The below FAQs provide generalized information about employment law. It is not meant to provide legal advice. The merits or validity of each case depends on the facts of the specific case. We can talk to you about the facts of your specific case.

Most wrongful termination cases brought by employees charge that the employer terminated them because of either: (1) discrimination based on the race, sex, age, national origin, ethnicity, disability, pregnancy, sexual orientation, religion, or marital status of the employee; (2) the employee’s taking of a leave of absence because of the employee’s medical condition or to take care of a close family member’s medical condition or because of the birth or adoption of a child; or (3) retaliation because the employee opposed or protested acts of the employer that the employee reasonably believed unlawful, including but not limited to health hazards, safety violations, failure to pay all wages and expenses legally owed, fraud, discrimination, and other unlawful acts. Also, employees with written contracts can bring a case if they are terminated in breach of the contract.

Wrongful termination cases can be based on other grounds also. Each case is individual. Our office can go over the facts of your case with you and see if in our opinion it is something on which we can help you.

Most wage and hour claims brought by employees charge that the employer violated federal, state or city wage and hour laws by doing one of the following: (1) failing to pay overtime which is generally owed nonexempt employees if they work over eight hours in a day or over forty hours in a week; (2) failing to provide nonexempt employees with a meal period of at least 1/2 hour in which they are relieved of all work and are free to leave the employer’s premises on each day that they work over five hours; (3) failing to provide nonexempt employees with two rest periods of at least 10 minutes apiece when they work a sufficiently lengthy workday; (4) failing to reimburse an employee, whether exempt or not, for all their expenses; and (5) failing to pay an employee at least the minimum wage for each hour they work.

It is not uncommon for an employer to mislabel an employee as exempt when under the law the employee is really nonexempt. It is also not uncommon for an employer to mislabel a person as an independent contractor when the person is really an employee under the law. Therefore, you might be a nonexempt employee under the law with all the rights of a nonexempt employee even though your employer claims you are an exempt employee or an independent contractor.

There are other requirements in the wage and hour laws that are less well known. For example, generally, employers have to provide seats for all employees and cannot require that they stand unless the nature of the work requires the employee to stand. Employers also have to keep employee bathrooms, resting rooms, and change rooms at a temperature of at least 68 degrees.

We can discuss with you any wage and hour questions you have and let you know if we can help you bring a wage and hour claim.

There are generally two types of sexual harassment—hostile environment sexual harassment and quid pro quo sexual harassment. Hostile environment sexual harassment includes unwanted sexual advances, or unwanted visual, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature or unwanted conduct that is based on the gender of the person who is being harassed. This definition includes many forms of offensive behavior and includes gender-based harassment of a person of the same sex as the harasser in addition to harassment of a person of the opposite sex. The following is a partial list of potentially prohibited behavior:

Visual conduct: leering, making sexual gestures, displaying of sexually suggestive objects or pictures, cartoons or posters.
Verbal conduct: making or using derogatory comments, epithets, slurs and jokes. Verbal abuse of a sexual nature, graphic verbal commentaries about an individual’s body, sexually degrading words used to describe an individual.
Physical conduct: touching, assault, impeding or blocking movements.

Not all unwanted conduct of this type is prohibited hostile environment sexual harassment. To be prohibited, the conduct must be severe or pervasive.

Quid pro quo sexual harassment often can include:

Offering employment benefits in exchange for sexual favors.
Making or threatening retaliatory action after receiving a negative response to sexual advances.
Whether there is a viable hostile environment or quid pro quo sexual harassment claim depends on the specific facts of your case. We can listen to you describe the facts of your case and let you know if we believe it is something on which we can help you.

An eligible employee may take a job-protected leave of absence for the birth of a child for purposes of bonding, for placement of a child in the employee’s family for adoption or foster care, for the serious health condition of the employee’s close family member, and for the employee’s own serious health condition. An eligible employee may also take a job-protected leave of absence in certain circumstances to take care of certain personal or family matters when the need for the leave is caused because the employee’s close family member is in the National Guard or Reserves and is called to active duty. The leave may total up to 12 work weeks in a 12-month period, except that the leave may total up to 26 work weeks in a 12-month period when the employee is taking care of a close family member who has a serious injury or illness that was incurred in the line of duty on active duty in the military. The leave does not need to be taken in one continuous period of time.

Not all employees are eligible for this leave. The employer, unless it is a government agency, needs to have at least five employees. The employee needs to have been with the employer for at least a year and to have worked a certain number of hours. Many part-time employees do not qualify.

Under California law, an employer with at least five employees must generally provide up to four months disability leave for pregnant women. If the employee is eligible for leave under the California Family Rights Act, the employee potentially can be eligible for close to seven months disability leave for pregnancy. Employers of five or more employees may be required to provide additional leave beyond the four months under the California Family Rights Act or as a reasonable accommodation of a disability under Government Code section 12940 of the FEHA. Pregnancy leave is required only when a woman is actually disabled. This includes time off needed for prenatal care, severe morning sickness, doctor-ordered bed rest, childbirth, recovery from childbirth, and related medical conditions.

We represent employees on claims over wrongful demotions and wrongful failures to promote or hire based on various grounds, including without limitation discrimination, retaliation, and breach of contract. We represent employees on claims alleging hostile environment harassment on other grounds besides sex, for example, race, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age or religion. We also represent employees in claims alleging slander, libel, fraud and deceit, negligent misrepresentation, and other matters.

The remedies that might be available in an employment case can possibly include:

Damages for loss of past and future income and benefits
Damages for emotional distress
Damages for loss of reputation
Punitive damages
Attorneys’ fees
Other remedies and damages depending on the situation

Not all of these remedies are available in each employment case. Which remedies are available depends on the specific case.