Employees in California have the right to a work in a safe environment that is free of discrimination and harassment. They have the right to receive fair wages for the work that they do. While employees have these rights and employers have a legal duty to honor those rights, it doesn't always happen. Several employers in California violate labor laws to save money or maximize profits.
When employers fail to honor their contracts or violate state, federal and local employment laws, it can be challenging for employees to determine how to react or what steps to take next. If you are facing discrimination, harassment or mistreatment at your workplace, it is natural to be afraid of losing your job or losing your livelihood and being unable to support your family.
The Sherman Oaks employment law attorneys at Kingsley & Kingsley have nearly 40 years of experience standing up and fighting for workers' rights and holding employers accountable. We are here to help you pursue justice and maximum compensation for your losses. Call us today to explore your options
Common Types of Employment Cases We Handle
There are a number of disputes that can crop up in the workplace, which could have serious outcomes including job termination. Here are some of the common types of cases we've handled successfully:
Wrongful termination cases: These types of cases can be some of the most challenging and emotionally-charged disputes we come across in the workplace. That's because these cases put employees in a situation where their ability to do the job, their behavior and integrity could be called to question. When an employee is fired, his or her reputation is on the line.
While California is an at-will state, which means that employers may terminate an employee for any reason and employees can quit their jobs in a similar fashion, there are still certain exceptions that apply. For example, if the employer had a contract in place with the employee, he or she cannot be fired at will or that would be a valid wrongful termination claim. Also, an employer cannot fire an employee because he or she filed a complaint with a governmental agency alleging fraudulent activity, discrimination, harassment, etc. Doing so will be considered "retaliation," which is also illegal.
Wage disputes: This type of employment lawsuit arises when an employer fails to properly compensate an employee for his or her time on the job. This can include failing to pay workers overtime, earned tips or not allowing paid meal and rest breaks. Employers also have a legal obligation to pay workers minimum wages as set forth by California and local laws.
Wage disputes may also arise from the misclassification of workers, which typically occurs when an employer wrongly declares a worker as an independent contractor as opposed to an employee. Employers do this so they don't have to provide an employee medical and other benefits or sick and vacation pay. This is a common strategy utilized by many employers to save money. However, it has devastating consequences for workers.
Discrimination and harassment: Federal and state laws protect workers and job applicants from discrimination and harassment based on a person's race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, pregnancy or disability. For example, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations in the workplace for employees with disabilities or certain religious beliefs.
Sexual harassment: This is one of the most common types of harassment in the workplace. It is also the most underreported type of harassment. Sexual harassment is defined as unwanted sexual advances or behavior. For example, a colleague who shares unsolicited material that is sexual in nature or makes sexual jokes or comments about you is engaging in sexual harassment.
More severe forms of sexual harassment include inappropriate touching, asking for sexual favors and sexual assault. Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when a supervisor or colleague asks you for a sexual favor in exchange for a benefit such as a promotion.
What Steps Can You Take?
If you are facing harassment, discrimination or mistreatment in the workplace, there are a number of steps you can take to protect your rights:
- Talk directly to the harasser and ask him or her to stop. However, if it doesn't stop, file a report with your supervisor and/or your company's human resources department. Make sure you file a report and obtain a copy for your own records.
- If your employer takes no step to resolve the issue, file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) whose job is to investigate and address issues of harassment and discrimination at the workplace.
- Depending on the severity of the harassment, filing an employment lawsuit may be the logical next step. This is typically done after the EEOC reviews your case and issues you a "right to sue" letter, which gives you the green light to file an employment lawsuit.
- Be sure to document everything. Save crucial pieces of evidence including internal memos, emails, written communication, and notes detailing your interactions with the harasser. If other colleagues witnessed this behavior, ask if they will corroborate the incidents. Save all this information in a personal computer, which you can access even if you leave the company.
- Stay away from social media until your case is resolved. Please remember that anything you post online can be used against you.
Damages in Employment Lawsuits
The damages awarded in an employment claim typically depend on the nature and circumstances of the case. Damages include all of the financial and emotional losses the employee suffers as a consequence of the employment dispute. In most federal and state discrimination cases, employees may be able to receive damages such as back pay, front pay, lost benefits (medical, sick and vacation pay, pension) etc. In addition, employees could receive punitive damages, especially in cases where the employer's actions were particularly egregious.
The experienced Sherman Oaks employment law attorneys at Kingsley& Kingsley offer a no-win, no-fee guarantee. This means we don't charge you any fees unless we can recover compensation for you. We are passionate about the pursuit of justice for our clients. Call us at 888-500-8469 to schedule your free, comprehensive and confidential consultation.