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June 15, 2017

6 Ways an Employment Attorney Can Help

The San Francisco employment attorneys at Minnis & Smallets can help employees and executives with a variety of employment-related problems.

Executives and other employees may encounter situations during the course of their employment that leave them uncertain about their legal rights. Obtaining advice from an employment attorney in San Francisco can help resolve that uncertainty. Here are six examples of situations in which an employment lawyer can help.

employment attorney san francisco explain how they can help with employment-related problemsUnlawful Termination

Most employees can be fired for any reason that suits an employer, provided that the reason does not violate a state or federal employment law. Common examples of unlawful terminations include those that are based on:

  • An employee’s race, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, religion, or membership in some other class that the law protects
  • A disabled employee’s request to accommodate a disability
  • Retaliation against an employee who opposed unlawful discrimination
  • Retaliation against an employee who cooperated with a discrimination investigation
  • Retaliation against an employee who resisted, refused or objected to unwanted sexual advances by a supervisor or coworker
  • The employee’s report of the employer’s wrongdoing to a regulatory agency
  • The employee’s refusal to disobey a law

Employees who believe that they were terminated for reasons they suspect to be unlawful can learn about their rights and potential remedies by consulting with a San Francisco employment attorney.

Hostile Work Environment

Employees must often work under difficult circumstances. They might be treated unfairly, by rude co-workers or unsympathetic supervisors, or required to work under untenable conditions. However, in many instances, an employee’s only remedy for a difficult work environment is to find a better job. When a work environment is hostile because of an employee’s protected characteristic, however, a San Francisco employment lawyer may be able to help.

Characteristics that are protected by law include gender, race, national origin, disability, religion, age, sexual orientation, and sexual identity. When an employee is subjected to a pervasive pattern of insults, slurs, offensive jokes, harassment, abuse, or other mistreatment because of the employee’s protected characteristics, or when an employer fails to address the hostile work environment after the employee notifies the employer about the problem, an employment attorney in San Francisco can be an important resource to help the employee find a solution to the problem.

Unpaid Wages and Other Compensation

Employment lawyers help employees collect earned wages that have not been paid. Unpaid wage claims can include final wages that were not paid on the day employment was terminated, a failure to pay earned commissions or bonuses, and unpaid overtime. Any failure to pay earned compensation as required by California wage laws is unlawful.

The problem of unpaid overtime can occur for several reasons. Employees may be misclassified as exempt when they do not meet California’s strict exemption tests, or they may be misclassified as independent contractors when the law regards them as employees. Employees who are terminated before receiving payment for a commission or bonus that they earned under the terms of employment may also be entitled to compensation.

San Francisco employment lawyers help employees bring claims for unpaid wages, including unpaid commissions, bonuses, and overtime pay. Employees should seek legal advice whenever they suspect that they have been deprived of overtime compensation, commissions, or other earnings that are protected by California wage laws.

Wage Discrimination and Unequal Pay

Despite laws that prohibit employers from paying a lesser wage to an employee because of the employee’s membership in a protected class, some employees continue to experience wage discrimination. An employee who is in a protected class and who is paid less than employees who perform the same job and have the same seniority, training, and work history may be entitled to pursue a claim for wage discrimination.

California recently implemented a law that requires employers to give equal pay to similarly situated employees who perform equal work, regardless of their gender. The law is complex, but a San Francisco employment attorney can help employees who are concerned about unfair pay understand whether they might fall within the law’s coverage.

Protecting Whistleblowers

Certain whistleblowers are entitled to protection when they report an employer’s violation of the law. Examples include reporting violations of environmental regulations, unsafe workplace conditions, and fraudulent activities that affect third parties or the public.

Whistleblowers are often entitled to a remedy if they experience retaliation after reporting misconduct. However, the misconduct that the employee complains about must rise to the level of a public interest, as opposed to involving an internal concern of the employer. Thus, a complaint about over-billing clients or customers may be protected, whereas a complaint about a violation of an employer’s own internal policy may not.
Employees who want to report an employer’s misconduct may benefit from the legal advice a San Francisco employment lawyer can provide. Obtaining legal advice before reporting the misconduct can help the employee make an informed decision and better understand the possible outcomes given the whistleblower protections.

Breach of Contract

Employees usually have an oral contract to be paid a specified wage for a specified amount of work. Some employees (particularly executives) have a written contract that governs additional terms of employment and may even limit the employer’s ability to terminate without cause. In addition, California law requires employers to give a written compensation agreement to employees who are paid by commission.

When employers do not live up to the promises they made, or when a dispute arises about the contract terms, an employment lawyer in San Francisco can help executives and other employees understand and enforce their contractual rights.

Getting Help

Employees in the San Francisco area who need help with an employment related issue can contact the law firm of Minnis & Smallets to schedule a consultation. Our San Francisco employment attorneys have substantial experience representing executives and other employees concerning their employment issues. Contact us through our website or by calling 1-415-551-0885.