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San Diego Employment Law Attorneys:You Matter, And You Deserve Justice

San Diego Employment Law Blog

Have you been fired under unfair circumstances?

As a worker in San Diego, you have a right to protect yourself from retaliatory actions at the workplace. Unfortunately, these actions can be difficult to predict, and in some cases it can even be difficult to prove that they're the root cause of your termination.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission states that retaliation is the most frequently alleged source of workplace discrimination. Employer retaliation can cover a huge range of potential scenarios and issues that you may run into. For example, an employer may retaliate against you if you:

  • Blew the whistle on illegal practices in the workplace
  • Refused to follow discriminatory orders
  • Talked to managers or supervisors about harassment or discrimination
  • Requested accommodations for religious reasons or disabilities
  • Intervened or resisted against sexual advances
  • Reported or answered questions about alleged sexual harassment

How do FMLA and CFRA differ?

Your career should never get in the way of your health, yet that often happens. You may feel as though if you need to take time of work because of your health, your employer might view you as unreliable and this decide it does not need you. Fortunately, there are laws that prevent your employer from firing you for needing extended medical leave. These include both the federal Family & Medical Leave Act as well as the California Family Rights Acts. The question is how are these two laws different? 

On the surface, they are not. They both allow for an extended 12-week leave for the following situations: 

  • The birth of a baby
  • The adoption of a child or the placement of a child in foster care
  • The unexpected illness or injury suffered by you or one of your immediate family members

California laws about tipping

The laws on tipping vary from one state to the next. Fortunately, California has relatively strict laws on how employers treat tips in relation to their employees' wages. For example, California law states employers cannot pay workers less than minimum wage, expecting tips to make up the difference. While that is a common practice in other states, it has gone away here.

If you work in the service industry and receive tips, then it is important to be aware if your boss breaks the law. You may want to bring it to the employer's attention to try to rectify the situation on your own. If that does not work, then you may need to pursue other legal recourses.

Analyzing the Equal Pay Act

The efforts to end workplace discrimination are not solely aimed at helping people to get their feet in the door of companies in San Diego. Simply because one has been hired to a job does not mean that the opportunities that an employer can still discriminate against him and her have ceased. His or her treatment while on the job could also be classified as discriminatory. Salary discrepancies are one area where this is still evident. Fortunately, those whose work has been historically undervalued (at least in terms of their pay) are supported by the Equal Pay Act. 

This federal law was enacted in 1963 to stop employers from rewarding those of a certain race or gender with larger salaries than their counterparts. Specifically, the EPA requires that all of those performing a job that requires equal skill, effort and responsibility (and who are working in similar conditions) to be paid equally. Some may take that to mean that those doing the same job for the same company must be paid the exact same. That, however, is not the case. According to the American Association of University Women, employers may establish different pay scales based on factors such as seniority, merit and production. 

County sued by woman fired from local animal shelter

Those working in San Diego typically want to give their companies the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their practices. Yet if one witnesses something that may be unethical (or potentially illegal), he or she does have a duty to report (he or she could face consequences as well by failing to do so). Many in such cases may be hesitant to speak up, however, because they fear that by doing so they could bee endangering their jobs. Yet the law offers protection for employees from retaliatory actions by their employers in whistleblower cases. If one is fired for reporting offenses committed by his or her employer, he or she could have a case for wrongful termination

Such is the claim being made by a Georgia woman after she was fired from her position of being an animal rescue coordinator. She reported members of her department for euthanizing rescued animals that did not need to be killed. In a lawsuit filed against the local county, she claims that after doing so, she was repeatedly given field assignments that took her away from the office while the unnecessary euthanizations continued. She also claims that before being fired, she was told not to question the decisions of her supervisors. 

The reality of affording housing on a minimum wage

If today's job market offers any prediction on future challenges, it is in regard to minimum wage and housing affordability. San Diego is one of many hot cities on the map, yet countless Californians struggle to pay rent and monthly mortgages.

Earning low wages is part of this escalating problem, and has been under the political spotlight in recent years. Some states have raised the minimum wage, while others have mapped plans to boost wages for American workers over the next few years. Financial experts and lawmakers alike are in favor of raising the minimum wage across the board, so why do so many Americans continue to suffer from crippling bills, despite putting in long hours of labor? 

What happens when an employer refuses to pay for overtime?

One of life's many joys involves pride over hard work done. Many Californians could agree with this sentiment, but by the same token, there are few better feelings than hanging one's hat for the day. With the gradual decrease of unemployment rates in the country, the outlook on jobs for the average worker seems optimistic. However, there is a recurring problem in today's working world: that of unpaid overtime.

Most jobs equip new employees with company guidelines, including information regarding wages. As ABC10 News shared last December, one Sacramento Amazon worker filed a lawsuit after he was denied overtime pay. To make matters worse, the company also denied the man a third rest break after he worked regular 10-hour shifts. According to the report, workers at this Amazon location did not receive compensation for the time it took to travel to and from clock-in sites and work space locations -- such claims were another part of the recent lawsuit. As for overtime pay, the law requires that an employee receive time-and-a-half overtime pay after working eight hours. The man accused Amazon of refusing the third break that should have met the overtime wage rate. 

3 ways to prove you worked overtime

Does your employer fail to log your hours? If your workplace does not have a time sheet or time clock, you may not be receiving proper overtime pay. First of all, it is important to note that the Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to keep records regarding your hourly pay rate, earnings, overtime pay and total wages for each pay period. 

Unfortunately, some employers do not comply with this rule. In this case, what should you do? Without proper documentation, how do you fight for overtime reimbursement? Here are some steps you should take if your employer does not track your time. 

Employers can’t threaten to fire if you refuse unfair wage

Imagine this scenario: your boss tells you and your co-workers that, due to rising expenses, everyone must take a pay cut. However, this would put your earnings under California’s minimum wage. You speak up and tell your boss that the company cannot decrease your wage, but your boss tells you that you have to agree to the change – or you’re fired.

You do not have to accept this ultimatum. In fact, what the boss in this example did is illegal. Not only did the employer refuse to pay a fair wage by law, but they would commit wrongful termination if they fired an employee for calling them out.

Is your employer illegally retaliating against you?

California law protects employees against harassment, discrimination and unlawful retaliation. While employers otherwise have a lot of freedom in employment decisions, these three types of actions form the exception.

The area of illegal actions by employers can get quite complicated. If you feel your employer may be crossing the line into unlawful behavior, speaking with a knowledgeable attorney can give you more information about legal recourse that may be available to you.

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Sullivan Law Group APC
2330 3rd Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101

Phone: 619-880-3956
Fax: 619-702-6761
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