Lincoln the Law Dog’s DIY Resources
DIY Resources for Employees and Employers
Lincoln the Law Dog here. I’m not a lawyer myself. But, I’ve been around lawyers since I was a pup. While I can’t provide you legal advice, I can provide you with some helpful resources.* **
* This is not legal advice.
** Using this site does not create an attorney/client relationship.
Sorry for the not-so-fine print. Now that that’s out of the way…
Knowledge is Power
The balance of power is shifted against people. The more knowledge people have, the more powerful people become. That means understanding your rights and responsibilities and knowing how to represent your own interests. Maybe you need a lawyer. Maybe you don’t. Maybe you have a lawyer. Maybe you can’t find one. Regardless, we believe you are better off knowing your rights, responsibilities, and options. You might be surprised at how much you can learn and how much you can do yourself.
If you’re an employee, you’re welcome to complete a free, confidential, case evaluation form: www.californiaemploymentlawfirm.com/case-evaluation
If you’re a small business owner, you’re welcome to complete a no-obligation intake form: www.californiabusinesslawattorney.com/contact-us
FAQs from employees
Does my employer need a good reason to fire me?
Not typically. California permits employers to discipline or fire their workers “at-will”, or without needing, or providing a reason. There are two main exceptions. The first is if you have some sort of employment contract saying you can only be fired for particular reasons. The second is if you were fired in violation of some public policy (for example, your age, race or other personal characteristics).
Is it illegal for my employer to discriminate against me?
Your employer typically can’t discriminate against you because of certain personal characteristics. The law specifically prohibits employers of five employees, or more, from treating employees unfairly because of their race, sex, color, national origin, age, religion, disability, marital status, medical condition, sexual orientation, gender identity, or pregnancy. But, it’s perfectly legal for a Giants fan to discriminate against someone because they are a Dodgers fan.
What are California’s requirements for wages, overtime and breaks?
You typically must be paid at least the CA minimum wage for all work you perform. You must be paid overtime (1.5 times your regular rate for all hours worked over 8 in a day, or 40 in a week, and 2 times your regular rate for all hours worked over 12 in a day), unless you are exempt. You’re probably entitled to a paid, 10-minute break for ever 4 hours, and an unpaid, 30-minute break for every five hours you work.
Does my employer have to accommodate my disability?
Your employer is required to accommodate your disability if your employer has five or more employees, you can perform the essential functions of your job with or without reasonable accommodations, and the accommodations cannot create an “undue hardship” on the business. For more on requesting reasonable accommodations please see below.
How do I request an accommodation for my disability?
If you have to request an accommodation for your disability, you should do it in writing. Legal Aid at Work is a non-profit. They provide some excellent samples. I think it’s good to use their samples because then it looks like you found something online as opposed to asked a lawyer to draft it. That makes things more comfortable for the employer, and probably for you. You can find a sample letter requesting leave as an accommodation here: www.legalaidatwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Letter_for_Accommodation-Leaves_of_Absence.doc
But, they also have a lot of really awesome stuff here: www.legalaidatwork.org/do-it-yourself-sample-letters-toolkits-and-guides.
What is sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment is a form of illegal discrimination. It is unwelcome sexual conduct from a supervisor, co-worker, or client. There are two types of sexual harassment: 1) quid pro quo, and 2) hostile work environment. If your boss denies a promotion because you won’t go out with him, that’s quid pro quo. If the unwelcome, sexual conduct around you is so severe, or pervasive that it changes your work environment, that’s hostile work environment.
What can I do about unsafe working conditions?
Under limited circumstances, you can refuse to do work that would seriously endanger you or your co-workers, and your boss cannot punish you. You can also ask (anonymously if you want) Cal/OSHA to check your workplace for safety violations. If you were fired, or disciplined, for complaining about unsafe working conditions, you can file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner within 6 months of the retaliation. You may also want to consult with an attorney ASAP.
How do I see what’s in my personnel file?
Every employee is entitled to a copy of their personnel file. You can find a form letter requesting your personnel file from Legal Aid at Work: www.legalaidatwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Sample-records-request-letter-from-client.doc
How do I collect Unemployment in California?
You probably don’t need a lawyer to help you collect unemployment insurance in California. In fact, most lawyers don’t handle unemployment claims. They’re meant for employees without representation. The EDD’s ALJ’s don’t like seeing lawyers at hearings. The ALJ’s enjoy the relaxed setting, and lawyers, in suits, don’t make things more relaxed. Even though you probably don’t need a lawyer, you could probably use a guide. I sell a guide to help you determine how much you’re entitled to, file your claim, appeal a denial, and maximize your benefits. It’s $14.95. You can buy it here.
We also have a free page just on how to collect unemployment benefits, with more information than this FAQ. But, nowhere near as much information as the guide.
Where can I learn more about California Employment Law?
The State Bar of California publishes a great (although somewhat dated) guide titled “What Are My Rights As An Employee?”. The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing provides posters and brochures regarding illegal harassment, discrimination, and protected leave. The California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement provides publications on collecting wages, filing claims with the Labor Commissioner, and filing claims of retaliation. Legal Aid at Work is an amazing non-profit that offers lots of people free legal advice through their clinics, and even pro-bono representation. They have a TON of information.
How can I find a lawyer?
To help Californians find qualified lawyers that best match their needs, the State Bar certifies Lawyer Referral Services. You can find them at: www.calbar.ca.gov/Public/Need-Legal-Help/Lawyer-Referral-Service You can also check out the California Employment Lawyers Association. CELA is an association of lawyers dedicated to representing employees. They have a “Find a Member” section.
What should I look for in a lawyer?
You should look for a comfort level with each other; a clear fee structure; a record of excellence; and the ability to communicate clearly and effectively. You should also check out the California Bar’s website: www.calbar.ca.gov/Public/Free-Legal-Information/Before-Selecting-an-Attorney/Finding-the-Right-Lawyer. You should definitely check the California Bar’s website lawyer lookup. You can find every attorney ever licensed to practice law by the State of California there. For example, here’s Gloria Allred’s and here’s Richard Nixon’s. Here’s John’s State Bar profile.
Will McCarthy Law help me?
Maybe. If you haven’t already, you should fill out a case evaluation form: www.californiaemploymentlawfirm.com/case-evaluation. The case evaluation form is completely free, and completely confidential. In fact, when you submit it, it goes directly to John’s inbox. If the firm thinks it might be in a position to help you, John will reach out and either ask some follow-up questions, schedule a free consultation, or offer a discounted consultation. If the firm doesn’t think it’s in a position to help, it will send you an email declining representation, but also providing you with free resources to help you understand your rights, find an attorney, and even represent yourself.
Experience Counts and the experienced and hard working team at McCarthy Law will put their experience to work for you!
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