San Diego Employment Lawyer

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San Diego Employment Law Attorney

When you need a local San Diego employment lawyer, the attorneys at Hennig Kramer LLP, are here to help. Our team can provide insight into your unique situation, as well as reliable advice and solutions. We are a full-service employment law practice that works to help our clients pursue justice when their rights are infringed upon in the workplace.

Employment law is a critical aspect of the legal system that governs the relationship between employers and employees. It provides a framework for fair and equitable treatment in the workplace, ensuring that both parties understand their rights and obligations.

Employment law is necessary for creating fair, safe workplaces. By fostering equitable work environments, the well-being of workers is preserved. However, not all employers adhere to these important laws and regulations. Many employers retaliate against their employees for reporting their illegal practices or filing a complaint with the California Civil Rights Department (CRD). In other cases, they do nothing to stop sexual harassment after it’s reported.

San Diego Employment Lawyer

What Is Under Employment Law in California?

Employment law in California covers a wide array of protections and regulations that govern the employer-employee relationship. It is crucial for employees to understand their unique rights under these laws so they can recognize when violations occur. It’s also crucial to understand how to address such issues when they arise. Key areas of California employment law include the following:

  • Worker Classification: Regulations determine the proper classification of workers as either employees or independent contractors. Employees have distinct benefits and protections that independent contractors lack. Sometimes, employers misclassify workers in an attempt to deny them their legally mandated benefits.
  • Wage and Hour Laws: Regulations ensure that employees receive at least the state-mandated minimum wage for their hourly work and overtime pay (time-and-a-half) for hours worked beyond eight in a day or 40 in a week. Laws also mandate meal breaks for shifts over five hours, as well as rest breaks for every 4 hours of work or major fraction thereof. Employers must pay their employees for all hours worked and cannot engage in wage theft.
  • Family, Medical, and Paid Sick Leave: The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) grants all eligible employees leave for family and medical reasons. They have up to 12 weeks per year, and their job is protected during this time. However, they are only entitled to unpaid leave.Similarly, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for qualifying reasons. This is a federal law. There are also rules for using and accruing paid sick leave.
  • Harassment and Discrimination: Employment laws prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, age (when over 40), national origin, and other categories.They also address workplace harassment based on protected characteristics and retaliation for performing protected activities, like filing a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the California Civil Rights Department (CRD).
  • Benefits: Employers are required to provide certain benefits and must adhere to specific guidelines for retirement plans and pensions. Employers that do not offer retirement plans must participate in CalSavers if they have one or more employees.
  • Privacy Rights: Employees have strong privacy rights, which include protections during background checks, rules on employee monitoring, and safeguarding personal information such as medical diagnoses and treatment information.
  • Workplace Safety: Employees are entitled to a safe working environment, and numerous health and safety standards must be maintained to ensure compliance. Employees who report workplace safety issues that may violate OSHA or Cal/OSHA regulations are protected from retaliation by law.
  • Employment Agreements and Contracts: California operates under at-will employment laws, allowing either party to terminate the employment relationship at any time, with or without cause. However, a wrongful termination suit may be brought if an employee is fired based on discrimination against protected classes or in retaliation for participation in protected activities.

Employment law in California involves extensive protections and regulations governing the employer-employee relationship. Employees should understand their rights so that they can effectively recognize and address violations of employment law. While a safe and welcoming workplace is ideal, this is often not the case. Reach out to our San Diego employment attorneys to learn more.

How an Employment Lawyer Can Help You

An employment lawyer offers crucial support in navigating various employment-related challenges. A lawyer ensures your case is handled efficiently and that you receive the justice you deserve. By providing legal guidance, protecting your rights, gathering evidence, filing claims, negotiating settlements, and representing you in various legal settings, an employment lawyer maximizes your chances of a favorable outcome.

Do not hesitate to reach out for legal support. Seek legal advice promptly to ensure you have a fair opportunity to resolve your employment issues. Below is more insight into the specific areas in which an employment lawyer offers essential help:

  • Case Evaluation and Strategy: An employment law attorney will work to first assess your case, identify its strengths and weaknesses, and inform you of the best steps to take. They will develop a tailored legal strategy that considers all relevant circumstances and aligns with your goals.
  • Understanding Your Rights: A lawyer will clearly explain your rights under federal and state laws, covering wage and hour laws, discrimination, harassment, and wrongful termination. They will review non-compete agreements, employment contracts, and severance agreements so that you fully comprehend your obligations and rights.
  • Investigation: Employment lawyers conduct thorough investigations, helping you gather and organize documentation and evidence to support your claims. This includes securing witness statements, records, and other pertinent information.
  • Filing Claims and Complaints: Your lawyer will help you file complaints with agencies like the California Civil Rights Department (CRD) and the Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) if necessary. They can work to prepare and file a lawsuit in civil court on your behalf.
  • Representation and Retaliation Protection: An employment attorney can represent you in negotiations, court, arbitration, and mediation. In addition, they can assist you in filing claims if you are retaliated against for reporting employment law violations or exercising your legal rights. You may be terminated, have your hours reduced, or be demoted. Any action that has a negative impact on the terms and conditions of your employment could be considered retaliation.
  • Dispute Resolution: Attorneys can also facilitate dispute resolution through arbitration and mediation. These efforts and steps are often required by employment contracts. They work to negotiate settlement agreements on your behalf, ensuring they are fair and in your interests.

Why You Should Choose Hennig Kramer LLP

At Hennig Kramer LLP, our employment lawyers have worked to protect and fight for our clients’ rights in the workplace for over 25 years. Our employment attorneys have worked on many types of cases, including the following:

  • Discrimination based on a disability
  • Age harassment and discrimination
  • Gender discrimination
  • Sexual harassment
  • Discrimination and harassment based on faith or religious practices
  • Whistleblower retaliation
  • Discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation
  • Discrimination and harassment due to pregnancy
  • Discrimination and harassment based on race, ethnicity, and national origin

Our attorneys are committed to guiding our clients through every phase of their case, ensuring they have a full understanding of their rights and responsibilities. We prioritize timely and comprehensive communication, addressing all questions and concerns promptly. From the initial consultation to the conclusion of the case, we keep our clients involved and informed at each step, working together to pursue justice.

Our employment lawyers have a proven track record of success. We have obtained fair and full settlements on behalf of many clients. Recently, our team represented a client who endured almost daily harassment in a group environment due to their sexual orientation. The situation escalated to intolerable levels, necessitating legal intervention. Our dedicated attorneys fought vigorously on his behalf, resulting in a $1.5 million settlement.

In another notable case, we represented over a dozen employees who faced discrimination at work for using their native language (an “English only” workplace), as well as other instances of national origin discrimination. Our firm secured a $1.1 million settlement, ensuring justice for these individuals.

Regardless of the type of job you hold, you should not have to endure illegal employment practices to keep it. If you are subjected to unlawful treatment, remember that you have options and support available. You do not have to face this alone. Stand up for your rights by learning about the laws affecting your employment and consulting with a qualified attorney.

What to Do After Learning That Your Employment Rights Have Been Violated

Discovering that your employment rights have been violated can be overwhelming and disheartening, but taking the right steps can help you address the issue effectively. Here are some suggestions on how to respond:

  • Documentation: It is vital that you document all relevant details relating to the violation. This can include noting dates, times, and specific details of incidents, any communications with your employer or coworkers, and other relevant information. Make copies of emails, messages, or documents related to the violation. It is important to always keep copies of employment contracts, pay stubs, and any company policies or handbooks.
  • Understand Company Policies: Review your company’s policies for handling grievances or complaints. Ensure that you follow any outlined steps for reporting issues internally. The employee handbook should provide guidance on your rights and the appropriate methods and protocols for raising concerns.
  • Report the Issue Internally: Report the violation to your supervisor or manager, if they are not involved in the incident, or Human Resources. Provide them with the documented evidence and the details of your complaint.
  • Get External Help: Connect with an employment law attorney to get an initial consultation for your case. They will work to help you understand your rights and options moving forward. An attorney can provide advice unique to your specific situation and help you decide on the ideal course of action.
  • File a Complaint with State and/or Federal Agencies: File a complaint with applicable government agencies if the violation continues after reporting it to your employer. In California, you can file with the California Civil Rights Department (CRD) or the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), depending on the type of potential claims you may have. The federal agency that handles these issues is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). These state and federal agencies can handle violations relating to wages, hours, discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.
  • Understand Your Rights: It is essential that you understand your rights and protections as an employee. You should know that it is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for reporting violations of the law or asserting your rights. Report any retaliatory actions to your attorney or the relevant agencies you are working with.
  • Take Legal Action: If the issue is not resolved through internal and external reporting, you can file a legal claim against your employer. Your attorney can help you prepare and file the necessary paperwork and represent you in court.

What Does Burden of Proof Mean in Employment Law?

The burden of proof in employment law refers to the responsibility of one party to prove the assertions they have made in a legal dispute. Understanding this concept is crucial for both employees and employers in legal claims. The plaintiff in the case must prove their claims with a preponderance of evidence.

This means that their claims are more likely than not to be true. In an employment law case, the plaintiff is typically an employee, while the defendants are their employer and the perpetrator of any harassment or discrimination.

For an employee to establish a prima facie case for discrimination, they must show they belong to a protected class, which can be age (over 40), race, gender, or many other characteristics. They must also prove that they were qualified for the position they sought or held, that they suffered an adverse employment action, and that the adverse action happened under circumstances of discrimination (that is, because of the protected characteristic).

The employer must then prove that the action was due to a non-discriminatory reason, which the employee can then prove is untrue.

For an employee to prove a harassment claim, they must show that they were subjected to unwelcome harmful or offensive conduct that was based on a protected characteristic. This conduct must have been severe or pervasive enough to create a hostile work environment.

What Are Class Action Suits in Employment Law?

A class action suit in employment law is a legal action in which a group of employees collectively sues an employer for similar grievances. This form of legal claim allows multiple employees who have been affected by the same or similar illegal practices to join together in a single case. Class actions are an efficient way to handle claims that might be too small to pursue individually but are significant when combined.

There are several common examples of class action employment cases. For instance, wage and hour violations can happen if an employer fails to pay minimum wage or overtime pay, denies meal and rest breaks, or misclassifies employees as exempt from overtime or as independent contractors. If a group of employees is suffering from the same violation, for instance as a result of a common policy or practice, they can bring a class action claim together to address the issue.

Other common reasons for class action claims include discrimination and harassment based on protected characteristics. This can affect large groups of employees who work for the same employer if they suffer due to discriminatory hiring, promotion, and termination practices. They could experience discrimination based on race, gender, age (over 40), disability, or other protected classes. Widespread harassment that affects groups of employees and causes hostile work environments can lead to class action claims.

Other common reasons for class action claims are the failure to provide agreed-upon benefits, like health insurance, retirement benefits, and pension plans. If an employer retaliates against a group of employees for engaging in protected activities, such as whistleblowing or filing complaints of illegal practices, this, too, can be addressed in a class action claim.

How to Start a Class Action Claim

To start a class action claim, a group of employees must first identify and experience a common issue that their employer has not resolved after it was reported to them. If a significant number of employees have experienced the same or similar legal violations by their employer, they should then speak with an experienced employment law attorney who can assist in the class action claim. The attorney will evaluate the merits of the case and help determine if it is suitable for legal action.

Next, an attorney will file a complaint in court that outlines the grievances of the basis for the class action. The complaint must identify the lead plaintiff(s) who will represent the group, as they will speak on behalf of everyone. The plaintiffs then gather information to ask the Court to certify the case as a class action. The court will then decide whether to certify the class and confirm that the case meets specific criteria, like the commonality of issues and the adequacy of representation by the lead plaintiff.

Then, after the court certification of the class, potential class members are notified of the action either by mail, email, or public notices informing them of their rights and the nature of the legal claim. The case can lead to trial, or agreements may be made through mediation. In the event that the class action is successful, the settlement or judgment amount is distributed among class members.

Class action legal claims in employment law enable groups of employees to collectively hold their employer accountable for widespread legal violations. This legal avenue provides an efficient way to address significant employment issues and seek justice for all affected employees. Speak with a local employment law attorney to learn more and gain insights into your unique circumstances.

FAQs

Q: What Are My Rights at Work in California?

A: Your rights at work in California include several key protections that determine working conditions. These rights cover several employment issues, such as rest breaks for every four hours of work or major fraction thereof; minimum wage as well as overtime pay; paid sick, medical, and family leave; protection against workplace harassment and discrimination based on protected characteristics; and retaliation protections.

As your rights span a wide spectrum of issues, speak with an employment lawyer if you fear you have been mistreated to discuss your potential claims.

Q: Do Employment Lawyers Work on a Contingency Fee Basis?

A: Many employment lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. This means that the lawyer gets paid only in the event that their client obtains recover from the case. If the claim is successful, the attorney will take a portion of the settlement as a fee for their services. However, if they lose the case, they will take no payment. The client may still owe smaller costs, such as court fees. This payment structure allows plaintiffs to take legal action against their employers without worrying about attorneys’ fees.

Q: What Are the Employment Laws in California?

A: Employment laws in California protect employees’ rights and promote fair treatment in the workplace. These laws cover issues like minimum wage, overtime pay, meal and rest breaks, paid sick leave, family and medical leave, workplace safety, harassment and discrimination protections, retaliation protection, wage theft protection, employee classification, and more.

All of the related laws and regulations seek to provide workers with safe working conditions, proper compensation, and fair and just treatment.

Q: What Are Common California Labor Law Violations?

A: Some common California labor law violations include wage and hour violations, meal and rest break violations, misclassification of workers, wage theft, safety and health violations, discrimination and harassment, violations of legally mandated leave, and more.

If you have reason to think that your rights have been violated, you can first make a report to your employer. If it is not resolved, you can file a complaint with the California Civil Rights Department (CRD) or the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) and consult with an employment law attorney to determine an effective course of action.

Q: What Is the Burden of Proof for Wrongful Termination in California?

A: The burden of proof for wrongful termination in California lies with the employee. This means it is their responsibility to prove that their firing was unlawful by a preponderance of evidence (more likely than not).

This can be done by demonstrating that the termination was due to discrimination based on a protected characteristic, retaliation for a protected action, a breach of contract, or a violation of public policy. There must be a provable direct link between the termination and the illegal reason why it occurred.

Speak With a Local San Diego Employment Law Firm to Learn About Your Options

If you have reason to think that your workplace rights have been infringed upon, don’t delay in pursuing the justice and compensation you may be entitled to. Reach out to Hennig Kramer LLP, to schedule a consultation with a skilled member of our team. We’re committed to defending our clients’ rights, and we can offer you the guidance necessary to explore your legal options.

Whether you’re facing employment law violations related to wage and hour disputes, wrongful termination, harassment, discrimination, and more workplace-related issues, our team is ready to assist you.

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