Top California employment law attorneys working for you
The California employment law attorneys at Shouse Law Group help protect employees’ rights in court. We know the ins and outs of employment law litigation – from settlement negotiations to arbitration agreements to jury trials.
Our labor and employment law firm has locations in Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, San Jose, Oakland, the San Fernando Valley, and the Antelope Valley.
Fighting for employees’ rights
Employment disputes are almost always David vs. Goliath.
As an employee, you depend on your job for your livelihood. Employers are often corporations or other businesses with ample resources at their disposal.
Many California employment law firms focus on representing employers who can pay large fees upfront. These firms’ “legal strategies” may consist of trying to intimidate you for daring to assert your rights until you go away.
That’s where we come in. The labor and employment law attorneys at Shouse Law Group focus on employees – the “little guy.”
We know that employment law has plenty of provisions protecting employee rights in California. This is something your employer may not want you to know. We know the best way to use the legal system to YOUR advantage.
Types of employment cases we handle
The California attorneys at Shouse Law Group help employees and plaintiffs in all practice areas of California labor law, including the following employment issues:
California wrongful termination law provides remedies if you lose your job for the wrong reasons.
You are likely an at-will employee. This means your employer can terminate your employment at any time for almost any reason.
Though there are exceptions to at-will employment in California law. If your employer fires you in violation of an implied contract or in violation of public policy, you may have the right to compensation.
You also have the right to be free from wrongful termination (or wrongful failure to promote):
- in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act,
- as a form of whistleblowing retaliation,
- in violation of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act’s whistleblower protections,
- because of your political speech or activities outside of work, or
- as retaliation for a qui tam lawsuit
- based on a failure to provide reasonable accommodation if you have a disability
You may also be entitled to receive back pay and benefits under the California WARN Act. This applies if you lose your job as part of a mass layoff or business closure/relocation with less than 60 days’ notice.
Also, several California wrongful termination laws prohibit employers from retaliating against you through adverse employment actions other than termination.
Wage and hour law
California wage and hour law sets minimum standards for your
- Minimum pay,
- Required breaks, and
- Hours and overtime.
All California employers must abide by minimum wage laws and provide you with stipulated meal breaks and rest breaks.
They must also pay overtime (time and a half) if you are a non-exempt employee. This kicks in when you work more than eight (8) hours in a day or forty (40) hours in a week. Learn more about suing for overtime pay.
California employers sometimes try to get out of their wage and hour obligations by misclassification of you as exempt (salaried) when you are really non-exempt (hourly). California employers may also try to misclassify you as an independent contractor to get around wage and hour laws.
Requiring “work off the clock” is another common source of wage/hour violations.
Have you been subjected to wage/hour violations by your employer? Our wage and hour law attorneys can help you file a claim. You could get compensation for the unpaid wages and unpaid overtime to which you are entitled.
Remember this: Your employer may NOT retaliate against you for bringing a wage and hour complaint or other labor complaints.
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) protects you from harassment in the workplace. Our California sexual harassment lawyers are experienced with the complex legal definition of workplace harassment.
Most people are familiar with the definition of sexual harassment–particularly quid pro quo sexual harassment.
Though harassment in California employment law also encompasses “hostile work environment” harassment (including non-sexual harassment) on the basis of
- race or ethnicity,
- national origin,
- sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression,
- age, and
Another common illegal practice is immigration retaliation. This occurs when an employer threatens to have non-citizen workers deported for speaking out about labor violations.
The California harassment attorneys at Shouse Law Group can advise you on the best course of action if you experience harassment at work.
For most employees experiencing harassment, the first step is to file a complaint with the California Civil Rights Department (CRD) – formerly the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). Then you may file a lawsuit against your harasser and/or your employer once the CRD issues you a “right to sue” notice.
California employment discrimination law prohibits employers from discriminating against you based on your
- race or ethnicity,
- national origin,
- sexual orientation,
- pregnancy, or
Like workplace harassment, workplace discrimination is prohibited by the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. The difference between harassment and discrimination is that harassment involves behavior by supervisors or coworkers that is outside of their job description – such as abusive remarks or sexual propositions.
Discrimination, on the other hand, involves normal job functions – such as hiring, firing, and setting work conditions – that are conducted in a discriminatory manner.
The lawyers at Shouse Law Group can help you navigate the process of filing a discrimination complaint with CRD. If it comes to that, we can bring a discrimination lawsuit against your employer.
California employers are not permitted to retaliate against you for taking action in response to harassment or discrimination at work.
Family and medical leave laws
As an employee in California, you have the right to various forms of protected family and medical leave under state and federal laws that include
- the California Family Rights Act (CFRA),
- the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and
- Pregnancy Disability Leave under the (CPDA).
The CFRA and the FMLA give you the right to take up to twelve (12) weeks of unpaid leave to care for a newborn biological child, a newly adopted child, a seriously ill family member or yourself if you have a serious illness. These family and medical leave laws only apply if:
- You have worked for your employer for at least (1) year;
- You have worked for that employer for at least 1,250 hours in the past year; and
- Your employer has at least fifty (50) employees working within seventy-five (75) miles of your worksite.
If you give birth to a baby, you are also eligible for leave under the CPDA. This law provides an additional leave of up to four (4) months for periods when you are incapacitated due to pregnancy or childbirth.
California employment law also requires employers to provide other forms of employee leave, including
- paid sick leave (some of which may be used to care for an ill family member),
- alcohol and drug rehabilitation leave,
- voting leave,
- leave to serve on a jury or comply with a subpoena,
- leave to obtain or attempt to obtain relief from domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking,
- leave for victims of crime,
- leave to participate in children’s school activities,
- leave to receive literacy education, and
- bereavement leave.
California employers may NOT retaliate against you for taking family, medical or other protected leave that is provided by law. In most cases, they are required to reinstate you in your previous position when you return from leave.
Our California employment attorneys are up to date on the latest developments in the complex, emerging field of employee privacy rights.
Some of the major topics in California employee privacy law include:
- Whether employers may videotape you (this is generally okay in public areas of the workplace but not in restrooms, locker rooms or similar private areas).
- Whether employers may monitor your internet usage.
- Whether employers can ask about your criminal records (so-called “ban the box” laws).
- Whether and how an employer can use your medical records and history.
- Drug tests (generally speaking, employers may require drug tests for job applicants but not for employees, unless you are working in safety-sensitive positions or the employer has reason to suspect drug use).
- Whether an employer can check your credit rating.
- An employer’s use and protection of your Social Security Number.
- Your right to make video recordings of occurrences in the workplace.
The labor and employment law attorneys at Shouse Law Group are committed to helping you explore your rights to privacy vis-a-vis your employers – and enforce these rights through the legal process when necessary.
Are you a California employee who has signed an employment contract with your employer? Odds are that the employer drafted the contract. In your excitement about starting a new job, you may not have had the time or inclination to read it carefully.
It is important to be able to spot situations in which your employer may have breached your employment contract. This is common in matters of termination, employee discipline, working conditions, job expectations, or failure to pay hazard duty pay. You have the right to take action in that situation.
Our California employment lawyers are experienced in reading and interpreting employment contracts. We can advise you on how best to protect your rights under these contracts.
You also need to be aware of clauses in your employment contracts that restrict your behavior. For example, your contract may contain:
- A non-compete clause, which prohibits you from leaving your employer to work at a competing company or start your own competing business; or
- An IP ownership clause stating that your employer owns the intellectual property (patent or copyright) of any innovations or inventions you create while working for the employer.
If you need to know whether or under what circumstances clauses like this in your employment contract may be enforced, our California employment contract attorneys can help.
California employment law and immigration
It is a sad fact that employers sometimes take advantage of immigrant employees. We tend to see this with both those who are here legally and those who are undocumented.
But California labor laws, including wage/hour laws and laws against harassment and discrimination, apply to ALL employees. This includes undocumented immigrants. “Immigration retaliation” is illegal and subjects a company to significant penalties.
Are you in the United States on a visa sponsored by your employer – such as an H-1B visa? You may also feel uncertain about asserting your rights. You may feel that you “owe” your employer for the favor of sponsoring you. Or you may worry that your employer will not help you renew your visa if you are vocal about your rights.
Though H-1B visa holders are protected by the same labor protections as any other California employee. As well as by numerous other rules and regulations surrounding the visa program. Your employer knows this. Plus companies know that they need to abide by the law if they want to continue hiring H-1B workers.
The bottom line – which our employment lawyers try to convey to our clients – is that immigrant employees enjoy the same rights as other employees in California.
Embarking on a lawsuit, or even threatening a lawsuit, against an employer can be terrifying. You may feel that your job is your home and your coworkers are your family. You also may worry that you will not be able to find a new job if you assert your rights against your current or former employer.
The attorneys at Shouse Law Group are here to help. We are familiar with the processes and procedures for employment litigation, including statutes of limitations for different kinds of employment lawsuits.
We can also assist you in filing complaints with administrative agencies such as
- the California Labor Commissioner,
- the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing,
- the United States Department of Labor, and
- the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
We can also guide you through arbitration of your employment dispute – something that may be required by your employment contract or may be preferable for you for a number of reasons.
Equal Pay violations
The California Equal Pay Act (CEPA) requires employers to pay workers equal wages for doing substantially similar work unless there is a non-discriminatory reason for the pay gap. Examples of non-discriminatory reasons are:
- education and training
- work product
Discriminatory – and therefore illegal – reasons for pay gaps are:
If you are the victim of a CEPA violation, we can file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner or sue your employer in pursuit of twice your back wages.
Can I sue my employer and still work there?
Yes. Plus employers generally may not fire you in retaliation. Though before suing, you are advised to consult with a labor attorney.
In most cases, you should try to exhaust all other options before filing a lawsuit. These may include speaking with management and HR and filing a claim with the EEOC or CRD.
You should also arm yourself with evidence of your mistreatment. These could comprise emails, text messages, and contact information of potential witnesses.
How long do I have to sue my employer in California?
It depends on the claim. Plus there may be exceptions depending on the case. In general, the statutes of limitations are as follows:
Statute of limitations to sue
|Harassment, discrimination, or retaliation||1 year after the CRD or EEOC gives you a “right to sue” notice|
|Breach of oral contract||2 years after the breach|
|Failure to pay wages||3 years after non-payment|
|Breach of a written contract||4 years after the breach|
Can I get fired based on my appearance?
It depends. FEHA prohibits employment discrimination based on appearance-based characteristics such as race (including hairstyles), color, disability, sex, or age. In addition, various California counties have ordinances prohibiting employment discrimination based on other factors, such as weight and height.
Companies can impose dress codes and grooming standards as long as they are consistent. Though if your tattoo or piercing represents your religious beliefs, FEHA arguably should protect you from being fired over it.
How soon does my employer have to pay me if I get laid off or fired? Can I get severance pay?
California employers must pay you on your last day of work. (Learn more about final paycheck laws.)
If you quit without giving notice, the employer has 72 hours to pay. If you quit with three days’ notice, then employers should pay on your last day of work.
Employers are not obligated to pay severance. Unless they agreed to do so in a contract or union agreement.
Do employers have to notify me before laying me off?
In general, the WARN Act requires certain businesses to provide you 60 days of notice before mass layoffs.
Do I need a lawyer?
Businesses have one objective. To make the most money while paying out as little as possible. So you are at a constant disadvantage.
Labor attorneys with years of experience help even the playing field. They fight for your legal rights and best interests. Otherwise, you risk getting shortchanged financially.
Contact us for a free consultation
Shouse Law Group starts every case the same way: by listening. Our California labor and employment law attorneys know that every employment case is different. We want to hear your full story so that we can determine the best legal strategy for your legal issues.
Call our law office today or use the contact form on this page to schedule a free consultation for legal advice and our legal services. We represent clients throughout the state of California, from San Diego and Los Angeles to Sacramento, Santa Clara and San Francisco.
Work in Nevada? See our article on our Nevada labor lawyers.
What are my rights as an employee in California?
Ten rights you have in California are: