California Employment Disputes Lawyer

You have built a team of hardworking, talented employees who are essential to your business. Unfortunately, misunderstandings sometimes arise among employees. Small complaints can become full-fledged disputes that land you in court or before a government regulatory board if they are not properly addressed.

At Sparks Law, our skilled attorneys can help keep disputes at a minimum by providing employment and severance agreements and an employee handbook that details what employees and employers expect of each other. If problems arise, one of our California employment dispute lawyers could represent you in court and advise you at every step of the way.

California Employers Can Terminate At-Will

Because California is an at-will state, employers can terminate employees at any time without reason. At-will employees can also be terminated for cause, such as poor performance.

At-Will Employees Cannot Be Terminated for Unlawful Reasons

Although employers do not have to give a reason to terminate an employee, their reasoning cannot be unlawful. If an employee suspects discrimination, they may bring a wrongful termination suit. Some reasons considered unlawful in California include:

  • Termination because of a protected characteristic, including but not limited to the employee’s race, religion, age, gender, disability, or sexual orientation
  • Termination for political beliefs
  • Termination because the employee asked for time off to which they are entitled, such as family leave under California’s New Parent Leave Act
  • Military service
  • Termination because the employee is a whistleblower—for instance, they reported discrimination in the workplace to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
  • Termination because the employee is called to jury service

The employee can report their suspicions of any unlawful act to the EEOC or under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). A local attorney experienced in employee and labor relations should be involved in any regulatory complaint.

Employee Wage Disputes in California

Employees who believe they have been shorted wages have options for seeking recourse. Although the federal minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is $7.25 per hour, California’s minimum wage has been rising steadily, capping in 2022 at $15.00 per hour for businesses with 26 or more employees. Businesses with fewer than 26 employees will pay at least $14.00 an hour in 2022, and $15.00 in 2023.

By ordinance, many California cities pay even higher, with Oakland currently paying an hourly minimum wage of $18.36. Tips are exempt toward the minimum for service industry employees. A lawyer at our firm who deals with employment issues could further explain these wage laws to employers and employees.

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

There are laws under FEHA to combat the issue of workplace sexual harassment in California. State courts also routinely interpret discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include sexual harassment.

Under FEHA, sexual harassment occurs when an employer or employee targets a person with uninvited, inappropriate, or negative conduct because of the person’s sex, sexual orientation, gender, marital status, pregnancy, or other reasons associated with sex.

Harassment can also include innuendo, threats, inappropriate acts such as touching or kissing, inappropriate photos or jokes, requests for sexual favors, and even showing favoritism because of one’s sex. A California employment disputes attorney could include procedures for reporting sexual harassment in a company employee handbook.

Discuss Employment Disputes with a Skilled California Attorney

If you employ workers on any level, from hourly to management, you should have protocols in place for dealing with any problems. Disputes can be controlled with a thorough employee handbook, appropriate contracts, and procedures for reporting workplace issues.

The legal team at Sparks Law is available to help draft these documents. If you find yourself in civil court or before a regulatory board, we can provide a well-researched defense. Discuss your workplace problems with a California employment disputes lawyer today. Call our office for an initial consultation.