What Can An Employment Lawyer Do For Me?
Employment law cases can be challenging in any state, but California is thought to have some of the most complex employment laws. This is especially tricky for human resources professionals, who must often navigate a complex array of California laws designed to protect employees and define the role of employers.
The Choice Of A Lawyer Is Important Because California Employment Law Is Complex
For example, in many instances, California employment law is more stringent than corresponding federal laws. And in some instances, there are no corresponding laws at the federal level. For example, in 2015, mandatory paid sick leave took effect in California; federal law does not have this provision. State law also recently expanded the employee protections available under the Fair Labor Standards Act to volunteers and interns; again, volunteers and interns are not protected under federal law. These and similar laws are good for California employees. Enforcement of the laws, however, is challenging for employers and employees as well as the attorneys who try to protect them.
The complexity of California law makes it even more important for employees who believe that an employer has broken the law and violated their rights to consult an attorney who focuses on employment law. Focusing on this area makes it more likely that the lawyer is aware of all the updates and changes in California and federal employment law and will be able to give you the best possible advice about your rights and options.
Who Can Take Action Against An Employer?
Lawyers focusing on employee rights and obligations can help at any stage of the employment process, from application and interview to termination – and everything in between. A person doesn’t have to be employed to learn about legal options. Ex-employees who believe that their rights were violated by a former employer may be able to seek redress through the legal system.
When Should An Employee Call An Attorney?
Should every employee who disagrees with his or her employer talk with an attorney? Although some issues are caused by misunderstandings, many more warrant a consultation with a lawyer. If an applicant, employee or ex-employee suspects any of the following, it is time to seek out an experienced employment law attorney:
- Discrimination based on age, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity and other protected classes
- Failure to provide appropriate wages and benefits such as overtime, sick leave, shift differential (when required) and meal breaks. Not paying employees for required activities such as training or clocking-in may also be violations of state and federal law.
- Failure to provide a healthy and safe workplace
- Failure to provide training needed to ensure that employees can meet expectations and stay safe while on the job
- Denial of Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave for reasons not covered by the law
- Wrongful termination
- Defamation by an ex-employer that prevents the former employee from getting another job
- Misclassification of employees in an effort to avoid paying benefits
What can an employment lawyer do when an employee alleges that an action like one of those listed here violated his or her rights?
What Will An Employment Law Attorney Do?
An employment attorney can evaluate your situation and determine whether you have the basis for a claim or lawsuit. This professional can also advise you about the best course of action if you do have a claim. Do you want to litigate in court or negotiate a settlement that will compensate you for your losses without going to court? An employment attorney can help you understand the pros and cons of each option. An attorney can help protect you against further illegal actions by an employer such as retaliation because you consulted an attorney, filed a lawsuit or reported employee misbehavior to a government agency.
An employment law attorney will review all relevant documents, research the law, interview witnesses to fully understand the specifics of your situation, collect records from the employer, plan the strategy that best matches your goals, consult with experts in your job field and plan for trial or settlement negotiations.
How Can I Find An Employment Lawyer?
Unless you are very confident about your choice, it is best to shop around for an employment lawyer. You should not hesitate to ask questions about his or her experience, approach and anything else that concerns you. Questions that most potential clients ask include:
- Do you try cases or do you settle cases? What are the percentages in your practice?
- How do you stay current with all the changes in California and federal law?
- Will you personally handle my case or will a paralegal or associate do most of the work?
- What are your fees and how are they billed? Do you handle cases on a contingency basis?
If you believe your rights were violated by an employer, don’t hesitate to seek help. The longer you wait, the more difficult your situation may become.