When it comes to employment, California has some of the toughest laws in the country, all designed to protect you from unfair conduct by your employer.  The following is a list of common issues that the Collier Law Firm deal with in the employment law context, including questions designed to help you figure you if you might have a case worth bringing.

  • Wrongful Termination/Wrongful Discharge: Have you been fired for reporting what you believed to be unlawful conduct by your employer?  Have you been discharged because of your race, ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, medical condition, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, or Union affiliation/activity?
  • Employment Discrimination, Harassment or Retaliation: Have you experienced discrimination on account of race, ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, medical condition, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, whistleblower status, or Union affiliation/activity?  Discrimination includes refusal to hire or promote, demotions, discipline, discharge, harassment, or any other employment action that has a substantial and material adverse effect on your employment.
  • Sexual Harassment: Have you been subject to unwanted sexual advances, improper office humor, unwanted touching, or otherwise been exposed to a hostile work environment on account of your gender?  Did you report the harassment of your coworkers and/or supervisors?  Did your employer fail to take appropriate action in response to your complaints, permitting it to continue?
  • Meal (Lunch and/or Dinner) Break and Rest Break Violations: California law requires a strict regimen of meal and rest breaks for employees to protect them from the adverse health effects of failing to take breaks at work.  Do not assume that you are exempt from meal and rest period requirements simply because you are a salaried employee, as this is a common trick used by employers to evade their obligations under the law.  Did you receive a 10-minute paid break for every four hours worked (or major fraction thereof)?  Did you receive a 30-minute, uninterrupted meal break for every workday?  If not, you may be entitled to compensation under the California Labor Code and the Wage Orders issued by the Industrial Welfare Commission.
  • Unpaid Wages or Overtime: Were you paid all wages due to you at the time you were terminated?  If you quit your job, did you receive all of your final pay within 72 hours?  Note that, ordinarily, you are also entitled to compensation for any accrued but unused vacation pay.  Did you boss force you to work off the clock or make you falsify time records to avoid overtime payments?  Again, as with meal and rest periods, you may be eligible for overtime compensation even if you are a salaried employee.
  • Report Time Pay Violations: Did your boss require you to be “on-call” without paying you for that time where you sat by the phone, unsure whether you had to work or not?  Were you ever sent home upon arrival for your shift without being provided with at least four hours of pay?
  • Independent Contractor Misclassification: Has your employer issued a 1099 to you or declared you an “independent contractor”?  Are you nevertheless performing work under their supervision, are they setting your hours/compensation, are they directing your work, are they supplying the tools and jobsite, etc.?  The name your employer gives your relationship is irrelevant and analysis of these and other factors is necessary to determine if you are an employee or independent contractor under the law.  Effective January 1, 2012, there are new fines of between $5,000-$25,000 against employers who willfully misclassify their employees to avoid wage and hour or other legal obligations.
  • WARN Act Compliance and Mass Layoff Regulation: Were you part of a mass layoff at your company?  If so, did you receive 60-days written notice that the layoff was coming?
  • Occupational Safety and Health Act Compliance: Is your employer failing to maintain a safe and healthful work environment for you and your employees?  Is there lead, asbestos, mercury, or other hazardous material in you working environment?  Does your employer provide you with proper safety equipment (a.k.a. “personal protective equipment”) and complying with proper safety procedures/protocols?  Has your employer failed to establish or implement an Injury and Illness Prevention Program?
  • Retaliation: Has your employer retaliated against you for reporting what you reasonably believed was unlawful conduct?  Are you being micro-managed?  Falsely criticized for performance deficiencies that are imagined or exaggerated?  Have you been demoted, disciplined, or assigned undesirable assignments?