How to Avoid an Employee Lawsuit as an Employer

employee lawsuitThe last thing you need as an employer is an employee lawsuit. Running a business is not easy. It requires an assortment of skills that include business savvy, financial prowess, organizational mastery, and schmoozing finesse to deal with customers, competitors, and employees. In the event that you wind up battling an employee lawsuit, consulting with an experienced employment attorney is your best bet.

Employee Lawsuit – Why do Employees Sue?

There are all kinds of reasons for an employee lawsuit. Employees will definitely take to the courts to deal with their grievances.  Here are some of the employee lawsuit biggies with suggestions on how to avoid these issues:

  • Employees feel they have been mistreated: When human dignity is secondary to the company’s bottom line, workers feel it. Whether they are still employed, demoted, or no longer with the company, if people believe they are or were disposable, it hurts. This is likely the number one reason individuals seek retribution against an employer – because they believe their efforts on behalf of the company went unrecognized and underappreciated.
  • To avoid this pitfall: Treat employees respectfully. Make sure managers get the message that people matter, and build recognition into the culture of the workplace.
  • Employees are disciplined, demoted or fired for engaging in a protected activity: Oftentimes employers may feel uncomfortable with, say, union participation. Or perhaps an employee has reported discriminatory behavior in the workplace. If negative consequences follow this kind of protected activity, it is unlawful, and could result in a lawsuit.
  • To avoid this pitfall: Make sure HR documents issues with employees so there is a clear paper trail leading up to job actions. Additionally, stay up to date on the laws regarding employee rights, and make timely responses to employee concerns regarding discrimination.
  • Employees working under the direction of a bad manager: When a manager lacks the leadership skills and the ability to represent the values of the company adequately, no matter how wonderful the mission statement is, it could be trouble. One harasser, one cheater, one cruel manager, and the company is at risk.
  • To avoid this pitfall: Train managers well, and perform regular evaluations to ensure they are working within the law and treating employees properly.
  • Employees see unfair application of rules: Employee A is written up for excessive tardiness, but Employee B gets away with it on a regular basis. It irks everyone to see that type of thing, especially if it looks like the uneven enforcement is related to race, gender, or other protected status. When employees can prove unequal treatment occurred, it can be expensive for employers.
  • To avoid this pitfall: Have clear rules and expectations, and specific policies in place to intervene when there is a problem.

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Overtime Pay Rules Get a Bump: California Workers Expect to See More in their Pockets

Overtime Pay RulesChanges to federal overtime pay rules implemented by the US Department of Labor (DOL) take effect December 1st of this year. It is anticipated to impact over four million white-collar workers who previously earned salaries that exceeded overpay rule thresholds, with nearly 400,000 of those workers residing in California.

Just what, exactly, do the new overtime pay rules mean for California workers?

The most critical change to the overtime pay rule involves the annual salary threshold: Although the previous federal threshold was only $23,660, the new minimum is significantly higher, topping out at over $47,000. That amount also exceeds the California state maximum annual earning cap of $41,600.

What are Basic Overtime Pay Requirements?

Employers are expected to pay minimum wage or more for the first 40 hours worked in a week, and overtime pay at one and one-half times the regular rate for all hours beyond 40. In California, the number of hours worked in a day is considered in addition to the number of hours worked in a week.

Are There Exceptions to the Overtime Pay Rules?

Doctors, teachers, and lawyers are all exempted from the overtime rules laid out by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Executives who supervise at least two employees and have hiring/firing authority are exempted, as well as individuals involved in outside sales and certain persons who work with computers. Finally, salaried employees whose pay is not flexible or based on quantity or quality of work may be exempted from the overtime pay rules. Each classification of employee has several qualifying points, making the exemption determination somewhat complex.

Can Salaried Employees Expect Overtime Pay?

Assuming one meets the qualifications, the short answer is yes. Consider too that overtime pay for one earning a salary would necessarily include all aspects of the salary package—not simply a sum based on a calculation of hourly wages. While record keeping obviously facilitates an understanding of overtime hours, time clocks are not required.

Are Government Workers Entitled to Overtime Pay Remuneration?

Government workers do not have a blanket exemption with regard to overtime pay, and, in fact, FLSA provides specific guidance with regard to compensatory time (comp time) for government workers.  Essentially, comp time may be earned at the same rate as overtime pay, meaning that an employee who worked 50 hours in one week earned 10 hours of overtime, or the equivalent of 15 hours of comp time.

Do Negotiated Agreements Supersede these Overtime Pay Rules?

It is possible for employees to engage in collective bargaining and determine other frameworks for overtime pay. [Read more…]


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 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.