Frequently Asked Questions
We have categorized our most frequently asked questions into the following sections for your convenience. If you have additional questions or need more information about your issue, please contact us for a free case evaluation.
How does a lawsuit work?
Often clients have many questions about how the legal process works. The following chronology explains how a lawsuit may typically work, although many factors may affect this timeline. Keep in mind that the process often varies from case to case depending on the number of parties, factual issues, legal issues and the overall complexity of the matter.
No, Erlich Law Firm is exclusively dedicated to protecting the rights of employees. Our clients are workers who have been treated wrongfully in the workplace. We help employees hold employers, corporations and government agencies accountable for their labor violations.
Learn more about employment lawyer Jason Erlich and his firm, Erlich Law Firm.
The California Labor Code states that all employees are assumed to be “at will.” This means that you or your employer may end the employment relationship for any reason at any time, even without warnings or serious performance problems. At-will employees are different from contract employees, whose contracts (often, a union agreement) may specify the conditions and circumstances under which a company may terminate the worker.
There are certain restrictions on what California employers can ask candidates during a job interview. Questions must be limited to seeking information about the individual’s background and skills in relation to the position for which they are applying. While some interview questions may seem harmless, they are unlawful.
Learn more about your rights pertaining to questions asked during a job interview.
If you receive a salary as a coder or programmer in California, you may not be exempt from overtime.
Non-exempt workers in California are paid overtime if they have worked in excess of eight hours in a workday or over 40 hours during one workweek.
Learn more about overtime pay in California.
Your employer must pay your earned commissions in a timely manner as outlined in your commission agreement.
Learn more about California's payday commission guidelines.
Wage theft occurs when employers fail to pay employees the wages they are owed. While it is a labor law violation, wage theft is widespread in California and viewed as a serious crime against employees.
Learn more about wage theft in California.
Under California law, employers must provide non-exempt employees with 10-minute rest breaks for every four hours they work.
Learn more about rest and meal breaks in the workplace in California.
Under California law, employees who are fired or laid off must be given their final paycheck immediately, on the same day as termination.
Learn more about your rights regarding your pay after a termination or resignation.
California employers must provide meal breaks to non-exempt employees who work a certain number of hours per day. Employees are entitled to a 30-minute meal period after working five hours in a single day.
Learn more about meal breaks.
Yes, California law requires employers to reimburse employees for certain work expenses incurred while doing their job.
Learn more about which expenses you can get reimbursement for.
No, it is unlawful for employers to fire workers for complaining about unpaid wages.
Learn more about your legal rights as an employee when it pertains to wages.
Under California law, an employer must reimburse an employee if they are required to use their personal vehicle for work-related tasks.
Learn more about mileage reimbursement.
California has set time limits for filing wage and hour claims. In most cases, the statute of limitations for overtime claims is three years.
Learn more about the statute of limitation for overtime claims.
The process of filing a wage theft claim against an employer can be a complicated one. Hiring an experienced employment lawyer increases your chances of obtaining just compensation and holding your employer accountable for their misconduct.
Learn more about why you should hire an employment lawyer when dealing with an unpaid wage claim.
Under California labor law, employees have the right to keep any tips they earn. It is illegal for employers, business owners and managers to withhold or deduct the tips you have earned from your paycheck.
Learn more about your rights when it comes to your tips.
An employee can receive several different forms of compensation when filing a claim for unpaid wages. The amount and types of damages vary based on the nature of the wage violation an employer has committed.
Learn more about the pay you can recover from an unpaid wage claim.
California law requires employers to pay their employees on time. If your employer failed to pay you in a timely manner, you may be able to file a claim to recover any wages you are owed.
Learn more on what you should do if you're not being paid on time.
Sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual conduct in the workplace, whether it is physical or verbal. Verbal harassment that is offensive, hostile or intimidating can be a common form of sexual harassment. It can affect an employee just as seriously as physical harassment.
There are many forms of verbal harassment that can be considered sexual harassment. Some examples are offensive jokes of a sexual nature, unwanted sexual advances, excessive and unwelcome flirting, requests for sexual favors, suggestive or obscene emails and derogatory comments in a sexual context.
Regardless of whether the harassment is severe or pervasive or not, employers can never terminate an employee in retaliation for complaining about any perceived sexual harassment.
It is understandable that employees who experience sexual harassment may not want everyone in their workplace to know about it. Often, they just want the harassment to stop without drawing unnecessary attention to the unwelcome behavior.
Learn more about anonymity regarding sexual harassment in the workplace.
California employment laws protect employees from being laid off or fired for illegal reasons, including reporting sexual harassment.
Learn more about your rights as an employee.
If you are experiencing sexual harassment of any kind the workplace, you should follow your company’s sexual harassment reporting procedure.
Learn more about what you can do if you're experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace.
If you experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, as a first step you can approach the harasser and ask them to stop the unwanted behavior. If the harassment persists or if you do not feel comfortable communicating with the individual, you should speak to your supervisor or a human resources representative in your company.
Learn more about what you should do if you have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace
Employees seeking to file a sexual harassment claim are required to follow important time limits, known as the statute of limitations.
Learn more about statutes of limitation for sexual harassment claims in the workplace.
Yes, it may be possible to prove sexual harassment even if nobody saw it occur. Many incidents of sexual harassment take place behind closed doors.
Learn more about sexual harassment in the workplace.
If you have experienced sexual harassment at work, you are likely to have many questions. An employment lawyer can address all your concerns and explain your legal options.
Learn more about why it is good to have a lawyer by your side during a sexual harassment claim.
Under California law, an employer can be liable for sexual harassment even if it did not occur in an office building or traditional workplace.
Learn more about your employer's responsibilities regarding protecting employees even outside the workplace.
No, physical contact does not have to take place for sexual harassment to have occurred.
Learn more about other ways in which sexual harassment can occur in the workplace without any physical touching
Depending on the situation, both the employer and the individual who engaged in sexual harassment can be liable for damages.
Learn more about who would be liable for sexual harassment in the workplace.
Sexual harassment at work can be divided into two main categories: quid pro quo and hostile work environment. California law prohibits both types of sexual harassment.
Learn more about quid pro quo and hostile work environments.
Under California law, employers are not allowed to retaliate against employees who file a sexual harassment claim or report sexual harassment in the workplace.
Learn more about your rights regarding workplace retaliation.
There are some key steps you need to take to preserve your right to take legal action for workplace sexual harassment. Start with consulting your employer’s handbook to find out the process for reporting sexual harassment within your company.
Learn more about protecting your legal rights if you have been experiencing sexual harassment at work.
Yes, online harassment can be considered unlawful sexual harassment.
Learn more about how workplace sexual harassment can take place in the virtual space.
Temporary workers are covered by the same employment laws as other workers even though they may be hired on a seasonal or short-term basis. They are sometimes misclassified as independent contractors and denied their rights as employees due to the project-oriented nature of their work.
A temporary employee may file a discrimination claim if their employer discriminates against them on the basis of their membership in a protected class, such as age, sex, race, religion, disability or medical condition, national origin or pregnancy. A temporary employee is usually supplied to an employer via a temporary agency. Depending on the specific facts of a case, both the temp agency and the employer that leased the employee can be held liable for workplace discrimination under the Fair Employment and Housing Act if they knew about the discrimination and failed to take immediate action against it.
A worker’s status as an employee may affect their ability to file various discrimination lawsuits against the employer, in addition to the temp agency. The main factor used to determine the employer’s liability is a “right to control” test. The test is similar to the one used to establish a worker’s independent contractor status. A temporary worker may effectively become a leasing company’s employee for legal purposes if the leasing company is found to exercise significant control over the way tasks are accomplished.
While getting yelled at by an employer or supervisor all day long may be unpleasant, such behavior does not necessarily provide grounds for a harassment lawsuit unless it falls under a legally-defined hostile work environment. A “hostile work environment” is a legal term that refers to verbal or physical harassment in the workplace against certain protected classes of people.
Learn more on what constitutes a hostile work environment.
There are very specific federal and California employment laws that determine whether an employer’s actions qualify as discrimination. An employee simply experiencing unfair treatment from the employer is not enough to establish a discrimination claim.
Unfair treatment becomes unlawful if an employer discriminates against the employee based on their membership in a “protected class.”
Although it may seem difficult, the very first step in dealing with discrimination or harassment in the workplace is to talk to your employer or supervisor. Make sure your supervisor knows what is happening, assuming that he or she is not the perpetrator. This can take the form of a private meeting or in a note or memorandum. Additionally, you should approach your company’s human resources manager and inform him or her of the improper conduct. Unfortunately, many discriminatory acts go unrecognized and unpunished because the victim is not fully informing the employer that the conduct is occurring.
Read more to see what to do if you feel like you have been discriminated at work.
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) protects workers from discrimination, harassment and retaliation in the workplace.
Learn which personal characteristics are protected under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act
Several different kinds of damages are available to an employee who files a successful claim for unlawful discrimination in the workplace. The damages awarded in California employment lawsuits are categorized as economic and non-economic damages.
Learn more about economic and non-economic damages.
An adverse employment action is some form of unfavorable treatment that affects a worker’s pay, working conditions, job duties or position.
Learn more what common examples of adverse employment actions are.
An employee may still have a case against their employer under the constructive discharge claim. Constructive discharge is when an employee is forced to quit their job because they were subjected to illegal working conditions that were so intolerable they felt they had no other choice.
The employee does not have to actually be fired from their job in order to have a claim. The law treats constructive discharge as an employer firing an employee rather than an employee voluntarily resigning. In order to prove a constructive discharge claim, the employee must show several factors detailed here.
Being fired out of the blue or even after getting positive performance reviews does not necessarily constitute wrongful termination. Employers are not required to give at-will employees any advance notice or warnings before firing them. That said, an employee with a good record, fired out of the blue or for a suspicious reason, may wish to consider whether the employer had an illegal, hidden motive for the termination.
Learn more if you have been fired without warning or getting a negative performance review.
Being fired from work unexpectedly can be a stressful experience that can leave a person feeling unsure about their options. Upon the termination of employment, the first step to take is to determine whether the termination is illegal. Wrongful termination occurs when an employer unfairly terminates an employee in violation of federal or California employment laws.
Read more to learn what you can do if you think you've been fired unfairly.
For the average person, a lawsuit can be very expensive. Typical expenses may include court filing fees, deposition fees, costs associated with subpoenaing witnesses and documents, expert witness fees and numerous other trial-related fees. The vast majority of our cases, including wrongful termination, discrimination, and unpaid wage cases are handled on a contingency basis where we pay for all legal expenses and recover nothing until you win. The costs of litigation should be discussed during the initial consultation with an attorney.
If you have been wrongfully terminated, you should speak to an employment law attorney as soon as possible to determine how to proceed with your claim and protect your rights.
Learn more about the process of filing a wrongful termination claim.
There are several different types of damages an employee can recover when filing a wrongful termination claim against their employer. They generally include compensatory damages, punitive damages and attorney’s fees. In some cases, the employee may be reinstated to their former job or a similar position.
Learn more about types of damages you can recover in a wrongful termination lawsuit.
All employment claims must be filed within a set time frame, known as a statute of limitations. In California, the statute of limitations for bringing a wrongful termination lawsuit depends on the type of claim and the circumstances of the firing.
Learn more about statute of limitations for a wrongful termination claim.
No, employers are not allowed to terminate, discipline or otherwise retaliate against employees who take sick leave. Although you may be fired from your job while on sick leave, you cannot be fired simply for taking any protected sick leave to which you were entitled.
Learn more about your rights while being on sick leave.
Yes, you are generally entitled to return to your original job after taking medical leave. California employees have the right to take protected medical leave under state and federal laws, mainly the California Family Rights Act or the Federal Family Medical Leave Act.
Learn more about your rights while on medical leave.
An experienced employment lawyer can evaluate the facts of your situation and determine whether you have grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit against your employer.
Learn more about why it is wise to hire an employment lawyer to look over your wrongful termination claim.
If you have been fired for reporting harassment or discrimination, you may have a wrongful termination case against your employer.
Learn more about your right to report about unlawful conduct.
Illegal retaliation occurs when an employer takes some tangible action against an employee for exercising his or her rights under anti-discrimination, whistleblower or certain other laws. Retaliation could be in the form of actions that significantly harm the employee like termination, demotion, salary reduction, discipline or a negative performance review.
Both federal and California law protects employees from retaliation when they participate in legally “protected activities.” Learn more about what constitutes an protected activity and what you need to do to file a claim here.
Employees have certain rights under whistleblower, anti-discrimination and other employment laws. When an employer takes a negative action against an employee for exercising these rights, it can be considered illegal retaliation.
Learn more about examples that can be considered as illegal retaliation.
An employee may be able to file a wrongful termination lawsuit if they are fired for complaining about their employer’s illegal conduct and not for some other, legitimate reason. Federal and California laws offer employees protection from retaliation when they participate in “legally protected activities” such as:
- Complaining about discrimination or sexual harassment
- Exercising their rights under wage and overtime laws
- Participating in investigations
- Protesting unsafe working conditions
- Reporting illegal conduct by the employer or its managers
Learn more on what you should do if you have been fired for reporting illegal activities at work.
Before filing a retaliation lawsuit, you have a responsibility to report the retaliatory treatment to your employer, if possible. However, this typically does not apply if the retaliation is wrongful termination. Notifying your employer is important because they are legally obligated to investigate all claims of retaliation.
Learn more about the steps to take to file a unlawful retaliation lawsuit.
As an employee, you have the right to report illegal, fraudulent or unethical acts committed by your employer.
Learn more about what qualifies as a whistleblower claim.
Both California law and the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act prohibit employment discrimination based on age for anyone who is 40 years of age or older.
Learn more about what constitutes age discrimination in the workplace.
Age discrimination in the workplace can take many forms. Generally, if older workers are being treated less favorably than younger employees, it can indicate age discrimination.
Learn more about additional signs of age discrimination in the workplace.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) is a federal law that protects older job applicants and workers from age-based discrimination in the hiring process, termination, compensation, benefits and terms of employment.
Learn more about the ADEA.
In order to have a legal claim for age discrimination against your employer, you must show that you suffered an adverse employment action based on your age, such as being fired or demoted.
Learn more on how to prove age discrimination.
There are strict time limits in place for filing an age discrimination claim in California. This timeframe is known as the statute of limitations.
Learn more about the statutes of limitation for an age discrimination claim.
In order to prove age discrimination, it is important to gather as much evidence as possible. Direct evidence is the most powerful way to show you experienced discrimination in the workplace.
Learn more about what type of evidence needed to prove an age discrimination claim.
No, California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits employers from asking applicants about their age during a job interview.
Learn more about what can be asked of your during a job interview.
If a disability prevents you from performing some or all of your job duties, your employer may be able to take steps to allow you to continue working.
Learn more about reasonable accomodation in California.
There are restrictions on what questions an employer can ask prospective hires during a job interview. It is unlawful for an employer to ask a job applicant about their disability or base a hiring decision on a disability at any point in the hiring process.
Learn more about what is allowed to be asked during a job interview.
A reasonable accommodation is anything that helps an employee with disabilities do the essential functions of their job.
Learn more about reasonable accommodation in the workplace.
An interactive process refers to an informal discussion that takes place between an employer and an employee with a disability in which they consider options for reasonable accommodations.
Learn more about an employment interactive process.
When an employee has a disability, the employer has a duty to discuss and provide reasonable accommodations unless doing so would present an undue hardship.
Learn more about your employment rights when it comes to reasonable accommodations in the workplace.
Employers are legally obligated to make appropriate accommodations unless there is undue hardship. Undue hardship means the business would suffer considerable difficulty or costs in providing accommodations.
Learn more about undue hardships, and the factors that can cause undue hardships to exist.
In California, employees must receive class certification from a judge before moving forward with a class-action lawsuit. Judges consider several factors when deciding whether to certify a class.
Learn what factors can qualify a claim as a class action lawsuit.
A key difference between a class-action lawsuit and a regular lawsuit is the number of people involved.
Learn more about the differences between a class action lawsuit and a regular lawsuit
Misclassifying a worker is unlawful, and employers can face penalties for violating the law.
Learn more about what you can do if you were misclassified as an independent contractor.
In California, one of the key differences between an independent contractor and an employee is the employer’s amount of control over the worker.
Learn more about the differences between an employee and an independent contractor.
No, employers are not allowed to fire or otherwise punish a worker for taking protected medical leave.
Learn more about your rights when it comes to medical leave.
There are several different laws that allow pregnant workers to take leave.
Learn more which type of leave pregnant workers are allowed to use for leave.
Our client was wrongfully terminated after taking medical leave for a serious illness during her pregnancy. We successfully won compensation for lost wages, medical expenses and emotional distress.MORE
A dental hygienist was fired after complaining about unwanted sexual remarks. We won compensation for lost wages due to the termination, and damages for severe emotional distress.MORE
A cashier was refused accommodation for her injury and then fired after she needed medical leave for back surgery. We were able to resolve her vase quickly with a substantial settlement.MORE