You work hard for your paycheck, and every dollar counts. So you might be surprised to learn that getting underpaid is quite common, and not every employee realizes it’s happening. Employee rights lawyers recommend verifying the accuracy of every paycheck you receive before you deposit it. If you do think you’re being underpaid, talk to an employment law attorney in San Jose, CA right away.
Look for common pay stub errors.
Many different payroll errors can result in you receiving a smaller paycheck than you should. As you examine your pay stub each week, ask yourself the following questions.
- Are my hours correct?
- Is the rate of pay correct?
- Did I get paid time-and-a-half for overtime?
- Did my employer take out unusual deductions?
Report the mistake to human resources.
It’s possible that a too-small paycheck is simply due to a clerical error. Visit your company’s human resources department to discuss the issue. You have the right to request a timely payment of the money you’re owed. In most cases, your employer should include compensation in your next paycheck.
Maintain your own work records.
Whether or not you’ve previously detected paycheck errors, it’s good practice to retain your pay stubs and keep your own records. Keep a small notebook in your car or desk, and write down the times you arrive at work and leave each day. Add up the hours and make a note of whether you’re owed overtime pay.
Talk to a labor attorney.
Contact an employment lawyer, and schedule an initial consultation. Bring your recent pay stubs and any other relevant documents, such as your employment contract if you have one. Your lawyer will review these documents, explain the applicable labor laws, and discuss your options. In some cases, employers are more willing to pay what they owe their employees when they learn that a lawyer has been retained—even before an official complaint is filed. If you’re still denied the pay you’re entitled to, your employment attorney can file a lawsuit.
Talk to your co-workers.
Your lawyer may recommend that you speak privately with your co-workers to find out if they’re also being underpaid. You and your co-workers may pursue a collective action against the employer. In litigation, there can be strength in numbers.
Although employers are entitled to terminate employees for just cause, such as job performance, there are many reasons for firing someone that is not permitted under employment law. If you think that you have been the victim of wrongful termination , talk to an employee rights lawyer in San Jose to determine if your case meets the legal definition and what steps you should take next. Here is a look at some common questions employees have about wrongful termination.
What is wrongful termination?
Wrongful termination occurs when an employee is fired because of a reason that is not legally permitted. For instance, although your employer can terminate you because of poor job performance or because he or she wishes to downsize, you cannot be fired for your age, race, political views, gender identity, or pregnancy. Termination is considered to be wrongful if it either violates federal, state or local employment law or if it violates the terms of your employment contract. A labor attorney can tell you if your termination falls into this category.
How do I know why I was terminated?
Because you are employed at-will, you can be terminated without warning, unless you have a contract that states otherwise, and your employer does not have to give you a reason. Generally, in cases of wrongful termination, there was a pattern of discriminatory behavior that culminated in the firing. Your labor attorney will want to know information about your work environment if you’ve had performance warnings in the past, and what exactly happened when you were terminated.
What should I do if I believe I was wrongfully terminated?
If you think you were wrongfully terminated, document everything about the incident when it is fresh in your mind, and talk to an employee rights attorney. Your attorney will evaluate all of your evidence and determine if you should pursue legal action against for your former employer. You may seek damages for the impacts of the termination.
Employment laws apply not only to the treatment of employees but also to the application and hiring process. If you are an employer who is unsure of your responsibilities under the law or a prospective employee who believes your rights have been violated, speak to an employment law attorney in San Jose for insight into your case.
Employers cannot discriminate against job applicants for race, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, genetics, or age if the person is over 40. Employers also cannot consider stereotypes or assumptions about these groups during the hiring process. When a test is required during the hiring process, the test must be clearly related to the job and cannot exclude people based on any protected class. If a job applicant has a disability and requires an accommodation during the hiring process, the employer must provide it if it can be obtained without excessive hardship or expense. A labor attorney can provide employment law advice to applicants and employers to ensure that these rights are being honored appropriately.
Although women have made considerable strides toward greater equality in the workplace , civil rights attorneys in San Jose, CA would generally argue that significant disparity remains. Many women, for example, have sought employment law advice from their legal representatives regarding wage discrimination. Wage discrimination occurs when a female employee makes less than a male employee solely based on sex, and not because the female employee is less qualified or less educated.
You can hear more about this important issue when you watch this featured video or consult a labor attorney. You’ll learn about a study that reveals women tend to make just 75.5 cents for every dollar that men earn in similar positions. You’ll also hear from a trial attorney, who dispenses some invaluable employment law advice for women who are interested in learning more about their rights.
Hostile work environment is a term that you may have heard used on many different occasions, but in most instances, the workplaces people are describing do not actually meet the legal definition of hostile. If you do find yourself in a hostile workplace, help is available. Consult with a labor attorney in San Jose, CA to find out if your workplace meets the criteria for being considered a hostile work environment and what you can do to fight for your rights.
Characteristics of a Hostile Work Environment
A work environment in which you have a bad boss, lack of access to amenities, and coworkers who don’t help shoulder the burden of the work may be unpleasant, but it doesn’t legally qualify for a hostile work environment. To be considered a hostile work environment, your workplace must include a boss or coworker that interferes with your ability to do your job through discriminatory communication or behavior.
In other words, rude behavior does not make a work environment hostile, but sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination do. Although these discriminatory behaviors are themselves prohibited by law, when they are severe and occur for an extended period of time, they contribute to the creation of a hostile work environment.
Strategies for Overcoming a Hostile Work Environment
As a first step, it is generally recommended that employees who think that they have a hostile work environment address the issue with the offending party or with the human resources department. It can be helpful to keep a record of discriminatory behavior so you can provide specific instances. The person who is engaging in the hostile behavior should be notified in writing by human resources or a manager that his or her actions are unacceptable.
If the matter is not corrected internally, then bring your case to an employment law attorney. He or she will decide the best way for you to proceed to protect your rights. Keep in mind that whistleblower laws protect you from retaliation if you do file a complaint.
Wage theft occurs when an employee is underpaid or denied overtime pay to which they are entitled. Because there has been an increase in reports of wage theft, employment law attorneys in San Jose, CA and beyond have filed an increasing number of lawsuits.
Watch this video to learn more about wage theft and why there is an increase in these disputes. Although most people think of wage theft as a problem for minimum wage workers, it actually occurs across industries and sectors and happens to middle-class employees as well. If you think you could be the victim of wage theft, it is important to consult with a labor attorney as soon as possible. In the interim, keep careful records of your hours and pay, as this information could have your labor attorney establish a pattern of theft if you do file a case.
Federal and state laws protect workers from a number of different forms of discrimination in the workplace, including gender bias. If you think that your employer is biased against you on the basis of your gender, contact a labor attorney in San Jose, CA right away. If your rights have been violated, you could be eligible for compensation. What can you do to fight back if gender bias has infected your workplace? Try these strategies to take a stand.
Know the Signs
Gender bias can take many different forms. In some workplaces, women are passed over for promotions because they are pregnant or may become pregnant in the future. Some workplaces use disparaging language that targets people because of their gender, creating a hostile environment. Sexual harassment can be another form of gender discrimination. Gender bias can creep into hiring decisions, scheduling, titles, and pay in ways that are both large and small. Being aware of the red flags of gender discrimination can be the first step in fighting it.
If you see gender bias in the workplace, speak up against it. Report co-workers to supervisors, or report supervisors to the leaders over their heads. If you can’t find someone in the company that you feel comfortable taking your complaints to, talk to an employment law attorney. Speaking up is effective whether or not the bias is happening to you, and whistleblower laws protect you from retaliation.
Keep Careful Records
Keeping careful records of instances of gender bias in the workplace is extremely helpful if you decide to contact a labor attorney. Every time there is an incident, write down the date, time, circumstances, and people present. This record will help you establish a pattern of bias and determine who may have witnessed the incidents, in case your attorney needs to call on them when building a case. Your records will also help you report incidents accurately, even after time has passed.
The law offers protections for pregnant women from discrimination in the workplace. If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, knowing the signs of this kind of discrimination can help you ensure that your rights are being respected. If you do encounter a problem, contact a labor rights attorney in San Jose, CA , for assistance. An employment law attorney can evaluate your case and help you decide what steps to take next. Here are some of the signs that your employer could be engaging in pregnancy discrimination.
You were fired after becoming pregnant.
Being fired while you are pregnant is not always an indicator of discrimination, but if your pregnancy was all or part of the reason for your dismissal, you could have a wrongful termination lawsuit. No employer can fire a woman for being pregnant, even if he or she thinks that the job could be dangerous for the mother-to-be. In almost all cases, decisions about safety on the job for pregnant women are to be made solely by the woman and her doctor. Your labor rights attorney can help you determine if your pregnancy was the cause for your termination and if you can mount a legal case against your employer.
You didn’t get a job because of your pregnancy.
Employers cannot refuse to hire women just because they are pregnant when they apply for the job. Employers are also not allowed to not hire a woman because she may become pregnant in the future or skip over her for promotions in the workplace because she may become pregnant. A potential employer cannot ask you about your plans to become pregnant in the future as part of the interview process.
You aren’t receiving special accommodations.
Pregnancy is not a disability, but if you have complications during your pregnancy that affect your ability to work, your employer may be required to provide special accommodations to allow you to do your job. This is true if your company provides these accommodations for other employees with short-term medical needs, such as someone recovering from a heart attack who needs a less physically demanding job during his or her recovery. If your company has policies that allow for these accommodations for other medical needs, they may provide them to you for pregnancy complications as well.
Workplace discrimination can take many forms, from harassment because of age, religion, or gender to wrongful termination. A number of federal, state, and local laws protect you from being victimized by discrimination in the workplace, so if you feel that you have been a victim, bring your complaint to an employment rights lawyer in San Jose, CA , to see what your options are. Here is a look at the steps you can take if you believe you have been targeted for discrimination in the workplace.
Tell Your Employer
The first step in dealing with workplace discrimination is telling your employer what is happening. Your company may have specific protocols for reporting discrimination incidents, and if they do, you should follow them. Demand that a written report is made every time you tell your employer about a discriminatory incident to demonstrate that you expect your rights to be protected and to create a paper trail of your efforts to confront the issue. If your direct boss is the one who is doing the discriminating, consider going above his or her head to make your complaint. If there is no supervisor to go to, you may wish to go directly to an employment rights lawyer.
Document the Incidents
If ongoing discrimination is happening in your workplace, keep a diary of all of the incidents. Note the date, time, what you were doing, who was involved in the discrimination, and who may have witnessed the incident. If you are targeted with pictures or other objects that are meant to harass you or intimidate you, keep them, as they may be useful in your case. You can also take photos of where they were left for you to find and note if other employees were able to see them.
Contact an Attorney
An employment rights lawyer can be instrumental in ending the discrimination in your workplace and helping you get compensation, if appropriate. Your attorney can also review your case and determine how the law applies to the incidents you have experienced. Because workplace discrimination can be an emotionally trying experience, an attorney can be helpful in sorting through the events objectively to build an effective case.
The Law Office of Phillip J. Griego offers comprehensive employment law advice in San Jose, CA. Our labor attorney works closely with employers to conduct a thorough assessment of local companies and their unique compliance issues. Every company, whether large or small, should have a comprehensive employee handbook that details the company’s policies regarding training and other matters. With our reliable employment law advice, your company can adopt an easy-to-understand and legally compliant handbook of policies.
One area in which companies may run afoul of federal and state laws is the availability of training opportunities. That is, training events and other professional development opportunities cannot be denied to a particular employee on the basis of a protected class. Our labor attorney can help your company develop fully compliant training policies for other areas as well, such as policies that require all employees to undergo training on recognizing and preventing workplace harassment and other forms of discrimination.