Mistreated Employee Lawsuits Find a Favorable Climate in California

mistreated employee lawsuitsIt appears that the current California legal climate is favorable for pursuing mistreated employee lawsuits. If a potential, current, or previous employer has discriminated against or otherwise mistreated you in California, you are in a good position to exact revenge if you so desire. That is because California is well known to be amenable to rectifying the wrongdoing of errant employers Certainly, many factors play in to California’s protective attitude toward wronged employees. The #MeToo movement brought issues related to sexual harassment and retaliation to the forefront of public discussion. Even before #MeToo hit the public airways, though, California legislators were paving the way to an even playing field for anyone involved in a workplace dispute. In fact, the American Tort Reform Foundation went so far as to say that California courts go out of their way to assign responsibility to companies in employer liability lawsuits by allowing for no-injury litigation through PAGA lawsuits, making California the most employee-friendly state in the nation.

What is PAGA?

We’ve blogged about PAGA before. PAGA, or the Private Attorneys General Act, gives employees the right to sue their employers civilly for violations of the Labor Code. The process requires a submission of the complaint to LWDA (Labor and Workforce Development Agency) with the potential for an investigation of the matter. Aggrieved employees wishing to pursue civil action are authorized to do so through Labor Code 2698-2699. Some of the requirements for such legal action include:

  • Online filing with a copy of the complaint sent to the employer via certified mail;
  • Employer responses also filed online, with copies sent to the employee vie4a certified mail;
  • Paying required filing fees;
  • Waiting up to 60 days for a LWDA review;
  • Court approval of settlements, with copies of all judgments provided to LWDA.

Mistreated Employee Lawsuits – Successful Court Cases

Mistreated employee lawsuits have found juries to be sympathetic to their plight in recent years:

  • When Allstate Insurance fired a 30-year employee based on his arrest record, that employee fought back in court, ultimately being awarded nearly $3 million in compensation. While roughly one-third of the award was for wrongful termination, the rest was for defamation. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. The jury added another $16 million to the award in punitive damages, sending a clear message to the employer that wrongful termination will not be tolerated.
  • When two employees asserted that they had suffered sexual harassment from the general manager of Keyways Vineyard and Winery, things did not end there. After registering their complaint, the women experienced retaliation in the form of being removed from the weekly schedule. A jury awarded the plaintiffs $11 million.

[Read more…]

The Rights Employees do and do Not Have

Employee RightsWhat are my rights as an employee? Is your employer crimping your style at the office? Does it feel as though you are walking on eggshells because you are so unsure of what is ok and what is not? Sure, everyone knows discrimination is illegal and that the workplace has to accommodate for disabilities. What about the nitty-gritty things that nobody ever talks about? Uncertainty is an ugly companion on the job; it is better to clarify your rights at work from the get go. If serious concerns arise, a local employment attorney could help.

These Activities Fall Within Your Rights:

  • Discussing working conditions: If you have concerns about safety conditions, are curious about how much money your co-workers make, or believe certain policies are unfair, you have every right to discuss those issues with your colleagues. If you have been forbidden to do so by policy or contract, there is a good possibility your employer is breaking the law.
  • Keeping copies of signed documents: When you hire on with a company, they may ask you to sign a mountain of paperwork, from arbitration clauses to confidentiality agreements. Make sure you get copies of everything you put your signature to, so if problems arise later, you are clear about what their expectations are, and you can better evaluate how you will handle disputes.
  • Having a copy of the employee manual: Are you required to read and know what is in the employee manual? If so, you are entitled to have a copy, whether it is a hard copy or an online manual.
  • Receiving overtime pay for hours over 40: If you are an hourly employee, you must be paid time and a half for any hours exceeding 40 in one week. Employers sometimes try to get around paying for overtime by misclassifying workers as salaried, requiring employees to complete duties off the clock, requiring both exempt and non-exempt duties in your job description, and a multitude of other tricks.

These Activities are Not Protected at Work

That does not mean, however, that employees have free reign at work. There are plenty of activities in which employees assume they can engage, but that could get them into legitimate trouble with the boss.

  • Complaining about your job: You can actually be fired for complaining about problems at work if those problems are not the result of illegal behavior. So, if you want grouse about how unprofessional your boss is in his or her attire, bite your tongue. Even away from work, those kinds of comments can get you canned.
  • Getting into an argument with a co-worker: Whether talking about politics, education, or any other topic, do not assume you can freely spout your opinions. You are being paid to do a job, not change the world with your views on the state of the White House. Avoid disputes that should not be occurring in the office.

Protecting Workers’ Rights

At Beck Law P.C., we work hard on behalf of clients whose workplace rights have been violated. If you need legal advocacy in Sonoma County, Mendocino County, or Lake County California, contact us in Santa Rosa today.

Disclaimer

The information on this website should not be considered to be legal advice, nor construed to be the formation of any manner of attorney client relationship. Prior to taking any form of legal action, please consult with an attorney experienced in the appropriate area of law germane to your situation. Case results and testimonials presented on www.californialaborandemploymentlaw.net or any of its related websites are germane to the facts present for each individual case and is not a promise of similar outcomes for any other cases. This website is not intended to solicit clients for matters outside of the State of California.