Pasadena Employment Attorney

Have you been the victim of unlawful harassment or a wrongful termination?  Are you being denied proper wages or not being paid all your overtime?  If so, we have both the experience and the know-how to get you paid the compensation you deserve.

For over 20 years, we’ve been fighting for employee rights in employment and labor laws.  Call us today for a free consultation.

Our fees

In most cases, we charge a percentage of what we recover for you.  This is called a “contingency” fee.  In contingency fee cases, we will typically cover all costs associated with the lawsuit, including filing fees, subpoenas, documents, deposition/witness fees, jury fees, etc.  Those costs will only be charged to you when there is a recovery.  Our typical contingency rate is anywhere from 25-40% of the case, depending on the facts of your case.

In other types of employment cases, an hourly fee may be more appropriate for limited engagement, non-litigation matters, such as writing a letter on your behalf, negotiating a severance agreement, or reviewing a proposed contract.

wrongful term

Wrongful Termination

– Discrimination

– Retaliation

discrimin

Discrimination

– Race

 – Gender

 – Age

 – Disability

 – Pregnancy

sex harass

Sexual Harassment

– Hostile Work Environment

 

empl retaliation

Retaliation

– Filing a Worker’s Compensation Claim

– Taking a Disability Leave

– Taking a Pregnancy Leave

– Complaining About Discrimination

– Complaining About Wages

empl misclassification

Misclassification - Employee vs. Independent Contractor

– Paid as a 1099 vs W2
empl unpaid wages

Unpaid Wages & Overtime

– Made to Work Off the Clock

– Paid Straight-Time Only

– Paid Cash

– No Paystubs

Employment & Labor Law: What to Know

What does being an “at-will” employee mean?

Nearly all employees in California are considered “at-will employees.” This is one of the most misunderstood concepts in employment law. An at-will employment relationship is one in which, in exchange for your right to quit at any time for any reason, the employer can terminate you at any time and for any reason, as long as that reason is not “illegal.” This means that even if the employer’s behavior is rude, immoral, unfair or unprofessional, they can still fire you, not promote you, reduce your salary, or ask you to do work that you don’t want to do, etc., without violating the law.

Here’s an example a law school professor once gave that still works today: If an employer doesn’t like the color of your shoes, he can fire you for it because it has nothing to do with your race, gender, disability, etc. It may be unfair and unprofessional, but it’s not illegal.

Two common scenarios:

Scenario 1: You and your supervisor don’t like each other.  It has nothing to do with race or gender; you simply don’t like each other and your supervisor recommends firing you.

Scenario 2: Someone falsely reported that you stole something at work.  Although you don’t have proof, you told the employer that it wasn’t true, but he didn’t believe you and fired you anyway. 

Are either of these scenarios illegal?  No, unless there were other reasons for firing you.

Before we file a lawsuit against your employer, we’ll help you find the real reasons – beyond personality conflicts or misunderstandings – that will support your case.

Discrimination

Discrimination refers to an employer’s “adverse action” (e.g., termination, demotion or failure to promote), where the employee’s race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, or military and veteran status of any person was a “substantial motivating reason” for the act.

When an employer takes an adverse action against you, motivated by a discriminatory reason, it is illegal and subjects your employer to liability for lost wages, emotional distress, penalties, and attorneys’ fees.

Wrongful Termination

Wrongful termination is a broad term that refers to any improper and illegal termination of an employee by an employer.  This can include terminating an employee for a discriminatory reason (above), or it can include retaliating against the employee for something that he/she did (see below).

California law is highly favorable to employees when it comes to wrongful termination – for two big reasons.  First, the amount of proof to win your case is lower in California than many states.  In California, an employee only has to show that the illegal reason for the employer’s decision was a “substantial motivating factor.”  Discrimination, for example, does not have to be the only reason why you were terminated, but only a motivating factor.

The second reason is that California law provides additional penalties for employees who were wrongfully terminated – lost wages (past and future), mental suffering/humiliation, civil penalties, attorneys’ fees and costs.  This reason is often the motivating factor for employers to settle cases early before a judge and jury get to decide a higher amount.

Retaliation

One form of wrongful termination is called “retaliation,” or sometimes referred to as “wrongful termination in violation of public policy.”  This simply means that you, as the employee, took some action in furtherance of a right that you had (in either a statute or the constitution) and the employer retaliated against you for doing it.

Some examples include: filing a workman’s compensation claim and being fired for it; making a complaint to your employer about being discriminated against and fired for it; or complaining about not being properly paid all your wages and then being put on a part-time work schedule.  All of these scenarios constitute an illegal act by your employer in California.

Sexual Harassment & Hostile Work Environment

When an employee is subjected to negative, inappropriate, or unwanted sexual conduct, the harasser and/or employer may be liable for the damages that you suffered from that conduct. These damages can include emotional distress, lost wages, benefits, and attorney’s fees.

Sexual harassment refers to conduct, usually by a single actor.  A hostile work environment is similar, but refers to the overall work environment created in the workplace, oftentimes by several employees (referred to sometimes as “company culture”) who repeatedly make sexual remarks or jokes or act in a way that is offensive to the opposite sex.

When the conduct is by one of your “supervisors” in particular, the company itself can be liable for that conduct.  If the conduct is by another employee, then we’ll need to show that your employer knew of the conduct and did nothing, or that your employer somehow caused or ratified the conduct.

Misclassification – Employee vs. Independent Contractor

Employers don’t like paying all the taxes owed for employees or giving them the benefits California gives to employees, such as overtime, sick pay, etc.  They try to cheat the system by misclassifying employees as independent contractors.

Whether someone is an employee or an independent contractor involves a multi-factor analysis.  However, California recently made it much harder for employers to claim that workers are independent contractors.

In January 2020, California passed a new law that makes it harder for employers to misclassify their workers.  Under that new law, an individual is presumed to be an employee, unless the company can prove that the worker:

  1. Is free from control and direction of the company in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact; and
  2. Performs work that is outside the usual course of the business; and
  3. Is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation or business of the same nature as the work performed for the company.

If you think you have been misclassified, you may be entitled to significant overtime wages, penalties, interest and attorneys fees.  Give us a call for a free consultation.

Unpaid Wages & Overtime

Unpaid wages and unpaid overtime is one of the most common ways employers try to cheat the system.  There are all kinds of methods to do this – require employees work “off the clock,” pay them in cash under the table, pay them straight time – and more.

We know all the tricks and where to look for those proverbial “skeletons in the closet” that employers try to hide.

 In California, unpaid wages impose high penalties against employers, including twice (2x) the unpaid wages for unpaid minimum wages, attorney’s fees, interest, up to $250 per pay period for paystub penalties and break time penalties, and more.

Call us for a free consultation to discuss any of these types of cases that may be affecting you at your job.