California Employment Law FAQs
Watkins & Letofsky, LLP, with offices in Santa Ana and Las Vegas, is an experienced employment law firm representing employers and employees. We welcome inquiries from companies and individuals concerning employment law matters.
For a free initial consultation, call us at 866-439-1295.
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Some of the most common questions regarding employment law include the following:
When can you sue over an adverse employment action?
In terms of employment law, California and Nevada are “at-will” states. That means that an employer can fail to hire, terminate, demote or fail to promote an employee for almost any reason at all — except those prohibited by federal or state law. Employment discrimination because of race, disability, age, gender, pregnancy, religion and national origin are expressly prohibited. Also, adverse employment actions in violation of public policy are not allowed. Even so, winning such a case presents many challenges.
At Watkins & Letofsky, LLP, our lawyers have the experience, knowledge and resources needed to investigate and pursue such actions.
What constitutes harassment in the workplace?
This question has many aspects too complex to discuss here. The answer is perhaps better conveyed by asking “What is not harassment?” Courts have declared again and again that they are not the civility police. Being insulted on the job or verbally abused does not necessarily constitute harassment. To be actionable, the behavior of a boss or co-workers must directly relate to a protected class — such as gender, race, disability or sexual preference. The harassment must create a hostile work environment.
What can a plaintiff obtain in an employment lawsuit?
The answer depends on the circumstances of the case. In general, an employee may be entitled to specific wage loss, future wage loss, loss of benefits and possibly emotional suffering. The court may require the defendant to pay attorney fees. In some cases, punitive damages may be assessed.
What constitutes employment retaliation?
A lawsuit asserting retaliation must involve an adverse employment action in response to the employee exercising legally protected rights. For example, an adverse employment action for making a worker’s compensation claim is retaliation. Also, being fired or demoted for reporting the illegal dumping of hazardous waste constitutes in all likelihood an actionable retaliation claim. In California, an employee can bring a claim for retaliation in regard to reporting internally. In Nevada, the reporting must have been made to an outside agency.
My boss is a bully and a complete jerk. What are my rights?
There is nothing illegal about being a bully or a jerk, unless the behavior involves physical threats or intimidation. Even then, it may be difficult to bring an employment law case against the boss or your employer. Only if you belong to a protected class, the behavior relates to your class, and certain other factors are present can you file an employment law claim.
How do I know if I am an exempt or nonexempt employee?
This question can only be answered after a careful examination of your job responsibilities and duties. Just because your employer says you are exempt does not mean that you are actually exempt from overtime regulations. Also, just because an employee receives a salary does not mean an employee is exempt. Many employees are routinely misclassified. An attorney at Watkins & Letofsky, LLP, can review your situation and explain your options.