Our wrongful termination attorneys in Orange County have the knowledge and experience to ensure that our clients recover everything they are owed and are entitled to under California labor laws.
Although California has labor laws to protect its workers, discrimination in the workplace still occurs. Discrimination in the workplace refers to the practice of treating individuals differently because of their race, religion, age, sex, pregnancy, national origin, marital status, color, or disability.
One of the most common causes of complaints of unpaid or underpaid wages is the misclassification of an employee as exempt from overtime.
Under California law you’re entitled to meal & rest breaks if you work as a non-exempt employee. If you’re working more than 5 hours in a workday a 30-minute meal break is required, and for each 4 hours worked a 10 minute break is required.
EMPLOYMENT ATTORNEYS IN IRVINE, CA
Last year, more than 1,200 formal complaints of employment discrimination in Orange County were filed with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Only Los Angeles County had more employment discrimination complaints. Since additional employment discrimination complaints are filed with other agencies, it is clear that a large number of employees in Irvine and Orange County suffer from employment discrimination each year.
Tallying the complaints made by employees in Irvine who earned but were not paid overtime, who were not paid for the hours they worked, who were misclassified as independent contractors, or who raised other wage and hour issues is more difficult. Some of those claims are filed in court. Other claims are filed in state or federal agencies. Sometimes a single employment class action lawsuit will address the concerns of thousands of employees who were deprived of the wages to which they were legally entitled.
Statistics aside, we know that too many employees in Irvine, other Orange County communities, and throughout Southern California are treated unfairly. Employers routinely violate state and federal laws that protect the rights of workers. An Irvine employment lawyer helps employees recover wages they should have received, compensation for discrimination or wrongful termination, and other remedies for unjust treatment by an employer.
If you have been the victim of discrimination, a wage violation, or any other violation of your rights as an employee, contact our employment law firm in Irvine for a free evaluation of your case. Since the deadline for making a claim is quite short, you should obtain legal advice as soon as you realize that you have been victimized by your employer.
Wage and Hour Violations
The Haeggquist and Eck Firm represents Irvine employees who have been denied pay that they earned. When the denial of pay affects a large number of employees, a class action lawsuit is often the most effective strategy to assure that employees receive appropriate remedies. The denials of pay that may lead to a legal remedy include:
- Minimum wage violations . Nearly all California employees must be paid the California minimum wage. The current California rate is higher than the federal wage. Most employees who are paid a commission or a piece rate must still be paid the equivalent of a minimum wage for the hours they worked.
- Overtime violations . Non-exempt employees who work more than 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week are entitled to overtime pay, as are those who work for 7 consecutive days. Employees who have not been paid overtime are entitled to back pay and other remedies.
- Misclassification of exempt employees . Recent changes in the law have reduced the number of employees who can legitimately be classified as exempt from overtime laws. Back pay and other remedies can be awarded to employees who have denied overtime payments because they were misclassified as exempt employees.
- Misclassification of independent contractors . By treating workers as independent contractors, many California employers have evaded minimum wage and overtime laws, as well as laws that require employers to contribute to social security taxes and to cover employees under California’s unemployment and workers’ compensation laws. Workers can benefit from back pay awards and other penalties imposed on employers who misclassify workers as independent contractors.
- Meal and rest break violations . Employers that deny employees paid rest breaks or require employees to work through (or remain on the premises during) meal breaks may be required to pay compensation to the affected employee.
- Failure to pay wages . Failing to pay wages that have been earned, including failure to provide final pay after an employee stops working, can result in penalties in addition to back pay. Failing to pay on time may also entitle employees to a “late payment” penalty.
- Failing to pay for “on-call” or travel time . If you are not paid for job-related travel time after reporting to work, or if you are not paid for staying “on-call” in a way that limits your freedom excessively, you could be entitled to compensation.
- Illegal payroll deductions . Deducting money from pay without the employee’s consent, except when required by law, is illegal. Wage deductions for uniform costs and tools are generally prohibited. Employees are entitled to compensation if they have been subjected to illegal payroll deductions.
Call an Irvine employment law attorney at The Haeggquist and Eck Firm if you have been victimized by an employer that refuses to pay wages to which you are legally entitled. We help Irvine and other Southern California employees receive the compensation they deserve.
Employment discrimination is illegal when it is based on an employee’s membership in a protected class. Classes that are protected by federal and/or California law include:
- Disability or Medical Condition
- Race or Color
- National Origin or Ancestry
- Gender Identity
- Marital Status
- Military Status
Employment discrimination laws generally make the following conduct illegal:
- Unequal treatment . It is illegal to treat an employee unfavorably (or less favorably than other employees) concerning terms and conditions of employment because of membership in a protected class. Terms and conditions of employment include things like hiring, firing, promotions, demotions, pay, benefits, hours, suspension, other means of discipline, job duties, and the conditions under which the employee is expected to work.
- Harassment . When an employee is subjected to abusive treatment because of race, sex, or membership in some other protected class, the employee is a victim of discrimination. Racial harassment usually involves a pattern of slurs or insults. Sexual harassment often involves unwanted sexual advances, taunts, or touching. Whether the harassment is sufficiently abusive to permit a discrimination claim usually depends on who committed or participated in it, whether the employer knew about it or tried to prevent it, whether the employee reported it, how serious it was, and how pervasive it was within the workplace.
- Failure to accommodate . Disabled employees are entitled to reasonable accommodations to carry out their job duties. Employment laws also provide a limited right to receive a reasonable accommodation (such as a shift reassignment) to engage in religious practices. The refusal to grant a reasonable accommodation violates state and federal employment laws.
- Retaliation . Every employee has the right to bring a claim of employment discrimination, to investigate the basis for that claim, to notify the employer of the problem before making a claim, and to participate in legal proceedings that relate to the claim. Any unfavorable action taken against an employee because the employee exercised those rights constitutes illegal retaliation, even if the action does not affect the employee’s pay or job status. In addition, an employer’s retaliation against other employees for acting as witnesses or otherwise participating in the claim is also illegal.
The Haeggquist and Eck Firm helps employees recover compensation for all forms of employment discrimination. Remedies can include back pay, restoration of employment, and compensation for the violation of rights. We receive no fee in employment discrimination cases unless we recover compensation for our clients.
Certain employees, including those who work in civil service positions, who belong to a union, or who have signed an employment contract, have protections against arbitrary job termination. If you do not fall into one of those categories, you can probably be fired without a reason, but you cannot be fired for an illegal reason.
Wrongful terminations are firings that violate the law or public policy. Examples include:
- Firing “whistleblowers” who report violations of health and safety laws, fraudulent billing of government agencies, and other acts of misconduct when reporting is protected by a state or federal law.
- Making a claim for any of the wage and hour violations discussed above.
- Talking to other workers about shared problems with an employer.
- Refusing an employer’s request or direction to break the law.
- Engaging in any activity that is required by law (such as jury service).
Contact one of our employment attorneys in Irvine if you believe your employment termination was unlawful. We provide a free case evaluation for discharged employees in Irvine and elsewhere in Southern California.