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California Employment Lawyers

From non-payment of wages to workplace injuries, PARRIS Law Firm is here to fight for the rights of California’s workers. Call our employment attorneys today for a free case review.

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Employment Attorneys You Can Count On

According to Data USA, 17.9 million California residents went to work in 2019. Under federal law, each of these workers is entitled to fair and equal treatment at work, regardless of age, sex, race, color, natural origin, religion, or disability.

The unfortunate reality, however, is that some of California’s workers experience some form of unlawful mistreatment at work.

Though employment laws in California are designed to protect workers, some companies may cut corners, mislead their employees, or otherwise discriminate against their staff in a way that violates both employee rights and California law. (Read about your rights here.)

When you’ve been treated unfairly at work, it may be time to contact an employment lawyer.

The renowned trial lawyers at PARRIS Law Firm have been fighting for workers’ rights for decades. With 37+ years of experience and $1.9 billion in wins for clients, our team has the knowledge, resources, and experience to make sure you see justice.

Schedule your free case consultation with PARRIS Law Firm today.

Why PARRIS Employment Lawyers?

We Have Experience

Esteemed trial attorney R. Rex Parris first opened the doors to the PARRIS Law Firm in 1985 with one goal in mind: fighting relentlessly for victims of accidents at home, on the road, and in the workplace.

Since then, the trial attorneys at PARRIS Law Firm have developed a 99% success rate in getting justice for clients. Thousands of victims of car accidents, environmental disasters, workplace accidents, and more have seen their lives restored due to the dedicated work of our attorneys.

All told, our firm has won $1.9 billion for clients. Our employment law attorneys regularly secure, seven-, eight-, and nine-figure settlements and verdicts for victims of wage and hour violations.

When you hire PARRIS, you can rest assured that your case is in capable hands.

We Get Results

Our team has recovered millions in back pay and compensation for victims of employment law violations, including:

  • A $135 million settlement on behalf of insurance claims adjusters who were denied overtime and meal breaks due to being misclassified as salaried.
  • A $29.5 million settlement for employees of a Fortune 500 home improvement company who were working off the clock without being compensated.
  • A $15 million recovery for employees who were provided with confusing and misleading wage statements that failed to break down employees’ regular and overtime hours.
  • A $13 million verdict for the victim of a horrific workplace accident at the Tesla Factory Store in Fremont, CA.

We Put Clients First

Hiring PARRIS for your employment law case doesn’t just mean you get top-notch legal services. You also join our PARRIS family—and we fight for our own.

At PARRIS, your case receives the personalized, detailed attention it deserves. Our investigators spend countless hours gathering documents, witness statements, and depositions to support your case.

But most importantly, we communicate with you every step of the way. Our client care team will regularly keep in touch with you, ensuring you stay informed from start to finish.

No one should have their rights violated by an employer. We’re here to make sure you receive the care and treatment you deserve, every step of the way.

No Win, No Pay Employment Lawyers

At PARRIS, we believe that everyone should have access to excellent legal services. That’s why our firm has adopted a contingency fee model, meaning that we front the costs of your case until we receive a verdict or settlement on your behalf.

In other words, you pay no fees until we win. And if we are unsuccessful, you won’t need to pay anything.

When you hire PARRIS Law Firm to fight for your rights as an employee, you can rest assured that your case is in caring, capable hands.

CALIFORNIA EMPLOYMENT LAWS

California’s employment laws cover a broad array of workplace issues, including:

 

Regrettably, many Californians are not made aware of their rights at the workplace under California law. Businesses can take advantage of this ignorance by lowering wages, failing to pay the proper overtime, misclassifying employees, and more. As a result, many of the people that need an employment lawyer the most are unaware that they need one.

The employment attorneys here at PARRIS will fight to make sure your rights are protected. Below, we have summarized some of the most common issues in employment law in California. If you read these and realize your rights may have been violated at work, call PARRIS employment lawyers for a free case consultation.

A woman in HR calculates a worker's overtime wages using the regular rate of pay.
Employers must use your regular rate of pay when calculating your overtime wages and your missed meal and rest break premiums.

Wage & Hour Laws

Both the state of California and local jurisdictions, such as counties and cities, have strict rules about wages and hours. Your employer is responsible to know these laws—and to compensate you accordingly.

Unfortunately, however, some employers fail to properly pay their workers. Low wages, miscalculated overtime pay, or uncompensated work allows companies to pocket the wages that should be supporting workers and their families.

You have the right to be paid for every minute that you work. At PARRIS Law Firm, our California employment lawyers specialize in fighting for this right.

Minimum Wage

As of 2022, the minimum wage for businesses with 26 or more employees in the state of California is $15.00/hour, while the requirement for smaller businesses is $14.00/hour. Unincorporated Los Angeles County’s minimum wage is $15.00/hour for both large and small businesses. If your employer has been paying your less than this, you may be owed back pay for the wages you have missed.

Read more about the specifics of minimum wage law in California.

California Meal & Rest Break Law

California law requires non-exempt employees to receive a 30-minute, unpaid lunch break before their fifth hour of work. If an employee works 10 hours or more, they are entitled to a second 30-minute lunch break.

Additionally, California employees must take a 10-minute, paid rest break for every four hours of work for shifts longer than three and a half hours.

If your employer fails to provide meal and rest breaks, your employer owes you one hour of pay for each violation. These meal and rest break premiums are calculated using your regular rate of pay—your hourly rate factoring in any bonuses and commissions.

Overtime

If you live in California and work more than 8 hours in a day, 40 hours in a week, or 6 days in a week, you are entitled to overtime pay.

Overtime pay is equal to 1.5 times your regular rate of pay. Notably, your regular rate is higher than your base rate (i.e. your hourly rate or salary), as your regular rate factors in bonuses and commissions. Unfortunately, some employers confuse “regular rate” with “base rate,” leading them to miscalculate your overtime pay.

If you have been receiving improper overtime wages, then your employer may be liable for the overtime wages you missed.

Work Off the Clock

In the eyes of California law, “work off the clock” includes any task that employees complete as part of their work, with their employer’s knowledge, without pay. This may include performing closing duties, donning and doffing protective equipment, and walking coworkers to their cars.

Wage and hour violations are unfortunately fairly commonplace in California companies. If you have been denied meal and rest breaks, forced to work off the clock, or been incorrectly compensated for your overtime work, a PARRIS employment attorney can fight for your rights.

You can learn more about your rights under California wage & hour law at our Unpaid Wages Lawyers page.

Employee Misclassification

Some employers will intentionally misclassify their employees to avoid paying them minimum wage, overtime, or compensation for work off the clock. There are two ways this tends to happen: an employer may classify an employee as an independent contractor, or they may classify an employee as “exempt” from wage and hour protections. We’ve summarized both types of mistakes for you here:

independent contractor
Many of California’s workers find themselves misclassified as independent contractors.

Employees vs. Independent Contractors

California employment laws make a clear distinction between employees and independent contractors. Generally, employees are paid a salary or an hourly rate and are subject to certain wage, hour, and legal protections. Independent contractors, on the other hand, pick their own hours, bring their own tools, and act as their own bosses. Because contractors are essentially self-employed, they are not protected by laws concerning hours, wages, and overtime to the same extent as a traditional employee.

Many employers find it less expensive to hire “contractors” than employees, so they will attempt to classify employees as independent contractors to avoid paying workers the minimum wage, providing overtime wages or providing meal and rest breaks.

However, California has strict standards for determining which workers qualify as independent contractors. Under AB 5 (2019), a business must prove that their independent contractors:

  • Are free from the control and direction of the employer
  • Perform work that is outside the hirer’s core business
  • Engage in an independently established trade, occupation, or business

 

Though there are exceptions (such as doctors, accountants, or real estate agents, among other professions), the vast majority of workers in this state are subject to this “ABC test.” This law means that many of California’s independent contractors might actually be misclassified employees.

You can read more about your rights under AB 5 and California independent contractor law at our Independent Contractor Lawyers page.

If you think you are an employee misclassified as an independent contractor, give our employment attorneys a call today.

Misclassification as Salaried Exempt

Salaried employees in California can be classified as “non-exempt” or “exempt.” Non-exempt employees are still subject to California wage and hour laws, but exempt employees are not—salaried exempt workers are not entitled to rest breaks and are ineligible for overtime.

However, a worker must meet strict requirements in order to be classified as salaried exempt. In California, exempt workers:

  • Must earn a salary of at least twice the state minimum wage
  • Must regularly use “discretion and independent judgment” while on the job
  • Must be involved with executive, administrative, or professional duties, among other factors

 

Unfortunately, some employers may misclassify their workers as salaried exempt to avoid giving them rest breaks or overtime wages. If this has happened to you, your employer may be liable for the wages and rest break penalties owed to you.

Contact PARRIS employment attorneys to discuss your case today—our team has recovered millions in wage & hour settlements for employees in your situation. We are fully equipped to fight for you.

Read more about California’s minimum salary requirements.

Work Injuries & Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation (workers’ comp for short) is a type of insurance for businesses that pays claims to employees injured on the job. If you get hurt at work, your employer will likely instruct you to file a claim with workers’ comp. The recovery you receive should, in theory, cover your medical bills and a percentage of lost income due to the injury.

However, workers’ comp may not be your only recovery option. Depending on the facts of your case, a personal injury lawsuit may allow you to recover compensation that covers your pain and suffering, loss of companionship, or any other damages that workers’ compensation won’t cover.

Even if you have already signed a workers’ comp agreement, you have the right to speak to an attorney at PARRIS Law Firm about your options. Our attorneys regularly handle work injury cases that become personal injury cases—and because our clients called our firm, they were able to make a fuller, better recovery.

Learn more about what PARRIS can do for you after your work injury.

Pay stub requirements in California
Make sure your employer has listed all of the proper items on your pay stub.

Pay Stubs

California law also dictates what should be included in your pay stubs. This is intended to protect the financial interests of employees like you: you deserve to accurately understand how your wages are calculated.

Your pay stubs must include:

  • Total hours worked
  • Total gross wages
  • Net pay
  • Pay period dates
  • All hourly rates
  • Employee information
  • Employer contact information
  • Any deductions

 

If your pay stubs are non-compliant, then your employer may owe you penalties for failing to properly inform you of your rights. A PARRIS attorney can help you take action against your employer.

For more information about California pay stubs, read our article.

Leave

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for medical or family reasons. These reasons can include:

  • The birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child with the employee
  • Caring for an employee’s sick spouse, child, or parent
  • Any serious medical condition that keeps employees from performing job duties
  • Any demanding situation arising from an employee’s spouse, child, or parent in active military duty

 

Under a similar state law, called the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), employers with five or more employees are required to provide CFRA/FMLA leave upon employee request. Once your leave is finished, your employer is required by law to restore you to your previous position or a nearly identical position, with much of the same hours and pay.

If your employer fails to grant you leave under the FMLA or CFRA, or fails to restore you to an equivalent position once you return, your rights may have been violated.

Read more about your right to employment leave in our blog post.

Wrongful Termination

California is an at-will employment state, meaning that employers are free to fire or let go of an employee at any time, for any reason. Employees can also quit their jobs at any time, for any reason.

However, an employee may be wrongfully terminated when they are fired for the following reasons:

  • Discrimination
  • Refusing to participate in illegal activities
  • Retaliation for reporting harassment or criminal activity
  • In violation of an employment agreement
  • Because the employee took leave under the FMLA

 

If you believe you have been wrongfully fired or laid off, a wrongful termination attorney will be able to walk you through your options and restore justice.

Workplace Discrimination

“Workplace discrimination” occurs when a person is mistreated at work by a person performing their work duties. Such discrimination can include different treatment from employers or different policy enforcement between workers on the basis of race, gender, or another protected class.

Under federal anti-discrimination laws, it is illegal for employers to hire and fire employees or assign benefits, pay, or tasks on the basis of several protected categories. These may include, but are not limited to:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Sex, including pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity
  • National origin
  • Age, if 40 or older
  • Disability
  • Veteran status
  • Genetic information
  • Citizenship status

 

California law adds a number of protected classes to this list, including:

  • Marital status
  • AIDS/HIV-positive status
  • Medical conditions
  • Political beliefs
  • Status as a victim of domestic violence, assault, or stalking

 

If you believe your employer has discriminated against you due to your race, gender, religion, citizenship status, or another protected class, then you may be able to take legal action.

Reporting the incident to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and/or California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) will protect your right to take legal action against your discriminatory employer. If either agency grants you a “right to sue” letter, you have 90 days to file a claim with an employment lawyer in a civil court.

workplace harassment
Unwanted behaviors from coworkers, bosses, or other parties at work may constitute workplace harassment.

Workplace Harassment

“Workplace harassment” includes unwelcome or unwanted behaviors expressed through interpersonal relationships at work.

Harassment on the basis of the following protected classes is illegal in California:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Sex, including pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity
  • National origin
  • Age, if 40 or older
  • Disability
  • Veteran or military status
  • Genetic information
  • Medical condition
  • Citizenship status
  • Marital status

 

Harassment on the basis of any of these categories constitutes “hostile work environment” harassment, which is defined by California law as unwelcome, hurtful behavior that:

  • Takes place due to a protected characteristic, and
  • Is pervasive (occurs repeatedly) or severe (threatens safety or well-being).

Sexual Harassment

Any unwelcome sexual conduct in the workplace can constitute sexual harassment, including physical touch, unwanted jokes or comments, or nonverbal conduct.

The law recognizes two types of sexual harassment:

  • “Quid pro quo” sexual harassment, in which a supervisor requests sexual favors in exchange for a promotion, raise, or another positive outcome
  • “Hostile work environment” sexual harassment, which includes any unwelcome actions, words, or conduct based on a person’s sex that is “severe and pervasive” enough to change the conditions of employment.

 

Sexual harassment can come from anyone at work, including bosses, coworkers, clients or customers, third-party vendors, or independent contractors.

Pregnancy and Lactation Accommodation

California Labor Code Sections 1030 and 1033 require employers in the Golden State to provide both break time and an adequate space for employees to express breast milk. If an employer fails to do this, the employee who was denied the accommodation may be able to recover one hour of their regular rate of pay for each violation.

In addition, wronged employees can report the violation to the Bureau of Field Enforcement, who may issue the employer a citation of $100 for each day a violation took place.

Read more about your right to fair working conditions in California.

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