At Lipton Legal Group, our team strives to help individuals who have experienced discrimination, harassment and retaliation at the workplace. Our firm is dedicated to helping employees settle legal matters, such as wrongful termination, unpaid overtime and break violations.
California is considered to be an employee-friendly state with broad legal protection for employees in the workplace. Employees who experience discrimination and wage and/or hour violations may be entitled to monetary compensation. We represent employees on a contingency basis (percentage), meaning that there are no legal fees unless Lipton Law Group wins your case and gets you a monetary settlement. Specifically, we work on behalf of clients facing challenges with regards to:
What are Employment Contracts?
Employment contracts are agreements between the employer and employee that are used to define the employment relationship. Information provided in an employment contract includes, but is not limited to, the employee’s pay and the amount of hours required. Employees in California are presumed to be participating in an “at will” employment, unless there is an employment contract that states otherwise. Employers usually want to keep the flexibility of the “at will” doctrine and, therefore, refrain from giving employees such contracts. Generally, employment contracts are created in one of two different ways:
• An employment contract documented in writing (any kind of writing) or verbally (by words), it is considered an express employment contract.
• In some situations, the employer’s policies, practices and actions can create an implied employment contract (that is not necessarily written). Even promises made by a supervisor may result in such a contract.
Issues with Employment Contracts
Employment contracts can sometimes provide a time frame for the employment, or state that the employee could be fired only for “a cause,” or a specific reason (unlike the “at will” doctrine). Other employment contracts allow the employer to fire the employee for no cause, after giving notice as required in the contract. Other issues in employment contract disputes include problems with unpaid salary, commissions, and bonuses.
If the employer breaches the employment contract, the employee may be entitled to money compensation for the breach, including lost monthly wages (backpay) in the amount the employee would have received if he or she had not been fired. Employees can also qualify for other monetary compensation caused by the breach of the employment contract, such as loss of future earnings.
If you were fired in violation of your employment contract, feel that your employment contract has been breached, or if you have a general employment contract dispute, you may be eligible for money compensation. Contact Lipton Legal Group today at (310)855-7556 for a free consultation and assistance with your case.
The State of California is considered to be an employee-friendly state because the laws generally favor an employee over interests of the Federal Government. These laws were created to give employees greater rights and to protect them from discrimination at the workplace. Discrimination laws also protect undocumented immigrants. California’s Fair Housing and Employment Act (FEHA), specifically protects employees from discrimination based on:
• Race / Color
• Sex / Gender, Gender Identity / Gender Expression
• Sexual Orientation
• Mental and Physical Disability, Medical Conditions
• Marital Status
• Age (40+)
• National Origin / Ancestry
• Military and Veteran Status
FEHA protects employees from discrimination not only when they are being fired, but also protects them during the process of being promoted, demoted, or when being selected for training programs that would lead to more lucrative employment. In other words, any negative actions taken by the employer against the employee in the workplace is employment discrimination in California if it is based on the employee’s protected status (age, sex, religion, disability, etc.). Employees who are discriminated against are possibly entitled to get monetary compensation based on past lost pay, future lost pay, job benefits, and also compensation for pain and suffering and emotional distress. Additionally, employees can receive a monetary award for punitive damages and the employee’s attorney fees for bringing a lawsuit.
Types of Discrimination
There are two major categories of employment discrimination in California. The first occurs when the employer discriminates intentionally against the employee because of his/her protected status (age, race, disability, etc.), which is known as disparate treatment and is the most common type of employment discrimination. In order to prove disparate treatment discrimination in California, the employee (plaintiff) must prove all of the following:
1. That the employee was fired, demoted, refused to be hired or experienced any other kind of adverse employment action.
2. That the protected status (age, race, disability) was a motivating reason for the adverse employment action.
3. That the employee was harmed (physically, mentally, financially).
4. That the adverse employment action (e.g., firing) was a substantial factor in causing the harm.
The second type of employment discrimination in California is when the employer’s policies negatively impact a protected class of people disproportionately, known as disparate impact. This type of discrimination does not require the employer to have a discriminatory motive, but only that the employer’s policy affect a certain group of employees (for example, persons over 40) in a negative way in comparison to other employees. In order to prove disparate impact discrimination in California, the employee (plaintiff) must prove all of the following:
1. That the employer had an employment practice or a selection policy that had a disproportionate negative effect on members of a protected class (age, race, disability, etc.).
2. That the employee is a part of a protected class.
3. That the employee was harmed (physically, mentally, financially).
4. That the employer’s practice/selection policy was a substantial factor in causing the employee’s harm.
If you have been discriminated against by your employer because of your age, sex, race or disability, Lipton Legal Group can help you get justice and monetary compensation. The firm will work aggressively towards understanding your unique situation and achieving the best results possible, getting you what you deserve. As a California employee, you should not tolerate discrimination at work by your employer. Lipton Legal Group can help you fight for your rights and get you money compensation. Call the firm today at (310)855-7556.
Discrimination against employees in California because of their physical disability, mental disability, or other medical conditions is unfortunately common. Employers often fire employees or give them inferior working conditions because of the employees’ disability and/or medical condition, sometimes even when the disability occurs due to work-related activities. If your employer has discriminated against you for a disability by firing you (or other negative actions), or has refused to engage in the interactive process and offer you reasonable accommodations for your disability (see below), you could be a victim of disability discrimination and qualify for monetary compensation. In order to prove disability discrimination in California, the employee (plaintiff) must prove all of the following:
• That the employee has a disability or a medical condition.
• That the employer took an adverse employment action against the employee (fired, demoted, suspended, etc.).
• That the adverse employment action was motivated by the employee’s disability or medical condition.
The disability or condition must be such that it limits a major life activity, meaning it is difficult to accomplish a major life activity, due to this impairment. Major life activities are walking, working, sleeping, driving, breathing, etc. Examples of physical disabilities include, but are not limited to:
6. Chronic conditions such as HIV/AIDS
7. Blindness / Deafness
8. Seizure Disorder
11. Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
12. Heart Disease
13. Other injuries that require surgery such as: – Head and brain surgery – Eye surgery – Shoulder surgery – Neck and back surgery
14. Knee and foot surgery – Hysterectomy
Examples of mental disabilities are (but not limited to):
15. Intellectual or cognitive disability (formerly referred to as mental retardation)
16. Clinical Depression
17. Organic brain syndrome
18. Emotional or mental illness
19. Specific learning disabilities (such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia and developmental aphasia)
20. Clinical Depression
21. Bipolar Disorder
22. Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
23. Asperger’s Syndrome
25. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
26. Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
27. Any other mental or psychological disorder or condition that requires special education or related services
In addition to the prohibition against disability discrimination, employers in California must also provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. Designing and implementing reasonable accommodations for an employee with a disability is an individualized process that depends on the nature and severity of the employee’s disability. If an employee in California has a disability, or a medical condition, the employer must make reasonable accommodations for the disability in order to enable the employee to perform the job (unless it causes undue hardship to the employer). As long as the employer knows about the disability, the employer must engage in the “interactive process” (see below) and provide reasonable accommodations.
Examples of possible accommodations:
• Making facilities readily accessible to and usable by disabled individuals (for example, providing accessible break rooms, restrooms, training rooms or reserved parking places, etc.).
• Job restructuring.
• Offering part-time or modified work schedules.
• Reassigning to a vacant position.
• Acquiring or modifying equipment or devices.
• Adjusting or modifying examinations, training materials or policies.
• Providing qualified readers or interpreters.
• Allowing assistive animals on the worksite.
• Altering when and/or how an essential function is performed.
• Permitting an employee to work from home.
• Paid or unpaid leave (if the employee can resume his/her job duties).
• Other similar accommodations for individuals with disabilities.
The Interactive Process
California law requires employers to communicate with disabled employees and engage in the interactive process, in order to find a reasonable accommodation necessary for the performance and completion of the job. The interactive process is designed to have the employer and employee working together to determine the appropriate reasonable accommodation for that specific employee with a disability. If the employer does not engage in the interactive process and fails to provide an available reasonable accommodation, the employee can file a civil lawsuit against the employer and receive monetary compensation. Generally, an employer in California must engage in the interactive process when:
1. The employee requests a reasonable accommodation, or
2. The employer becomes aware of the need for accommodation through a third party or by observation, or
3. The employer becomes aware of the possible need for an accommodation because the disabled employee has exhausted his/her leave of absence, and the employee’s doctor indicates that additional accommodation is needed.
The employer must engage in the interactive process until the process is over. The process is over when:
1) A reasonable accommodation is found .
2) Accommodation causes an undue hardship to the employer.
3) No such accommodation is available.
If you have been discriminated against by your employer because of a disability, or if your employer has failed to engage in the interactive process and provide a reasonable accommodation, we can help you get justice and money compensation. Lipton Legal Group will use every available resource in order to receive the most favorable results for each discrimination case. Disability discrimination is unfortunately very common in California and employee’s rights are being disregarded. Do not let your employer get away with disability discrimination. Call the firm at (310) 855-7556 today for a free consultation
It is illegal in California to discriminate, harass, fire, or refuse to hire an employee because of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Nevertheless, pregnancy discrimination remains a serious issue for women in the workplace. In order to prove pregnancy discrimination, the employee must show that her employer knew that she was pregnant and present evidence that the employer had a discriminatory motive, based on the employee’s pregnancy. Additionally, when returning from a pregnancy leave of absence, an employee must be reinstated to the same or a comparable position. If you were fired for being pregnant, or treated negatively at work for taking time off for childbirth and other related situations, you are a victim of pregnancy discrimination in California. You should not let your employer get away with discriminatory practices that negatively impact women. If you feel that you were discriminated against for being pregnant, call the firm at (310) 855-7556 today for a free consultation.
Pregnancy Leave of Absence
• Under the California Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (PDLL), employers are required to provide pregnant employees up to 4 months of unpaid leave, per pregnancy. This leave of absence can be taken continuously, or in smaller increments. After a PDLL leave, the employee still has the right to an additional leave totaling 12-work weeks, under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Even after the pregnancy disability leave, employees may still be eligible for absence as a reasonable accommodation for a physical or mental disability. Upon completion of the leave period, the employee must be reinstated to the same or a comparable position. Lipton Legal Group will work aggressively on behalf of victims of pregnancy discrimination in order to secure the most substantial compensation. Pregnancy discrimination is still widespread in California and employers are disregarding the rights of employees. If you believe you might be a victim of pregnancy discrimination, call the firm at (310) 855-7556 today for a free consultation and assistance with your case.
Race and Color Discrimination
Race discrimination laws in California protect employees of all racial groups from being discriminated against by their employer based on their race, color, national origin, and/or ancestry. The protections against race discrimination also protect employees who are associated with a member of a protected class. For example, these laws protect individuals from discrimination by an employer for being married to, or being friends with, a person of a different race.
If you have been treated negatively at work or fired because of your accent, skin color, ancestry or nationality, you may be eligible for various types of compensation, including monetary compensation. Race discrimination in California still occurs in the workplace on a daily basis and employers are not held accountable. Let Lipton Legal Group help you get justice and compensation for your employer’s wrongdoing. Call the firm at (310) 855-7556 today for a free consultation and assistance with your case.
Employers in California often discriminate against older employees, which is defined as individuals over the age of 40, by firing, suspending, or demoting this population disproportionately. Additionally, there is age discrimination with respect to salary and benefits. These are illegal practices and employers can be sued by their employees for this type of discrimination. In order to prove age discrimination in California, an employee (plaintiff) must show:
• At the time of the adverse action (firing, demotion, etc.) he/she was 40 or older
• An adverse employment action was taken against the employee
• The employee was satisfactorily performing his/her job at the time of the adverse action
• The employee has suffered unlawful discrimination (such as being replaced by a significantly younger person)
Anything said by a manager or a supervisor can be used as evidence of age discrimination against the employer. Even name-calling or general statements about age not directed towards a particular employee could also be used as evidence for age discrimination.
If you have been discriminated against because you are 40 years old or older, you can file a civil lawsuit against your employer and get monetary compensation. Age discrimination in California happens all the time and there is no reason for you to be a victim any longer. Let us help you get justice and compensation for your employer’s discrimination. Call the firm at (310) 855-7556 today for a free consultation.
Sexual harassment in California is still common in the workplace and, unfortunately, much of it goes unreported. This allows employers and supervisors to continue to sexually harass and expose additional victims to future sexual harassment and harm. In California, protections for sexual harassment are broad, as almost anyone can be held liable for sexual harassment at work: men could sexually harass women, women can sexually harass men, and members of the same gender may also be guilty of sexual harassment. There are two types of sexual harassment recognized by law in California: hostile work environment and quid pro quo.
Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment
The first kind of sexual harassment in California, known as hostile work environment sexual harassment, is the most common. A workplace is considered to be hostile when the harassment is severe or pervasive to the degree that it alters the conditions of the victim’s employment.
The circumstances considered when determining if the harassing behavior creates a hostile or abusive work environment include, but are not limited to, the nature and severity of the harassing conduct, the number of instances of harassment, the period of time during which the conduct took place, and the context surrounding the harassment. The harassment is also examined from both an objective standard (would the average reasonable person find the conduct to be hostile) and from a subjective standard (does the person being harassed reasonably believes the conduct to be hostile). If the harassing behavior is occasional, isolated, or trivial, it does not qualify as a hostile work environment.
In order to prove hostile work environment sexual harassment (and all other types of harassment in California) the employee (plaintiff) must prove all of the following:
• The employee was subjected to unwelcome sexual advances, conduct, or comments
• The harassment was based on sex
• The harassment was so severe or pervasive that it altered the conditions of the victim’s employment and created an abusive working environment.
• The employer had actual or constructive knowledge (knew or should have known) about the harassment
Sexual harassment could be in the form of any of the following:
• Verbal Harassment, such as obscene language, demeaning comments, slurs, or threats, and other forms of verbal harassment (can be in text messages, emails, or chat conversations)
• Physical Harassment, such as unwanted touching, assault, or physical interference with normal work or movement
• Visual harassment, such as offensive posters, objects, cartoons, drawings (could include inappropriate e-mails and texts)
Quid Quo Pro Sexual Harassment
The other kind of sexual harassment is “quid pro quo”, or this-for-that. This is used to describe situations in which the employer or supervisor makes a promise for a job benefit or makes job-related threat that is contingent on a request for a sexual favor. In other words, the employer incentivizes or threatens the employee to perform a sexual favor in exchange for keeping a job, getting a raise, or being promoted. In order to prove quid pro quo sexual harassment in California, the employee (plaintiff) must prove all of the following:
• The harasser (employer/supervisor) made unwanted sexual advances to the employee or engaged in other unwanted verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature
• That job benefits were conditioned, by words or conduct, on the employee’s acceptance of the harasser’s sexual advances or conduct; or that employment decisions affecting the employee were made based on his/her acceptance or rejection of the harasser’s sexual advances or conduct
• That at the time of the conduct, the harasser was a supervisor or agent for the employer
• That the employee was harmed
• That the harasser’s conduct was a substantial factor in causing the employee’s harm
Other Types of Employment Harassment
The laws protecting employees in California from workplace harassment are not only limited to sexual harassment, but also protect employee from any kind of harassment at work that creates a hostile work environment because of employees’ protected status, which includes:
• Sex / Gender
• Race / Color
• Age (40+)
• Disability (mental / physical / a medical condition)
• National Origin / Ancestry
• Marital status
• Sexual Orientation
• Military & Veteran Status
In order to prove workplace harassment in California, the employee (plaintiff) must prove all of the following:
• That the employee was subjected to unwanted harassing conduct because he/she is a member of, or associated with, a protected status (e.g., sex, gender, age, race, etc.)
• That the harassing conduct was so severe, widespread, or persistent that a reasonable person in the employee’s position would have considered the work environment to be hostile or abusive
• That the employee considered the work environment to be hostile or abusive
• That employer participated in the harassing conduct (or assisted or encouraged it)
• That the employee was harmed
• That the conduct was a substantial factor in causing the employee’s harm
The same standards for sexual harassment govern decisions regarding other types of workplace harassment.
Sexual harassment and other types of harassment at the workplace are extremely harmful and victims of such treatment deserve to be compensated. Let Lipton Legal Group help you and be your voice in dealing with your harassment claim. Call the firm at (310) 855-7556 today for a free consultation.
What is Wrongful Termination in California?
A wrongful termination (or wrongful discharge) of an employee in California occurs when a person is fired for an illegal reason, such as a discriminatory reason (on the basis of race, sex, pregnancy, disability, religion, etc.) a retaliatory reason, or another reason that is in violation of public policy. If you are an employee who was wrongfully terminated in California, you have rights. Among those rights is the right to file a civil action against your employer and recover monetary compensation for your lost wages and emotional distress. In some cases, employees can get punitive damages, as well as the employee’s attorney’s fees for bringing the lawsuit.
If you were wrongfully terminated or have been a victim of other employment violations in Los Angeles, Lipton Legal Grouo can be a strong and aggressive advocate on your behalf.
What is a Constructive Termination in California?
Constructive termination (or discharge) in California means that an employee can still file a lawsuit against his/her employer for wrongful termination even when the employee was not actually terminated or fired, such as when the employee quits or resigns. This occurs when the employer’s actions essentially force the employee to resign.
If you have been wrongly terminated or were forced to quit for a discriminatory, retaliatory, or other illegal reason, Lipton Legal Group will take your situation seriously and get you the best results possible. Employees who are victims of wrongful termination in California could face devastating consequences and, therefore, need a strong voice of representation. Let Lipton Legal Group help you get justice and compensation for what you deserve. Call the firm today at (310) 855-7556 for a free consultation.
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Wage and Hour Violations
California has some of the most strict wage and hour laws in the nation, they even exceed the stringency of federal standards. Employers must abide by California’s minimum wage, overtime, and break time laws, regardless of the employee’s immigration status or citizenship. The statute of limitations for wage claims in California is generally 3 years. If you were not paid appropriate wages (minimum wage, overtime, breaks, etc.), you have up to 3 years to file a lawsuit and get the compensation that you deserve under the law. It can be hard to face your employer alone and get the unpaid wages that you deserve. However, based on retaliation protections, employers may not fire or take adverse actions against an employee for exercising any right the California Labor Code provides, such as complaining about overtime violations. Call the firm at (310) 855-7556 so you can have the support and advocacy you need when dealing with your employer.
Lipton Legal Group represents employees with the following wage and hour issues:
• Exempt v. Non-Exempt Employees
• Minimum Wage Violations
• Overtime Violations
• Lunch Break and Rest Break Violations
• Leaves of Absence
• Exempt vs. Non-Exempt Employees
Exempt v. Non-Exempt Employees
In California, employees who are entitled to overtime pay, rest breaks, and certain leaves of absence when they are salaried employees are classified as non-exempt employees. On the other hand, employees who are not entitled to overtime pay and other wage and hour protections are called exempt employees. Generally, employees that are paid by the hour are always non-exempt.
Exempt Employees Are:
• Not entitled to overtime pay
• Rest breaks and/or meal breaks are up to the employee
• The employer does not track the employee’s hours
Non-Exempt Employees Are:
5. Entitled to overtime for 8+ hours in a day and 40+ in a week
6. Rest breaks and meal periods must be provided by the employer
7. The employer tracks employee’s hours
Who is an Exempt Employee in California?
In California, the employee’s job title or position does not determine if the employee is exempt or not. Instead, the employee’s status as exempt or non-exempt is based on the employee’s actual job duties and salary. In California exempt employees are:
5. Employees in white-collar jobs, such as administrative, professional, or executive positions
6. Employees that make at least two times the monthly minimum wage in California (about $35,000 per year)
7. Employees that are primarily engaged in an exempt job duty (more than 50%) such as intellectual, managerial or creative, and requires exercise of discretion and independent judgment
Categories that employees are exempt under in California:
The Executive Exemption
• Exempt executive duties are management of the business or enterprise
• Directing the work of 2+ employees (authority or recommendation to hire/fire)
• Regularly exercising discretion and independent judgment
The Administrative Exemption (catch all)
• Exempt administrative duties are doing office work / non-manual work
• Regularly exercising discretion and independent judgment
• Assisting the owner / manager / executive
• Under general supervision:
• Doing specialized or technical work that requires special training, experience, or knowledge
• Doing special assignments or tasks
The Professional Exemption
• Need to be licensed or certified by the State of California
• For example: lawyers, doctors, dentists, engineers, teachers, accountants, etc.)
• Primary work is associated with license or certificate
• Regularly exercising discretion and independent judgment
The Computer Professionals Exemption
• The employee’s work is intellectual or creative and requires the exercise of discretion and independent judgment
• The application of systems analysis techniques and procedures
• The design, development, creation, and testing of computer systems or programs and work related to the design of software or hardware
• The manufacture, repair, or maintenance of computer hardware and related equipment
• The employee must makes at least $84,130.53 a year ($7,010.88 monthly) to qualify for the exemption
The Salespersons Exemption
• Outside salespersons are exempt if the employee salesperson spends more than 50% of the time away from the employer’s place of business
The Commission Exemption
Employees that make one and a half times the minimum wage in California (about $26,000 per year) are exempt from overtime if more than 50% of that employee’s pay is from commissions.
Minimum Wage Violations
An employee working in California is entitled to be paid the minimum wage, even if he/she is undocumented or an illegal immigrant. Because our Constitution provides certain basic human rights that allow people to earn a living respectfully, employees are protected regardless of their immigration status. Employers cannot retaliate, threaten, or fire illegal immigrants, or other employees, for complaining or for filing a lawsuit. Finally, minimum wage laws are non-waivable and the employer cannot make the employee give it up, even through a contract.
What is the Minimum Wage in California?
The minimum wage in the state of California is $9.00 per hour, and effective January 1, 2016, the minimum wage will increase to $10.00 per hour. In the United States, the minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.
It is illegal in California for an employer to pay an employee under the minimum wage and this practice could subject the employer to civil penalties and liquidated damages in the amount of unpaid wages, plus interest. If you are not being paid the minimum wage or were not being paid the proper minimum wage in the past (up to 3 years in the past), you may be able to recover back-pay from your employer and get the monetary compensation that you worked for and that you deserve. Lipton Legal Group will work quickly and aggressively to help you face your employer and receive any compensation required by law. Call the firm today at (310) 855-7556 for a free consultation.
Overview of Overtime Laws in California
Overtime laws were created to encourage employers to reduce the number of work hours, to hire more people and to compensate employees for working long hours. Overtime laws also help reduce unemployment, by financially pressuring the employer to hire more employees. Finally, these laws protect employees from being overworked and from being taken advantage of by their employers.
Similar to minimum wage laws, employers cannot make employees waive overtime pay, even by a written contract (such contracts are void). Call us today at (310) 855-7556 for a free consultation.
When are Employees Entitled to Receive Overtime Pay in California?
Employers must pay one and a half times an employee’s regular rate (50% more) if:
• The employee works more than 40 hours per week
• The employee works 8+ hours per day
• The employee works for more than 6 days in any workweek (the first 8 hours worked on the seventh day of work in a given workweek).
For example, an employee who works 10 hours a day, 4 days a week (40 hours a week), is entitled to 2 hours overtime for each day on which he/she works more than 8 hours.
Employers must pay double the employee’s regular rate (100% more) if:
8. The employee works 12+ hours per day
9. The hours worked 8+ hours on any seventh day of a workweek (a “workweek” means any seven consecutive days, starting with the same calendar day each week).
Employees in California are not entitled to overtime pay on holidays by law, but certain employers may have such a company policy.
If your employer does not pay you the appropriate compensation for overtime hours worked, or you did not get compensated for working overtime in the past, you have rights and could get monetary compensation for hours you worked and any damages this violation caused to your life. Call the firm at (310) 855-7556 for a free consultation.
Lunch Break and Rest Break Violations
A non-exempt employee in California working 5+ hours must given a non-paid lunch or meal break of at least 30 minutes. However, if the employee does not work more than 6 hours in total that day, the break can be waived by agreement between employer and employee. In addition, an employee working 10+ hours in a day must be given a second meal break of at least 30 minutes. However, if the employee does not work more than 12 hours in total that day, the second meal break can be waived by agreement, but only if the first meal break was not waived. During the 30-minute meal break, the employer must relieve its employees of all duty, and the employee is free to use the break time to do whatever he/she wants. However, the employer is not required to make sure that the employee is not working during the employee’s meal break. An employer who does not give a lunch break to an employee, or requires the employee to do work on the lunch break, could be liable to pay the employee for one additional hour of pay for each day of violation.
Leaves of Absence
There are laws in place that protect employees from being fired when they need time off to tend to their personal lives including situations when they are sick, pregnant or having a child. Employers must grant eligible employees such a leave when it is needed or they could face lawsuit and fines if they do not.
Both California (CFRA) and the Federal Government (FMLA) provide family and medical leaves of absence laws that allow employees to take unpaid time off work for a variety of reasons. Generally, these laws require covered employers to provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave.
What Can the Leaves of Absence Be Taken For?
The Federal FMLA and California’s CFRA both allow employees to take a leave without losing their job, employment seniority, and health insurance. The leaves are typically given for:
• Time off for employee’s serious health condition
• Time off for caring for a new baby, caring for a newly adopted or newly placed foster child, or for child/baby bonding
• Time off for caring for the employee’s child, spouse or parent with a serious health condition
• Time off for caring for a wounded service member or veteran (FMLA only)
• Time off to address particular circumstances arising from the deployment of a service member or a member of the armed forces (FMLA only).
Who is a “Covered Employer” and who is an “Eligible Employee” Under FMLA and CFRA?
For an employer to be “covered” and be required to grant employees FMLA or CFRA leaves, the employer must have 50+ employees on payroll for at least 20 weeks out of the year (or the previous year). For employees to be “eligible” for FMLA and/or CFRA leaves, the employee must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months and for at least 1,250 hours during the year. Both the FMLA and CFRA provide a right to leaves of absence for a maximum of 12 weeks unpaid leave in a 12–month period.
If you have been denied a CFRA or an FMLA leave of absence, or if you were fired while you were on a protected leave, Lipton Legal Group can help. Call the firm today at (310) 855-7556 for a free consultation.
Pregnancy Leave of Absence in California
Under the California Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (PDLL), employers with 5+ employees are required to give a pregnant employee up to 4 months of unpaid leave per pregnancy that can be taken continuously, or in smaller increments. After a PDLL leave, the employee still has the right to an additional leave for 12-workweeks under CFRA. Even after the pregnancy disability leave, employees may still be eligible for absence as a reasonable accommodation for a physical or mental disability. The employee must be reinstated to the same or a comparable position after the pregnancy leave.
If you were denied a California PDLL pregnancy leave, or denied reasonable accommodations for a disability (including pregnancy), or were fired, suspended, demoted because of you were pregnant or disabled, we can help. Lipton Legal Group will work aggressively to assist you and get you the compensation you deserve. Call the firm at (310) 855-7556 for a free consultation.
California’s New Paid Sick Leave Law
Starting on July 1, 2015, non-exempt employees in California are entitled to paid sick leave, under the new Healthy Families Act of 2014. Employees must work for 30+ days in a year to be eligible.
Under the new California law, employees start to accumulate sick pay of 1 hour for every 30 hours worked, and may begin using the accumulated paid sick days after 90 days of employment.
10. For example, an employee hired on 1/1/2016, would begin accumulating sick leave on 1/31/2016, and could start using the leave as of 3/31/2016. This means that an employee working 40 hours per week would be entitled to accumulate up to 8.6 days of paid sick time off per year. The total number of accumulated sick days will depend on the number of hours per week that an employee normally works.
Employer’s Limits on the Paid Sick Leave
Regardless of hours accumulated, an employer can limit the amount of an employee’s paid sick benefits used to 24 hours or 3 days and can also limit the overall annual accumulation amount to 48 hours or 6 days.
The employer must pay out sick leave benefit payments to employees on the next payday or the next payroll period after the employee takes the sick leave.
What Can the Leave Be Taken For?
When the employee makes a written or verbal request, the employer must provide paid sick leave for the following reasons:
• Diagnosis, care, or treatment of an existing health condition of, or preventive care for, an employee or an employee’s family member.
• For an employee who is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
Who Determines the Leave?
The employee is the one who determines how much paid sick leave he/she needs. However, the employee is required to provide “reasonable” advance notice of the leave, when it is foreseeable. When it is not foreseeable, the employee should inform the employer as soon as it is possible to do so.
Employers can set a reasonable minimum increment for the use of paid sick leave, but the designated increment cannot exceed two hours.
Discrimination and retaliation (including firing, threats of firing, demotions, suspensions, etc.) against employees for using accumulated sick days is illegal and the Labor Commissioner may award reinstatement, back pay, payment for sick days withheld and payment of an administrative penalty for violations.
What if an Employer is Already Providing Paid Sick Leave to Employees?
Employers that already provide paid sick leave (or paid time off), do need not provide additional paid sick days if the existing policy:
• Satisfies the new law’s accumulation, carryover and use requirements; or
• Provides at least 24 hours or 3 days of paid sick leave for each year of employment.
However, unlike vacation time, employers are not required to compensate employees for unused sick days when the employee quits or gets fired. Finally, the employer is not allowed to require employees find a replacement worker to cover for days of the paid sick days as a condition for using paid sick days. Call the firm today at (310) 855-7556 for a free consultation regarding leave of absence violations.
If you, or someone you know, has experienced these types of issues and challenges, we can help. Call today and speak with one of our trained staff members in order to determine if you are eligible for monetary compensation.