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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.



Class Actions: The Whos, Whens and Whys

Friday, April 06, 2018

There are few tools that an individual has to protect themselves against unfair practices and treatments of Employers or Companies, one of the most effective means being class actions. We wanted to take a moment to express when, why and by whom a class action suit gets filed.

Class actions often entitle a person harmed either physically or emotionally by a corporation to receive a monetary settlement for their troubling experience. Someone without the financial security themselves to justify the time and money spent in obtaining legal representation, filing a suit or the court costs associated with such, greatly benefits by aligning with others who have been similarly wronged. 

If a customer purchases a product based on advertising that is either misleading or an outright lie, the individual often sees little benefit in the expense of the resources necessary to achieve compensation for this infraction. Though with the thousands of other dissatisfied consumers made to believe untruths about the product, then such a lawsuit could force the company to pay back any profits resulting from the campaign in question, as well as retracting the invalid marketing. 

Another instance of a suit-worthy offense would be an employer who failed to provide safe working conditions, or who engaged in unequal payment on basis of discrimination. Again, a court could find the company exhibiting the questionable behaviors subsequently penalized and the affected parties granted certain concessions. 

If you feel that an employer or company has disregarded your rights, we invite you to read more! Remember: You have rights, and your rights are important. 



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.



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. 



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.



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.



Discriminated in the Workplace? – Some Forms you Might Not be Aware of

Thursday, February 16, 2017

When the term discrimination comes up in employment law, most of us immediately think of racial biased practices. However, the federal government has been clear in the scope that workplace discrimination is covered.

There are several areas of discrimination such as race, sex, color, creed and religion that most people are familiar with. There are also a few lesser known areas that aren’t in the news every day. These are the areas that you might be affected by and not realize it.

Age discrimination – designed to protect workers over the age of 40. These laws are intended for the group of workers who are slightly older than their peers in the workplace. The standards for equal pay and assignment of duties must be met by that employer who has older workers on the staff. This includes the language used in the workplace. While the law doesn’t pertain to teasing or even slightly disparaging remarks, it does go to that extent when the workplace becomes a hostile environment because of it.

Disability – the laws regarding disabilities are such that the employer should make certain, but limited, accommodations for the employee to fulfill his work duties. When this isn’t done, the employer has failed in their obligation to disabled employees. Disability discrimination also goes a step further in that it covers people who are discriminated against because of their association with a disabled person.

Disabled employees have the same rights as everyone else in the workplace. They are sometimes subject to lower pay or the relegation to less desirable positions and are even the subject of disparaging language

Sexual harassment – can be taken in many forms, some of which are subtle and some that are overt. From unwanted touching and advances to inappropriate language and pictures, all can be found to be a form of sexual discrimination that is unlawful in the workplace. Harassment covers the actions of males and females alike.

Retaliation – the EEO laws prohibit punishment of an employee for exercising their rights under the law regarding the filing of a discrimination lawsuit. Retaliation covers any changes in the employee’s job duties, any confrontational language used against the employee, and spreading false rumors or intense scrutiny of the employee.

Every worker has the invaluable right to work in an environment that is free of discrimination and harassments of any type.

If you think that you have been discriminated on in any of these areas, contact us for a free discrete consultation. Trust your case to the most-trusted discrimination advocates.




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