Employment Law Attorney in San Jose, California
Employees are protected against discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, retaliation, and violations of wage and hour laws by employers. Statutes exist on the federal and state levels to protect workers’ rights and provide them a means to redress any grievance or injustice they face.
However, knowing how to navigate the laws and various state and federal agencies can be challenging, and the process can be drawn out, especially if you try to navigate it alone.
Before you make a move, discuss your situation with an experienced employment law attorney. That way, you will have a complete understanding of your rights and legal options, and you will also have someone on your side who knows how to present your case in a way that appeals to California courts.
If you are an employee in or around San Jose, California, and feel your rights are in violation, contact the Law Offices of Joel P. Waelty. Attorney Joel P. Waelty understands all aspects of employment law in California and at the federal level. He will help you take the necessary steps to correct the wrong you face and represent you until the situation comes to a resolution.
His firm also serves clients throughout Silicon Valley as far south as Monterey and as far north as Oakland, California.
Wage and Hour Laws
California instituted a minimum wage in the state before the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in 1938 established a nationwide minimum wage standard and overtime standard. Congress now sets the nationwide rate, which has stood at $7.25 since 2009. The FLSA also mandates workers be paid one-and-a-half times their hourly rate if they work more than 40 hours a week.
California is certainly more progressive than the federal government in its wage and hour laws and enforcement. At the state level, the minimum wage that all employers must pay is $15.50 an hour as of January 1, 2023. Counties and municipalities are free to set higher rates, and many do. California overtime also kicks in when a worker clocks more than eight hours in a day. Double-time kicks in for any work after 12 hours in a single day.
Safety and Health Conditions
Both the U.S. and California governments also regulate safety and health conditions in the workplace. In 1971, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was introduced. In California, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH), known as Cal/OSHA, is the main agency to oversee and regulate workers’ safety and health.
Cal/OSHA has the reputation of being the most vigorous arm of Federal OSHA. It routinely conducts the most safety inspections in the nation, and by citing workplace hazards, it has created safer working conditions for the state’s 8.4 million-plus workers. If you see a safety violation at work, you are entitled to report it to Cal/OSHA without fear of retaliation from your employer. It is vital to speak with an employment law attorney before making your report.
Workers are protected from discrimination on the job by various federal regulations, starting with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Subsequent acts and court decisions added more protections. The Civil Rights Act protected against discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. Now, the expanded protections cover gender identity and sexual orientation, marital or pregnancy status, age (40 and up), veteran or military status, disability, ancestry, and more.
On the federal level, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigates reports of discrimination and can sanction employers or even sue them for discrimination and harassment.
Harassment is an “unwelcome” conduct against one of the protected characteristics listed above, such as race, sex, and so on. Generally, solitary off-hand comments do not rise to the level of harassment, but continued offensive conduct or comments can. Sexual harassment is also another form of harassment that is prohibited under state and federal law.
In the Golden State, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) carries out the same basic functions as the EEOC. You should check with your employment law attorney to discuss which route to take in filing a complaint.
Retaliation and Wrongful Termination
Suppose you report a safety violation at your place of work, and Cal/OSHA comes out to inspect and determine what’s going on. Your employer understands that you’re the one who filed the report, so they demote you, rearrange your work schedule so you can’t see your family anymore, or worse, writes up a bad performance report and terminates you. This all falls under state and federal anti-retaliation laws, making these acts illegal.
Retaliation complaints in California can be filed with the Labor Commissioner’s Office. That office also handles violations of the state’s equal pay laws.
Employment Law Attorney Serving San Jose, California
If you feel you have been wronged or mistreated – or have had your rights violated – contact the Law Offices of Joel P. Waelty. He will review the situation, discuss your legal options, and then guide and represent you in seeking the restitution or justice you deserve. He proudly serves clients throughout the Silicon Valley from Monterey in the South to Oakland in the North from his office in San Jose, California.