We understand that employment problems can be traumatic and sensitive.
It is natural to have questions about whether you have legal claims, and if so, what the legal process looks like as well as the costs and risks. We’ve answered some of the more common questions below, but don't hesitate to contact us if you would like to talk in person.
Do I have a valid legal claim?
This is the most common question and the reason most people seek legal counsel. There are a myriad of laws protecting employees both federally and in the State of California. The topics and coverage range from wage and hour, breaks, overtime, discrimination, harassment, and wrongful termination, to name a few. In California, most of us are "at-will" employees, meaning that our employers can terminate our employment at any time for any reason. However, there are some protections. It is unlawful to terminate an employee if a substantial motivating factor for the termination was based on a protected characteristic, or for making protected complaints, such as age, race, gender, sexual preference, disability, sexual harassment, for not being paid properly or receiving breaks (to name a few). Unfortunately, personality conflicts, or when an employer just does not like you, are not usually unlawful reasons for termination. For example, if you complain to HR that your boss is playing favorites and there is a hostile work environment, this probably won't be illegal unless the motivation for why your boss doesn't like you is because of your race, gender, age, for complaining about not getting breaks, etc. There is no cause of action for having an jerk for a boss...yet. The flip-side of "at-will" employment is that you can leave at any time without notice. If you want further information, please contact us!
Do you take cases on a contingency basis (i.e. what is the cost)?
Hiring a lawyer can be an expensive and unplanned event. Fortunately, in California, there are often statutes that allow attorneys to recover their fees and most of the costs from the Defendant should you prevail in court. This allows us to offer representation on a contingency basis, and allows you to hire high caliber attorneys to fight the often well-funded corporate defense. Contingency representation means that we get paid only when there is a recovery for you. If there is no recovery, you do not pay a legal fee. In addition, we often advance the costs of litigation (filing fees, depositions, expert witnesses, etc.). Those are recouped by the firm at the end of the representation from the recovery we obtain for you. So the short and skinny is that you don't pay any fees or costs until there is a recovery. If you would like further information, please contact us!
Do I have to sue or are there other options? I’m not the type to sue.
Like everyone else, we prefer to avoid litigation wherever possible. Litigation can be a lengthy, costly, and emotional experience. Often times it is better to find a solution to part ways sooner rather than later. However, depending on the legal claims and defenses involved, litigation may have to be initiated. Whenever possible, we attempt to resolve the matter prior the the filing of litigation. Some claims are more valuable prior to filing and some are simply more valuable after filing. We will guide you through the options and provide a recommendation based on our experience. But don't worry...we’ve got this!! Either way, if you have a strong claim, we do our best to maximize your recovery. No matter what, standing up for yourself and protecting your rights, nevermind any potential recovery, is an honorable and self respecting thing to do. Often, by standing up to the employer, you get them to change their practices so that others don't also get hurt. To learn more, contact us!
Depending on the facts and circumstances involved, and each party’s willingness to settle, the process can take from as little as a week to slightly over a year. If we file litigation, the court usually tries to set the trial date around one year from the date the case is filed. To find out more, contact us now!
How long does this process take?
In employment cases, the damages are usually tied closely to the actual harm. For example, if you were unlawfully terminated and it took you two years to obtain new similar employment, you would generally be entitled to two years of lost wages, your attorney fees (in most cases), most of your costs, potential emotional distress and other non-compensatory damages. For cases involving unpaid wages, missed breaks, failure to pay overtime, etc., those direct damages are compensable often times along with penalties, attorney fees and costs. There is also a highly satisfying feeling of standing up for what is right, asserting your rights, and fighting so that the next person behind you doesn't get treated the same way. To stand up for your rights, contact us now!
What kind of recovery can I expect?
Nobody is a perfect employee and there is no law requiring perfection in your job. Everybody makes mistakes. Even though you made mistakes, that fact doesn’t provide your employer with a “free pass” to treat you unlawfully. The State of California and the Federal Government have strong public policy in place to protect the workers. To find out more about your right, contact us now!