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Tag Archive for Los Angeles employment lawyer

Court Funding Issues Mean Longer Wait Times For Justice

I’m often asked by clients with California employment claims how long it will take to adjudicate their claims. In recent years, my answer has been some version of: “A lot longer than it used to.” The 2015 Los Angeles Superior Court Annual Report, published on April 14, 2015, perfectly illustrates why. Over the past five years, the Court has cut spending by $110 million (with a resulting 27.5% decrease in its annual budget from Fiscal Year 2010-2011), closed eight courthouses in which approximately 300,000 cases were filed annually, and drastically reduced staffing. The result? Clogged dockets and delayed motion hearing and trial dates. A process that once took twelve to fifteen months to complete can now easily exceed two years.

This is the first report the L.A. Superior Court has issued since 2011, presumably because it couldn’t find money in its budget for the copy paper and printer toner. I’m just kidding, of course, but only just. Fortunately, the situation appears to be improving. The Court was able to balance its budget beginning with Fiscal Year 2013-2014 for the first time in five years and did not have to undertake layoffs for the first time in seven. It has also streamlined and consolidated specific case types by creating “specialized case-processing hubs in select courthouses.” As I don’t practice in any of these specific case types, I have not a clue what this means, but the Court claims it has “resulted in major efficiencies,” so bully for them!

NEW YEAR USHERS IN NEW EMPLOYMENT LAWS IN CALIFORNIA

Another year, another dozen or so new laws for California employers and employees to brush up on. (It’s the most wonderful time of the year.) Here are my top three:

1. Paid Sick Leave Posting and Notice Requirements

While California’s new paid sick leave law does not go into effect until July 1, 2015, employers are required to provide notice of employees’ paid sick leave rights beginning January 1, 2015. Employers must post notice of these rights where employees can easily read it in the same manner as they do (or should do) with respect to their employees’ minimum wage, overtime, and worker’s compensation rights. Further, employers must provide newly-hired non-exempt employees with notice of their paid sick leave benefits pursuant to the Wage Theft Prevention Act Notice (Labor Code section 2810.5), or “WTPAN,” as it is referred to by . . . absolutely no one.

2. Protection for Unpaid Interns and Volunteers Under FEHA

Assembly Bill 1443 closes a pretty egregious loophole exempting unpaid interns and volunteers from the discrimination, harassment and retaliation protections of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. AB 1443 extends such rights to unpaid interns and volunteers.

3. Extended Statute of Limitations on Liquidated Damages for Minimum Wage Violations

Assembly Bill 2074 clarifies that the statute of limitations for liquidated damages stemming from minimum wages violations under California Labor Code sections 1197.1 and 1194.2 is the same as the underlying minimum wage violations themselves, three years. Previous case law had suggested that these liquidated damages were penalties and thus subject to a one-year statute of limitations.

Please contact the Leichter Law Firm, APC located in Los Angeles, California to learn more about your legal rights in the workplace.

The Ten Commandments for Pursuing Your Employment Claims

Think you’ve been wronged by your current or former employer but don’t know how to proceed? Let these ten commandments be your guide.

DO: 

I.     Consult with an Employment Attorney.

We’re everywhere—you can’t miss us. We pay good money to get on your radar, so don’t feel like you’re imposing on our time or good nature. And if you are imposing? Well, that’s our problem, not yours.

DON’T:

II.    Pay Money for an Initial Consultation.

Now this is not a hard and fast rule. There are many competent and ethical employment attorneys who charge for initial consultations and are perfectly justified in doing so. There are also, however, many competent and ethical employment attorneys who don’t charge for initial consultations. Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?

DO:

III.    Consult with Another Employment Attorney.

It never hurts to get a second opinion, or a third, or a fourth, especially if they’re free. If every law firm you speak to wants to set up a meeting to sign you up as a client, you know you’re in business. Conversely, if you’re repeatedly told that you have no case, you have a pretty good idea where you stand.

DON’T:

IV.    Consult with Any Attorney.    

In a world where resources are scarce, employment lawyers are plentiful, especially in Los Angeles. If you have an employment law issue, you want to make sure you are advised by someone with employment law experience. If a lawyer’s website does not include employment as an area of practice, there’s a pretty good chance he or she is not well versed in that area of law.

DON’T:

V.     Contact an Attorney From the Workplace.

This seems rather obvious when you think about it. The problem is employees often don’t think about it. Many employers have policies explicitly authorizing the monitoring of employees’ company emails and internet search history. The same is true of phone calls made from work telephones. Even without these policies, you cannot assume such communications will remain confidential. If you don’t have a cell phone, wait until you get home to make the call. If you need to send an email from work, make sure you use a personal email account and do it during a break and out of the reach of prying ears.

DO:

VI.    Give Yourself Sufficient Time to Review the Retainer Agreement.

So you’ve met with the Law Offices of Employmentson and Laborstein, APC, and have a good vibe about them. They’re interested in representing you and give you their standard retainer agreement. Before signing anything, read the agreement! This is more ostensibly obvious advice too many clients ignore. Do not feel pressured into signing anything you have not fully reviewed. If you need more time, ask for it.

DON’T:

VII.   Sign the Retainer Until All Your Questions Have Been Answered.

A common side effect of being a lawyer is writing like one. If there is a provision in a retainer agreement that does not make sense to you, ask the attorney to explain it to you. It’s quite possible he or she does not understand it either. A retainer agreement is a legally-binding contract. Once you enter into the agreement, you are bound by its terms. It’s critically important that you understand, and are comfortable with, everything in the contract.

DO:

VIII.   Everything Your Lawyer Tells You to Do When You’re Told to Do It.

A good attorney will zealously fight for you, but you need to do your part. Make yourself an asset to your case, not another problem your lawyer has to contend with.

DON’T:

IX.    Withhold Relevant Information From Your Attorney.

A corollary to the Eighth Commandment and a cardinal sin. You might be tempted to withhold information which you believe is harmful to your case or personally embarrassing. Don’t! An informed lawyer with advance knowledge can minimize the damage and/or avoid uncomfortable revelations about you. A blindsided and unprepared lawyer will lose face in front of opposing counsel and lose faith in you.

DO:

X.     Follow These Commandments As They Have Been Told Unto You.

Uncomfortable with the religious undertones? Just think of them as helpful suggestions.

Los Angeles Employment Attorney Helping Workers

For a Los Angeles employment attorney, helping workers is something they take pride in. No matter what dispute you may have with your employer you can always turn to an employment attorney to seek help in the matter and get it resolved the right way.

Are you having problems getting the salary you agreed to in your contract? Maybe your current employer insists you are not worth what you agreed to in your contract. You have the legal right to come to the best Los Angeles employment attorney to help you enforce your legal rights.

Many times people find themselves in complicated situations in the workplace and feel overwhelmed by the prospect of standing up to their superiors. Many of these people find relief in the knowledge that Los Angeles employment attorneys bring to each case, the tailor made solutions they give as well as their expert negotiation skills.

Problems you face may range from employment breach of contracts to unfair dismissal to discrimination in the selection process of employees based on age, gender, race, disability or sexual orientation. In all the above cases you will be able to get a hands-on solution that will alleviate your frustration or dispute.

The U.S. Constitution and several state statutes as well as various acts of congress describe broadly the remedies available to any complaint brought under the acts, the precautions, procedures and prohibitions that relate to each unique circumstance you may find yourself or your loved ones in.

Dispute Resolution for Hourly Wage Employees

Across the globe there are many people who are employed and paid as hourly wage employees. In order to keep track of their time, electronic tags, time sheets and clock cards are used to record when they enter or leave the work place, including any lunch breaks. Their managers or employers have the capacity to alter these records if there are any mistakes or discrepancies. Sometimes however, employers take undue advantage of their capacity by preventing hourly wage employees from taking legitimate lunch breaks.  If this has happened to you, it would be in your best interest to seek the skills of a Los Angeles attorney for hourly wage employees.

These skilled professionals have vast experience in dealing with disputes related to hourly wage employees. In the case where your employer claims you worked less hours than you genuinely clocked in for, a Los Angeles attorney for hourly wage employees will be able to guide and provide advice. If you are having problems with your employer not paying you appropriately for any overtime, or if your employer might have incorrectly classified you as “exempt” from overtime. In any of the above or similar situations, the expertise of a professional and experienced Los Angeles attorney for hourly wage employees might mean the difference between being exploited and getting fair remuneration for your time.

Employment Law: Overtime Pay Claims

New employment regulations prohibit employers from stiffing employees from their overtime pay. However, that doesn’t mean they never try to keep those extra earned wages from their workers. According to the University of Washington, “The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires that most workers receive overtime pay at 1.5 times the employee’s regular pay rate for all hours worked over 40 hours in a seven day workweek, and that employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage.” In addition, employees are also entitled to overtime compensation whenever they work more than 8 hours in one day (but only receive overtime pay for the time worked after the 8 hour mark.) If you think you are owned any overtime pay please contact your Los Angeles employment attorney for a confidential consultation.

Since the FLSA took affect some employers have tried to cheat their employees using old and new methods. For example, an employer might decide to deny overtime pay if it is not approved in advanced. However, the FLSA treats approved and non-approved hours the same; meaning that once the hours are worked the employee is entitled to overtime pay.

Another strategy used to get around paying overtime is to classify salaried employees as exempt. This revolves around the idea that an employee that is paid salary rather than an hourly wage cannot earn overtime. However, this notion is completely false because job titles and descriptions are not determinative factors. Whether an employee qualifies for overtime compensation is determined by the work they performed, not whether they are paid salary or hourly.

Other employers reduce hours on employee timecards for meal breaks when work is performed. Normally if an employee is entitled to a meal break his or her employer does not need to count the time as part of the total hours worked. But, if the employee works during the meal break, the time must count toward the hours worked for the day and the week.

Employment Law: Everything You Need to Know About Family and Medical Leave Act

There are many cases where an employee feels the need to take time off of work to care for a sick loved one.  Many may not know that could qualify for their company’s Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).  It is important to understand your employee privileges in case a situation should arise.  If you have encountered issues with FMLA contact your Los Angeles employment lawyer today.

What does the Family and Medical Leave Act entail?  According to US News, “The Family and Medical Leave Act took effect in 1993 to help balance workplace demands with the medical needs of employees and their families. You’re entitled to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period for your own serious health condition, or to care for an immediate family member who has a serious health condition. You may also use the FMLA for what the Department of Labor website refers to as “birth and bonding:” an extended parental leave for the birth or adoption of a child, and for bonding with a new foster child.”

Check out these facts on determining your eligibility according to US News:

  • Not every employee is eligible.
  • Your employer may require that you use paid leave first
  • Your employer may require proof of the serious health condition
  • A job is guaranteed to you, but not necessarily the same job you had before.

You may request additional time to care for a member of the military

Find out everything you need to know about FMLA here.

Military Members/Veterans and Employment Law Violations

American troops are proud for what they stand for, fighting for our country’s rights.  Unfortunately the story isn’t so sweet upon their arrival back to the states.  Many veterans come home, struggling to find careers in order to make ends meet.  The process is difficult as employers often aren’t fond of the idea of having a veteran work for them.  If you have experienced veteran and military status discrimination, contact your Los Angeles employment lawyer for a consultation.  Check out these common signs of discrimination against veterans.

1.    An employer claims the job is no longer available. 

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act protects returning veterans from job loss due to their military service. If you held a position before deployment, many employers don’t realize that returning veterans have the right to return to their previous job.

2.    The employer has no desire to hire veterans

Unfortunately some employers fear that military members will be re deployed missing a significant amount of days.  USERRA explains that employers cannot refuse to hire a military service person because of their status.

3.    The employer takes away accrued vacation time.

USERRA protects any benefits or vacation time accrued while in service.  In other words you are still entitled to vacation time as if you were working there.

4.    Harassment.

Under President Obama’s Veterans Opportunity to Work (VOW) to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, harassment against military service members or veterans is illegal.

5.    Discrimination Against Disability.

There are cases when veterans come home with disabilities acquired while in combat.  Under The Americans With Disabilities Act, disability discrimination is illegal. This includes demotion, firing and refusing employment. According to the act, “if a veteran can perform all the duties of the job with a reasonable accommodation, the accommodation must be provided.”

Employment Law: Pregnancy Discrimination Accommodations

Last month, a California Court of Appeal voted yes on Sanchez v. Swissport, Inc. a case where a California woman was terminated for being unable to return to her job after a 19 week pregnancy disability leave.  The case is a “wake-up” call of sorts for employers to understand that simply complying with California pregnancy disability laws is not necessarily enough.   It is unlawful in California for employers to discriminate in hiring, providing for leave, benefits or other conditions of employment due to pregnancy.  Contact your Los Angeles employment lawyer, if you believe you are a victim of pregnancy discrimination.

According to CalLaborLaw.com, the court held that an employer’s providing of the 16 weeks of leave for pregnancy disability does not automatically shield the employer from claims for failure to accommodate a disability or for gender/pregnancy discrimination under FEHA. The court reasoned that an extended leave of absence (beyond 16 weeks of pregnancy disability leave) may be a “reasonable accommodation” for a disability required under FEHA, and that Swissport may have been required to provide the additional leave time absent a showing of undue hardship.  The case was, therefore, remanded to the trial court level so that the employee’s FEHA claims could be litigated.

It is important for employers to understand the employee’s needs for any additional time needed after the expiration of their leave, rather than face the possibility of facing claims due to disability discrimination.  Pregnancy discrimination is a form of sex discrimination and should not be treated less favorably.

Are You Working in a Hostile Work Environment?

“Hostile work environment” is often misunderstood.  Many believe that such an environment is when one employee dislikes another, and intentionally makes their work life miserable to the point that they quit.  However this isn’t the case.

The concept of a hostile work environment falls under the ADA, ADEA, Title VII, and any state employment discrimination laws. Meaning that, unless the alleged at-work harassment is based on race, color, religion, sex, national original, age (40+), disability, or some state-protected characteristic, a hostile work environment most likely doesn’t legally exist.

A hostile work environment legally occurs when there is harsh and/or persistent conduct that a reasonable person would consider intimidating or abusive such that it impacts their way of working.

Conduct needs to be based on one of the aforementioned characteristics, or done for a retaliatory reason. Typical at-work harassment includes offensive jokes, slurs, touching, threats, ridicule and insults.

Simply being rude does not count as hostile work environment—actions need to be sufficiently offensive.

In addition it is important to know that even if an employee is not the direct victim of at-work harassment, even if he/she was affected by it, he/she has a right to sue an employer for creating such an environment.

If you believe you have a case against hostile work environment contact our Los Angeles employment law offices immediately to find out about your rights.

 

 

Via FindLaw