Employment Law Attorneys in Los Angeles
Wrongful Termination Law Group has built a successful history representing employees in many industries. We offer personalized service, focused on adding value and protecting your rights under employment laws. Our professional team is well versed in labor laws in California and has a recognized track record.
Have you, a family member, or a friend fallen victim to illegal practices which breach employment laws? If so, please contact us for your FREE consultation. We are able to accept most cases on contingency, meaning we do not get paid until you do.
Federal and California employment laws
Employment law focuses on workplace rights and employer obligations to their employees. Federal and state labor and employment laws also cover job applicants or former employees. There are a number of laws which exist to protect employees:
The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA)
This law prohibits workplace discrimination based on disability, age, race, color, religion, gender, national origin, and sexual orientation. This law applies to California employers who employ at least 5 employees. The FEHA is enforced by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
This law prohibits discrimination based on color, religion, race, national origin, and sex in the workplace. It applies to private sector employers with at least 15 employees, as well as public sector employers. It is enforced by the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission).
Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
The FMLA dictates that employers with 50 or more employees must give them up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave (in a 12 month period) for birth or adoption of a child, or a serious health condition requiring a leave of absence, or the care of a child, parent, or spouse with a serious health problem.
Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
Prohibiting discrimination against employees who are at least 40 years old, the ADEA applies both to private sector employers with over 20 employees and all public sector employers.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Prohibiting discrimination based on mental or physical disability, the ADA applies to public sector employers, and private sector employers with more than 15 employees. Some states have stricter laws.
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
The FLSA sets minimum wage and overtime pay rates, and regulates employment of children. It applies to educational institutions, hospitals, public sector, and private sector employers with at least 2 employees which are engaged in interstate commerce and have a business volume of over $500,000/year. A number of states have laws applying to all businesses of any size.
Immigration Reform & Control Act (IRCA)
The IRCA prohibits hiring of illegal aliens, and prohibits discrimination against aliens lawfully admitted to the US on the basis of their citizenship status.
Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA)
The EPPA keeps employers from requiring prospective hires or employees to submit to lie detector tests.
Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA)
The PDA prohibits prospective and current employers from discriminating based on employee pregnancy or medical conditions related to childbirth.
At Wrongful Termination Law Group, we handle a range of case types under labor and employment law, including the following areas:
- Workplace Discrimination
- Pregnancy Discrimination
- Sexual Harassment
- Whistleblower Retaliation
- Wrongful Termination
- Wage and Hour
- Overtime Pay Claims
- Back Wages
- Meal and Rest Breaks
- Class Action
Trying to understand the labor laws in California can be overwhelming. Los Angeles employees are generally protected by a set of California labor laws. Employee rights under these employment laws are all-too-commonly denied or infringed upon by employers.
Many of the labor laws in California also protect potential employees throughout the job application and hiring process, especially from discrimination based on:
- National origin
These employment laws also protect employee privacy in the workplace. Our clients often have questions about whether employers can legally:
- Listen to employee phone conversations
- Monitor employee emails, web browsing, or other computer activity
- Obtain records of employees’ phone calls
- Search an employee’s desk
What is employment at will?
Employment at will is the standard in California. It means that an employer can fire you at any time, for any reason; just not an illegal reason. It also means that you can quit at any time, without any reason. The exceptions to employment at will are when you have a union membership, are a government worker, or when you have a contract for employment (like a professional athlete) that has a certain term of employment.
What is wrongful termination?
Wrongful termination occurs when an employer fires you for any illegal reason. It could be discrimination, retaliation, harassment, or because you engaged in some sort of protected activity, like complaining about overtime pay, unsafe conditions at work, or illegal activity on the part of the employer.
What is employment discrimination?
Employment discrimination occurs when you are being treated differently than other employees, based on your membership in a protected class. There are many protected classes in California, including race, religion, national origin, physical disability, mental disability, gender, age, sexual orientation, and even military or veteran status.
For example, many employers have decided that it is cost effective for them to fire pregnant women. These kinds of actions by an employer are completely illegal and should be responded to with a lawsuit against the employer for wrongful termination based on pregnancy discrimination. Similarly, many employers have engaged in a practice of firing their disabled employees, or those employees who utilize FMLA leave. Usually the employer will claim poor performance on the part of the employee. Our job then becomes proving this is merely a lie, which is called a pretext for disability discrimination.
You don’t even have to be terminated to suffer employment discrimination, you could just be demoted, placed on a horrible schedule or suffer a reduction in pay or a cut in your hours. Many times, your employer will give its reason for these adverse actions. We must prove that the reason given by the employer is false, and that discrimination was the real reason for your adverse employment action.
What is retaliation?
Retaliation is when the employer takes an adverse action against you because you’ve done something that the employer does not like. Often this is because you’ve complained that your employer is not correctly furnishing your overtime pay, or because you took FMLA leave, or because you complained about harassment, unwanted sexual advances, or unsafe work conditions.
Another type of retaliation is when you make a protected complaint about illegal actions taken by the employer. The action you complain about doesn’t actually have to be illegal. If you refuse to participate and you believe in good faith that it is illegal, and you are fired as a result of your refusal, that could be retaliation.
Retaliation is one of the easiest things to prove, based on the time between your action and the employer’s reaction. If you do something and the next week you are fired, that is pretty good evidence that what you did caused your termination, especially if previously you had a spotless disciplinary record.
On the other hand, retaliation claims grow stale very quickly. Sometimes the employer waits a while before they terminate. If they wait over three months, retaliation becomes much harder to prove. However, if during those three months, or even six, the employer begins a campaign of written discipline for things which are normally overlooked, the retaliation claim becomes easier to prove.
Each time you receive discipline you believe is wrong, in the space just above where the employer asks for your signature, there is usually room for employee comments. Use that space to say that you dispute the disciplinary write-up and why. For example, you might write, “Ever since I’ve returned to work from my FMLA leave, I have been written up for things which were previously acceptable.” Retaliation should always be countered with a lawsuit.
Are you working in a hostile work environment?
A hostile work environment is created by an employer or colleague whose actions, behavior and communication does not allow you to perform your job effectively. Many employees in California believe that an unpleasant employer, a rude colleague, failure to meet promotional opportunities, or the lack of privileges, benefits, perks or recognition can create a work environment that is hostile.
However, the reality is that for an office or workplace to be hostile, certain legal criteria must be adhered to. While the law permits employers to do these things in the majority of cases, there are instances in which an employer is in fact in violation of the employee’s rights and employment laws.
At Wrongful Termination Law Group, we offer a free consultation, during which we will listen carefully to the details of your case and use our decades of expertise to determine whether your rights have in fact been infringed upon. For example, whereas an employer is allowed to monitor business calls placed to and from their business, the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) does limit the extent of monitoring.
For instance, if a personal call comes in, the employer must stop monitoring as soon as it becomes clear that the call is personal in nature. This same employment law applies to company monitoring of employee emails. There are other critical federal and state employment laws protecting employees from
Problems that arise during employment law cases
A company may claim that since they hired an employee in the first place, they can’t possibly be biased. However, sometimes, a new supervisor is hired, who is different from the supervisor who originally hired the employee, and this new supervisor may harbor a bias against certain employees due to age, race, or gender.
Through the discovery process, we are able to figure out who was involved in these decisions and show that discrimination is the real cause.
Invariably, in a pregnancy case, the employer will try to claim not to have known about the pregnancy. This is especially a problem because women are often hesitant to admit that they are pregnant early on in their pregnancies, even though the best thing that they can do to save their jobs is to tell their employer right away, in writing, that they are pregnant.
Oftentimes, it will be obvious to an employer that an employee is gaining weight, or suffering from morning sickness, yet the employer is still able to deny knowledge of the pregnancy, and then provide a false reason to terminate the employee, before she is able to tell them about her pregnancy. She never realizes that the employer knew she was pregnant, but that turns out to have been the reason for her termination.
If you are pregnant, tell your employer, in writing, that you are pregnant and that you may need extra break time in the mornings or accommodations to use the restroom more often. Whatever you may need due to your pregnancy, your employer is required to accommodate you, but your employer has the right to request a doctor’s note.
By telling your employer about your pregnancy in writing, you eliminate any possibility that the employer might try to claim that they never knew of your pregnancy. Similarly, employees should tell their employer as soon as they know that they are suffering from a physical or mental disability that requires frequent time off work.
The key is that the medical issue in question must qualify as a physical or mental disability. For example, a broken leg may not qualify, but a broken ankle does, so it is not always obvious. Find out whether your condition qualifies before you notify your employer.
In a case of sexual harassment involving a co-worker, the employee has an obligation to complain first and allow the employer a short time to act to prevent further harassment. This is different from cases where the harassment is committed by a supervisor, and in such cases, there is no requirement that the employee complain.
In a sexual harassment case involving a co-worker, without a written complaint, the employer might try to deny knowledge of the harassment. Then it becomes difficult to prove that the employer knew that this particular co-worker acting inappropriately. Unless, of course, there were previous incidents involving that particular employee that the employer was previously made aware of, which we can use to show that the employer was already on notice of this particular co-worker’s propensity to sexually harass his co-workers.
We represent employees.
To ensure full protection against breach of employment laws by your employer, your best first step is to seek representation by an experienced employment attorney. Attorneys representing employees are aware that non-unionized employees are relatively powerless against their respective employers, and equipped with the knowledge and resources to aggressively pursue justice on behalf of their clients.
While you may have been caught up in minor employment disputes, some larger employers and their labor attorneys handle many employment disputes on a daily basis. Most employers have much more experience and resources than you to evaluate and handle claims. An employee who has not consulted an employment attorney can be at a real disadvantage, which is why it is of critical importance to do so, should you encounter any issues which are creating a hostile work environment for you.
To truly succeed in an employment lawsuit without a labor attorney is extremely difficult due to several reasons. Besides understanding employment laws and the associated court procedures, a labor attorney will know what information you require to win, how to get it, how to present witnesses and documents to the court and jury, and how to prevent a company and its labor attorneys from using unfair tactics to win the case.
Some employees believe they may be able to save attorney fees by taking their case into their own hands. This is a risky proposition, potentially leaving the employee with nothing, as well as having to pay the employer for the expenses they incurred in defending the lawsuit.
If you are searching for an experienced employment law firm in Los Angeles or throughout Southern California, Wrongful Termination Law Group is here to make sure all of your rights are expertly defended. With years of experience, hard work, and detailed knowledge of federal and California labor laws, we strive to help our clients win and settle even the most difficult cases, getting the compensation you rightfully deserve.
If you believe that your rights may have been violated by your employer, or if you would like to know whether these employment laws and regulations are relevant to you, please feel free to contact us. Remember, consultation is always FREE, and because we most often work on contingency, there will be no cost to you unless we win or settle your case.