What’s AB 2069? Will California be Protecting Medical Marijuana Users?

 

employment discrimination

California has developed a reputation as a sanctuary regarding immigration, and some cities more than others. Soon, however, you may be able to add medical marijuana users to the list of people seeking sanctuary. An active proposed bill could protect people who use medical marijuana from employment discrimination.

As it Stands

As of now, California employers can deny employment on the grounds of marijuana use, even for medical reasons. If you look back to Ross V. Ragingwire, you’ll see that the California Supreme Court does not have to accommodate medical marijuana use, disregarding the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) doesn’t bind employers to accommodate illegal drug use, and it was interpreted so employers can lawfully deny employment to people using medical marijuana, as it remains illegal under federal law.

In 2016, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act passed, and it codifies the employer’s choice to “maintain a drug and alcohol free workplace.” Health and Safety Code §11362.45(f).

However, Rob Bonta, California Assembly Member for District 18, and Bill Quirk, Assembly Member for District 20, coauthored Assembly Bill 2069. This bill would amend FEHA by creating a new protected category for Marijuana Medical Users. The goal of AB 2069 would be to “prohibit an employer from engaging in employment discrimination against a person on the basis of his or her status as, or positive drug test for cannabis by, a qualified patient or person with an identification card.”

AB 2069 would not, however, turn it into a free-for-all. Employers would still be allowed to take corrective actions against employees found to be impaired on the company premises. Additionally, AB 2069 would let employers deny employment “if hiring the individual or failing to discharge the employee would cause the employer to lose a monetary or licensing-related benefit under federal law or regulations.”

What would AB 2069 Do?

What AB 2069 would do, if it makes it to law, would be to alter the entire legal environment. Employers will have to update their drug testing policies. Additionally, they’ll need to change the way they treat applicants and employees who test positive for marijuana. What AB 2069 would not do, however, is protect recreational use. If you’re a recreational marijuana user, California employers are still able to deny employment through drug testing policies.

This legislation raises a few concerns. Some question whether this is a reasonable accommodation, or if it’s an abuse of disability discrimination law. Additionally, the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) may still preempt the bill as it is a federal law, and still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug.

In the 2016 case from New Mexico, Garcia V. Tractor Supply Co., a federal district court held that the CSA preempted the state’s marijuana law. On the other hand, in a 2017 case in Connecticut, another federal district court held that a statute very similar to AB 2069 was not preempted by the CSA. In the Noffsinger v. SSC Niantic Operating Co. case, the court decided that the CSA does not specifically regulate an employment relationship, so it does not preempt the Connecticut law.

What Should You Do?

As always, if you have legal questions, you should consult with a lawyer directly. At the Law Offices of Cathe L. Caraway-Howard, you can count on them fighting for the little guy. You can call (310) 488-9020, or visit the website to see what Cathe can do for you.

wage theft

Wage Theft is No Joking Matter, Make Sure it Isn’t Happening to You

As a restaurant server in California, you make the state’s minimum wage, unlike servers in other states. You may have heard that the Department of Labor plans to change the rules on tip-pooling. The purpose of this rule change is supposed to even out how front of house and back of house employees are paid. There’s no worry about this in California; however, critics say the rule goes too far, and legalizes what’s currently considered wage theft. There are many ways an employer can commit wage theft. When that happens, you’ll need the help of an expert labor attorney.

Overtime Wage Theft

You can get overtime for additional hours worked over 40 hours in your full-time work week, whether you’re a blue-collar or white-collar worker, and unless you’ve been classified as exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act. The questions you’ll want to ask include who is exempt, and who is not. In addition, you’ll want to get a breakdown of overtime rules by occupation. Some occupations have different classifications and exemptions.

Employee Misclassification

If you’re an employee of a company, you have rights that give you protection. As an employee, your payroll taxes are paid by your employer, and unemployment insurance as well. However, independent contractors do not get those rights and protections. Independent contractors are also on the hook for their payroll taxes. If you think this kind of wage theft is occurring, you’ll want to find out about your employee classification. Once you know your classification, ask your labor attorney if you should be classified that way.

Minimum Wage Violations

This one may seem obvious, but if you’re being paid less than the highest minimum wage rate for your area, that’s a case of wage theft. There are federal and state minimum wages, and your city might even have minimum wage laws on the books. You’re entitled to the highest applicable minimum wage.

Off the Clock Wage Theft

Work starts as soon as you go into work. If your employer isn’t paying you the time it takes to get into your protective gear, as well as the time you spend cleaning up after the day, that’s a working off the clock form of wage theft. Don’t let your employer get away with this. If you’re being asked to work off the clock, contact your labor attorney right away.

Illegal Deductions from Pay

If your employer is taking unauthorized or illegal deductions from your paycheck, it’s wage theft, in the most literal sense. You should contact your labor attorney right away to get this resolved.

Not Getting Paid at All

Perhaps the most obvious form of wage theft is when you aren’t even paid. If you aren’t paid you need to immediately contact your labor attorney and start recording everything.

If you fear that you’re suffering wage theft, The Law Offices of Cathe L. Caraway-Howard are here to fight for you. Call (310) 488-9020, email, or Fill out the contact form to get started on the path to justice. Cathe L. Caraway-Howard is always “fighting for the little guy”.

Are you Protected by New Rules About Non-Compete Agreements?

Did you sign a non-compete agreement when you were hired? You should probably have an employment lawyer verify if it actually applies or not. Lots of people think that the protections given by California Labor Code section 925 apply to everyone. However, section 925 went into effect January 1, 2017. Section 925 forbids employers requiring that Californian employees agree to “foreign choice-of-forum” and “choice-of-law” agreements as a condition of unemployment. Your California labor attorney should be familiar with the case law on this subject.

Why Did We Need This?

California’s Business and Professions Code section 16600 says that “every contract by which anyone is restrained from engaging in a lawful profession, trade or business of any kind is to that extent void.” They enacted this to make sure you can work in your profession, even when you stop working with a particular company.

Historically, California has usually enforced section 16600 very strongly. Employers from other states usually couldn’t get around the rule. Sometimes however, they used “choice-of-law” portions in their non-compete contracts.

A good example of a choice-of-law provisions failing is Arkley v. Aon Risk Services Companies, Inc. Aon Risk Services Companies, Inc. is an Illinois based company, and they made employees sign non-compete agreements with that choice-of-law provision. In Illinois, non-compete agreements are enforceable. The Central District of California however, found that California law should apply over Illinois law in the state of California. The reason for this was California’s “materially greater interest” to protect California residents with their own laws.

How Can Employers Get Around Section 16600?

There have been a few recent cases that got around these protections. An employment lawyer can tell you about cases like the one with Synthes, a medical device company. Synthes tried to enforce the non-compete agreement against Peter Harrison, a former employee living in California. Harrison signed an agreement that had both choice-of-law and choice-of venue provisions. When Harrison went to work with a competitor, he filed a declaratory judgment action in the Eastern District of California. Synthes followed up by filing a breach of contract claim in Pennsylvania courts.

The California Court Dismissed Harrison’s action in favor of the action Synthes filed. After appeal and remand, Harrison got an injunction from the Pennsylvania Trial Court.

Another case, also involving Synthes, played out in April of 2017. Another California employee, Gregory Knapp, went to work with a competitor in California. Even though he filed a declaratory judgment action right after resigning, the Eastern District didn’t exercise jurisdiction, and let the case be held in the Eastern district of Pennsylvania. The case transferred to the Eastern District of California, but the Pennsylvania choice-of-law rules still apply.

Enter California Labor Code Section 925

Because of this unfair “loophole” California is taking measures to close it. Because section 295 forbids employers from requiring employees who primarily live and work in California to agree on foreign choice-of-forum and choice-of-law provisions, it deems these kinds of provisions voidable by the employee. Section 925 also provides for the fees of hiring an employment lawyer to enforce your rights under this statute.

So, Am I Safe?

Because section 925 only applies to contracts entered into or modified after January 1, 2017, you should talk to your employment lawyer. The Synthes opinions did not consider this new statute because they were not entered or modified after January 1st. It’s also important to note that there haven’t yet been any cases where a court invalidated the forum-selection clause under section 925.

As always, if you have any questions you should contact an employment lawyer to discuss your individual circumstances. The Law Offices of Cathe L. Caraway-Howard have been fighting for the little guy since 2009. Cathe makes sure average American’s rights are protected everyday. You can call (310) 488-9020, email cath@carawaylaw.com, or fill out our contact form to schedule a consultation.

Guide to Filing OSHA Safety Complaints From A Local Labor Lawyer

Ask any labor lawyer– safety in the workplace is no joke. Employers have a responsibility to protect their employees from safety and health issues while at work. Workers also have the right to know about possible hazards and not be forced to perform work that they believe is harmful or dangerous.

Of course, there are potential safety issues in every workplace. According to top California employment lawyers, some safety issues are more of a danger than others. Some are more easily correctable than others. However, if you do notice a potential safety issue, the first thing you should do is inform your superior (supervisor or manager) of the issue. Some states require you to give written notice to the employer, while others will allow a verbal notice.  If they are unable (or unwilling) to correct the issue, you should file a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

How Did OSHA come about?

President Nixon established the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on December 29, 1970. His signature on the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 created a new branch of the Department of Labor. This new branch’s purpose and mission has always been to “assure the safety and health of America’s workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach, and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health.”

Gather your Evidence Before you Contact OSHA

Before you report OSHA, this employment lawyer suggests being absolutely sure you have all the information necessary to make a full report of the safety issue. You’ll need the business name, address (a district and corporate address as well, if they have one) and phone number. You will also need the name and title of your manager or superior. Finally, you’ll need a description of the type of business, as well as the type of work you perform for the business.

Next, you need to get an accurate description of the safety issue. Describe the safety issue in as much detail as you can. You’ll want to gather the following information:

  • The specific location of the issue. It is important to be as specific as possible, especially in large work spaces.
  • What tasks workers perform in an around the location. These tasks do not have to relate to the safety issue. However, if workers perform these tasks near the safety issue, the safety issue may harm them as well.
  • The number of workers who may be exposed to or affected by the safety issue.
  • Whether any workers have already suffered problems or injuries resulting in medical treatment.
  • How long the safety issue has existed, and how long you believe the issue will continue to exist.
  • Any references or witnesses who know about the safety issue, and their contact information. A brief statement from them is generally helpful as well.

Employment lawyers and other labor law attorneys agree that you should make sure to have everything documented first, before completing the form.

Completing the OSHA Complaint Form

In recent years, OSHA has made great strides to ensure that filing a complaint is as easy as possible for workers. Over the years, OSHA has adapted to new technology for a changing world. Today, you can go to the website of the California Division of OSHA (Cal-OSHA) to their online complaint form and complete all the necessary paperwork online. You can also call your local OSHA Area Office to discuss your safety issue or answer any questions you may have.

A Word About Retaliation

Every state has its own laws in regards to retaliation by an employer. However, they all are similar in that they prohibit actions that affect an employee’s hours or wages from adverse actions. Some of those actions a labor lawyer would consider retaliation include being fired, laid off, demoted, or disciplined, or by denying benefits, overtime, or even a promotion. In California, Labor Code sections 6310 and 6311 specifically allow workers to:

  • File complaints about safety or health conditions or practices;
  • Institute any proceeding related to their rights to safe and healthful working conditions or testifying in any such proceedings;
  • Participate in an occupational health and safety committee; or
  • Refuse to perform work where the worker believes that an occupational safety or health standard, or any safety order would be violated and the violation would create a real and apparent hazard to the employee or his or her co-workers.

If you believe your employer is retaliating against you due to a complaint you filed, a qualified labor attorney can help. Depending on the situation, the labor lawyer can help you file a retaliation complaint with the Labor Commissioner, also known as the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) or the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

For the Best Results, Get a Labor Lawyer to help

Safety hazards are never easy to tackle alone. The larger the organization, the more difficult it feels to file a safety complaint against them. This is especially true if your employer decides to retaliate against you. That’s why it’s always important to have the services of a qualified labor lawyer on your side. With the skilled help of an experienced California employment lawyer like the Law Offices of Cathe L. Caraway-Howard, you need not fear even the most threatening of situations. After all, when it’s not only your own health and safety on the line but that of others you know and care about, you need to fight to make sure no future employee suffers a similar fate.

Congress is Considering National Right-to-Work Laws – But What Does Right To Work Mean?

You’ve probably heard the term “Right to Work” recently. The ideas behind right to work laws have been in the news, on political ads, and seem to be gaining support. But do you know what right to work means? It might feel like you have to be a labor lawyer to understand what these employment laws are about.

 

On this page, you’ll receive a breakdown of what the right to work law means, and what it does. Even if you’re in California with strong employment laws, federal right to work laws could affect you.

 

What is a Right to Work Law?

Right to work laws are employment laws regarding unionization. If you’re in a state like California, a company’s union might require you to join as a condition of employment. This means you’ll have to pay dues, and your union will bargain for you. In states with right to work laws you cannot be required to join your union, or pay dues to your union. However, those unions will still have to bargain for you.

Organized labor argues that because you’re receiving the benefits of union membership, you should be expected to help pay for the costs of bargaining. Proponents of Right to work laws say these laws just ensure that you have the freedom to make your own choices.

How Can Right to Work Laws Affect Me

There are many instances where you may be affected by right to work laws. When you’re being hired, if you have right to work laws in your state, you don’t have to join a union. However, if your new employer has a union contract, you can still enjoy the benefits of that contract without paying any fees to your union. Opponents of right to work laws say that this will harm the overall power of unions.

If your coworkers are trying to organize a union, or negotiate a new union contract, right to work laws matter. Because the negotiation must cover all the workers, even if you’re not a member or paying fees, you’ll probably find fewer members and even less funds for the unions.

So, are Right to Work Laws Anti-Union?

This depends on who you talk to. Most employment rights and labor groups oppose right to work laws, arguing that these employment laws result in weaker unions and fewer workplace protections. What do you think about right to work laws? Tell the Law Offices of Cathe L. Caraway-Howard on their Facebook page. If you have any question about California employment laws, or you have a dispute with your employer, Contact Cathe L. Caraway-Howard at (310) 488-9020. You can count on decades of experience to fight for your employee rights.

5 California Employment Laws Coming up in 2017 You Should Watch

Whether you’re an employee or an employer, it’s important to know how California employment laws will affect you. You should always contact a labor attorney like Cathe L. Caraway-Howard if you have any specific questions. That said, it’s always good if you have an idea of what’s coming up regarding California employment laws. 2017 is already shaping up to be a big year when it comes to your rights in the workplace. The California State Legislature has already introduced these 5 bills.

 

A.B. 5

Assembly Members Lorena Gonzalez and Ash Kalra introduced The Opportunity to Work Act, or A.B. 5. Gonzalez said during the press release for this bill, “Even as we’ve won increases in the minimum wage to help part-time workers, that just won’t cut it if you can’t get enough hours of work…The Opportunity to Work Act will provide a boost to the millions of workers in California who want to work more so they can afford the necessities of life and to take care of themselves and their families in a time when housing costs, student debt, and surprise expenses are increasingly difficult to manage.”

According to that press release, this piece to the puzzle of California employment laws makes sure that companies with 10 or more employees must offer more hours to existing part-time employees before hiring. They must have an employee that is qualified to do the job. This is great news if you’re one of the 1 million Californians that involuntarily have your hours limited.

A.B. 168

This bill, introduced by Susan Eggman, D-Stockton, applies to your salary history. The goal of this bill is to prevent employers for asking about your salary history during your interview. Additionally, this bill requires your potential employers to give you the pay scale for the job you’re applying for.

During this bill’s press release, Eggman said “Using Salary History to determine compensation perpetuates a system that pays women less than their male counterparts.”

SB-33

Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa) Introduced this bill. This bill’s goal is to make sure consumers who’ve been defrauded can sue, even if they signed an arbitration agreement. Arbitration agreements mean if you have a dispute with someone with whom you’ve signed a contract, you must use binding arbitration instead of suing them in court.

During the press release for SB-33, Senator Dodd said, “It’s unacceptable for consumers to be blocked from our public courts to recover damages for fraud and identity theft. Allowing victims their day in court not only allows them to recover, it can prevent more victims by putting an end to illegal business practices.” He added, “With Quick Federal Action on this issue unlikely, it’s critical that California lead the nation to prevent these abuses.

Wells Fargo Bank employees used customers’ personal identification to create more than two million new accounts without consent. These fraudulent accounts caused the victims, who didn’t even know about these accounts millions of dollars of fees. Many of these victims tried to sue to recover their damages.

Wells Fargo however, had a response. They argued that customers had waived their right to sue. As such, this should be handled through arbitration. The courts upheld that argument. Wells Fargo has received over $150 million in regulatory fines Since this information came out. While this bill doesn’t directly address employment, it would affect any employment agreement with an arbitration waiver.

S.B. 62

Senator Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) put this bill forward. The purpose of this bill is to expand which family members you can take protected leave to care for. Under this bill, you can take 12 weeks of leave, while protecting your job, to care for your grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, in-laws, or your adult children. The bill applies only to employers who have 50 or more employees.

This bill, and the next one on the list are being similar bills to other bills Jackson had authored that were vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown. During the press release, Jackson said “I look forward to continuing to work with the Governor to reach an agreement on these important issues.”

S.B. 63

In addition to S.B. 62, Senator Jackson also introduced S.B. 63, or the New Parent Leave Act. S.B. 63 expands the amount of job-protected parental leave, both maternity and paternity leave, for new parents who work at smaller businesses. If congress passes this law, you’ll get 12 weeks of job-protected “Parental Leave” as long as your company has 20-49 employees. Under today’s law, only employers with 50 employees or more must provide job-protected leave.

At the press release, Jackson said, “Any new parent knows that the birth of a new baby comes with a host of changes and challenges. But losing a job should never be among those challenges. The same must be said of the impacts of serious illness of an extended family member. It simply is not right that far too many Californians who already pay into and are eligible for Paid Family Leave benefits fear that if they utilize these benefits they will lose their jobs.”

 

What do you think about these upcoming California employment laws? Tell the Law Offices of Cathe L. Caraway-Howard on Facebook. If you have a dispute with your employer, the Law Office of Cathe L. Caraway-Howard are ready to fight for you. Call us at (310) 488-9020 to schedule a consultation.

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4 Basic Employment Laws Every Employee Should Know

Employment lawyers are well versed in the numerous and varied employment laws. An employment law attorney usually handles cases involving these laws on a daily basis. Employment lawyers usually have several years of prior experience dealing with employment issues such as workplace harassment and workplace retaliation, gender discrimination or hostile work environments, so it’s familiar territory.

However, most employees are not as knowledgeable as employment lawyers when it comes to knowing their rights. In fact, many employees are surprised when employment lawyers inform them of the rights they have as workers. We have collected a few of the basic laws most employment lawyers agree every employee should know about. Take a look and find out some of the ways the law of the land protects workers:

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

One of the earliest laws geared towards employers and their workers is the Fair Labor Standards Act. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed this act into law in 1938. It addressed poor working conditions, mostly in factory settings. As a result, this law significantly improved working conditions for millions of Americans.

The law further prohibited employers from hiring employees younger than 14 years of age. It also prevented those under the age of 18 from working in jobs considered dangerous, such as coal mining. Prior to 1900, employers often preferred to use children as a labor source. Factory owners viewed them as more manageable, cheaper, and less likely to strike. The law allowed children to stop working in factories from dawn to dusk and encouraged compulsory free education for all children.

The FLSA also sets minimum standards for employee wages, and it limited the number of hours a worker could work in a seven-day week. When President Roosevelt signed the law, he set the minimum wage to $0.25 per hour, and he set the working week to no more than 44 hours. Since that time, lawmakers have amended the act numerous times to increase the minimum wage. In 1940, lawmakers amended the law by shortening the work week from 44 hours to the current 40 hours per week.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)

President Nixon signed OSHA into law in 1970, responding to the rising number of employment related deaths in the late 1960s. Lawmakers designed the act to introduce important safety standards for many businesses. Since the signing of the OSHA, the number of employee-related accidents has dropped dramatically.

For example, industries with heavy machinery have standards of working and requirements for protective gear for workers. Even white collar employees benefit from this act, under ergonomic standards for seating and desks. OSHA also provides that employers educate their employees about hazards in the workplace, and how employees can take preventive steps to minimize the risk of accidents. The act also initiated standards on filing, documenting, and posting workplace hazards, injuries, and complaints.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964

This important piece of legislation is one of the most well known by employment lawyers and their clients. This law is the foundation of basic civil rights for all Americans, and it was grounds for many future workplace laws.

The law, in its most basic form, abolishes segregation in all public places. It also made it illegal to discriminate on the basis of religion, race, or gender. For example, businesses could not deny a person a service based on skin color. These provisions also prohibited employers from hiring, promoting, or firing employees based on their race, religion, or gender. The act gave every American equal protection and access to law, including the right of all Americans to vote.

Since the law’s inception, lawmakers have added onto these basic protections to reinforce workplace protections against discrimination. In 1967, lawmakers added the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, prohibiting discrimination against those over the age of 40. Lawmakers amended the act again in 1972 to create the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC regulates and enforces civil rights and defines what constitutes discrimination. Further additions to the act covered pregnant women (Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978) and disabled workers (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990).

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

President Clinton signed the Family Medical Leave Act into law in 1993. The Federal Government passed the act to protect employees who need time off from work to take care of a serious medical condition. It also allows for time for parents to bond with a new child. If an immediate family member also has a serious health condition, you can also request leave under the FMLA. Employees can be eligible for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave while keeping their health benefits.

Reports of employer threats to fire or discipline an employee based on a request for leave have been on the rise in recent years. Employees should be mindful of this important law to make sure that they can enforce them if they have any issues with their employer due to a long-term injury or illness.

Employment Lawyers Help You Protect Your Rights

With a little knowledge on their side, employees can help protect their rights and the rights of co-workers. Of course, if an employee has difficulty in enforcing their rights, they might want to speak with competent employment lawyers. If you’re in Los Angeles, contact the the Law Offices of Cathe Caraway-Howard for more information about your rights under these important employment safeguards.

Supreme Court of the United States

We Are Pleased to Announce the Final Approval Order and Judgment In Our Supreme Court Case Mendiola v. CPS

supreme court Final Approval Order and Judgment cathe caraway howardThe Final Approval Order and Judgment in our Supreme Court victory has been approved by the Court. This win for hourly workers will prevent future employer wage theft and protect “on-call” workers throughout California from unfair workplace policies. For more information, please visit our Mendiola v. CPS information page.

The Law Offices of Cathe L Caraway-Howard and the Employee Rights Law Group – Fighting for the little guy!

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A Smart Guide to Your Rights When You Are Fired

IIf you have been terminated from your job, you are still entitled to certain rights.  In addition to basic rights a terminated employee enjoys, there may also be other rights that you do not know about.  Termination from your job can be disorienting and maddening. This can lead to confusion that clouds the facts of your case. If you’re not sure if you’ve been treated fairly, it’s smart to contact a wrongful termination lawyer.  Here is some helpful information that will help you decide if you’ve been terminated with cause, or if you should speak with a labor attorney:

At Will Employment

Most employers hire candidates as ‘at will’ employees.  At will employment means that the employer may terminate an employee for any reason, at any time.  As long as it is not contrary to a previous settlement or contract, or is otherwise contrary to federal or state law, it is not considered a violation of employee rights.  A wrongful termination lawyer will be able to help you determine if the termination was unlawful.  It will also depend on whatever rights the employee had when their employer terminated them.

Where Employee Rights Come From

Wrongful termination attorneys and labor lawyers agree on three main sources of rights for terminated employees.  Not every source applies to every terminated employee, but it is a good idea to check if these sources exist.  If they do, check them carefully to make sure your former employer did not violate your rights as an employee:

Company Policy

Most larger businesses have a formal policy about terminating employees.  If a business has guidelines for employees available, there should be a section regarding the discharge of an employee.  Some companies offer severance or termination pay.  It’s a good idea to check the company guidelines to see what you’re entitled to before there’s a problem.

Contractual Rights

Employees who work for a business under contract will be able to review the agreement if they ask.  A collective bargaining agreement or other union agreement will have similar safeguards. It’s a good idea to speak with your union representative or review the contract or agreement yourself if you have questions. They can help you understand the policies for disciplining and terminating employees. If they are unable to help you, you should probably consult an employment law attorney or wrongful termination lawyer to be sure of your rights.

Statutory Rights

State and federal laws give you statutory rights.  These rights include benefits like unemployment insurance. In addition, anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation laws cover other circumstances  A wrongful termination lawyer has an extensive understanding of these rights. They can help you know for sure if your employer violated your statutory rights.

Receiving Your Final Paycheck

Most states differ in when the employer must give an employee their final paycheck.  Some states have different time limits depending on whether the employer fired the employee, or they quit.  California law requires the employer to give the terminated employee their final paycheck immediately.  However, if the employee quits with at least a 72-hour notice, the employer has 72 hours to issue a final paycheck.  If a negotiated agreement or settlement is already in place, the agreement may apply to the employee instead.  If you are unsure, it’s best to speak with your labor attorney or wrongful termination lawyer to ensure there are no issues with your final pay.

A Severance Pay Agreement

Severance agreements are a special type of contract between employers and employees.  In exchange for the employee’s promise not to file lawsuits, the employer grants the employee certain benefits after their termination.  These benefits can include a lump sum payment or an extension of pay, health, retirement or other benefits.  In addition, they could even cover the cost of a job placement program.

Although the law does not require severance pay, some companies offer these benefits to their employees.  Employers may have them written as part of a contract, or in a more informal version in an employee handbook.  Also, if the employer made an oral promise to award you severance pay, or has a history of offering severance pay to others, these benefits may apply to you as well.  The best way to know for sure in cases like these is to speak with a wrongful termination lawyer.

Maintaining Health Coverage

Terminated employees have the right to continue receiving health insurance after they have left their employer.  The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) gives terminated employees the right to continue their health coverage after they leave a job.  As a result, if an employer has 20 or more employees, they have to offer this extended participation in the health insurance plan.

When To Call a Wrongful Termination Lawyer

If you feel your employer violated your rights when they terminated you, you need to fight back to safeguard those rights.  If you’re in the greater Los Angeles Area, call  the professionals at the Law Offices of Cathe L. Caraway-Howard.  They’ll help you determine what rights you have as a terminated employee, and recover any damages you have coming.

wrongful termination lawyers california

Wrongful Termination? Here Are Steps You Can Take Now

If you’ve just been terminated from your job, it’s understandable if you’re feeling at a loss. Unemployment is one of the most stressful life events you could name. If you were unjustly fired, it adds insult to injury. It’s natural to feel the need to look for outside help to get justice.  If  you lost your job based on wrongful termination, you have the right to file a legal claim. Read the following information to find out if a wrongful termination lawyer can help you:

What Is Wrongful Termination?

You may receive conflicting reasons for your termination.  Employers sometimes use pretexts to fire employees for reasons they’d rather keep hidden. A wrongful termination lawyer can see if you’ll be able to take action against a former employer if their reasons for letting you go don’t check out.

Here are several situations that constitute wrongful termination:

• Termination contrary to a specific law or regulation
• For exposing a company practice of withholding commissions and vacation pay
• For taking time off to complete jury duty
• Taking time off to vote
• For serving in the National Guard or military
• Over whistleblowing about harmful company activities
• Retaliation for lawful activities
• Because of your race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, or disability

Request a Letter of Termination From Your Employer

First of all, it’s smart to request a Letter of Termination within a few days of your employment dismissal. This helps to document the decision-making process that led to your termination. That’s crucial if you plan to take legal action over your job loss.

A Service Letter is another useful document. Some states require a Service Letter from employers. A Service Letter must clearly state the reason for your dismissal, specify your salary or wages, and list your job duties. This information will be especially useful when your lawyer is building a case, and for determining the amount of damages you deserve.

Send a Letter of Understanding if your former employer refuses to send you a Letter of Termination or a Service Letter.  State the reasons for your termination as you understand them. Your former employer must respond to your version of the facts if they disagree.

Review Employment Contracts and Offer Letters

First, look for an employment contract. A written contract that promises you job security is probably the best proof that you were not an at-will employee. Employment contracts and offer letters may state that you can only be fired for a good reason.

Offer letters and contracts can also be used if there is written proof of assurances toward continued and safe employment. Other agreements in the contract could include:

• Duration of your employment
• Regularity of job promotions
• Assurances of continuing employment
• Agreements to provide warnings before termination
• Promises of long-term employment when you were hired

Gather Other Relevant Documentation

It’s always a good idea to collect paperwork related to your job termination. These will often serve as ironclad proof in a dispute. These can include performance reviews, commendations, reprimands, salary changes, and emails. Make sure you have the legal right to use these documents. You could find yourself in legal trouble if you decide to file a lawsuit using confidential information from your employer.

Make a record of each work-related event that led to your wrongful termination. This can include performance actions and informal comments that your employer makes to you, or about your work. Keep track of detailed information about dates, times, locations, and persons involved. It’s useful to note any witnesses who were present, too.

Contact a Wrongful Termination Lawyer

A labor law attorney can help you navigate your way through the complex process of filing a wrongful termination suit. In California, the Law Offices of Cathe L Caraway-Howard specialize in wrongful termination lawsuits. They’ll be able to determine if your case has merit, and they’ll help you recover all the lost wages and benefits you deserve.