We represent individual employees who have suffered discrimination, retaliation, or any other form of wrong in the workplace. Employment discrimination is unfortunately all too common as most people spend a significant amount of their life at work, sometimes even more time than they spend at home. A part of one’s identity is often tied to one’s employment or what happens in the workplace. This is precisely why when someone suffers a workplace injustice, the betrayal is and hurt is so profound. An employee can be injured and affected emotionally, mentally, and physically in way they never imagined. HHJ seeks to help and secure justice for those that have been wronged in the workplace.
Employees trust their employers to pay them correctly, to not retaliate against them, and to do the right thing when discrimination exists in the workplace. When the employee can no longer trust their employer, they have the legal right and the ability to prosecute their employer under the appropriate California and Federal Labor Laws.
Employment issues can arise in a variety of ways. Just because an attorney states that he or she is an employment attorney, that does not mean they handle all areas of employment practice. You want to find an attorney that specializes in the area of employment law that is directly related to your case. Our firm specializes in the following areas:
Generally, most employees that are working in California fall under an “at-will” category, meaning that they could be terminated at any time. However, even with an at-will status, an employee cannot be fired or discharged for a wrongful reason. The definition of wrongful under the law does not cover all reasons that are morally wrong. People may believe that they have been fired or terminated for a wrongful reason, but under the law, they must be fired for conduct that is protected by public policy. Please reach out to our office to determine if you have been wrongfully terminated by your employer.
A whistleblower is considered someone that reports their employer for fraudulent behavior, illegal conduct, violations of the law, and other types of misconduct. Individuals that uncover, witness, or determine illegal and unlawful behavior by their employer has the right to notify the authorities and others about the wrongful conduct.
The California Labor Code protects employees that report violations of the law to either the authorities, government agency, or a person who has authority over the employee. The employer is prevented from retaliating against the employee for disclosing or whistleblowing the unlawful conduct/law violation. The employer also cannot retaliate against the employee if he or she refuses to engage in conduct that is illegal, violates a state or federal statute or a local ordinance. Please reach out to an employment attorney if you have been retaliated against after whistleblowing.
Employers can discriminate against employees in a variety of ways. There are state and federal laws that prevent employers from discriminating against their employees. Employers can discriminate against their employees by providing unfair pay, failing to promote, retaliating, harassing, and even terminating or firing their employees. The employee must show that the discrimination was based on a specific characteristic that has been defined by the law. If the employer discriminates against an employee because of their race, gender, religion, color, disability, pregnancy, or national origin, the employee may have a righteous case against his or her employer.
In California, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) will investigate claims of discrimination. However, the employee can choose to receive a Notice of Right to Sue from the DFEH and file a lawsuit. It is extremely important to speak to an employment attorney about when you have to notify the DFEH and other administrative agencies such as the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) before filing a lawsuit. In certain cases, if there is a failure to notify the DFEH, EEOC or another administrative agency within a certain time period, the employee will effectively waive their right to sue their employer in court.
Wage and Hour and Overtime Pay
One of the most common violations that we see is an employer’s failure to pay proper wages. There are many state and federal laws that protect employees and prevent employers from giving employees improper wages. We consistently see many employers that do not properly provide meal and rest breaks to their employees. For example, if your employer has asked you to skip a meal or rest break while notating it on a timesheet, this is a violation of the California Labor Law(s). We have also seen employers that force their employees to work overtime without properly paying them or notating the overtime hours. Again, this is a violation of California Labor Law(s). If you have dealt with a similar situation, you need to speak to an employment attorney right away. We have helped clients in the following areas when they have been wronged by their employer:
An employer cannot use their position of power or authority to sexually harass and assault their employees. Sexual harassment violates both state and federal law. Unfortunately, every day we see news reports about another high-profile sexual harassment case where victims are being mistreated or unheard. Victims of sexual harassment rarely feel comfortable bringing their claims forward due to fear of retaliation, embarrassment, or lack of support. In short, they don’t have an advocate on their side. This is why many sexual harassment claims go unreported in California and across the United States each year. But we hope to change that. If you have been a victim of sexual harassment, we are here to fight aggressively on your behalf to make sure the perpetrators are held accountable for their actions.
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) outlines several categories of harassment based on sex. If your employer harasses you based on your gender, sex, pregnancy, childbirth, and other medical conditions, you can be protected by FEHA. FEHA goes on to further define sexual harassment:
Who is Liable for Sexual Harassment Claims?
In California, the employee who committed the harassment is personally liable for the victim’s damages regardless if the employer knew or should have known about the harassment. While our firm will always pursue damages against the employee who committed the harassment, the employee may often be “judgment proof” or simply lacking financial resources to compensate the victim for their damages. Because of this common occurrence, our firm makes sure we include in any lawsuit all individuals and entities responsible, in whole or in part, for the harassment.
An employer will be held strictly liable if the harassment of the victim was perpetrated by either a supervisor or by the employer himself/herself. This means that the employer is liable for the victim’s damages regardless if the employer knows or should have known about the harassment and regardless if they took corrective action. Time and time again we have seen how the position of power a supervisor or employer exerts over their employees makes these types of claims relatively common and even more egregious.
Lastly, the employer is liable for damages stemming from sexual harassment when the employer knew or should have known about the harassing behavior but failed to take the appropriate steps or corrective actions to remedy the problem.
Before a victim is allowed to bring a lawsuit for sexual harassment, they must first file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Housing and Employment (DFEH). This administrative complaint allows the DFEH to conduct an investigation into the claim to decide if they are going to take action against the employer. If the DFEH decides not to bring a civil action within 150 days of your filing of the complaint, then you can request a “right-to-sue” notice. Once you obtain this “right-to-sue” notice, you then have the right to file an independent lawsuit in court.
Types of Damages You May Be Awarded in a Sexual Harassment Lawsuit
Victims of sexual harassment may pursue variety of damages as part of their lawsuit, including monetary damages to compensate them for their losses. Moreover, if the victim prevails in their lawsuit against the employer, they may also be entitled to the following remedies:
– Emotional damages (both past and future damages)
– Reinstatement of employment
– Back pay and/or lost wages
– Mandated changes to the employer’s policies and practices
– Reasonable attorney’s fees and costs
In rare instances, you may also be entitled to punitive damages against the employer. In order to obtain punitive damages, you must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the conduct amounted to malice, oppression, or fraud.
What You Should Do If You Are A Victim of Sexual Harassment
Understanding your rights is empowering. You have the right to be free from sexual harassment in the workplace; no one should have to endure sexual harassment. To that end, you should obtain a copy of your employer’s sexual harassment policy so that you know the proper process and procedure to address the issue. In general, you will want to file a claim to the appropriate person within the company, usually a representative in Human Resources. If your complaint is not addressed, you may also want to consider filing a claim with the California Department of Fair Housing and Employment.
Most importantly, you should reach out to a knowledgeable and experienced sexual harassment attorney for advice on how to move forward with your claim. Even after bravely coming forward with your claim, you should expect a vigorous response and defense by the harasser. With an experienced sexual harassment attorney fighting for you on your side, you can rest assured that your rights will be protected and that the harasser will be held accountable for his/her actions.
How to Choose A Top Employment Lawyer
If you have recently been affected by an unlawful employment action, you may have been sitting on a computer searching for the best employment lawyer near me, or top employment attorneys near me. This means you have come to a point where you can no longer be silent and you know that your employer has acted wrongfully. What do you do next? How do you choose the right lawyer for your case?
Top Rated and Reviewed Employment Lawyer
Before hiring an attorney, you need to see how that attorney has been reviewed by his or her past clients and peers. Reviews will highlight the attorney’s past work ethic, integrity, skill, and effectiveness. There are many review platforms like Google, Facebook, and Yelp where clients can leave reviews about their attorneys. There are review platforms specific to attorneys like AVVO. You should read what people say about the attorney before you decide to hire them. The attorneys at HHJ are extremely proud of the service that they have provided to their past clients. Please feel free to read some of the things that our past clients have stated about how we treated them and how they delivered on their cases.
Highly Skilled Employment Attorney
One of the most important things that you need to determine is whether your attorney has gone to trial. Contrary to what people believe and see in the movies, not all attorneys are trial attorneys. Most attorneys will spend the majority of their time inside of an office and pushing paperwork. Unfortunately, when an attorney has not had the experience of going to trial, they will not know the true value of a case. Without trial experience, an attorney cannot know what would happen to your case if you went to trial. More importantly, the opposition will know that there is never a threat of a jury trial if the attorney does not have a track record of presenting cases to a jury. We will do everything that we can to keep you out of trial and to settle your case before it ever gets to a courtroom. However, if we feel that the other side is not offering a fair result in your case, we will have no hesitation to ask the jury for a fair result. Our firm has tried over 100 jury trials and continue to use that experience to help each and every one of our clients.
The relationship between the attorney and the client needs to be based on trust. There needs to be open lines of communication and there must be honest and candid conversations about the strength and weaknesses of an individual’s case. The attorneys at HHJ Trial Attorneys speak to each client with openness and honesty about their case. We also expect the same type of communication from the client. We firmly believe that we can effectively communicate our client’s story and journey only by understanding the complete truth about the events.