Practice Areas

There are a lot of laws affecting businesses.  And that is a gross understatement.  Even for lawyers, it’s impossible to know and stay on top of it all.  That’s why our attorneys focus on a key area of law for businesses: employment and labor law.  Employee issues and lawsuits can be devastating to your business.  We can help you avoid them by advising you in the areas of employment and labor law below.  If you have any questions please e-mail or call us for a complimentary 15 minute call on us (for employers only of course).
Preventing Employee Lawsuits

For employee issues, prevention is the name of the game.  If your business gets sued, you’ve already lost. Why? Even if you ultimately “win,” you will pay your lawyers and spend your valuable time to prove you are right. Meanwhile, you won’t be able to sleep well at night.

And should you be wrong (or so the jury thinks) then you get to pay not only for “damages” to your former employee but also for their attorney as well, adding insult to injury.

We help you nip employee problems in the bud before they become full blown lawsuits. We have a solid track record of keeping our clients out of court. And believe us it’s much cheaper that way.

Call or e-mail us now and ask us about our monthly flat rate preventive advice programs to prevent employee lawsuits.

Employee Handbooks

An employee handbook is not required by law. But many employers use one as a tool to inform their employees of their rules and to reduce the risk in the event of an employee lawsuit.

Properly drafted, an employee handbook covers many key employment and labor issues to favor the employer while preserving employer discretion.

We do not recommend that every single employer have a handbook. But if you are interested in knowing the pros and cons of having an employee handbook or are ready to implement one, you have found the right lawyers to help you.

Call or e-mail us now for a free consultation.

Lawsuits, Class Action Lawsuits and Litigation Defense

This is something to be avoided at all costs. But if you do get sued you want lawyers on your side who know what they are doing and who have your best interests in mind, not theirs. You want lawyers whose goals are aligned with yours: to get you out of the lawsuit as soon as possible with the least overall cost.

And in the right case, or if you are a monthly flat rate subscriber, your company may be eligible to participate in our special Share In The Risk Litigation Defense Program® where we as lawyers have “skin in the game” and get paid based on results.

It takes an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer to do that. It takes a game plan, strategy and execution to do that. Our experienced attorneys can help you in litigation matters like:

  • Employee Lawsuit Defense (wrongful termination, leave violation, retaliation, wage and hour)
  • Wage and Hour Class Action Defense and Other Class Action Defense
  • Business Litigation (trade secrets, unfair competition, breach of contract)
  • Administrative Audits, Claims and Hearings before the:
    • Labor Commissioner/Department of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE)
    • Employment Development Department (EDD)
    • Department of Fair Employment & Housing (DFEH)
    • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
    • Federal Department of Labor (DOL)
    • Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

If your company has been sued you have only a short time to respond without jeopardizing your rights. Call or e-mail us now.

Wage and Hour Law (Overtime, Rest/Meal Periods, Exempt vs. Non-Exempt Status, etc.)

This is a key area of the law.  Much to our continued surprise most employers do not understand the basics. As a result we advise businesses on wage and hour issues almost on a daily basis.

What are the issues? Overtime, calculation of the proper “regular rate” for overtime, rest/meal periods, exempt versus non-exempt status, outside sales exception, minimum wage issues, maintaining accurate time records, rounding practices, working off the clock, timing of payment of wages, commissions/bonuses, unlawful deductions, waiting time penalties under Labor Code section 203, required reimbursement under Labor Code section 2802, and Labor Commissioner conferences and hearings, just to name a few.

We would be willing to bet if we walked into any small/medium business we would find non-compliance issues. This is how wide-spread these problems are.

If you are not certain that you understand all of the above issues, call or e-mail us now for a free consultation.  Failure to comply can have devastating consequences.

Independent Contractor vs. Employee Status (Misclassification Issues)

There are only two types of workers in the eyes of the law: independent contractors or employees. They are mutually exclusive. The worker is either an independent contractor or they are your employee, but cannot be both at the same time. This is a threshold and fundamental decision which carries significant legal consequences.

If you have an “employee” then all employment and labor laws under the sun – California and federal – apply. If you have a true independent contractor, they don’t apply (with some notable exceptions). So it’s a big deal to get this right.

Call or e-mail us now for a free consultation.

Employee Leaves (Including Family/Medical, Disability, Pregnancy Disability, etc.)

Leave of absence laws are often misunderstood due to their complexity and the way they interact with common workplace issues (such as tardiness, absenteeism, and use of sick pay, vacation or PTO).

Your employee leave obligations may sneak up on you: workers’ compensation leave, reasonable accommodation leave, pregnancy disability leave, family medical leave, military leave, organ or bone marrow donor leave, school discipline leave, victims of crime leave, jury, witness duty leave, etc.

Employee leave issues are complex. They can create legal exposure for businesses unaware of the legal requirements and how to navigate them, especially when they overlap.

Call or e-mail us now for a free consultation.

Disability Discrimination & Reasonable Accommodation Law

Reasonable accommodation law can be a trap for the unwary.

This is an offshoot of discrimination law. Discrimination law says employers must provide reasonable accommodations for employees with physical or mental disabilities. The law requires an employer to engage in what’s called the “interactive process” to determine “reasonable accommodations” to the disabled employee and then provide them.

Managing this process so it works for you and your employee without violating the law is extremely challenging. And that’s assuming you know the law and have significant real world experience in applying it.

We have that knowledge and real world experience.  We are here to help you in this difficult legal area. Call or e-mail us now for a free consultation.

Unlawful Harassment and Preventive Training

Unfortunately, employees have generally come to understand “unlawful harassment” to be any kind of harassment (i.e. managing their performance and holding them accountable). But this is not the case – not that we recommend general harassment as good management style.

Unlawful harassment is harassment based on a “protected category,” such as “sex.” But it’s not just limited to sexual harassment. It includes an ever expanding list of other “protected categories,” including harassment based on race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, and sexual orientation.

Prohibited harassment policies and training are key to preventing unlawful harassment claims. If your employee has complained of unlawful harassment immediate and legally proper handling of the complaint is critical to minimizing or avoiding liability. We can help you satisfy your legal obligations to prevent and correct unlawful harassment in the workplace by conducting a prompt, thorough, and unbiased workplace investigation.

If an employee has complained or you have been sued, time is of the essence.  This cannot wait until tomorrow.  Call or e-mail us today.

Workplace Investigations

Workplace investigations are required for complaints of unlawful harassment. For other issues, such as discrimination, retaliation or employee misconduct, investigations are prudent.

The point of the investigation is to make credible and unbiased findings supported by the “evidence” and to take appropriate corrective action, if any, consistent with the findings. If you (or the staff to whom you delegate the investigation) are not unbiased, trained, skilled and experienced in conducting workplace investigations, you might consider getting a professional to do it, particularly if the stakes are high, and they almost always are. And the investigation report will be “Exhibit A” in any lawsuit that follows. We conduct professional, prompt, thorough and unbiased investigations that comply with the law.

If you need to perform a workplace investigation, time is of the essence. Call or e-mail us now.

Wrongful Termination, Retaliation and Whistle Blowing

Wrongful termination is the label we’ll use for the various ways an employee can sue you when you terminate their employment. The underlying legal hook could be based on discrimination, retaliation, whistle blowing, a statute, public policy, leave law, a contract (including an implied contract) or others.

We can help you deal with your problem child employee – and terminate their employment if necessary – without it turning into a wrongful termination lawsuit. There is a right way, and a wrong way. We advise you on how to do it the right way.

Or if you have already been sued, we will defend you. If you have been sued, time is of the essence. Call or e-mail us now.

Discrimination

It is unlawful to make employment decisions based on race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex (including pregnancy and breast feeding), gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, and sexual orientation.

But successful businesses discriminate daily – by selecting the best employee with the right attitude, skills, background, knowledge and experience for the job. We help you cull the best from those less deserving without running afoul of anti-discrimination laws.

Call or e-mail us now for a free consultation.

Trade Secrets and Unfair Competition

These types of claims are usually business on business lawsuits. They involve employees jumping ship and going to work for a competitor.

Anytime your former employee takes what you consider to be your confidential or private information and then uses it to compete against you – to solicit your clients for example – you have a misappropriation of trade secrets/unfair competition issue. Or vice versa: if you take on an employee and they disclose your competitor’s trade secret information you could be sued.

We help you protect your trade secrets through written agreements and evaluate your exposure whether you are the victim of trade secrets misappropriation and unfair competition or the accused. And if representation in court is necessary, we will aggressively represent your interests.

It is critical to act quickly if you feel your trade secrets are being used to compete against you. Call or e-mail us now.

Privacy

Believe it or not, your employees have privacy rights in your workplace. Employment law issues that relate to the right to privacy include: background checks, drug testing, video surveillance/recording, computer and e-mail monitoring, and yes, in monitoring social media use.

If your company does any of the above, we can help you do it legally. Call or e-mail us now for a free consultation (15 minutes for employers only).

Arbitration/Mediation

You and your employees can agree to have a private arbitrator decide employee issues rather than a jury of your supposed “peers.”

Arbitration of employee claims is experiencing resurgence. Since the California Supreme Court’s 2000 Armendariz decision, the utility of mandatory binding arbitration had diminished, particularly for small/medium employers. But decisions from the United States Supreme Court have since brought mandatory arbitration back to life especially in the context of class action and representative action waivers and possibly in overruling the Armendariz requirements.

If you are wondering how arbitration works or whether it is right for your business, call or e-mail us now for a free consultation.

 

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Employee Keeping You Up At Night? Or You Have Been Sued? Call Us Now!

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