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Woodland Hills California Employment Law Blog

How do you know how much overtime you are owed?

California employees might use many different methods to prove that they were working during certain hours, but you might not have the opportunity to use some of the more effective options should you find yourself already embroiled in a wage and hour dispute. Any overtime your employer might owe you would probably depend on:

  • Total hours you work per week
  • Hours per day or shift
  • Number of days per week you work

Some cases of unpaid overtime are relatively straightforward, but the rules have the potential to become complicated quickly. It is important to keep track of your hours. This might, in certain cases, preclude the necessity to go to trial, therefore avoiding costly court fees and maximizing any recompense you might receive from your employer.

Does having a criminal record justify employment discrimination?

The law protects the rights of job applicants who have a criminal record, in accordance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

However, federal laws do allow employers to use criminal records as a basis for some employment decisions — a practice, which can easily snowball into categorically denying employment to applicants with a criminal history. For residents of California, new legislature is putting this employment discrimination to an end.

The reason employers fire good employees

Most workers in California are at-will employees. That means that both the worker and the boss would have the power to end employment at any time. Even if an individual had a job with an employment contract, companies usually write termination clauses into the document to retain a certain level of authority. 

There are three basic situations in which a termination could be wrongful under the law:

  • Discrimination against a protected class
  • Retaliatory termination
  • Violation of an explicit or implied contract

Why is sexual harassment so common in the restaurant industry?

For many young people across California and the nation, a restaurant or food service job is their first introduction into the working world. Regrettably, however, restaurants and hospitality businesses are often rife with sexual innuendo, commentary and unsolicited touching, and in some cases, the behavior of coworkers and supervisors crosses the line and becomes sexual harassment.

While the sexual harassment problem is pervasive across many industries, USA Today reports that the problem is more prolific in restaurants and food service than within any other industry, and there are several reasons this is the case. As mentioned, part of the problem likely stems from the fact that many workers in this sector are young and inexperienced. When they lack experience, restaurant workers may fail to recognize when their actions or behaviors cross the line.

When must overtime be paid in California?

As a California worker, your overtime pay is important to you. Not only does it compensate you for the hours you work above and beyond your normal weekly time schedule, it often means the difference between buying those little extras for yourself and your family as opposed to having to go without them. Consequently, if you discover that your paycheck is short, it throws the proverbial monkey wrench into your plans.

Per the California Department of Industrial Relations, if your employer pays you semi-monthly, it must pay you by the 20th of the month for all work you do, including overtime, between the first and the 15th. Likewise it must pay you by the 10th of the next month for all work you do between the 16th and the end of the month.

Keep meticulous records when you air grievances

At Jay S. Rothman & Associates, we spend most of our time defending our clients from the discrimination and abuse they are subjected to by those more powerful than themselves. We often find the process goes much more smoothly when we work with clients who have kept track of each injustice.

A client's record-keeping habit often gives us an immense advantage in a California work retaliation or discrimination case. The earlier you start keeping track of communications with your employer, the higher chance you would have of catching something that could support your claims of a pattern of unjust workplace behavior. Unfortunately, having evidence of one incident is not always enough to pursue legal action to fruition.

An employer should not interfere with your meal break

Even if a workplace is on a fast-paced schedule, California law makes it clear that after five hours a worker must be provided thirty minutes of consecutive time to eat a meal. But even if a meal time is made available, an employer may attempt to squeeze some additional labor out of a worker even during meal time. This kind of coercion is forbidden by law and could entitle a worker to compensation.  

Even though an employer may formally announce a general meal period, there are instances where a worker’s labor schedule makes it inconvenient to stop and take a break. A schedule may require that an employee complete a certain task before stopping for a break. However, there is no formally scheduled time for the work to end, only a requirement that it must be finished. The employee may feel intimidated and refuse to stop until the work is done, which could last past the scheduled meal time.

What do you do if you are fired for being too old?

You are committed to your work. You are the first one through the door and the last one to leave. Your work ethic is impressive. You are dependable, friendly and people look up to your more than 30 years of experience and wisdom. What if one day it was all gone? Your boss called you into the office to say you are being terminated. What just happened?

Regrettably, you are not alone. According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), about 64% of respondents said that people older than 50 years old face discrimination in the workplace. And 34% said either they had faced age discrimination themselves or knew someone who had. 

What is wrongful termination?

Finding a great job is wonderful. However, losing a great job is devastating. If you are in a situation where you feel you were unfairly fired by a California employer, you may wonder if you have grounds for wrongful termination. Before you start planning your lawsuit, it may be helpful to know that it is quite difficult to prove you were wrongfully terminated.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, the good news is that California is an employee-friendly state, especially when it comes to termination. If your employer does not have strong grounds upon which to base the employment decision, then you very well could take the case to court for wrongful termination. 

Verbal sexual harassment should not be tolerated

Recent stories of sexual harassment in Hollywood and the news business continue to shine a light on harassment problems women experience in the workplace. Federal law makes it clear that no employer should sexually harass or bully an employee. Many forms of sexual harassment are verbal in nature and although a California employee may not suffer physical harm, the emotional damage from verbal harassment can be very real.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, verbal sexual harassment can consist of a number of unwelcome and unwarranted advances by an employer, a supervising employee, or anyone in the workplace. An offender might ask an employee for a sexual favor or to engage in any kind of sexual activity. The employee may also cap the request with a threat of retaliation if the employee does not consent. Also, not all instances of harassment require a direct demand for sexual favors. The offender may instead make general remarks of a sexual nature that make the employee feel uncomfortable or intimidated.

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