Employment law, also referred to as labor law, is the broad area of law that governs the rights and duties between employers, employees, and independent contractors. Employment law creates specific guidelines that employers and employees must follow.  

What Can a California Employment Lawyer Do For You?

California law is more generous to employees than federal law. In other words, California employees are afforded more protection than any other employee in the nation. They enjoy rights and benefits with regard to wages, rest breaks, meal breaks, and heightened protections against discrimination, harassment, paid time off, sick leave, maternity/paternity leave, privacy, among other employer/employee relations.
 
Employment law attorneys either represent employers and managers or employees, independent contractors, and unions. Employment attorneys advise their clients on the legal standards for different areas of law. For example, if an employee is suing her boss for sexual harassment, the attorney representing the employee would advise the employee as to whether she meets the requirements to demonstrate she was sexually harassed. Similarly, the attorney representing the employer would defend against the claim of harassment by demonstrating that the employee is not being forthright, misinterpreted the employee’s conduct, or another defense.

What Areas of Law Does Employment Law Cover?

As stated above, labor law covers a number of different topics. Some examples of common disputes include the following:

  • Discrimination: This is the most common employee lawsuit filed against employers. Discrimination can include any act against a protected class, such as race, sex, nationality, religion, or sexual preference. Pursuant to California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”), California further extends protection against discrimination based on gender identity and expression, age (40 years old and above), disability, and marital status.
  • Harassment: Harassment includes any verbal or physical behavior that can be considered hostile, intimidating or offensive.  Harassment is unwelcome conduct from an employer to an employee or coworkers that is based the employee’s race, color, national origin, gender, age, marital status, family status, sexual orientation, genetic information, or disability. Harassment can include seemingly harmless behavior such as name-calling or joke-telling to other inappropriate behavior like showing offensive pictures, physical assaults, and verbal threats.
  • Retaliation: Retaliation often occurs after an employee exercises his or her legal right and is subsequently discharged. For instance, an employee who reports illegal activity committed by the employer and is subsequently fired because of the reporting has illegally retaliated against the employee.
  • Overtime: California overtime law has specific rate requirements. The overtime rate in California is one and one-half times the employee’s regular rate for every hour worked that exceeds 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week. Lawsuits for unpaid overtime are common labor lawsuits.

How Much Do Employment Lawyers in California Cost?

Between legal fees and court filings, employing an attorney can be costly. Attorneys can charge an hourly rate, which can range depending on experience and services provided (although expect to pay several hundred dollars per hour), whereas others charge on a contingent fee basis.

Contingent fee payment structure means that the attorney accepts a fixed percentage (typically around one-third) of her client’s recovery; however, if there is no recovery, the attorney isn’t paid and any litigation costs expended are out of the lawyer’s personal pocket. Others charge a flat fee, but this is rare in employment law cases given the complexity of the legal matters involved in labor lawsuits and the amount of litigation required to resolve these cases.

Where Can You Find the Right Attorney?

It’s hard to start and figure out where to find the right lawyer. Each case is different, and finding the right attorney that can handle all aspects of your case might take more time than you have. But if you submit a case through LegalMatch’s lawyer-client matching system, then you can find out if the right employment lawyer is near you without having to call and track down different attorneys.