California Employment Law
Employment Litigation can be Avoided!
Employment disputes can lead to very costly litigation. What makes employment litigation unique is just how easily lawsuits can be avoided. Most employment lawsuits can be avoided if (1) you and your staff know the law, (2) you implement written procedures that are consistent with the law, (3) you ensure that your employment policies are enforced consistently.
Employers should always provide employees written policies that set forth the employer's expectations and establish the procedures for discipline and termination.
What Can Employees Sue their Employers for?
- Breach of written employment agreements:
In order to recruit talented employees, businesses often offer prospective employees contracts that can include more than just a salary. Employers may want to offer stock options that vest over a period of time, a minimum guaranteed length of employment, bonus programs, and so on. When disputes arise over the terms of these agreements, lawsuits happen.
- Employment Discrimination:
While employment in California is "at-will," employers can still be sued for taking adverse employment actions (firing, demoting, suspending, etc.) against employees if that action is taken for an unlawfully discriminatory reason. Employers in California are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of: race, religion, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, and marital status. A large part of employment litigation arises from employees who believe they were wrongly terminated. Beware, though, even job applicants that you don't hire can sue you for employment discrimination!
- Whistleblower Lawsuits Against Employers:
Employees can also sue on the grounds that illegal action was taken against them in violation of whistleblower protections. Employees can also sue their employers if their employers fire them for doing things like reporting securities fraud to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Employees can also bring "qui tam" lawsuits where they sue on behalf of the government in situations where they believe the company is defrauding government programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, nursing homes, etc.
- Employment Harassment Lawsuits:
Harassment lawsuits are another large part of employment litigation. An employee may sue for employment litigation of the employee is singled out and subjected to certain behaviors (more so than the average employee should be expected to endure) based on the employee's inclusion in a protected class (race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, etc.). Employers should have written anti-harassment policies, they should be consistently enforced, and harassment complaints should be immediately responded to to avoid costly litigation!
- Employment Retaliation Lawsuits:
An employee can sue his/her employer if the employer unlawfully retaliated against the employee. Unlawful retaliation can occur when an employer takes adverse employment action against an employee for, as an example, reporting a workplace violation. Most such retaliation is illegal.
- Pay/Overtime/Scheduling Issues:
Employees can sue for uncompensated work performed while they were off the clock, miscalculation of overtime pay, misclassifying employees as exempt Multi-plaintiff lawsuits pose the biggest threats to employers. This is why wage and hour policies consistent with California and federal laws need to be in place and consistently enforced by employers.
We provide cost-effective protection to employers against employment litigation. We help employers:
- Avoid employment litigation by implementing and enforcing effective policies.
- Resolve employment disputes before they turn into lawsuits.
- Vigorously defend against lawsuits that are filed.
- Strive to quickly and cheaply settle legitimate lawsuits.
- Take the non-meritorious claims to trial.
Always make sure you have the advice of competent counsel!