace discrimination rarely recognize the same red flags that our legal team does, so we’re highlighting a few of the more common issues here.
- Failure to initiate and maintain an accurate system for timekeeping. California law requires employers to track both start and stop times for hourly, non-exempt employees. On top of this, companies must keep a record of each 30-minute meal break. Companies need to make sure too that they’re paying reporting time pay, in which workers are paid when workers report to work per their schedule but can’t actually begin or end up being furnished with half their regular work because of the company’s inadequate scheduling or lack of proper notice. Firms that rely on default systems for these types of situations may find they aren’t keeping accurate time worked data. Claims for California wage and hour violations can reach back four years – and employers have to hang onto those records at least that long. When they do not, they can find themselves at a disadvantage in a Los Angeles employment lawsuit.
- Not creating an employee handbook or failing to keep it up-to-date. Employee handbooks serve as a valuable communication between workers and the company. It offers clear guidance and information about the firm’s history, mission, values, policies, pay practices, procedures, and benefits (as well as what is expected of all employees) – and lays them all out in a written format so there’s little question about whether an employee received different information at the outset of the employment arrangement. This handbook also details a company’s recognition of fair employment practices and their commitment to comply with equal employment opportunity laws. In general, not having an employee handbook puts the ball in the employer’s court to prove exactly what was communicated to each employee about the business’s policies and procedures and the rights of workers. Many companies consider employee handbooks to be living documents. They should be regularly updated, just as laws and policies are updated and evolve. Providing employees with outdated or inaccurate information could lead to problems down the road.
- Failure to document issues as they arise. It’s easier for employment attorneys to argue pretext in cases where employers do not keep very good records of worker performance or other potential issues. We generally advise our clients to be mindful of “who, what, when, where, why, how” when documenting ongoing issues of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wage theft, and more.
- Not taking employee concerns about discrimination, harassment, safety, or retaliation seriously. Employers are not expected to be omnipresent or all-powerful. The employer should however be responsible to take as many preventative measures as possible (properly vetting all employees, having clear anti-discrimination and harassment policies in place, maintaining an adequate level of supervision, etc.). But sometimes, even with all the right policies, procedures, and record-keeping in place, some workers or clients who act out-of-turn or in ways that amount to discrimination and harassment. In those situations, employers have a duty to respond swiftly and responsibly. Failing to take reports of harassment, discrimination, safety, or retaliation seriously is often what allows such environments to persist – and what lands employers in legal trouble. Having clear channels for employees to communicate these issues is important. So too is ensuring that when those complaints are received, they are taking seriously and responded to appropriately.
If you are an employee who has been on the receiving end of wage theft, discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, our Los Angeles employment attorneys can help.
Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Newport Beach, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 714-937-2020.
Labor Commissioner’s Office, State of California, Department of Industrial Relations