Employment Law Attorneys
Experience counts – and with over 20 years of legal experience – we’ve successfully represented individuals and business owners in labor and employment matters throughout Southern California.
We take the time to hear your story and provide you with an honest, neutral evaluation of your case in any one of the following areas:
- Employment Law
- Wrongful Termination
- Sexual Harassment
- Wage and Hour Disputes
- Minimum Wage
- Overtime & PAGA claims
- Employer Counseling / Claims Advice
- Complaint Investigation
- Drafting Handbooks / Agreements / Policies
For workers, employment law protects employees from unfair treatment by their employers. This can range from employment and wage disputes to disability complaints. If you believe that you have a legal complaint against an employer in Southern California, Huprich Vega would love to hear your story. As employment law attorneys, we have helped employees receive millions of dollars in compensation over more than two decades of legal experience.
At Huprich Vega, we are not just experts on state labor and employment laws. We also offer our services as federal employment law attorneys as well. State and federal employment laws provide a wide blanket of protections for workers in California and nationwide. As a worker, you are entitled to legal protection under all of these employment laws.
Wrongful Termination Attorney
Wrongful termination is a general term that refers to any termination that is “unlawful.” It usually results from either some form of discrimination or retaliation.
What is “unlawful,” however, is often misunderstood. Not every act is unlawful or illegal. For example, a management decision to fire an employee because the employer wrongly believed that the employee stole something, even though it is factually wrong, does not necessarily mean that it was unlawful. To be unlawful, it must be based on a legally discriminatory or retaliatory act and alter the conditions of employment. In other words, even if the employer was mistaken, rude, unprofessional or sometimes even unethical, the employer’s actions are not necessarily illegal. The act must be motivated at least in part by some form of illegal discrimination (see below) or retaliation (see below).
Discrimination arises only in specific categories. In California, the primary types of discrimination include:
- Racial or ethnic discrimination.
- Sex, gender or gender identity discrimination.
- National origin discrimination.
- Religious discrimination.
- Disability-based workplace harassment or dangerous conditions.
- Age discrimination.
Discrimination can be in the form of a hiring decision, ongoing employment conduct or decisions, or a termination. Discrimination can also be a single act of discrimination, or an accumulation of acts or conduct. It can also be indirect, i.e., allowing another employee to discriminate and failing to correct the behavior. In order for discrimination to be actionable, however, it must be shown that the discrimination (in one of the above categories) was a “substantial motivating factor” for any adverse employment decision – see Harris v. City of Santa Monica, No. S181004 (Cal. Feb. 7, 2013). That means that if there was more than one reason for the decision, and in many cases the employer can point to more than one, the Harris case requires a jury to determine if the alleged unlawful portion of that decision was “substantial.”
Retaliation, otherwise known as a wrongful termination in violation of public policy, or a Tameny claim (after the California Supreme Court case of Tameny v. Atlantic Richfield Co. (1980) 27 Cal.3d 167), is a type of wrongful termination. Retaliatory terminations are: (a) in violation of a statute that expressly prohibits an employer from discharging an employee for a specified reason, i.e., discrimination, (b) terminations for exercising constitutional or statutory rights or privileges, (c) terminations for refusing to engage in unlawful conduct, or (d) terminations for reporting unlawful activities by the employer or others at work (whistleblowing).
Examples of cases in which employees can be wrongfully terminated in violation of public policies include:
- Terminated because of his/her physical disability, religion, gender, race, national origin, medical condition, marital status or sexual orientation.
- Fired for refusing to sign a covenant not to compete.
- Discharged for reporting on the employer’s failure to pay overtime wages.
- Reassigned for reporting on the employer’s failure to provide meal periods or rest breaks.
- Demoted to avoid paying employee accrued commissions and vacation pay.
- Laid off for reporting the misappropriation of public funds.
- Pay cut for reporting sexual harassment.
- Terminated for testifying or participating at a court hearing, deposition or investigation regarding a coworker’s complaint about harassment or discrimination.
- Suspended without pay for discussing wages with his coworkers.
- Fired for demanding to be paid the same wages as her male counterparts.
In order to prevail on these types of claims, an employee must show a sufficient connection (also known as a nexus) between the employee’s protected action and the employer’s decision to take some adverse action against them.
Sexual Harassment Attorney
Sexual Harassment is a form of gender discrimination that violates both California and federal law. The EEOC defines sexual harassment as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:
- Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment;
- Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individuals; and/or
- Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.
Sexual harassment can be verbal, written, or physical in nature. Examples of sexual harassment include:
- Unwanted sexual advances;
- Requests for sexual favors;
- Sexual jokes or comments;
- Displays of sexually explicit materials;
- Physical touching or sexual assault;
- Making threats or bribes in exchange for sex and/or
- Leering or staring, or other sexually suggestive sounds or gestures.
These are just a few examples of what could be considered sexual harassment in the workplace. In the workplace, such behaviors are wrong and illegal. While you might think that someone would know better than to engage in sexual harassment nowadays, it happens more often than many people realize. Consequently, it’s important to know the rules to avoid unnecessary harm and disputes.
Employees’ claims for unpaid wages, overtime or misclassification can have significant consequences for the employer in California. Wage and hour disputes under the Labor Code can be costly as some claims bring with them the right to recover attorney’s fees. Our firm has successfully pursued, as well as defended, millions of dollars worth of wage claims over the years. We know the tricks. We know the approach to take.
Having an experienced employment and labor attorney on your side is crucial. When you need someone to tell your story, call us at 626.797.0275 or contact us here.