Employment/Labor Law

Wrongful Termination occurs when an employee is terminated for a discriminatory and/or retaliatory reason.  Wrongful termination is unlawful when based on an employee’s race, national origin, sexual orientation, marital status, gender, age, disability or medical condition, religion, and other protected categories.  It is unlawful to terminate an employee in retaliation for the employee reporting discriminatory and/or harassing conduct.  In addition, it is unlawful to terminate an employee because he or she is a whistle-blower.  A “whistle-blower” is an individual who complains of and/or reports an employer’s unlawful (or reasonably believed to be unlawful) business activities, including the unlawful payment of wages, and work-place safety concerns.  When an employment termination violates public policy, the termination is wrongful.

“At will” employment does not protect an employer who has engaged in wrongful or unlawful termination.  An “at will” employment status does not give an employer the right to disregard  an employee’s constitutional and statutory rights in the workplace.  It is extremely important that employers are knowledgeable about the kinds of behavior that could potentially violate state and federal discrimination, harassment and wrongful termination laws.

Wage & Hour violations occur when an employer fails to pay an employee proper and timely wages.  Knowledge of wage and hour laws is vital.  An employee must be paid at least the statutory minimum wage for up to 8 hours of work each day, and overtime payment for time worked over 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week.  Improper wage payment could lead to substantial claims for wage and hour violations.  In addition to the above, a prudent employer must be aware of mandated rest and meal breaks laws.  Oftentimes, employers misclassify employees as independent contractors and fail to pay employment taxes and/or obtain workers’ compensation insurance.  Such employment practices can oftentimes lead to a significant award for damages.  Labor law rights and responsibilities are extremely important to both the employer and employee.

Sexual Harassment in the workplace is unacceptable.  Sexual harassment occurs when unwelcome sexual advances, comments, and conduct occurs in the workplace.  Sexual harassment takes place in the form of, among other things, verbal sexually related inappropriate comments, physical touching, and obscene visual sexually related material such as lewd magazines and internet pornography. Sexual Harassment Prevention Training is essential for every employer.  An employer is obligated to ensure its employees’ are not engaging in sexually inappropriate conduct in the workplace.  Prohibited behavior includes, referring to co-workers by names of sexual nature, telling obscene jokes or making inappropriate sexual remarks, touching, groping, kissing, or unwanted physical contact.  

Family Medical Leave Act and CFRA:  The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and California Family Rights Act (CFRA) are state and federal leave laws which allow eligible employees to take leaves of absence for their own or immediate family member’s serious health and medical conditions, including for giving birth, attending to the needs of a family member who has a serious health condition, or taking time off in the event a family member is called to active military duty.  The FMLA/CFRA leaves of absence are provided for by law and, hence, an employer (employing 50 or more employees for FMLA and 5 or more employees for CFRA) may not deny eligible employees these leaves.