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Watkins & Letofsky, LLP

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What the amendments to California's paid sick leave law mean
This article discusses California's Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act in the wake of amendments.
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Can your employer demand to know where you are at all times?

Earlier this month, a woman filed a lawsuit against her employer. The lawsuit claims seem fairly straightforward. The worker claims that her employer engaged in unfair business practices, invaded her privacy and terminated her wrongfully. These kinds of claims are filed in courts all across America, nearly every day. However, something makes this woman’s claim unique. She only filed her claim after she refused to allow her employer to track her movements all day, every day.

Certainly, some very specific professions may require constant monitoring. If you are a CIA operative on a mission or you are a member of the Special Forces on assignment, your every move may be monitored for a time. In addition, your employer may require you to monitor your movements during working hours under certain circumstances. However, there is little reason to believe that an ordinary employer has the right to track your movements during your non-working hours, absent a highly specific job description.

The woman who recently filed suit did not work in specialized intelligence gathering, military strategy or law enforcement. She was a regional sales executive for a company called Intermex. Her employer required her to have an app installed on her phone that tracked her movements all day, every day. After she uninstalled the app in order to keep her private life private, her employer fired her.

The area of law which deals explicitly with data privacy is still evolving. However, the fact that an area of law is evolving does not mean that employers have the right to trample all over the basic rights of their employees. If your employer attempts to infringe upon your privacy in significant ways, do not hesitate to speak to an attorney experienced in employment law about your legal options.
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When does it cross the line into sexual harassment?

Even those fortunate enough never to be the victim or witness of sexual harassment at work can likely imagine what a clear-cut case would look like. A harasser who fondles employees or makes clearly inappropriately sexual statements, and threatens victims with termination if they complain, is clearly violating those victim’s right to a safe, nontoxic work environment.

But sometimes, harassers’ behavior is more subtle, and victims question whether what is going on actually qualifies as sexual harassment.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines sexual harassment as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature, or simply offensive comments about a person’s sex.

On the other hand, the law does not prohibit teasing, offhand remarks and minor, isolated incidents. The conduct must be so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment, or causes the victim to suffer in his or her career, such as by getting demoted or fired.

It is not necessary that a worker be female to be the victim of sexual harassment. Men and women can be victimized, and the harasser can be the opposite sex as the victim, or both can be the same sex.

Nor must the harasser be a boss or direct supervisor for the victim to have a course of action. He or she might supervise a different department, or be a co-worker or even client of the employer.

Sexual harassment can be highly destructive and devastating, but victims do not have to take it without fighting back.
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Determining if your firing was wrongful or just unfortunate

Getting fired can be a devastating experience for anyone in California. Even if you didn't love or even particularly like your job, you don't necessarily want to lose it or the income that supports you and your family.

In most cases, there may be nothing you can do about getting fired besides move on and try to find new employment. However, in some cases, you may be able to take action against your former employer on the grounds that your firing was wrongful.

In order to determine if you were wrongfully fired, you must first understand that most employment relationships are at-will. This means that you can be fired for any or no reason, with some exceptions. These exceptions can be the basis for a wrongful termination claim.

An employer cannot fire you for illegal reasons. Employees are legally protected from acts of discrimination, retaliation and harassment in the workplace. This means that your rights may have been violated if you were fired for:

Filing a claim for workers' compensation
Refusing to engage in sexual relationships with a supervisor
Being a certain age, gender, religion or part of another protected class
Reporting violations of public policy or laws in the workplace
However, believing you were fired for one of these reasons is very different than proving you were fired for one of these reasons. Wrongful termination claims typically benefit from extensive investigation, witness statements and documentation that supports your claim.

Gathering this evidence and building a wrongful termination claim can be very complicated and overwhelming, especially if you are already dealing with the anxiety of being unemployed and/or the stress of feeling like your rights have been violated.

This is why it can be crucial to work with an attorney during this process. A legal representative who is familiar with state and federal employment laws can determine whether you have a case and fight on your behalf to pursue a successful outcome.
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Don't miss out! Daniel Watkins will be conducting a workshop today titled, "TDIC Risk Management: Beyond the Science - Patient Emotions in Dentistry" today at 9:00 AM and 2:00 PM and on Saturday 5/2/15 at 9:00 AM. For more information, click on the link below! #cdaANA   #dentistry   #riskmanagement   #Anaheim  
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Jury awards millions in gender bias case.

We frequently write about the kinds of mistreatment that many Americans face on a regular basis in the workplace. Although the law prohibits discrimination, harassment and other forms of mistreatment under numerous circumstances, this kind of mistreatment persists. When workers who have suffered in the workplace are brave enough to speak up about their situations, they are not always rewarded for their efforts. Sometimes they experience indifference, additional mistreatment or they lose their cases in court due to some kind of technicality.

However, sometimes justice is served in significant ways when workers speak up about the mistreatment they have suffered. In addition to educating the public about their story and holding their employer accountable for this mistreatment, some individuals are awarded monetary damages for the harm that they have suffered. For example, one woman was recently awarded $13 million in damages after she experienced gender discrimination in the workplace.

This woman served in the United States Air Force for more than 20 years. During her time in the Air Force, she became an expert in inventory and equipment management. She was hired as an expert by an employer who later fired her after complaining about retaliation she had suffered for reporting sexist language and demeaning false allegations related to her character.

Although not every legitimate case results in significant monetary damages and the accountability that wronged workers seek, many do. In this case, a jury insisted that the employer had discriminated against the worker after creating a hostile work environment. The jury also agreed that the worker had been wrongfully terminated. As a result of these events, she was awarded a staggering $13 million.
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Watkins & Letofsky, LLP, is a full-service civil litigation firm offering quality legal services in a broad range of civil practice areas, from construction law and business litigation to employment law, subrogation and elder law. Our clients include businesses, employers, employees, insurance companies and individuals throughout California and Nevada.

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Come and see Daniel Watkins at CDA Presents! He will be conducting a workshop titled "TDIC Risk Management: Beyond the Science - Patient Emotions in Dentistry" on Thursday 4/30/15 at 9:00 AM and 2:00 PM and on Saturday 5/2/15 at 9:00 AM. For more information, click on the link below! #cdaANA   #Anaheim   #Dentist   #dentistry   #CDA  
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The pros and cons of hiring a friend to represent you

We frequently discuss the various kinds of illegal mistreatment that Americans often suffer in the workplace. If you have experienced discriminatory treatment, sexual harassment or mistreatment related to hours and compensation, you may be thinking about hiring an attorney to represent you. Generally, if you have any legal questions it is best to consult an attorney who can advise you in light of your unique circumstances.

Perhaps you are fortunate enough to have a friend who is experienced in the area of employment law. If you have some relatively simple questions, it almost certainly cannot hurt to consult your friend for a little advice. But when it comes time to actually hire an attorney, you may want to think carefully before hiring a friend.

First, it is important to understand that you generally need to consult an attorney who is licensed to practice in the state where you wish to file your claim. If your friend is not licensed in your home state, it is likely not going to be a good choice to hire him or her. A firm understanding of the nuanced laws governing your state is essential when filing a claim on your behalf.

Second, it is important to understand that your attorney owes you a different duty of care than a friend does. If your claim becomes frustrating, your attorney will need to advise you as a client, not as a friend. This kind of interaction may ultimately strain your friendship.

With these things said, if your friend practices in your home state and you trust his or her approach and level of experience, it is ultimately up to you to decide if hiring your friend is the healthiest choice for you and the best choice for your case.
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California employment law: the wage and hour claim process

Many people in California are aware of the state's wage and hour laws. Not being compensated in full for the work that you've done or doing work without being paid at all are illegal. If they happen to you, you can file a claim against your employer to receive the compensation you deserve. Before you file a claim, however, it can be helpful to know what to expect. The following steps are a brief overview of the wage and hour claim process:

File a complaint with the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). You will need to fill out certain forms depending on your situation and provide as much information as possible, including paystubs and time records. The DIR's website provides detailed instructions and the forms you need.
A deputy labor commissioner will review the claim and decide how to move forward. Your claim will either go to a conference, a hearing or be dismissed.
If your claim goes to a conference, the parties will attempt to determine whether the claim can be resolved outside of a hearing. It is very important to show up to the conference. If you do not, your claim will likely be dismissed.
At a hearing -- which can occur either right after you filed a claim or after a conference --  your claim will be reviewed in-depth. You will be able to argue your case with the help of an attorney, and your employer will have the opportunity to the same. Within 15 days after the hearing, you will receive a decision. If it is in your favor, you will also be notified of the amount of compensation you will receive.
If the hearing does not go in your favor, you can appeal the decision in civil court.
Although this is a very high-level overview of the wage and hour claim process in California, hopefully it gives you an idea of what to expect. It is important to understand that the process is often very complex. You do have the right to work with a lawyer, which can help ensure you file your claim correctly and put forward the best effort possible to be successful in your claim.
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