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Los Angeles Employment Law Blog

4 steps to completing a wage claim in California

If you've been questioning whether your employer is paying you appropriately, you need to look into your options. Wage claims are a way for you to file a claim about missing or stolen wages, so that you can obtain the right amount of payment from your employer. To make a claim, California law requires you to file a complaint through the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, also known as the DLSE.

Before you can do this, you'll need to collect some evidence. There is a process you need to complete to show that you are entitled to the payment you're seeking. Here are a few things to do.

Defending yourself against discrimination: Your rights at work

Discrimination has no place in a work environment. You should be able to go to work each day confident that you're not being discriminated against or facing struggles due to your age, skin color or other protected factors.

There are numerous types of workplace discrimination that you could fall victim to. Fortunately, they're easy to recognize, so you can immediately report them and get better control of the situation.

Bonus disputes: Getting what you deserve

You wait for a bonus every year right around Christmas. Everyone in the company gets one, but no one really talks about how much the bonus is. It's supposed to be standard based on the number of years you've been with the company.

You and a coworker have been there together since day 1. Since you're friendly with one another, you chatted about your bonuses. You have the same jobs, but you got less than a coworker despite working more hours and taking on more responsibility throughout the year. What happened? Should you just be happy with what you have?

Maintain independent records to avoid employer wage theft

You work hard for your employer, and you deserve to receive the fair and full amount of wages for your time and labor. You may think that as long as you remember to clock in and out at the right time, that you will receive the appropriate level of pay for your time.

Sadly, some employers don't feel the same way. There are managers or even companies who intentionally attempt to underpay staff. One common means of underpaying workers may involve changing time clock records to slightly reduce the number of hours and minutes an employee gets paid for in any given pay period. While a couple of hours or a few minutes may not seem like much, they can actually add up to a large sum over time and across multiple staff members.

Commission payments should be carefully scrutinized

Employees work hard for the money they earn. For employees who count on commission payments, these payments need to come in on time and in the correct amount. Unfortunately, this doesn't always happen. Sometimes, employers make mistakes with calculations, but this might come down to willful refusal to pay employees what they are due.

The commissions have to be calculated based on the employment contract that the employee has with the company. Employee who rely on commissions for part or all of their income should understand the type of commission they receive. Additionally, they should keep a few tips in mind about tracking these payments.

Workplace retaliation: Things you need to know

It doesn't matter if you enjoy the people you work with or don't exactly get along, it's important to understand that you have legal rights at your place of employment.

For example, EEO laws are in place to help protect job applicants and employees against retaliation for the following:

  • Filing an EEO charge or complaint
  • Being part of an EEO lawsuit or investigation
  • Communicating with a manager, supervisor or HR professional about matters of discrimination and harassment
  • Refusing sexual advances
  • Requesting accommodation for a religious practice or disability

Can your employer make you work overtime "off the clock"?

Companies that hire staff on an hourly basis often carefully monitor their staffing costs. In retail settings, like restaurants and stores, the company may create staffing estimates based on the sales on the same day in the previous year. Managers will create a schedule that reflects that estimate and then call in additional workers if needed or send staff home when it's slow. They may specifically send home workers who are closer to reaching the 40 hour mark for the week to avoid overtime pay.

It is perfectly legal to carefully schedule workers to avoid overtime pay. It's also legal to restrict overtime hours. Sometimes, however, unscrupulous managers will try to manipulate workers in unpaid overtime labor. These managers may ask workers to clock out and then continue working. When that happens, employees need to stand up for themselves and refuse to work without adequate overtime compensation.

Breastfeeding or pumping moms deserve protection at work

Most women know that pregnancy is a protected medical condition. Under both federal and state laws, women expecting children have the right to take medical leave, as well as the right to reasonable accommodations by their employers so that they can continue to work during pregnancy. After maternity leave, new mothers also have the right to return to the same position they held before their medical leave.

Fewer new mothers realize that their rights to breastfeed their babies or to pump breast milk for them are also protected under federal law. Breastfeeding is widely considered the best nutritional option for infants, as long as their mothers are able to do so. It is associated with better immune system development and even higher IQs in the children as they mature. It only makes sense that there are protections in place to encourage mothers to nurse or provide breast milk for their babies after they are born.

These tips can help you negotiate a severance package

Even when the economy seems to be doing well, some companies still choose to downsize or reorganize and reduce their workforce. If you have seen a few colleagues already receive their invitations to leave the company, you could be feeling some anxiety that you might be next. The next time the boss calls you into her officer, she might be doing so to let you go.

If you are worried that you might be the next lay off at work, you might be wondering if you are in a position to negotiate a severance package. The following tips can help you through the process.

Are you protected if you blow the whistle on your employer?

Imagine that you have been working in the same office in Sherman Oaks for the last few years. Things were going well until a new manager came on board and starting making changes. You have started seeing things happen that do not seem right. Management has started firing good employees, taking short cuts where they shouldn't and even denying your own claim for medical leave.

There are certain laws in place to protect employees. There are wage laws that keep employers from using unfair pay practices. There are health and safety regulations with which every employer has to comply. And, there is the Family Medical Leave Act that your boss must also adhere to. When you see your supervisors or employer violate employment laws, it is within your rights to report it. You may be concerned with losing your job for filing a complaint, but there are whistleblower laws in place to protect you from that and any other retaliation.

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