Employment law is an umbrella term that is used to describe a broad range of legal issues associated with employees, employers, and workplace safety. An example of this would be how some employment laws may apply to a case involving employment discrimination, while other employment laws would be used to guide the process of drafting company policies or employee handbooks.
Employment law is intended to protect all who are part of the workforce. This generally includes, but may not be limited to:
- Establishing protection measures for employees disputing with a colleague, an employer, or a company;
- Enacting laws that prohibit employers from discriminating against prospective job candidates or current employees, during the interviewing, hiring, promoting, or terminating processes;
- Granting certain rights to workers who are self-employed, or are considered to be independent contractors; and
- Ensuring that volunteers and interns are protected against sexual harassment, discrimination, or retaliation in the workplace.
It is important to note that specific employment laws can vary widely from state to state. As such, the rights protected and provided by one state may not be provided and protected under the laws of another state. Additionally, some issues may be governed by both state and federal employment laws. An example of this would be pregnancy leave.
According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and the Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”), there are multiple ways in which to classify employees. These federal laws divide workers into two main categories of employment, which are employees and independent contractors. The groups contained within those two categories can be further categorized into various types of employment.
Some examples of the different types of employment include, but may not include:
- Full time or part time employment;
- Seasonal or temporary employment;
- Independent contractors;
- Consultants; and/or
- Temporary workers. This type of employment differs from that of a worker who is considered to be a temporary employee. An example of this would be how someone who works in a seasonal store would be considered a temporary employee, while temporary workers fill jobs as needed.
Knowing which specific type of employment a worker is categorized as is important for the employer as well as the employee themselves. This is because the kind of employment that a worker secures will determine the following:
- What kinds of benefits they are entitled to receive;
- What rights they are granted as a worker;
- Whether they qualify for certain perks; and
- What sort of tasks the employer will legally be obligated to do, such as withholding income taxes.
What Services Do Santa Cruz Employment Lawyers Provide?
An employment lawyer is an attorney who specializes in employment law. They can represent both employees and employers in cases involving both state and federal employment law. Employment lawyers ensure that all categories of employees are treated in a fair and consistent manner, and that employers comply with all of the local, state, and federal laws that may apply to them.
Some specific examples of services that Santa Cruz employment lawyers provide include, but may not be limited to:
- Drafting and reviewing employee handbooks;
- Assisting with wage law issues;
- Providing guidance related to employee’s rights when an employee alleges that their rights have been violated; and
- Representing employees or employers before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”).
Employment lawyers address a wide of variety of employment-related legal issues, including but not limited to:
- Wrongful termination;
- Workplace discrimination;
- Sexual harassment;
- Contract violations;
- Issues involving employee benefits, such as health insurance and retirement savings plans; and
- Whistleblower protection.
What Are Some Common Employment Law Disputes in Santa Cruz?
One common employment law dispute is associated with how a worker is classified. When a worker is not properly categorized, they could be missing out on rights and protections that they are legally entitled to. Employers may intentionally miscategorize employees in order to avoid paying taxes and providing benefits.
Generally speaking, the determining factor is how much control the worker has over their work. An example of this would be if the worker has authority over the work that they do, and the ways in which that work is completed. That worker is more likely to be categorized as an independent contractor, not an employee.
Employers must comply with specific federal regulations for employees. This can include withholding income taxes from employee paychecks, as well as ensuring that employees are paid at a rate that at least meets minimum wage standards.
Alternatively, employers do not need to provide employee benefits or withhold income taxes from the paychecks of an independent contractor. While employers can be held liable for the actions of their employees, they generally cannot be held liable for the actions of an independent contractor.
Other common employment law disputes are associated with an employee’s legal rights. Some examples of these rights include:
- The right to privacy;
- The right to be free from discrimination;
- The right to fair compensation; and
- Any other right which is provided by an employment law.
Many of these rights intend to protect the well-being and safety of employee conditions in the workplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) is responsible for enforcing laws and policies that protect employees from dangerous conditions and unsafe work environments.
An example of this would be if an employer refuses to fix equipment or to repair a building. This eventually develops into an issue which exposes their employees to toxic chemicals. An employee whose health has been affected by these chemicals, resulting from their employer’s failure to provide a safe work environment, can submit a complaint to OSHA. OSHA will then investigate the complaint in order to determine whether they will issue sanctions against the employer.
How Can I Find a Santa Cruz Employment Lawyer? How Much Do Employment Lawyers Cost in Santa Cruz?
There are several ways that you can find a Santa Cruz employment lawyer. You could ask people you know and trust if they have an attorney that they recommend. Another way to find a Santa Cruz employment lawyer is through the Santa Cruz County Bar Association. The SCCBA maintains a lawyer referral service for area attorneys who are available to take on your case.
Another way to find an employment lawyer would be to conduct an internet search using specific terms. When looking for a Santa Cruz employment lawyer, you may want to use one or all of the following suggested search terms:
- Santa Cruz employment lawyers;
- Employment lawyer sta cruz;
- Employment attorney sta cruz; and/or
- Labor lawyer sta cruz
These terms will help ensure you receive the most relevant suggestions for your search.
How much an attorney costs will vary according to many different factors. Some examples of such factors include:
- The attorney’s chosen fee structure;
- The attorney’s experience; and
- Whether the attorney will be the only person working on your case.
Generally speaking, a Santa Cruz employment lawyer will cost between $164 and $422 per hour.
Should I Hire a Santa Cruz Employment Law Attorney to Handle My Case?
If you are experiencing legal issues associated with your employment, and you live in Santa Cruz, CA, you should consult with an experienced local Santa Cruz employment lawyer. An attorney will be best suited to helping you understand your rights and legal options, as well as the labor laws of Santa Cruz, CA. Finally, an attorney will also be able to represent you in court, as needed.