The practice of employment law can involve many areas including:
- Wrongful Termination
- Sexual Harassment
- Hostile Work Environments
- Labor Law Violations
Wrongful Termination can be difficult to define in many situations. In California, employees are deemed to be “at will” unless they have a written employment contract which clearly spells out their rights. However, even an at will employee can be wrongfully terminated and have the right to sue their former employer.
For example, if an employee reports illegal or unsafe business practices to their employer or the authorities, they cannot be terminated for making the report. Employees cannot be terminated based on their age, sex, race, religion or sexual orientation. Lastly, an employee cannot be terminated in retaliation for reporting incidents of sexual harassment or a work environment which is “hostile” because of the actions of a co-worker or supervisor.
Sexual Harassment is prevalent in our society. While most larger companies have implemented programs to prevent sexual harassment or to permit reporting without fear of reprisal, many smaller companies have no such policies in place. Sexual harassment occurs when a co-worker or supervisor makes unwanted advances of a sexual nature against an employee. In recent years sexual harassment has not only been by men against subordinate female employees, but is recognized in same sex situations and in situations where a female supervisor harasses a subordinate male employee. The questions to ask yourself in determining if you are being harassed are:
- Is the person making unwanted advances of a sexual nature?
- Are the advances occurring in the workplace?
- Are the advances of such a nature that they indicate your refusal will affect your continued employment in a negative manner or that your acceptance will result in some positive effect in your continued employment?
If the answer to any of the above questions is “yes”, you may be suffering from sexual harassment and you should immediately contact an attorney who understands the process of pursuing your claim.
There are a number of pre-lawsuit requirements which must be exhausted before you may file suit. For instance, the offensive behavior must be reported to the employer. The Department of Fair Employment and Housing must be notified and a claim against the employer must be filed. There may be other steps which must be taken before you can file suit and each of these “administrative remedies” must be explored before you file a lawsuit. If the administrative remedies fail to resolve the situation, you may then file suit against the employer and against the individual who harassed you.
Sexual harassment suits often result in very high dollar judgments against the employer depending on the severity of the behavior. At the Lalezary Firm we pride ourselves on obtaining the highest possible resolution for the damages you suffer including lost wages, general and punitive damages and compensation for the psychological damages you have suffered as a result of the harassment.
Hostile Work Environment
When a co-worker treats you unfairly compared to other workers, or actually assaults you, you have the right to sue the person and, under proper circumstances, the employer. The legal theory that an employer is responsible for the actions of their employees is known as respondent superior. Because the co-worker is acting as the agent of the employer, the employer owes a duty of care to other workers to ensure that unfair treatment or violence does not take place. If the employer knows, or should have known, that these conditions exist, they are liable for your damages, which can include constructive termination.
Constructive termination occurs when the conditions of employment are made so unbearable that a reasonable person could not continue their employment under the conditions. If you feel that you are being singled out for unfair treatment by a co-worker or supervisor, you should immediately report the situation to your employer. This is the first step. Once you have reported the situation, your employer must take steps to protect you from the continued unfair, hostile or violent treatment. If the employer fails to do so immediately, you should contact a knowledgeable attorney before you take any other action, including quitting your job.
At the Lalezary firm we will gladly speak with you in strict confidentiality about the situation and help you to make the right decision regarding resolving the problem. This does not always mean filing a lawsuit, although in the more severe cases, it likely will. Sometimes, we can offer guidance short of quitting your job or filing suit and you will be able to resolve the situation with the employer by simply telling them that you know what your rights are. Other times, the mere threat of litigation will cause an employer to do the right thing. However, some employers will simply not relent and in those cases, it may be necessary for you to file suit, and find alternate employment.
Knowing your rights is half the battle. If you believe you are caught in a hostile or violent workplace, contact an attorney to discuss those rights and make an informed decision.
Labor Law Violation
There are a plethora of federal and state labor laws which protect employees from unfair wage practices, ensure mandatory break times, protect against excessive work hours. Rarely does an employee know all of their rights.
Many of these rights are required to be posted in the workplace on large posters. You have likely seen these at work, but probably never paid much attention to all the fine print that appears on the standard posters.
Among the most common violations of labor law are the following:
- q. Failure to pay overtime for any work exceeding 8 hours in a single day or 40 hours in a single week
(“time and a half”)
- , or for holidays
- as required by law;
- b. Failure to provide the required minimum legal break periods during a work shift
(10 minutes for each 4 hours worked and a 30 minute break for any shift over 6 hours)
- c. Failure to promptly pay a terminated employee after termination. Many people are unaware that the law provides you must be paid within 72 hours of termination, regardless of whether your employer fires you, or you voluntarily quit.
What can you do?
If you believe that your employer is engaging in any of the above violations of labor law, contact an attorney immediately.
Call us today at (888) 778-8888 for a free consultation or Contact Us online.