The following answers to Frequently Asked Questions provide general information about the law. To learn how the law applies to your particular situation please contact Dean to schedule a consultation.

Employment laws

Hours of work and pay

Is the dispute over your hours of work or your pay? If you work in the private (non-governmental) sector there are many California laws, along with some federal laws, that may apply:...[more]

Deadlines/pre-lawsuit steps

Q: Can I pursue a legal action against my employer?

Do you have a union? If so, you may consider pursuing a grievance. Does the issue concern an injury you suffered on the job? If so, you likely need to go through the workers’ compensation system. Otherwise, there are a number of laws that may apply, depending on whether you are an employee, the size of your employer, and the type of work that you do…[more]

Discrimination/retaliation/wrongful termination

Q: I received a negative performance review that I think is unfair. Do I have a case?

You may have a retaliation case under federal employment discrimination law if you can show that the review was not deserved and in response to complaints you made about what you believed was discrimination or harassment. But even then, pursuing such a case may not make sense because the compensation you could obtain is limited. If that performance review is used to deny you a pay raise or promotion, or justify a termination, you may have a case if you can show that the review was motivated by a "protected characteristic" (e.g., race, national origin, gender, age, sexual orientation, disability) or complaints about discrimination or harassment.

Wage and hour

Q: My employer does not pay me overtime, even though I work more than eight hours a day. Can my employer do that?

It depends on the nature of the work you do. There are some employees who are considered "exempt" from the overtime laws. They are referred to as "administrative," "executive," and "professional." Whether you fall under one of these exempt categories requires an examination of your job duties…[more]

Leaves of absence

Q: Can I take leave from work during my pregnancy?

You have a right to take up to four months (17 1/3 weeks) of unpaid “pregnancy disability” leave if:
(1) you work for an employer in the private (non-governmental) sector1 that employs 5 or more employees, or an employer in the public (governmental) sector, AND
(2) you develop a condition related to the pregnancy that makes you unable to (a) perform a major duty (“essential function”) of your job or any duties; or (b) perform an essential function without serious risk to yourself, the successful completion of your pregnancy, or to others. Examples of conditions include severe morning sickness, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia. You may be able to take more than four months leave as a reasonable accommodation if your health care provider recommends it…[more]