Do I Have a Wrongful Termination Claim?

In California, most employment is at-will. This means that employees may be fired or quit their job for almost any reason. Yet, there are times when a worker may be let go in California and be eligible to file a wrongful termination claim. Here are a few of the most common reasons for a wrongful termination claim under California law.

Contractual Employment

If a worker is employed with a company through an employment contract, it’s likely that the contract includes a clause about how the employer can only fire the worker for “good cause” or for specific reasons (such as use of illegal drugs or stealing from the company). If a worker is fired in violation of the terms of the contract, they may have a wrongful termination claim.

California Employment Law Basics

Running a business in California can be, for lack of a better term, tricky business. With a seemingly infinite number of employment-related laws, many of which oftentimes appear to contradict each other, many small, medium, and large sized business owners are often left with more questions than answers. Here, we break down some of the basic employment laws in California. For an in-depth discussion, reach out to experienced legal counsel.

Employees vs Independent Contractors

Perhaps one of the biggest employment issues in the state, the issue of whether a worker is an employee or is not, continues to plague employers – to the point of litigation.

One Work Week is Six Days and a Day of Rest

California’s “Day of Rest” statute continues to plague employers, but a recent case brings with it some good news. Under California Labor Code section 550-558.1, an employer is prohibited “from ‘caus[ing] his employees to work more than six days in seven” unless “the total hours of employment do not exceed 30 hours in any week.”[1]

According to a California Supreme Court ruling that just came down the pipe, employees must average no less than one day of rest for every seven over the course of a calendar month, giving even more work-scheduling flexibility to employers.

Expanded Protections to Victims of Sexual Assault

Prior to AB 2337, a law that expands the rights of certain employees, victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking were protected if:

  • their employers retaliated against them,
  • they took time off,
  • they requested reimbursement for lost wages and work benefits, or
  • sought equitable relief from the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement as it related to their abuse, assault, or stalking.[1]

Things are changing, however, and, with the approval of AB 2337, victims now receive more extensive protection and information.

Bonuses, Overtime Pay, and Class Actions

Overtime pay, or the alleged lack thereof, is an issue we regularly see pop up in the California courts. While California employers generally recognize that non-exempt employees (e.g. many hourly employees) who work overtime must receive overtime premiums on their base pay, not all are aware that these premiums may also be required on other, “supplemental” aspects of compensation to nonexempt employees. A common example? Bonuses.

PAGA Claims: Arbitration Not Allowed

The California Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) authorizes aggrieved employees to file lawsuits to recover civil penalties on behalf of themselves, other employees, and the State of California for alleged Labor Code violations. In other words, PAGA gives a private citizen the right to pursue fines that would normally only be available to the State of California, thereby allowing a private citizen to act as an “attorney general”. Defending these claims can be time consuming and costly for employers, and a California appellate court recently made things even more challenging for business owners across the state when it affirmed that arbitration is not permitted for PAGA claims. Indeed, arbitration clauses are undergoing a change up in employment agreements across the state, read more here.

San Fernando Valley Business Journal Features RPNA’s Supreme Court Win

RPNA’s $89 million judgment in a landmark class action employment suit was highlighted in the February 6, 2017 issue of San Fernando Valley Business Journal. The article discusses the impact of the 5-2 decision—which was argued in front of the California Supreme Court by RPNA partners Drew Pomerance and Michael Adreani—on how California employers approach meal and rest breaks. Specifically, it clarifies and sets…

Tracking Employees Offline

Thanks to technology, employers are essentially now able to track an employee’s every move. Whether it be on the internet, on sales routes, or in a production center, technological advancements have made it easy to monitor an employee’s movements in ways that could only be imagined a couple of decades ago. As we have discussed in the past, there are benefits and risks to tracking an employee through GPS software.

Benefits of Employee Monitoring