Many employees may not realize their employers owe them unpaid wages for overtime, break violations, and other penalties.
Unpaid and Overtime Wage Claims/Lawsuits
By far the most common type of complaint we see is for unpaid wages and unpaid overtime. Employers in California just seem to have the hardest time executing the state’s overtime rules correctly. The result is that their employees are often misclassified as “exempt,” which means that they can go years without getting any overtime. Luckily for employees, California law can let you go back as many as four years to collect overtime wages owed.
In any action for unpaid wages, if it can be shown that the employer wilfully refused to pay minimum wage, overtime, or double time or to provide meal periods, the employer can be held liable for penalties. These penalties include 30 days of pay for each aggrieved employee.
Worker prevails on a claim for missed meal periods and can show that the employer acted willfully in denying the meal periods. The worker was making $45,000 a year in salary and she worked eight-hour days. Based on this information, Worker’s “regular” rate would be approximately $21.60, so her penalties would be 30 days x 8 hours x $21.60 per hour, or $5,184.
In California, overtime is defined as work over 8 hours in one day or 40 hours in one week. Additionally, any employee who works all seven days in one workweek must be paid overtime for the first eight hours of work on the seventh day.
Overtime must be paid at the rate of 1.5 times a worker’s “regular” rate of pay. Broadly speaking, an employee’s regular rate is his or her normal hourly rate. However, the regular rate can be higher in some circumstances.
Doubletime violations are rarer. Doubletime is defined as work over 12 hours in one day and any work performed in excess of 8 on the seventh day for the employee who works all seven days in one work week. Doubletime is 2.0 times a worker’s regular rate of pay.
Typically, an employee may collect unpaid overtime or double time going back three years from the date his or her lawsuit is filed. However, it may be possible to go back as many as four years.
If you think you have been unpaid wages owed to you, please contact our office for a free case evaluation.
Despite the advances, our society has made over the last fifty years or so, employment discrimination is as prevalent today as ever. Discrimination takes many forms:
- Disability discrimination
- Age discrimination (the limit is 40 years and over)
- Sex discrimination (including pregnancy discrimination)
- Racial discrimination
- Ethnic discrimination
- Gender discrimination
- Sexual preference discrimination
- Religious discrimination
- And more
It must be remembered that “actionable” workplace discrimination must consist of wrongful employment actions, like termination, demotion, reduced pay, transfer, forcing someone to work a bad shift, etc., coupled with a discriminatory intent (i.e., the wrongful actions must be taken because the employee fits into a protected category like those listed above).
Remedies for job discrimination include lost pay and benefits, emotional distress damages, attorney fees, and punitive damages.
If you think you have been discriminated against by your employer, please contact our office for a free case evaluation.
Wrongful Termination Lawsuits
Like discrimination, allegations of wrongful or illegal terminations are far too common in the modern work environment. They can occur in many situations: a disgruntled employee claims his termination was for an improper motive, or when someone is fired in retaliation for speaking up about workplace discrimination after an employee is injured on the job, or when an employee discloses that she is pregnant.
Many, if not most, terminated employees believe that their termination was unlawful. The truth is that very few can be characterized as “wrongful” terminations because California is an “at-will” employment state. This means the employment relationship can be terminated at the will of either party at any time.
The at-will presumption can be defeated in three ways: if a statute limits the employer’s right to terminate, if terminating the employment relationship would violate established public policy, or if a contract exists between the employer and employee that provides that the employee may only be terminated “for a cause.”
If you think you have been wrongfully terminated by your employer, please contact our office for a free case evaluation.
Hostile Work Environment Lawsuits
The two types of hostile work environments claim that we see most are either sexual or racial in nature. Sexually hostile work environments generally involve repeated comments or touching of a sexual nature. Racially hostile work environments usually entail repeated, daily comments about an employee’s race or ethnicity. Either way, they are terrible for employers and the employees that have to suffer through them.