Pasadena Employment Attorney

We represent employees who have faced discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful termination, unpaid wages and overtime, and more. Whether it’s an administrative matter or a lawsuit, our Pasadena Employment Attorney can carefully plan an appropriate course of action that meets your goals.  When necessary, we will advocate on your behalf in court or before any of the administrative agencies involved, including DFEH, DLSE, or the EEOC.

We have the experience and track record of helping Southern California employees collect for unfair and illegal employment practices.

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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 Termination

– Discrimination

– Retaliation

Discrimination

– Race

 – Gender

 – Age

 – Disability

 – Pregnancy

Sexual Harassment

– Hostile Work Environment

 

Retaliation

– Filing a Worker’s Compensation Claim

– Taking a Disability Leave

– Taking a Pregnancy Leave

– Complaining About Discrimination

– Complaining About Wages

Misclassification - Employee vs. Independent Contractor

– Paid as a 1099 vs W2

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.

How an Employment Lawsuit Works…

When you’ve run out of options to get your employer to comply with the law, it may be time to head to court.  Many clients who have never gone through the litigation process before, however, may not know all the steps necessary to litigate an employment case.  Here is the basic process:

Before most employment lawsuits in California can be filed, an administrative claim must first be filed with the CA Department of Fair Employment and Housing.  There are strict timelines for filing claims, so you should contact us as soon as possible after the wrongful act occurred.

After we file an administrative claim for you, we can proceed with the lawsuit.

Once the complaint is filed and served on the opposing party, they will file an answer – usually within 30 days.  The case then enters what is called the “discovery stage,” which is where both sides get the opportunity to request documents and information from each other.  Both sides may also decide to take depositions of the parties or of third parties to gather more facts in preparation for the case.

During this time, the judge will also set hearings for the attorneys to appear in court and provide updates to the judge on the status of the case, including discovery disputes, mediation efforts and when the parties expect to be ready for trial.  This process parallels the discovery efforts as the case progresses.  There can also be motions filed with the court to have the judge decide on discovery disputes and other issues in the case.

Eventually, once both parties agree they are ready to proceed, the judge will set a trial in the matter.  Most employment cases can either be tried by a jury or decided by a single judge.  The advantages of one or the other can be discussed with you.

Remember, nearly all cases take a minimum of a year to get to the trial stage.  In addition, employment cases can be complex, with lots of facts and witnesses to present, so the trial can be anywhere from a few days to several weeks.  Our clients are expected to be available during this time to assist us in presenting the evidence, cross-examining witnesses and making arguments to the court.  Luckily, our team is extremely organized and has the experience to juggle the many tasks involved in trying cases in court.