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How to Enforce Your Employment Law Rights

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reports that they received and investigated over 91,000 complaints in 2016. It is an unfortunate fact that many employers engage in unscrupulous and discriminatory practices against employees and potential hires. However, the EEOC, other government agencies and private law firms are the ones who proactively protect your employment rights.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

The EEOC’s primary task is to enforce federal laws that prevent workplace discrimination. For example, the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, ethnicity, religion and national origin. The EEOC deals with HR personnel who engage in inappropriate screening, interviewing and recruiting practices. Employers are forbidden from asking any questions that may violate the civil rights of protected minorities. The Civil Rights Act prohibits retaliation against employees who file complaints or exercise their legal rights. The EEOC conducts investigations, mediates settlements, interpret laws, issues warnings and process discrimination claims.

The Department of Labor

The Department of Labor (DOL) promotes and protects the employed, the unemployed and potential hires. Their main job is to enforce laws related to wages, safety, workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance. This includes approximately 180 federal laws that protects office, except, agricultural, underage and migratory workers. To illustrate, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) contains the laws for weekly hours and overtime pay. The most important member of the DOL is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). They focus on unsafe and unhealthy policies, working conditions and employment environments.

The National Labor Relations Board

The NLRB works with the Department of Labor's Office of Labor-Management Standards to deal with union reporting, disclosure and administration requirements. The federal NLRB is an independent agency that was created through the passing of the National Labor Relation Act (NLRA). The NLRB is tasked with protecting the rights of collective employees who are legally empowered to form a union and select their bargaining representative. The NLRB prevents unfair labor practices, investigate potential violations and facilitate settlements between parties. This sometimes requires class action lawsuits and professional employment lawyers.

Other federal agencies that protect employee’s rights include the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA). Anyone whose rights are being violated by their employer, such as unpaid overtime and unlawful termination, are encouraged to contact an employment lawyer today.



Employment Law - How To Substantiate Claims Of Employment Discrimination

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

While California and federal laws clearly list demographic groups likely subjected to workplace discrimination, demonstrating instances of workplace unfairness is a challenging task. Given that employment discrimination occurs in various forms against diverse groups of people, assessing whether you are the target of unjust treatment requires proper review and legal guidance. The Spencer Law Firm, established in San Clemente, California, provides free case evaluations based on the nature of discrimination reported to ensure that your rights remain protected under current employment laws.

The Importance of Concrete Documentation

If speaking to the coworker, supervisor, or manager who you feel discriminates against you does not halt unwanted treatment, it is practical to document instances in which you feel employment discrimination occurred. It is important that you clearly state that the behavior offends you and makes you uncomfortable given that you feel targeted or demeaned based on your background.

In employment discrimination lawsuits, companies are subject to evaluation based on how proactively they investigate and address employment discrimination. Filing a complaint with management and your employer's human resources department regarding discriminatory treatment not only provides the company a reasonable opportunity to resolve the issue, but also creates a written record of future offenses and the company's success or failure in addressing unfairness in the workplace.

If you lack direct documentation, circumstantial evidence comes into consideration, though extensive research is often required to substantiate a claim. Topics for research include demographics of company employees, violation of longstanding company policies relevant to fair treatment, and statistics indicating that individuals of your demographic are more likely subjected to employment discrimination than other groups. The Spencer Law Firm will assist in evaluating how circumstantial evidence plays should you face employment discrimination.

Adhering to Legal Regulations

Though you may possess direct documentation and circumstantial evidence of discriminatory treatment, such is not sufficient to bring a lawsuit to court. Federal law requires that you first present your claim to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC. Upon receiving your claim, the agency contacts your employer in an attempt to remedy the discrimination you face. If, after further review, the agency deems your claims valid or substantiated, you receive written notification of your right to sue.

What to Do

Once you have extensively documented instances of employment discrimination to the best of your ability and complied with federal requirements through corresponding with the EEOC, you must seek advice from a qualified attorney. Along with years of experience, the team at the Spencer Law Firm prioritizes clients' best interests, incorporating detailed attention to each case and a team-oriented work ethic to produce optimal outcomes. Even if you instinctively think that you are the target of employment discrimination and feel overwhelmed by the process of developing a claim, attorneys at the Spencer Law Firm aim to evaluate your situation and advise you of your next appropriate action, no matter how complex your problem presents itself. Contact the Spencer Law Firm today. First time consultations are always free.



Employment Laws That Protect Your Rights

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigated 91,000 complaints in 2016. Over 65,000 of these complaints were closed because of a lack of reasonable cause. The EEOC does an excellent job protecting the rights of workers across the country, but budget and resource limitations mean that it’s sometimes necessary to retain an employment lawyer to defend your rights. Below introduces federal employment rights that some employers openly ignore and violate.

Anti-discrimination

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination against specific demographic groups. These include age, race, gender, religion, disability and national origin. Screening, hiring and employment decisions cannot be influenced by any of these protected statuses.  Some companies and HR managers hide their discriminatory actions through exaggerating problems, ignoring objective facts and unfairly treating certain people.

Harassment

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits harassment, but almost every state has its own laws regarding stalking and sexual harassment. For example, California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing covers workplace harassment, but this state’s anti-harassment laws provide preferential treatment to employees. This is why victims of workplace bullying and harassment often have to seek the help of employment lawyers to deal with offensive and improper behavior.

Wage and Hour Laws

The Department of Labor oversees the Fair Labor Standards Act that guarantees the basic economic rights of workers. The federal minimum wage only applies if the state’s minimum wage is lower.  While the federal law does not require employers to pay staff for any time off, Californian state law requires that they are paid overtime regardless of whether their work was authorized or not.  This state actually entitles tipped employees to also earn the full minimum wage.

Termination

Almost all states define employment as being an at-will arrangement. This means that employees may be terminated for any reason at any time. Many unscrupulous employees illegally terminate employees for the wrong reasons, such as when a military or pregnant employee uses their FMLA leave rights. Construction and production companies sometimes terminate employees who are injured on the job performing dangerous tasks or working in unsafe conditions.

There also lesser known laws like the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). Contact us today for legal assistance if your employment rights have been or are being violated by your employer.



Employment Law & Workplace Discrimination: Know Your Rights

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Under California employment law, employees have the right to discrimination-free work environments. In short, discrimination occurs when a person is treated unfairly because of his or her race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, religion, or nationality. But identifying employment discrimination isn’t always easy, as it can take many forms. If you are an employee and have been treated unfairly in the workplace, knowing your rights is the first step toward seeking justice.

Legally speaking, there are two basic types of workplace discrimination: disparate treatment and disparate impact. Disparate treatment happens when an employer acts in a way that is directly unfair to the employee. This might include demotion or termination based on the employee's nationality, for example. In some cases, the employer might fail to give a promotion or raise to a qualified employee because of his or her sexual orientation or religion, which also qualifies as discrimination under California employment law. 

Disparate impact, on the other hand, is a more general term that refers to an action (usually a company policy) that is unfairly biased against an entire group of employees. If a company policy discriminates against pregnant women, for instance, it falls into this category. Other situations might include policies that prohibit clothing associated with a specific religion or policies that discriminate against a gender minority.

If you suffered discrimination in the workplace, now is the time to speak with a legal representative about your claim. At The Spencer Law Firm, you can work with an Orange County employment lawyer to seek compensation for your damages. Contact us for more information about employment law and your rights. 



4 Things to Know About Unlawful Termination

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Were you suddenly terminated from your job? Depending on your circumstances, you may be the victim of unlawful termination. Here are some tips and advice.

At-Will Employees

Most employees will not have a claim for wrongful termination against their former employer. This is because most workers are at-will employees. This means that their employer can hire and fire them at will. However, there are common exceptions to this, as you'll see in the following paragraphs.

Breach of Contract

If there was a contract that guaranteed employment to you for a certain amount of time, then your termination would be illegal. This contract doesn't have to be a written one. If you can prove that there was an implied or verbal contract, the courts may also deem the termination unlawful.

Breach of Good Faith

Sometimes, the courts will consider a termination wrongful if there was a breach of good faith. This is harder to prove, but it applies to certain situations. For example, if you were fired so that you can't collect sales commissions, or you were fired a few days before retiring even though you've been a model employee for many years so that your employer wouldn't have to pay for your retirement, that would likely be called wrongful termination.

Breach of Public Policy

There are certain reasons for which even at-will employees cannot be fired. This varies from state to state, but there are some that are universal. For example, if you were fired based on your sex, race, age, religion, etc (and in some places, your sexual orientation), that is illegal. Other breaches of public policy would be stuff such as being fired for taking off time to vote or in retaliation for reporting illegal activities.

For help with fighting an unlawful termination, contact us today!



Employment Law: What Can You Do If you Are Terminated Unlawfully?

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Many people feel that they don’t deserve to lose their jobs and some times they are right. If you feel discriminated against due to your race, age, pregnancy, or something else, you may have a case. If you were let go even though you had a contract in place, you may also have a case, though there are many different reasons why you may feel wrongfully terminated.

So, what can you do if you feel this way?

First, you need to get everything together. Make sure that you have your pay stubs as well as the information you got when you were hired and terminated. Then, write down everything that happened with your termination. It is also helpful if you can get witnesses and statements from witnesses, including the person who fired you!

Then, you need to seek the advice of a lawyer who specializes in employment lawA lawyer will listen to you and see if you have a case. If you do, he or she will help you through the entire process, making sure that you have all of the information that you need and that you are ready to go to trial, though hopefully, they will just settle.

Remember that you are a very special person. It can be hard to go through an unlawful termination case. Harsh things may be said in court and it is important to have support through this time. Keep your chin up and you will get through the case just fine!

As soon as you believe that you are unlawfully terminated, you need to get ready to sue your old boss. Start by collecting paperwork together and see a good lawyer who specializes in these types of cases. He or she will be a great help to get you through this difficult time!

Contact us for all of your legal needs. 



Employment Law: Have I been Terminated Unlawfully?

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Employment law often deals with unlawful termination. However, most people don’t really understand the term. They may think that just because they were fired, they were unlawfully terminated but that is not usually the case.

So, have I been unlawfully terminated? Here are some reasons where you might want to look into legal action.

If you are forced to quit, that may mean that you are unlawfully terminated. It is illegal to make employees quit so if you feel like you were not given any chance, you may want to see a lawyer.

If you feel like you have been discriminated because of your gender, race, nationality, and fired, you may have been unlawfully terminated. You may also fight if you think that you have been terminated due to your religion, age, disability, or even pregnancy.

If you have a contract and get fired before your contract is up, you might want to ask a lawyer if you have grounds for a lawsuit. Besides being unlawfully terminated, you may also be able to look into a breach of contract lawsuit.

You can’t be fired if you are taking leave. Many people take unpaid leave, for medical reasons, and they can’t be fired for it. People who are in the military or those who get jury duty need to have a job to come back to when they are finished.

Many people get unlawfully terminated. Whether you are forced to quit or you lose your job while you are taking leave to take care of your sick child, you may have a case against your job. Anytime you feel discriminated against, you also should seek legal assistance.

Contact us for all of your legal needs.



When Your Employment Contract Is A Lie

Thursday, June 15, 2017

We should all be treated fairly in our work. If you are employed at-will and subject to specific disciplinary measures, your employer should tell you this and stick by their word. After all, you rely on their honesty to decide if you should hire on or leave a company. That's a big, life-altering decision that you have to make with the best information available.

So, what if your employer misleads you? Say the recruitment officer in HR implied you were hired for a certain length of time and you signed up to work at the company, and then found that the implication you relied on was false? What then?

This is fraud, and it comes in 2 flavors. One is when you signed the employment contract, it said that you could only be fired for certain reasons or that you could rely on being employed for a certain amount of time, and then your employer fires you for other reasons or before the specified time is up. Since this is easy to prove, employers try to avoid such written promises.

However, there are times when implied promises constitute fraud. If an employer tells you he or she will keep you on for a set time or has written specific forms of progressive discipline in the employee manual, that can be considered an exception to an at-will contract. (A bonus situation is that the recruitment officer will give such promises verbally and then your written contract will undercut them. Always read your contract and get all promises in writing.) In such cases, a judge would look at evidence such as regularity of promotions, duration of employment, assurances of continued employment, violations of usual employment practice in firing you, and promises made at hiring.

Fraud is always tricky to prove. You will have to bring evidence that your employer made false representations, that people high in the chain of command knew about them, that you relied on the representations and that your reliance led to you being materially injured. Most difficult of all, you have to prove that your employer intended to deceive you. It can be worth the effort though.

If your employer made promises and then broke them, you may have a case against them. Contact us to see what you can do about it.



Whistleblower Protections and Employment Law

Thursday, April 20, 2017

In the United States we have federal and state 'whistleblower laws,' protections in employment law against retaliation by a workplace or employer for whistleblowing activities. These laws do not keep employers from retaliating against whistleblowers, but give whistleblowers legal redress when they are retaliated against for their disclosures.

Whistleblowing describes making information about the public safety, about illegal activities, about commerce activities that have been misrepresented, and any public disclosure of private business information that a company would prefer to keep quiet. In many instances, an employee is expected by professional standards and the law of the nation and state to take action when public safety is threatened, or a law is being broken or people are being harmed. In these circumstances, regardless of workplace policy or nondisclosure agreements, it is the legal expectation of members of society that disclosure to the proper authorities should occur.

The challenges come when the employee tries to do the right thing, and the proper authorities are uninterested; when the workplace threatens both the employee and others in the workplace; when the employee tries to correct a dangerous or illegal situation and gets blackballed by peers or set up to take the blame by an employer. Unfortunately, these are all things that have happened to whistleblowers in the past. Further complicating matters is when the whistleblowing involves the government, and materials disclosed can be said to impact national security.

Assuming that the fate of the free world is not on the line, and the issue of concern is not one of immediate public danger, there are several considerations to be thought through before acting. Carefully study any nondisclosure agreements you signed when taking the job. If the state or local government is involved, there may be ways to report anonymously. If that option is available to you, consider taking it. If you went to the supervisors or law enforcement about a problem, and received no help, make sure those interactions are carefully documented.

There may be restrictions on your legal protection against retaliation if you do not follow the chain of command in reporting. For instance, if you find a workplace safety issue, and rather than reporting to the safety manager or the unit supervisor, went straight to the newspapers, you may not be protected from retaliation, and in some cases, may be held liable for damage to a company's reputation. Either way, however you decide to proceed, document carefully any efforts you made to work through the system. If you have to remove company materials, or use company computer time to document the whistleblowing activities, the company can take action against you. If at all possible, do not remove any company property to bolster your claims.

After the storm breaks, and you have been publically identified as the source of the news, the workplace cannot retaliate against you by demotion, firing, or other job actions that are considered punitive. If they do, you have the option of filing a civil rights action against them. Each state has unique whistleblower laws, with mechanisms for reporting retaliation; federal contractors, military, and federal government agencies also have federal systems in place.

For more information on employment law, please contact us.



Employment Law and Misclassification as an Independent Contractor

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Independent contractors and employees present themselves as similar and mistakenly, interchangeable terms for two distinct types of workers. Generally, independent contractors likely work for themselves and do not experience the withdrawal of taxes from entities they provide services to. However, employees' earnings must undergo adjustments from respective businesses to cover taxes related to income, Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment.

Should business owners negligently misclassify an employee as an independent contractor, serious implications follow that affect both the government and workers concerned. When a business misclassifies you as an independent contractor, the business unlawfully:

  • Denies unemployment insurance and workers' compensation for extenuating circumstances, including layoffs and work site accidents.
  • Fails to withhold income taxes, often subjecting workers to financial hardship in the face of costly tax bills.

If you believe that your employer misclassifies you as an independent contractor, depriving you of the above benefits, consider taking the following actions:

  • Contact the California Department of Industrial Relations. Individuals who report suspected misclassification are kept anonymous, and reports meriting further review should result in an investigation led by the proper state entity.
  • Wages serve as a key indicator of misclassification. If you work overtime and receive inadequate compensation, or if your earnings amount to less than minimum wage, report violations to the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division.
  • When businesses fail to withhold taxes, they commit tax fraud. Workers may determine their status as an employee versus an independent contractor through the Internal Revenue Service's Form SS-8. However, unlike the other entities mentioned, the IRS does not keep workers' identities anonymous. Therefore, misclassified workers should consult experienced legal counsel for proper recourse.

At the Spencer Law Firm, our legal team strives to ensure fairness in pay and benefits allotted to workers based on lawful classification. If you, a friend, or family member experiences or experienced misclassification as an independent contractor, contact us to discuss your options.




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