Articles Tagged with California employment lawyer

A fair share of California employment lawsuits stem from employers’ failure to pay fair wages – including minimum wage. As a Los Angeles employment lawyer, I can affirm that failure to pay the state’s minimum wage ends up costing employers far more in the long-run. This is why it’s important to point out that California’s minimum wage rates are about to increase. Los Angeles employment attorney minimum wage

As recently confirmed by the California Department of Finance, the state is increasing the minimum wage for all employers by 3.5 percent to 10 percent to keep pace with inflation. that means statewide, minimum wage is going to increase from $15 hourly for employers with 26-or-more employees (which was set January 1st, 2022) to $15.50 hourly, which will become effective January 1st, 2023.

It’s important to note that this is applicable to all employers regardless of size. That’s a notable deviation from previous California minimum wage increases, which had been separated by employers with 26 or more employees and those with 25 or fewer. That means this increase will be particularly impactful for smaller businesses, whose minimum wage was set to $14 hourly at the start of this year. They, just like larger companies, are going to be expected to increase the minimum wages to $15.50. For them, this is a 10 percent wage increase.

It should be noted, however, that with this increase in the state minimum wage also comes a corresponding raise in the minimum salary that is required for a work to be qualified as “exempt” under so-called “white collar exemptions.” (These are especially impactful when it comes time to paying time-and-a-half for overtime. Salaried employees are exempt from this, but as a Los Angeles employment attorney, I have seen far too many cases of employees being wrongly classified as exempt.) In order to be exempt, the employee must:

  • Perform specified duties in a particular manner.
  • Be paid a monthly salary that is no less than two times the state minimum wage for full-time employment.
  • As of Jan. 1, 2023, to qualify for a white collar exemption requires the employee to earn an annual salary of $64,480 (or $1,240 weekly).
  • Employee spends more than 50 percent of their time performing exempt duties.
  • Salary of exempt employees is guaranteed, and cannot be reduced for quality or quantity of work.

The proof burden for establishing that employee should be classified as exempt is on the employer, as established in the 1999 ruling of Ramirez v. Yosemite Water Co. Continue Reading ›

Wrongful termination in California is a situation wherein a worker is laid off or fired for a reason that violates state or federal law or public policy. California wrongful termination lawyer

As our Orange County employment attorneys can explain, most wrongful terminations stem from firing that resulted from:

  • Violation of an implied contract.
  • Whistleblower activities.
  • Violations of public policy.
  • Exercising rights under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).
  • Filing a workers’ compensation claim or reporting a work injury.
  • WARN Act violations (involving mass layoffs).
  • Retaliation for workers exercising rights under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or state employee leave laws.

Workers who successfully bring a wrongful termination lawsuit may be entitled to collect lost wages and benefits, back pay, compensation for emotional distress, attorney’s fees, and punitive damages (the last specifically awarded for gross misconduct by an employer).

How Do I Know if My Firing Was an Exception to California’s At-Will Employment Law?

When we say that wrongful termination lawsuits stem from illegitimate reasons, we’re specifically referring to unlawful reasons. The reality is that as an at-will employment state, an employer can legally fire you for no reason at all. Just the same way an employee can quit for any reason at all.

However, if you get fired for reasons that have something to do with your race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, religion, color, sexual orientation, gender identity, age (if over 40), disability, marital status, pregnancy (or related condition), medical condition, being a member of the military or a victim of domestic violence/stalking, etc. – that is what amounts to a wrongful termination under federal and/or state laws. (Cities may have their own additional categories that are protected under law.)

Similarly, one can sue for wrongful termination if the termination occurred in violation of an implied contract. Employers create implied contracts by doing things like issuing employee handbooks that list specific causes for termination or telling an employee they won’t be fired unless they engage in certain behavior.

Another exception to at-will employment is when termination is in violation of public policy. The best example of this would be an employee who refuses to follow an employer’s order to break the law and is fired for it. That individual would have a case for public policy wrongful termination. Similarly, companies can’t fire workers for telling police the employer broke the law or for reporting unsafe working conditions to an agency like OSHA.

Workers can’t be fired in retaliation for reporting or cooperating with a case involving harassment, discrimination, criminal wrongdoing, wage and hour violations, or safety violations. Continue Reading ›

Both federal and state anti-discrimination laws cover most employers in California. These laws prevent employers from firing or taking other adverse action against workers on the basis of their gender, race, ethnicity, pregnancy, nationality, disability, etc. However, as our Riverside employment lawyers can explain, religious institutions – including schools – are often protected by something known as the ministerial exception. What sometimes throws people is that:

  • One does not need to be an actual minister – or even administrator – for the exception to be applicable.
  • The ministerial exception may protect religious institutions from claims of employment discrimination that aren’t solely about religious discrimination.ministerial exception California

The California Supreme Court in the past has expressed empathy for employees at religious institutes (mostly schools) unable to sue for employment discrimination under the law when they’d otherwise be able to, but for the ministerial exception. It remains a significant barrier to some claims.

Recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed a lower court’s dismissal of a racial harassment, discrimination, and retaliation claim by a California Catholic high school principal, who the court found qualified as a minister under the ministerial exception. Continue Reading ›

Los Angeles employment lawyers have been carefully watching developments in a California workplace retaliation lawsuit that raises new questions about the scope of protections afforded under federal labor laws. This could potentially endanger these protections – not only here in the Golden State, but across the country – if the National Labor Relations Board sides with the construction company employer in the dispute.workplace retaliation

Many employment law attorneys and scholars agree that a core safety net in all labor statutes – state and federal – is the understanding that litigation is a protected activity. This principle forms the foundation of labor laws that prohibit employers from retaliating against employees for filing a lawsuit for things like unlawful discrimination or wage and hour violations.

Relying on New U.S. Supreme Court Precedent

Continue Reading ›

Employment discrimination can be subtle, but it is described as unequal treatment or attitudes toward one group of employees or against another resulting in unfair, adverse impacts to a protected class of employees or prospective employees. Among the most common questions our Riverside employment discrimination attorneys receive is, “How do I file an employment discrimination lawsuit in California?” One of the first things we need to determine is whether you belong to a protected class, and if so, whether they suffered disparate and negative treatment as at least partially a result of being in that class. Riverside Employment Discrimination Lawyer

The California Fair Employment Practices Act marks its 60th anniversary in 2019. The law prohibits discrimination against employees and/or applicants on the basis of one’s actual or perceived belonging or association with one of the following protected classes:

Gender (this provision also bars sexual harassment);

  • Race and Color
  • Ethnicity
  • Marital Status
  • National Origin or Ancestry
  • Religious Creed
  • Pregnancy, Childbirth or Related Conditions (including lactation)
  • Disability
  • Age (pertains to individuals over the age of 40)

Once our Riverside employment discrimination attorneys examine the facts of the case to determine whether sufficient evidence exists to file a claim, we’ll give you a detailed rundown of your legal options. Unlike other types of civil claims, the process of filing an employment discrimination claim doesn’t always go straight to court. Continue Reading ›

Big changes have arrived in the state of California in the new year, many of which will have a direct impact on employers and their employees. employment laws

The San Francisco Chronicle recently documented a run-down of the biggest additions to state law and how they will change life in California in 2018 and beyond.

The list included everything from the new recreational cannabis laws, protections for women in the workplace, as well as employee rights for criminals.

While some of these changes have obvious and direct effects on the workplace, others are less clear, particularly the legalization of recreational marijuana, which quickly has turned into one of the biggest stories of the year. Continue Reading ›

A sharply divided California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division Eight, issued a decision allowing a plaintiff to proceed with his associational disability discrimination claim against his employer. This was a reversal of the trial court’s opinion in Castro-Ramirez v. Dependable Highways Express Inc., wherein a father alleged he was fired for his need to assist his disabled son. gaveljan

This kind of “association” discrimination is outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which bars discrimination against an employee based on their association or relationship with an individual who has a known disability. The provision in 42 U.S.C. 12112(b)(4) means a company is forbidden from taking adverse action against a worker simply for associating with or having a relationship with someone who is disabled.

Under the ADA, companies are required to give qualified workers with disabilities reasonable accommodations. However, federal courts have held in prior cases (see Tyndall, 4th Cir. 1994, Overly, 6th Cir. 2006) that this association discrimination provision doesn’t mean workers are entitled to employment modifications in order to care for a disabled spouse or child. Continue Reading ›

Much has been written about the lack of gender diversity in Silicon Valley. The problem has even birthed a few California employment lawsuits, with varied results. Most notable among those was the case of Ellen Pao, a junior partner, against her former employer and powerhouse venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Pao lost her her bid for compensation spring, after jurors found there was not enough evidence of gender discrimination. iphone5

Now in the latest legal action against a technology giant, Twitter is accused of gender discrimination by a former engineer. Tina Huang claims she was forced out of the firm because she is a woman. She has the testimony of a former colleague to help back her claims.

However, Twitter has come out swinging, alleging that former colleague of Huang’s likely violated an employment contract by helping his friend land a job at the venture capital firm where he’d begun working. The company plans to file a motion to dismiss, claiming the allegations have no basis in truth.  Continue Reading ›

A California employment lawsuit against ride-sharing service Lyft was settled with an interesting compromise. driver

Workers involved in the class-action lawsuit asserted they were in fact employees, entitled to all the legal protections that entails. However, the mobile app argued the drivers were independent contractors, meaning they wouldn’t be entitled to minimum wage, workers’ compensation, overtime and other benefits.

Now, Reuters reports the company has agreed to expand certain worker protections and it’s paying $12.25 million to the drivers who are party to the lawsuit. However, it has not agreed to label the drivers employees. For the business, this eliminates a significant threat to its business model, but it could still leave drivers in a vulnerable place.  Continue Reading ›

Recently, there has been a lot of discussion about how the economy is growing across the country and in the Los Angeles area. However, unlike in previous periods of economic growth, much of this job growth has been attributed to what is being referred to as “on demand” jobs “or “gigs.” While the term gig has being around a long time, it formerly was used when a band got hired to perform for a night. These days a gig could mean when someone online requests a single service, such as helping to fix a computer problem, or even coming to help put together furniture a customer bought from IKEA.

technologyThere are also ridesharing companies, such as Uber and Lyft. These companies get customers to download their apps for their smartphones. When a user needs a ride, he or she can call an Uber, for example. A driver who is working with the ridesharing company will have an iPhone that tells them someone has requested a ride. The ridesharing driver can either accept the request or do nothing. If he or she accepts the ride, then the driver is expected to pick up the rider and take the rider to his or her designation, and the app handles all of the payment, including a tip for the driver. Continue Reading ›

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