Employment Discrimination and Harassment

In the current economy, workplace discrimination can take many forms, both direct and subtle. In the “employer’s job market” that accompanies deep recession and its aftermath of sluggish job growth, fear becomes a powerful motivator. An atmosphere develops that skews the balance of power greatly in favor of the employer. In times of high unemployment, employers may feel immune to backlash from the workforce, while at the same time their employees are more willing to endure unlawful treatment. When people find themselves in this position, they tend to tell themselves that keeping a bad job is better than having no job at all. Employers in this position may fail to follow the laws currently in place to benefit the American worker.

California law prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of age, race, color, sex, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, medical condition, and marital status, among other bases. In California, transgendered and gender non-conforming persons are also protected under the law.

If you believe you were treated differently than others outside of your protected classification, resulting in, for example, job loss or workplace discipline, then you may have a valid discrimination complaint. Contact Lazear Mack’s attorneys for an evaluation of your case. We are experienced litigators in all manner of workplace discrimination grievances. We can be reached at 510-735-6316 or complete our intake form.

Although many insist we are living in a “post-racial” society, the number of cases the EEOC has litigated in the past decade would, unfortunately, support the opposite conclusion. Incidents of nooses and Confederate flags being displayed in prominent places in workplaces where African Americans are employed, and other similar forms of blatant racial discrimination, appear to be on the rise.

Examples of unlawful behavior in the workplace include: the use of racist slang or nicknames directed at, or known to be offensive to, persons of the ethnicities to which they commonly refer; comments made based on physical or cultural traits, such as clothing, skin color, language or even an unfamiliar accent; or the display of racist drawings or posters. Employees are also protected from discrimination based on perceived national origin, even if that assumption is incorrect – for example, if you fire someone you believe is Muslim only to learn that they are in actuality Sikh.

Harassment in the workplace often blurs with workplace discrimination. It can consist of conduct that includes, but is not limited to, verbal epithets or derogatory comments, physical interference with freedom of movement, derogatory posters or cartoons, and unwanted sexual advances. None of this behavior is acceptable in the American workplace, and you do not have to endure it. If you are experiencing this behavior from a co-worker or a supervisor, contact Lazear Mack in order that we might assist you to obtain appropriate relief. We can be reached at 510-735-6316 or you may wish to complete an intake form.

Please see our FAQ on this topic for methods of protecting yourself, including methods of documenting such treatment in advance of litigation.

Gender Discrimination is discrimination against anyone based on his or her sex. It can include the disparate treatment of a person who is pregnant, or a person who is in a job typically held by males, such as a police officer or firefighter. If a woman is perceived to be unable to perform certain physical tasks without actually being tested on those tasks, she is the victim of discrimination based on her gender. An employer cannot make the assumption that a female is incapable of performing any task merely by concluding it must be true because she is female.

This type of discrimination can also take fairly subtle forms, e.g., you apply for a position for which you know you have excellent qualifications, but you are turned down in favor of a male candidate, and find out later that the clients “prefer working with men,” or, similarly, you apply multiple times for a promotion for which you have been told you are qualified, yet each time the title and/or pay raise goes to someone of the opposite gender. If you find yourself in this position, you may need to provide your attorney with witnesses, or other evidence, that can help them prove you were passed over due to your gender.

Gender based discrimination can also manifest in disparate treatment, e.g. when an unusually shapely female is taken aside by Human Resources because her clothing is “too suggestive” and told that her male co-workers find her “distracting,” when in reality she is dressing in a manner indistinguishable from her female counterparts. It is not her responsibility to “look more masculine” but that of the employer to educate the males in that environment to keep their attentions on the tasks at hand.

Discrimination can also manifest in a failure to promote based on sex, or by an employer allowing an environment that most women (or men) would find “hostile.” In the highest echelon of white collar culture, in Silicon Valley and beyond, women are not just excluded from the occasional golf game, but are excluded from many such conversations and gatherings that would allow them a more equal footing with their male counterparts socially, which at that level can constitute disparate treatment. Many women in corporate jobs are fighting back against this inequity when, after waiting for that promised partnership / raise / bonus / promotion and watching their male counterparts climb that ladder ahead of them, they get fed up. As an indication of the extent of the problem, the number of cases filed against entities like Facebook, Twitter, Tinder, Kleiner Perkins and Zillow along with other leaders in these industries, are growing almost exponentially.

If you have experienced what you believe is gender discrimination in hiring, salary or some other treatment you believe discriminatory, call Lazear Mack for an evaluation of your claims. You may have a case for gender-based discrimination. We can be reached at 510-735-6316 or alternatively, you may complete an intake form.

The culture of fear brought on after the events of September 11, 2001, has given rise to more incidents of religious discrimination. In EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc., the Supreme Court recently upheld that a young woman was the victim of wrongful discrimination when she was denied employment for wearing her hijab in the workplace, because it did not comply with the employer’s “look policy.” was wrongfully discriminated against. In California, persons of a particular faith have a right to express their beliefs and to follow their religious practices without interference by their employers, including those expressed in dress and grooming. Other common methods of discrimination include: negative comments about an employee’s personal religious beliefs; trying to convert them to a certain religious ideology; or refusing to accommodate a required religious method of dress, absent compelling reasons that would make the company unable to accommodate such a request, e.g. safety or other legitimate concerns.

Following the recent attacks in Paris and the shooting in San Bernardino in 2015, Islamophobia is becoming increasingly rampant. In December of 2015 there were numerous unrelated acts of islamophobic attacks being reported across the U.S. At Lake Chabot, a park in California, police claim that a group of Muslim men praying peacefully in a park in the East Bay were verbally harassed, and then assaulted, by a female government worker who had decided they must be terrorists. According to reports, the confrontation ended when she threw hot coffee in the face of one of the men. Similarly, a male customer in New York City burst into an anti-Muslim rant, breaking glass and slapping a staff member who tried to calm him. There was an arson attack at a Somali coffee shop in North Dakota, and a sixth-grader in the Bronx was kicked, harassed and called “ISIS” by her classmates, while in Florida two women were chased with knives. As the political rhetoric becomes ever more thoughtless and incendiary, such incidents may increase.

When this anti-Muslim sentiment, or other prejudicial treatment based on religious bias, trickles into the workplace and creates tension that results in disparate treatment, acts of racially biased retaliation and/or discrimination towards an employee perceived to be Muslim, the employee who suffers such discrimination is protected under the law.

Regardless of what religion a person practices, he or she should be free of such treatment in the workplace. Should you be suffering any form of faith-based discrimination at the hands of a supervisor or co-workers, contact Lazear Mack at 510-735-6316 or use our online intake form to obtain an evaluation of your individual situation. Our experienced employment attorneys can help you evaluate your claims.

Sexual harassment is perhaps the most well known of the varieties of unlawful harassment, with most workers all too aware that the crude jokes, desktop pornography, or other inappropriate interactions that have become so familiar in the employment lexicon are unlawful. While great strides have been made in preventing inappropriate and unwelcome office interactions between men and women since the issue came to a head in the seventies, the rate of suits being filed continues at much too steady a pace to begin patting ourselves on the back for solving the problem. Most businesses have developed policies to dissuade sexual harassment, encouraging those who feel that they have been targeted to report the offenders to a supervisor or to HR, which allows employers to correct the problem short of an employee bringing litigation against them. But in spite of these efforts, it is often the case that the memo has not yet been received. It continues in part because there are those who simply cannot or will not control their impulses, and in part because many women who are subjected to this treatment are extremely hesitant to come forward, particularly if they otherwise like their jobs.

If you have been the recipient of unwanted advances, inappropriate comments or touching, by a person of either the opposite sex or the same sex, or have been made to feel uncomfortable on the job due to an overly charged and sexually tense atmosphere, contact an employment attorney at Lazear Mack. We can be reached at 510-735-6316 or alternatively, you may complete an online intake form.

It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate in terms of compensation, conditions, or privileges of employment because of pregnancy. So if you find yourself pregnant and are afraid of losing your job, know your rights.

In California, the law requires an employer to grant an employee’s request for reasonable accommodation for a condition related to pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition, upon the advice of her physician. The accommodation may include a transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position if the transfer can be reasonably accommodated. An employee in California is also entitled to up to four months leave, in conjunction with the pregnancy.

Employers with five or more employees are bound by this California law, and must provide reasonable advance notice of these rights to their pregnant workers. Employers are also prohibited from retaliating against employees for exercising their rights under the law.

Provided you have worked in a job for at least twelve (12) months (they need not be consecutive), you are protected against discrimination should you exercise your right to take leave under Federal or State law. More can be found on this issue here.

You should contact an attorney if you have recently taken maternity leave, and returned to your job, only to find that one or more of the following is suddenly true:

  • your position has changed to one that is not comparable in responsibility
  • the tasks you performed are now being done almost exclusively by a co-worker
  • your pay has decreased
  • a co-worker has taken over most of your duties permanently or is retaining many aspects of your position
  • you are told your job “is being phased out” but another person has been given your position.
  • you are fired shortly after you return to work, or while on maternity leave

If you have experienced any combination of the above, or a variation on that theme, and believe your rights have been ignored by your employer, contact Lazear Mack for an evaluation of your claims at 510-735-6316 or use our online intake form to obtain an evaluation of your individual situation.

While Federal law may remain behind the times in this area, in California it is unlawful to be discriminated against for being lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender. Any harassment or differential treatment based on someone’s perceived or actual gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, or heterosexual orientation may be grounds for an action for discrimination under California law. Examples of differential treatment might be an employer asking questions about someone’s sexual history or their sexual orientation, and then failing to promote, or even terminating that person after finding out they may be gay; comments on the job by supervisors referencing their LGBT status in a negative fashion; or treating non-LGBT staff more favorably in the workplace. Further, with the recent SCOTUS ruling on same-sex marriage (Obergefell), the following changes to the law are important to note:

FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) rights must be recognized for same sex couples and their families.

Discrimination based on Marital Status – In California, marital status discrimination is protected, thus recognition of same-sex marriages will confer the same protections to those couples.

Employee Benefits Obergefell provides for nationally recognized and uniform treatment of marriages, allowing companies to adjust benefit plans under ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code, which provides significant tax benefits to same-sex couples that were not provided before, augmenting the 2013 SCOTUS ruling in United States v. Windsor, which mandated that same sex marriages were to be recognized for federal tax purposes. With the decision in Obergefell, states must now follow suit, and recognize same-sex spouses for state tax purposes as well.

Insurance – In addition, employers’ state insurance plans should now begin to offer same-sex spouses the same coverage and benefits offered to opposite-sex couples.

If you have been denied any of the benefits due you under the law, or are experiencing disparate or discriminatory treatment at work, contact Lazear Mack for an evaluation of your situation. We can be reached at 510-735-6316 or you may wish to complete an intake form.

In California, being transgender also puts you in a protected class, so you may have rights you can exercise as a result of discrimination. As a transgender or gender-nonconforming person, you can seek protection from the following forms of discrimination, which are prohibited by law:

  • A transgender person cannot be fired or harassed for being transgender, made to dress to conform to the sex assigned them at birth, or refused consideration for a position, in the course of his or her employment.
  • A transgender person cannot be discriminated against when applying for housing; nor can a person be evicted for being transgender.
  • A transgender person may use the restroom appropriate to the gender with which he or she identifies in all businesses open to the public, such as restaurants, office buildings, and entertainment venues. This rule also applies to using the restrooms at his or her place of employment.
  • A transgender person cannot be denied treatment on the basis of being transgender by a physician or hospital.
  • A transgender person applying for housing or accommodations in a shelter that is run by a religious institution* cannot be refused housing on the basis of being transgender.
  • In California’s public schools, transgender students must be treated as the gender with which they identify in manner of dress, inclusion in sports and school programs and the use of bathroom facilities consistent with their expressed gender identities.

*It should be noted that there are exceptions granted to some religious organizations and educational organizations, and these institutions may currently refuse to employ members of the LGBT community as a whole.

If you have experienced what you believe is discrimination based on your transgender status, call Lazear Mack for an evaluation of your claims. We can be reached at 510-735-6316 or alternatively, you may complete an intake form.

There have been numerous reports in the media about employees who have reported unethical or illegal acts they have witnessed occurring in their places of business. Incidents of fraud and corruption in your place of business may have encouraged you to report these circumstances to the appropriate government authority. Or perhaps you have witnessed unsafe working conditions and wish to report those conditions to OSHA before anyone gets seriously hurt. If you wish to take these steps, you are protected from retaliation under Federal and/or State whistleblower laws.

Workers who come forward with reports of employer fraud and misconduct often face the threat of retaliation by their employers for their “whistleblowing” activity, as employers, upset with the threat of legal action to correct these problems, often respond to such complaints with actions like termination, demotion, a decreased quality of working conditions or various other forms of unlawful retaliation.

If your conscience has put you in this position, and you wish to act on your desire to expose illegalities you have witnessed, it is best to contact an attorney before doing so. You should know your potential for exposure, plan for potential retaliation, and learn what steps are lawful and which are not, as you proceed to inform the appropriate agency of the wrongdoing. While you are protected against retaliation, that fact may not be of much consolation while you seek other employment.

If you have already taken the action, and now find yourself in hot water at work, contact an attorney to find out where you stand legally. While it is best to consult with an attorney beforehand, you may still have protections under the law that you can exercise. So if your conscience has already gotten the better of you, and you now find yourself on the receiving end of a pink slip, contact Lazear Mack today. We can be reached at 510-735-6316 or alternatively, you may complete an intake form online.

*

Termination and Severance Issues

Absent a contract to the contrary, most employment relationships in California are considered to be “at-will.”

From the Governor’s office:

“California’s Labor Code specifies that an employment relationship with no specified duration is presumed to be employment ‘at-will.’ This means, at least in theory, that the employer or employee may terminate the employment relationship at any time, with or without cause. There are exceptions to the at-will rule created by statute, the courts or public policy.”

There are some exceptions. For example, you may have been terminated in favor of a younger employee. If your age can be proven to be the sole motivating factor, you may have a claim. If you are the only person of color at your place of business, and others of different races or national origins were repeatedly promoted and you were overlooked, there may be a pattern of discrimination tied into your dismissal. There are circumstances to look for surrounding your employment relationship and subsequent termination that can give rise to a legal claim that you have been wrongfully discharged.

If you believe you may have a claim of discrimination against a protected class, and that is tied into your dismissal, contact our offices so that we can help you determine what your best course of action may be. A member of our Lazear Mack team is manning the phones at 510-735-6316 weekdays, or alternatively, you may complete an online intake form.

Whether you are a new hire questioning an employment contract, or a recently terminated employee attempting to better the terms of your severance agreement with your soon-to-be-former employer, the attorneys at Lazear Mack can help you navigate the conditions of whatever contract has been presented to you. While we cannot guarantee a specific outcome, we can assist you to understand fully the legal ramifications that may be contained in any documents you may be asked to sign, and we have been successful in negotiating to improve severance packages in many cases. Before you agree to terms you question, or might find unfavorable in the future, it is always best to consult an attorney. We can be reached at 510-735-6316 or alternatively, you may complete an online intake form.

*

Medical Leave and ADA Violations

In this state, employers with over 50 employees are bound by the federal Family Medical Leave Act and California’s Family Rights Act. The CFRA, and the FMLA, provide similar protections to employees needing family or medical leave. The CFRA generally provides that it is unlawful for an employer to refuse an employee’s request for up to twelve weeks of unpaid “family care and medical leave” in a year. An employer is also forbidden from discharging or discriminating against an employee who requests family leave or medical leave. “Family care and medical leave” includes “[l]eave because of an employee’s own serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of the position of that employee….” “Serious health condition” means “an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves (1) inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential health care facility, or (2) continuing treatment or continuing supervision by a health care provider.”

If you have requested time off to recover from illness or care for a loved one and that leave has been refused, or you have been terminated as a result of the request, then your employer may have violated the law, if your employer falls within the scope of either the FMLA or CFRA legislation. If you aren’t sure, consult an attorney. Lazear Mack will be happy to discuss the facts surrounding your potential claim and give you a better understanding of what remedies you may have at your disposal. We can be reached at 510-735-6316, or if you would prefer, you may complete an online intake form.

Please see our FAQ for more detailed descriptions of the laws surrounding medical leave and your protections.

In addition to being eligible for protected leave under the foregoing federal and State laws, persons with disabilities are covered by Title I of the American’s with Disabilities Act. The legislation currently covers employers with fifteen (15) or more employees. The ADA prohibits discrimination in all employment practices, including job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. It applies to recruitment, advertising, tenure, layoff, leave, fringe benefits, and all other employment-related activities.

Failure to accommodate reasonable requests for accommodation, hiring practices that fail to consider qualified individuals due to a disability, or other such discriminatory practices are unlawful.

If you believe you have been discriminated against, it may be time to contact a qualified employment attorney. Contact Lazear Mack for an evaluation of your claims. We can be reached at 510-735-6316 or alternatively, you may complete an online intake form.

*

Wage and Hour Violations

For decades, Arthur W. Lazear and Morgan M. Mack have represented employees against companies that have failed properly to appreciate and adequately pay their workforces. Often employers can mistreat their staff, failing to pay appropriate overtime, denying benefits or ignoring contractual obligations of employment. When those situations arise, it may be necessary to bring in an attorney who can negotiate the path forward to the best possible resolution.

Many believe that being paid a salary is sufficient to classify a worker as exempt, and thus not entitled to receive overtime compensation. This misunderstanding comes from a requirement of certain overtime exemptions in California law that require that an exempt employee be paid a salary. The salaried worker requirement is simply one of many criteria which must be met in order to classify employees as exempt from overtime and minimum wage laws, but salary alone does not constitute an exemption. The fact is that many people who are paid a salary are actually entitled to overtime.

Other myths that circulate around workplaces in California are that employees are not entitled to overtime if they work in any type of “white collar” job, or supervise two people. While it can be true in the right circumstances, the requirements surrounding “Professional Exemption” and “Executive Exemption” are meant to apply primarily to professionals with advanced professional educations, or mangers with real supervisory capacity or a stake in the business itself, e.g., doctors, lawyers, certified public accountants, etc., and there are also regulations allowing for the exemption of some highly paid persons in the Information &Technology sector. These people are presumably highly motivated to put in those extra hours, as they may stand to reap a long-term financial gain for such efforts. These exemptions are not generally meant to apply to the workforce-at-large, whose only compelling interest in the company’s well being is the paycheck they receive for their labors.

Interpreting and applying California’s “exemption” regulations properly can be extremely complicated, and often multiple tests must be applied to place an employee in a legitimate “exempt” classification. As both employees and employers often do not always understand the laws in their entirety, it is not uncommon for an employer to handle the matter of overtime and meal breaks incorrectly, and for their employees to go along believing erroneously that they are being properly compensated.

If you are in doubt about your current employment situation and rate(s) of pay, contact an employment attorney. Depending on the size of your claim and the complexities of recovering the wages due you, the team at Lazear Mack can either litigate the matter in court or assist you by getting you started with filing a claim with the proper state and/or federal agencies. We can be reached at 510-735-6316 or alternatively, you may complete an online intake form.

California passed a Mandatory Sick Leave policy that went into affect in July 2015. The text of the law reads:

ENTITLEMENT:

  • An employee who, on or after July 1, 2015, works in California for 30 or more days within a year from the beginning of employment is entitled to paid sick leave.
  • Paid sick leave accrues at the rate of one hour per every 30 hours worked, paid at the employee’s regular wage rate. Accrual shall begin on the first day of employment or July 1, 2015, whichever is later.
  • Accrued paid sick leave shall carry over to the following year of employment and may be capped at 48 hours or 6 days. However, subject to specified conditions, if an employer has a paid sick leave policy, paid leave policy or paid time off policy (PTO) that provides no less than 24 hours or three days of paid leave or paid time off, no accrual or carry over is required if the full amount of leave is received at the beginning of each year in accordance with the policy.

USAGE:

  • An employee may use accrued paid sick days beginning on the 90th day of employment.
  • An employer shall provide paid sick days upon the oral or written request of an employee for themselves or a family member for the diagnosis, care or treatment of an existing health condition or preventive care, or specified purposes for an employee who is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
  • An employer may limit the use of paid sick days to 24 hours or three days in each year of employment.

Retaliation or discrimination against an employee who requests paid sick days or uses paid sick days or both is prohibited. An employee can file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner against an employer who retaliates or discriminates against the employee.

California’s vacation pay and “comp time” policies are complex. In general, vacation granted under the policy established at a place of business will accrue over time as the employee continues to work at a company (for example, if a vacation policy gives an employee ten days of vacation each year, he or she will accrue five days of vacation after working for six months). Employers can place caps on accrued vacation once an employee reaches a specified amount of time allotted, but an employer cannot require you to forfeit vacation time that you have earned but not used. It is permissible for employers to designate a waiting period at the beginning of employment before vacation starts to accrue. The waiting period often correlates with the 90-day introductory period, but can be as long as the first year of employment.

Comp time is allowable in California, but only under strict compliance with state guidelines. Such compensation must be requested in writing by the employee; there must be a written agreement entered into by employee and employer prior to the work being performed; and it must be given to employees at a rate of time-and-one-half of their current rate of pay. The latter requirement is a step often missed by employers. Further, at the time of termination, the value of unused vacation pay, and any unused comp time that has accrued, must be paid out to the employee.

Should you believe your employer’s vacation and/or leave policies to be unlawful, contact Lazear Mack at 510-735-6316 for an evaluation, or complete an online intake form.

In addition to being used to describe an employee as “exempt” from overtime, “mis-classification” is also used to describe an employer’s practice of incorrectly identifying, or “classifying” its workers as independent contractors, rather than as employees for the purpose of minimizing payroll and other associated costs. Whether the company incorrectly claims its employees are “independent contractors”(often, in reality, they are merely employees without benefits) or it is misusing its “interns” as a form of unpaid employee, both scenarios are unlawful. During the past decade, employers have utilized both techniques on a massive scale, inadvertently or deliberately engaging in the underpayment of thousands of American workers.

Employers who misclassify their employees as independent contractors are able to escape significant tax liability for payroll, social security, Medicare, and other related taxes. If they have an established health-care benefit for their employees, they can avoid paying that as well, by augmenting the workforce with these not so “independent” contractors. They also often unlawfully require the employee to assume many of the costs of doing business. With fewer expenses, the profit margins increase, as many are thus able to sell their products or services at a lower price than the competition, who is likely complying with the law.

According to the Economic Policy Institute:

Numerous state-level studies show that between 10 and 20 percent of employers misclassify at least one worker as an independent contractor. Independent contractor (IC) misclassification occurs when a worker who should be considered a direct employee of a business – and receive a W-2 form to file with tax returns – mistreated as a self-employed, “independent” contractor, and receives a 1099-MISC (miscellaneous income) form instead. The overall numbers have likely increased in recent years as workers in such traditional industries as construction, trucking, and stagecraft have been joined by a growing cadre of “on-demand workers,” who often get their assignments via the Internet (Weber and Silverman 2015). Independent contractors working in the on-demand economy include technical workers, house cleaners, drivers, and scores of others – some of whom are misclassified employees. All independent contractors, in old or new industries, are ineligible for benefits such as the minimum wage, overtime pay, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation.

The issues are complex, but at the heart of them lays the primary issue of control. If you must comply with various rules and regulations from the employer in your day-to-day work, and your hours, procedures and workload are all dictated by the employer, then you are likely an employee who has been misclassified as independent, and should contact an experienced employment attorney. Lazear Mack has decades of experience litigating class actions and multi-district litigations, as well as individual claims on these issues. We can be reached at 510-735-6316 or alternatively, you may complete an online intake form.

*

Class Actions

Class Actions, a form of Complex Litigation, is a legal procedure used for cases in which large groups of people find themselves with the same or very similar claims against the same party. Rather than litigate each of their complaints individually, the courts allow for a joining of all parties in a class.

Continue to Types of Class Action Claims

If you work for a large corporation or other company that you believe is regularly engaging in practices that violate Federal or California labor law, and are unsure of where you stand legally, you may wish to call one of our attorneys at Lazear Mack. Decades of practice in this area have resulted in our garnering significant expertise in the area of “class action” law. With our abundance of litigation experience, Lazear Mack will be able to help you determine what remedies may be available to you in any given situation. Whether your case involves discrimination, working off the clock, charge-back disagreements within a salesforce team, or another area of employer misconduct, our attorneys have the experience to navigate the law on the employees’ behalf, to represent you on your grievances and achieve a just result whenever possible.

As an example, the staff at Lazear Mack have long battled employers’ discrimination against employees based upon their pension benefit rights. It is an unfortunate fact that employers’ efforts to reduce operating costs often result in cheating their employees out of promised benefits. For example, under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and various provisions of California law, it is unlawful for an employer to target employees for termination or prevent an employee from collecting benefits simply based upon their entitlement or approaching entitlement to a pension, or their need for health care related to certain pre-existing medical conditions. It is also unlawful for an employer to misappropriate an employee’s vested pension funds. The law surrounding employee benefit plans is enormously complex, so if you are concerned your employer may be breaking the laws regarding fair administration of employee benefits, contact Lazear Mack today. If you wish to determine if you have a claim, the staff at Lazear Mack can be reached at 510-735-6316 or alternatively, you may complete an online intake form.

It happens every day – goods or services you bought do not perform as promised. Perhaps you received a charge on your bank statement, credit card or telephone bill that you did not authorize. Perhaps you purchased goods advertised as “all natural” and you find out they contain chemicals that were not disclosed in advertising for that product. You may have been prescribed a new medication that had unanticipated side effects. You may have called the vendor to complain, but the voice of one individual alone rarely gets the attention of a large corporation.

You are likely not alone in your frustration, and the companies whose products and services were defective, or contained hidden scams, may very well have known exactly what they were doing wrong. They may only be cheating each of us out of a few dollars at a time, but they may be stealing millions from thousands of consumers like you across the State of California and the country at large. If a major corporation has made promises it has not kept with respect to the goods and services it has promised to provide to you and its other customers, and you are fed up, you do not have to stand for it. Call Lazear Mack, we have decades of experience with class action and multi-district litigation. For questions on these issues, or to determine if you have a claim, the staff at Lazear Mack can be reached at 510-735-6316 or alternatively, you may complete an online intake form.

There are state and federal laws that attempt to address pay inequality, including the California Equal Pay Act (“CA EPA”) and the almost identical federal Equal Pay Act. However, the California Labor Code provisions codifying the CA EPA (which was first enacted in 1949 and last amended in 1985) contained out-of-date terms and loopholes that made it difficult to enforce in practice. For example, the CA EPA’s “same establishment” provision could prevent a woman who works at a facility in Oakland, from comparing her pay to that of a man who works in the same position and for the same company, but at a facility in San Francisco.

The ambiguous and overly expansive “any bona fide factor other than sex” defense allowed employers to rely on after-the-fact and irrelevant non-sex-based factors to explain away pay discrimination. In addition, while other Labor Code provisions prohibit retaliation against employees for “disclosing” their own wages, there was no specific protection for inquiring about the wages of other employees, even if the purpose of the inquiry is to exercise one’s right to be paid equally for equal work.

Equal Pay Act – SB 358

A new law was signed by Governor Brown in 2015, SB 358. It effectively closes the loopholes discussed above by amending the CA EPA of 1949. It does so in the following ways:

Ensuring that employees performing substantially equivalent work are paid fairly by requiring equal pay for work “of comparable character” and eliminating the outdated “same establishment” requirement;

Clarifying the employee’s and employer’s burden of proof under CA EPA;

Preventing reliance on irrelevant and ill-defined “factors other than sex” to justify unfair pay differentials by replacing “bona fide factor other than sex” with more specific affirmative defenses;

Discouraging pay secrecy by explicitly prohibiting retaliation or discrimination.

If you, or someone you know, is experiencing sex based wage discrimination, call an experienced employment attorney. We have over 35 years of experience fighting for employee rights. For questions on these issues, or to determine if you have a claim, the staff at Lazear Mack can be reached at 510-735-6316 or alternatively, you may complete an online intake form.

*

General Civil Litigation

There are many services available online which attempt to provide clients with ready-made form contracts to utilize when entering into one of the various agreements we make with one another when undertaking a joint business venture. While these basic documents do contain some provisions that may be helpful, it is often the case that people who attempt to craft a legal agreement without the advice of an attorney, leave something out, often something critical that is necessary to protect them from future misunderstandings.

Unfortunately, when these clients call us it is too late. They are now in the position of having failed to provide themselves with protection for an eventuality they did not see coming. As a result, they’ve been sued over the disagreements that arise in such circumstances, and they now face paying an attorney an hourly rate to defend the lawsuit. These lessons are expensive ones, costing tens of thousands more than the initial investment spent on obtaining the advice of an experienced attorney beforehand. Contracts are among the most complex areas of the law, and it is never a good idea to attempt to draft one for oneself. If you find yourself in need of a business contract, call an attorney to craft the agreement, or at the very least, review it for you. If you have already entered into such a contract, it is still advisable to have a lawyer review it, as there may still be steps you can take to better protect yourself from future misunderstandings and liability.

For contract drafting review, or assistance in the formulation of a binding agreement, contact Lazear Mack at 510-735-6316 or complete our online intake form.

Proper wages, classification of employees and other legal considerations are changing constantly. If you own a small business, or are in the process of starting one, you may wish to contact the experienced employment attorneys at Lazear Mack, to be sure that you are up to date with all recent changes to employment law.

For questions on these issues, or to determine if you have a claim, the staff at Lazear Mack can be reached at 510-735-6316 or alternatively, you may complete an online intake form.

The attorneys at Lazear Mack have decades of experience litigating major personal injury cases successfully. Should your case be a complex one, with significant injuries that may necessitate taking the case all the way to trial, our staff has the know-how to see it through. Whatever your situation may be, Lazear Mack will give your case a personalized advocacy that cannot be found in firms dedicated solely to churning out a large volume of small settlements. If you or a loved one has been injured severely in an accident, call Lazear Mack for an evaluation of the merits of your case. The staff at Lazear Mack can be reached at 510-735-6316 or alternatively, you may complete an online intake form.