While some workplace disputes can be solved to a worker’s satisfaction through petitioning a human resources department or directly engaging with management, there are other workplace scenarios wherein it is important for workers to seek experienced legal guidance from an employment lawyer. In more complex or contentious matters, it’s important to have an attorney experienced in this area of law advocating on a worker’s behalf. Without this guidance and support, workers may suffer as a result of employers infringing upon their rights, compromising their legal options, and/or unjustly affecting their lives and careers.
There are numerous workplace scenarios wherein workers should seek legal counsel instead of attempting to resolve a matter on their own. First, any situation that involves illegal discrimination should be referred to an attorney. Discrimination and harassment based on age, sex, gender, national origin, race, ethnicity, religion, disability, genetic information, or sexual orientation are legally prohibited in employment matters. However, as discrimination and harassment can be difficult to prove and can serve as evidence of more widespread mistreatment of workers, it is a good idea to speak with an attorney if you’ve suffered as a result of these forces in the workplace. Second, potentially illegal workplace practices including wage and hour violations, wrongful termination, hostile work environments, and unjust contractual practices should also be referred to an employment attorney. These areas of law are particularly complex and it’s therefore important to have an experienced advocate on your side when seeking justice instead of trying to navigate them on your own.
Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Unlawful sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and/or state-specific employment laws. This offense is a form of sex discrimination. Employers, managers, and others in a position of authority are prohibited from behaving in certain ways towards their employees. When unwelcome requests for sexual favors and sexual advances create a hostile or offensive work environment, unreasonably affects a worker’s job performance, or either explicitly or implicitly affect’s a worker’s employment, that behavior is considered unlawful sexual harassment. Additionally, retaliating against a worker for reporting sex discrimination (or otherwise participating in protected activity per Title VII), is illegal as well. Working with an employment attorney to address unlawful sexual harassment is important partially because there is a specific process that must be adhered to when holding an employer accountable for violation of Title VII. This area of law has been evolving for decades and it is now so complex that it isn’t easy for an employee to protect their rights and exercise their legal options without professional assistance.
Discrimination in the Workplace Against a Protected Class
Discrimination law is nuanced and ever-evolving. As a result, working with an experienced employment attorney who is knowledgeable about the latest developments in this area of law is important for empowering workers who have been unlawfully discriminated against. Discrimination on the basis of sex (including pregnancy discrimination), disability, age, race, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, ethnicity, religion, or genetic information is illegal under both federal and California state law. However, employers continue to engage in discriminatory hiring, workplace practices, termination, and retaliation partially because discrimination can be hard for a worker to prove. This is one of the reasons why working with a lawyer in regards to discriminatory treatment is so important. Attorneys who specialize in this area of law know how to obtain evidence that will strengthen a claim and they have significant experience holding discriminatory employers to account.
It’s also worth noting that many workplace discrimination matters need to be reported and handled by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission at some stages of the accountability process. Working with an attorney will help to ensure that you report discrimination violations correctly, that you support your claim with evidence, are protected from retaliation, and that you understand all the steps involved in bringing a successful discrimination claim against your employer.
Wage and Hour Claims
Workers struggling to navigate wage and hour issues may particularly benefit from speaking with an attorney, as those affected by such issues often work in vulnerable industries wherein employers may try to take advantage of their employees. Wage and hour claims don’t only address underpayment and non-payment of wages. They may also address overtime issues, inadequate break times, violations of break time protections for nursing mothers, tip compensation violations, fair wages, and the right to receive paychecks in a timely manner. Although domestic workers, agricultural laborers, and individuals in the retail and service industries most commonly file these claims, you should speak to an attorney if you’re struggling with any of these issues, regardless of your job title. Holding employers accountable for violations of wage and hour laws can be difficult but it’s very important to do so.
When an employer proves that they’re willing to retaliate against you, it’s time to speak with an employment attorney. Employers who engage in retaliation are often uninterested in “fighting fair.” It is therefore important to have an experienced advocate on your side as you address retaliation. Employees are entitled to participate in certain protected activities under the law. These activities range from filing for workers’ compensation benefits in the wake of an injurious workplace accident to reporting sexual harassment behaviors to a company’s human resources department. If an employer overtly or subtly punishes an employee for engaging in a protected activity, that punishment is unlawful retaliation. Retaliation can be as obvious as unlawful termination or as subtle as a shift reassignment. Many retaliation actions involve demotions, changes in job titles, pay cuts, and inaccessibility to additional job training and promotional opportunities. Even if you’re unsure of whether your employer’s actions are considered retaliation under the law, it’s important to speak with an attorney if you’re being mistreated in the wake of engaging in a protected activity. You have rights under the law and those rights deserve to remain protected.
Enforceable employment contracts are legally binding documents, so it is therefore important to seek an attorney’s guidance if you’re struggling to navigate a contract-related issue. Failure to connect with an attorney could lead you to agree to unfair contractual terms, be sued or otherwise held accountable for an unintentional breach of contract, or to be taken advantage of as a result of your employer’s breach of a contract. Allowing an attorney to look over a proposed or existing contract can save you a great deal of time, money, and stress down the road. Whether you’re signing a hiring contract, weighing the benefits and risks of accepting a non-compete clause, questioning the fairness of a severance agreement, or you’re being accused of violating the terms of an employment contract, an attorney can help to clarify your situation and lend you professional guidance and support.
Regardless of whether you are an “at-will” employee, if you feel that you may have been terminated for illegal reasons, it’s important to speak with an experienced employment attorney as quickly as possible. Employers generally know how to keep employees from gathering evidence in the wake of a firing and may offer inducements such as the “opportunity to resign” or significant severance packages as incentives to keep wrongfully terminated employees from holding them accountable under the law. Legally, even “at-will” employees can’t be fired for discriminatory reasons or as retaliation for engaging in protected activities, such as filing workers’ compensation claims, reporting abuse, reporting unsafe working conditions, taking a legally protected leave of absence, or providing testimony as a witness. Employers may be held accountable under the law for unlawfully terminating workers. If you may have been wrongfully terminated, don’t sign anything, don’t vent online, and don’t agree to resign – speak with an experienced employment attorney before committing to a plan of action.
Legal Assistance Is Available
There are times when it is possible to navigate a legal issue successfully and other times when you’ll need an attorney’s guidance to have the best possible chance of resolving your issue to your satisfaction. When it comes to discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace, wrongful termination, wage and hour claims, contract disputes, hostile work environments, and retaliation, it’s important to seek professional assistance.
When you schedule a confidential consultation with an experienced employment lawyer at the Orange County firm of Eldessouky Law, you’ll know you’re in capable hands. Our firm specializes in employment litigation matters, so we’re unafraid to take a matter to trial if you can’t gain access to the compensation you’re entitled to through settlement negotiations or other non-contentious means. We pride ourselves on our dedication to our clients, our efficiency, our significant experience, and our fierce advocacy on behalf of workers’ rights. There is no risk or obligation tied to scheduling a confidential consultation, so there’s no reason to hesitate – contact our firm today. Let us learn about your situation, answer your questions, and help you make an informed decision about how best to proceed. We look forward to speaking with you.