Updated on April 18th, 2023

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. Therefore, employment attorneys practice in a wide-ranging issues.

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 the employment attorney wins 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 an employment 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 an employment lawyer 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 with the help of an employment attorney. 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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