California Law Offers Powerful Protections To Employees. Know Your Rights And Take Control
Our jobs are our livelihoods. They are how we care for our families, provide an education for our children, and save for the future. When the security a job provides is threatened by wrongful termination, illegal discrimination, retaliation, or failure to pay wages or overtime, the impact is devastating – both financially and emotionally.
It is important to remember that no matter how much we like our jobs, we are employed so that we can support ourselves and our families. Unfortunately, employers will often attempt to pass off illegal behavior under the guise of “work-family sacrifices” or “close-knit office communities.” This is never okay. The bottom line is that your employer is legally obligated to pay you properly for your time, and if they fail to do so or otherwise jeopardize your employment, you need to take action.
One of the most heartbreaking violations of employment law is discrimination. Specific categories are protected under California and U.S. federal laws. These categories include:
- Sexual orientation
- Disability status
These discrimination laws state that your employer cannot give you preferential treatment or treat you unfairly for any of the above categories. This means you cannot be fired or treated differently based solely on any of the above.
Wrongful termination can be challenging to pin down, but it involves being fired from your job despite good performance, results, and attitude. Though employers have the right to lay off employees due to budget cuts, restructuring, or other internal arrangements, there are many situations in which they cannot legally fire someone.
Many wrongful termination claims go hand in hand with discrimination. For example, you cannot be terminated based on your race, age, disability status, pregnancy status, gender, sexual orientation, or any other protected category.
It can be difficult to identify a wrongful termination case. Many times, the key indicator is the timing of the termination. For example, if you announce that you are pregnant and your boss fires you the following week for “poor performance” despite good performance reviews and feedback thus far, you likely have a wrongful termination case.
Many people identify wrongful termination cases when their employer suddenly changes their opinion about the employee’s performance. Using history and past performance reviews, employees can often determine if they were wrongfully terminated or if the action was a long time in the making.
As an employee and citizen of the United States, you have the right to uphold the law without being punished for it. To enforce this, there are strict retaliation laws that protect you after you report wrongdoing. If you see illegal or unethical behavior in the workplace, you cannot be punished as long as you were truthfully trying to uphold justice. For example, if you are a victim of sexual harassment and you bring the matter to court, your employer cannot fire you as a result.
Unfortunately, many employers try to retaliate against their employees in other ways. This can occur in ways such as:
- Excluding the employee from vital meetings or information
- Not considering the employee for a promotion that they are qualified for
- Refusing to speak to the employee about relevant workplace questions or issues
- Changing the employee’s schedule or responsibilities as an act of punishment
- Reducing the employee’s salary or refusing to give a necessary or deserved pay raise
There are many more examples of retaliation in the workplace, and any of them can have devastating effects. Remember, you are protected from retaliation if you were trying to uphold the law. If your employer engages in this behavior, they can be held legally responsible.
Failure to Pay Wages or Overtime
As we discussed, the entire purpose of employment is to financially support yourself and your family. Therefore, even if you love your job, it is important that your talents and labor are appropriately rewarded. If your employer fails to pay for your time and effort, they are breaking the law.
This applies to overtime hours as well. There are strict laws in California about how much a person can work without extra compensation. Nonexempt employees can only work 40 hours per week and 8 hours per day at their regular wage. If you go over either one of those levels, you are entitled to overtime pay. Unfortunately, many employers try to get out of paying their employees for extra time. This is one of the most common sources of wage theft.
Other wage violations include:
- Mismanagement of paid and unpaid breaks
- Failure to provide a mealtime for long shifts
- Requests for “off the clock” work
- Failure or refusal to reimburse for qualified expenses
- Taking back or refusing to allow rollover of promised PTO
Wage violations are a serious matter and can significantly impact the amount of your paychecks. If your employer makes a wage mistake and corrects it promptly, you are likely not facing a wage or payment violation. However, if your employer refuses to pay you the money you are owed, it is time to find an attorney.
What Does an Employment Lawyer Do?
Employment attorneys help employees to fight violations in the workplace. This can cover any topic, from harassment or abuse to wage theft and overtime violations. Essentially, your employment lawyer ensures that your employer is held responsible if they have treated you or paid you unfairly.
Your Orange County employment lawyer will likely review your employment contract and go through any evidence proving that mistreatment has occurred. They will then assemble an argument as to why and how the behavior was intentional and illegal.
What Questions Should I Ask an Employment Lawyer?
When hiring an attorney of any kind, it is a very good idea to thoroughly vet them to be sure that they are a good fit. Every attorney is different, and finding the right one for your case is essential to its success. These are a few questions to ask your attorney.
What Do You Charge?
Each law firm has a different policy for charging clients, so you should verify an attorney’s pricing structure before committing to working with them. This ensures that you can stay within your budget and can pay for their services.
Do You Have Experience in Employment Law?
It is crucial that your attorney specializes in employment law and has experience fighting cases. Laws in this area can get very detailed and specific, so you must have someone on your side who has experience with cases like yours.
Do You Have a Good Track Record for These Cases?
It is not only necessary that your attorney has experience with cases such as yours; it is important that they have won cases like yours.
How Many Cases Are You Currently Handling?
It is normal for attorneys to juggle a few cases at once. However, too many cases mean that your attorney may miss some details and potentially lose your case. You want to be sure that your attorney will have time and attention to devote to your case.
What Do You Believe the Outcome of My Case Will Be?
Though no attorney can predict the future, after you’ve laid out your perspective and they’ve asked relevant questions, they should be able to give you their general level of confidence. Of course, evidence and other factors can alter a case, but it is essential that your attorney feels confident from the beginning.
How Will We Communicate?
It is helpful to know how an attorney will communicate with you about your case, so you know what to expect. Some parts of the legal process take a long time, and it can be nerve-wracking to wait for results or answers. If you determine a communication plan with your attorney ahead of time, you can ease some anxiety and streamline conversations.
You should feel empowered to ask any other questions of your attorney that will help you feel more relaxed and at ease about working with them. A good attorney is someone who is easy to talk to and a good listener. This means that asking any questions you have should be easy. If you feel intimidated or as if you are not allowed to ask questions, that attorney is not a good fit for you.
Do I Need an Attorney for My Employment Law Case?
It is always best to hire an attorney in serious legal matters. In employment law cases, fighting the case alone almost guarantees that you will lose. Your employer likely has an attorney on retainer and will use that attorney’s services to avoid being held responsible. Wage theft, discrimination, and wrongful termination situations are extremely serious and could cost them a significant amount of money. What’s more, their reputation could be tarnished, and they could face severe consequences if found guilty. This means that they will likely do everything in their power to avoid losing.
To successfully stand up to your employer, you need a robust and experienced attorney to represent you. Unfortunately, the courts do not look kindly on those who represent themselves, and you will likely lose a lot of time and money if you do so.
What Settlement Could I Get?
It is normal to misunderstand what kind of money or compensation is on the table during an employment law litigation. To calibrate your expectations, ask potential attorneys what they believe you could sue for and what you might get in the settlement. Their answer may also indicate how confident they are in your case.
An Elite Law Firm Dedicated to Fighting for Employees
The Law Offices of Corbett H. Williams is committed to representing employees who experience mistreatment in the workplace. Our labor lawyers have the experience and the resources to take on employers who can hire big defense firms whose sole purpose is making sure employees receive as little as possible for their claims.
Attorney Corbett H. Williams has years of experience litigating complex cases at some of the largest and most prestigious law firms in Orange County and the United States and leverages that experience to level the playing field for employees. If you have experienced unlawful treatment at work, you need an Orange County labor attorney. Contact the Law Offices of Corbett H. Williams today.
Types of Employment Cases Our Orange County Firm Handles
California and federal employment laws exist to protect employees from wrongful employment practices. The Law Offices of Corbett H. Williams handles many types of employment matters, including:
Orange County law protects employees from termination on the basis of a number of characteristics including an employee’s disability, pregnancy, gender, age, sexual orientation, political affiliation religion and national origin, or protesting or reporting violations of Orange County employment law such as discrimination, harassment, wage and hour violations and unsafe work conditions, or filing a worker’s compensation claim.
Sexual harassment comes in many forms and isn’t always about sex, but can be about a person’s gender, sexual orientation, or sexual identity. It can include unwanted touching, sexual slurs, jokes, or comments, displaying inappropriate pictures or other materials, persistent leering, and sending unwanted sexual emails or text messages.
Orange County law provides broad protections for employees who report illegal activity in the workplace. When an employee “blows the whistle” and reports activity or conduct that the employee has reason to believe is against the law, the employer is prohibited from taking retaliatory action against the employee.
Contact Us Today For A Free Case Evaluation
If you have been sexually harassed, wrongfully terminated, discriminated against, or not paid all your wages, the Law Offices of Corbett H. Williams can help. Call us today at 949-679-9909 or take a moment to fill out the online contact form for a prompt response from the firm. Delay could result in the loss of your claim, so don’t wait.
The Law of Offices of Corbett H. Williams is always prepared to get clients started down the road to a more secure future. Take the first step and contact the firm today. The attorney will take care to answer questions and help decide what the most effective next step can be.