What does an employment lawyer do?

An employment lawyer help employers and employees understand their respective rights and obligations, such as wages, wrongful termination, overtime, PTO, disability, discrimination, harassment, etc.

Author: Brad Nakase, Attorney

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What Does an Employer Lawyer Do?

An employment lawyer is an attorney who is experienced in managing disputes related to employment and labor laws. An employment lawyer may be hired to represent the interests of a worker, an employer, a company as a whole, or even a labor union. Most of an employment lawyer’s work involves giving advice to clients about various federal and state employment law, telling clients what rights they have legally, and making sure that their clients are in compliance with the relevant laws.

The following are some of the other responsibilities and tasks that an employment lawyer does”

  • Helping with filing complaints with the appropriate government agency, or filing claims in court.
  • Conducting legal research into past cases and documents.
  • Representing clients in lawsuits or in the process of alternative resolutions, such as mediation, arbitration, etc.
  • Working on cases such as employment discrimination actions, wage and hour lawsuits, third party lawsuits, and employment class action suits.
  • Filing a claim or assisting on an appeal for workers’ compensation benefits.
  • Counseling clients on matters related to labor unions and labor laws, such as collective bargaining actions.
  • Amending, drafting, and reviewing contracts and agreements related to employment.
  • Overseeing other legal matters that come up in the workplace.

What Is Employment Law?

Employment law concerns all matters related to the workplace, including benefits, salaries, and the legal rights of employers and employees. Employment, as a concept, ranges from the initial hiring of an individual through their termination. This makes employment law an especially wide-ranging legal area.

An employment lawyer is a qualified legal practitioner who handles all kinds of legal and contractual matters from the working world. Regardless of whether employment rates are high or low at a particular time, employment lawyers will always find themselves in high demand.

How Do California Employment Lawyers Charge for Their Services?

The majority of lawyers charge their clients for services by using one or more of the following approaches:

  • Flat fees. Employment lawyers will generally charge a flat fee if they are handling straightforward or predictable matters, or issues that involve less complex legal work. This may include matters related to filing a complaint with a government agency on behalf of a client. A flat fee essentially means that a lawyer will offer a fixed, total amount upfront. That said, if a legal issue becomes more complicated, or more work is needed, then the fee may be adjusted. It is important to ask about specifics, including what tasks the fees cover prior to the lawyer beginning his or her work.

  • Contingency fees. This type of fee setup means that the attorney will only receive payment if he or she winds the settlement or judgment for their client. The client does not need to pay any fees, but if the case is decided in their favor, then a percentage of their award will go to their lawyer. In California, a lawyer will generally take 30%. Contingency fees are common in employment law cases related to harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.

  • Hourly rates. The majority of employment lawyers in California charge by the hour for employment lawsuits. On average, employment attorneys charge between $350 (for inexperienced lawyers) and $700 (for experienced lawyers).

Specifically, the fees a California attorney charges a client for employment cases vary quite a lot, depending on a number of factors. These factors include how complex a particular case is, as well as how much experience a specific lawyer has in employment law.

What Determines How Much a California Employment Lawyer Charges?

As mentioned above, there are a number of factors may impact how a California employment lawyer determines his or her rates. These factors may include the following:

  • A lawyer’s skills
  • The lawyer’s expertise in various areas of employment law
  • How much time they spend on a case or issue
  • How complex the legal matter is
  • Whether the lawyer has any special certifications or training
  • The location of where legal services are offered
  • The reputation and size of their law firm

The above list describes the factors that go into deciding how much a California lawyer will charge for their services. That said, a client should bear in mind that if their case goes to court, he or she will probably need to pay litigation costs. These include court fees as well as filing fees.

How Long Does an Employment Law Case Take to Resolve?

On average, it takes between one and two years to litigate a California employment law case. If the result of the case is then appealed, it may take another year before the case is officially resolved. While this is the average length of time, every case is unique and might take shorter or longer depending on various factors.

For instance, the court schedule or the amount of discovery required can seriously impact the length of a case. In addition, parties might agree to settle the matter outside of court before the case gets to court.

Another factor that may issue the length of a case is the statute of limitations. For example, union employees have only six months to file a claim against an employer that breaches a collective bargaining agreement.

Conversely, an employee that is suing for employment harassment or discrimination has up to three years to file a lawsuit. This time limit does not include the time needed to file a complaint with the appropriate state agency, how long it will take the agency to perform its investigation, or the time it will take to send a right-to-sue letter to the employee before the case may be filed. This means that employment discrimination issues can take three years or longer to resolve.

Where Can One Find a California Employment Lawyer?

There are several ways to find an employment lawyer in California who can assist with matters related to employment and labor law. First, one should begin with asking friends and families for recommendations. If these individuals do not know anyone, or if one does not feel comfortable discussing the issue with them, then one many conduct a simple online search for local employment lawyers.

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At Will Employment

At will employment means that the employer or the worker may end the employment relationship at any time. When an employment is at will, the employer can terminate employees for no reason.

Can You Get Fired for Looking for Another Job?

Firing an employee for looking for another job is legal under California Labor Code § 2922. Employees in California are employed on an “at-will” which means the employee or employer can terminate the working relationship at any time for any reason.

Can an employee be terminated while on medical leave?

It depends on the reason the employee is on medical leave. Under the FMLA, an employee cannot be terminated simply because they take leave. An employee is free to take medical leave without fear of losing their job. However, if there is a reason unrelated to the medical leave, an employer does have the right to terminate an employee.

Can Slack Admins Read DMs?

Yes. Slack admin and employer can read every DMs, private channels, private messages sent between team members. Employers on either Slack's free tier or paid tier need to submit a request to Slack before they can access your private chats.

Four Hour Minimum Pay

Yes - under California employment law, when an employee is scheduled to work an eight-hour shift, and the work is canceled, the employer must pay a minimum of four hours.

How far back do PAGA claims go?

A PAGA claim is generally one year from the date of the last employment law violation on which the PAGA claim is based.

FICA Withholding: What is FICA tax on my paycheck?

What is FICA tax on my paycheck? FICA is a federal wage tax. FICA taxes requires withholding from an employee’s gross earnings: 6.2% for social security and 1.45% for Medicare. The employer matches these percentages for a total of 15.3%.

Why Does EDD Do a Benefit Audit?

The EDD conducts benefit audits to help pay Unemployment Insurance benefits to only eligible claimants only, prevents fraud in the UI program, and helps companies control UI costs. The EDD’s responsibility is to collect payroll taxes and conduct payroll audits of businesses.

What Does PAGA Mean in a Lawsuit?

The word PAGA is an acronym for the Private Attorney General Act, which is the Labor Code that authorizes employees to file a lawsuit to recover civil penalties for themselves and other employees. PAGA confers a private right of action to individuals to prosecute under PAGA and incentivizes the employee to keep 25% of collected civil penalties.

What does an employment lawyer do?

An employment lawyer help employers and employees understand their respective rights and obligations, such as wages, wrongful termination, overtime, PTO, disability, discrimination, harassment, etc.

Can my employer call my doctor?

Generally, yes, your employer can call your doctor; however, the questions your employer ask is limited and protected by HIPAA Privacy Law. Your employer has the right to contact your doctor to verify the authenticity of a doctor’s note but cannot ask about your medical condition or diagnosis.

Can I Be Fired for Work Restrictions?

State and federal laws protect employees from employers firing employees because of work restrictions. If you’re fired at work, please get in touch with our employment attorney for a free consultation on work restrictions ignored by the employer.

What Qualifies as an EEOC Complaint?

The EEOC is a federal agency that investigates workplace discrimination and harassment based on race, gender, ethnicity, national origin, age, religion, medical status, and disability. There are time limits for filing a complaint with the EEOC.

EEOC Complaint Process

Before filing an EEOC complaint, employees should understand the entire EEOC complaint process. This article answers many Frequently Asked Questions on the EEOC complaint process.

Do guys get paid paternity leave?

A father is eligible for paternity leave if three conditions are met: 1) welcome a new child within the first twelve months; 2) Paid into the State Disability Insurance; 3) Has not taken more than eight weeks of paternity leave in the past twelve months.

California PTO Payout Law

California law declares vacation time to be earned wages, and vacation time is accumulated as work is performed. So, an employee who has the right to ten days of vacation per year will after six months of work earn five days of vacation time.

Suing For Unpaid Wages California

It is totally unfair for an employee to work and not get paid; employees have bills and rent to pay. Employees suing for unpaid wages in California can get help from an employment attorney.

How Much Does It Cost To Hire a Lawyer To Sue My Employer?

People often ask me how much does an employment lawyer cost? Employees generally have claims against the employer, and an employment lawyer typically works on a contingent fee - meaning there is no fee unless the lawyer wins the employee's case.

Employee Management

Employee management is the process of aid employees to do their best work daily to achieve the company’s goal. Employee management helps improve employee satisfaction and productivity to help a company achieve its overall goals.

Is It Legal To Pay Employees Cash Under the Table?

Paying employees in cash is not illegal but frequently employers do not comply with employment laws concerning paying in cash. Employees' lawsuit against the employer for paying in cash has resulted in settlements averaging $100,000.

What is a demand letter?

A demand letter is a letter that is commonly written by a lawyer on behalf of a client setting forth facts supporting a demand for money. A demand letter is usually the first step in resolving a dispute between two opposing parties.

EEOC Discrimination

Learn about the various types of EEOC-prohibited discrimination. The EEOC protects employees from discrimination based on gender, race, ethnicity, gender, religion, national origin, age, disability, etc.

Standard PTO Policy for Small Business

A standard PTO for small businesses depends on the years an employee worked for the company. On average, the standard PTO for one to five years is ten days and six to ten years averages fifteen days.

Retaliation for Reporting Harassment at Work

An employer who punishes an employee who reported sexual harassment in the workplace violates state and federal law and is liable for retaliation. Examples of retaliation include demotion, fewer working hours, segregation, or termination.

Obscene and Sexual Gestures a Work

We're not talking about the ubiquitous middle finger that says fuck you. Obscene and sexual gestures at work may include two fingers in a V shape, with a tongue in between. 

Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment

One of the most common types of sexual harassment is Quid pro quo sexual harassment, and it is one of the easiest to hide. All types of workplace sexual harassment are illegal.

Reporting Time Pay

Wages are what we mean when we use the term "reporting time pay." If employers do not pay all of this at the moment of an employee being terminated, there may be waiting time penalties involved.

Can I Sue My Employer For Not Paying Me Correctly?

Employees work hard and deserve to be paid correctly, and on time. It sucks when an employee works hard, and long hours only to be paid incorrectly while the boss is driving a Lambo or Benz.

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