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Employment Law Attorney in Sherman Oaks, California

If you’re an employee in California, federal and state laws and regulations guarantee you certain rights and protections. Everything from how many hours you work to how much you’re paid, and from workplace safety and health standards to preventing harassment, discrimination, and retaliation — your employment experience is subject to government scrutiny and enforcement.

This means that, should you find yourself abused or denied your rights in any way at your place of employment, there are legal avenues for redress.

If you work in or around Sherman Oaks, California, closeby in Northridge or Van Nuys, or anywhere in the San Fernando Valley, contact us at The Sweeney Law Firm, APC for help with issues of concern at work, or when something has been done to you that just seems wrong. We can sort through the details and help you determine any action you should take — and then help you take it.

Wage & Hour Laws

Ever since the Great Depression, national standards of working hours and minimum wages have been governed nationally by the Department of Labor. The DOL enforces standards set by Congress. The standard workweek of 40 hours was established by the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, as were standards for the minimum hourly wage and child labor hours and pay.

The federal standards are minimums, and states are allowed to go beyond — but not below — those established by Congress. For instance, though the federal minimum wage is still $7.25 per hour, in California it ranges from $13 per hour to beyond $15 per hour, depending on company size and location (counties and municipalities can also set their own minimum wages). California overtime at one-and-a-half times the minimum wage also kicks in after eight hours of work in one day, whereas federally, overtime doesn’t apply until an employee logs 40 hours in one workweek.

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Health & Safety Standards at Work

Once again, the federal government — through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) — regulates safety and health standards in the workplace. OSHA establishes not only industry-specific standards, but its General Duty Clause also governs all businesses in the nation, declaring that each employer "shall furnish...a place of employment which is free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees."

States are allowed to establish their own agencies and standards so long as they don’t undercut nationwide standards. Cal/OSHA is our state’s equivalent of the federal agency. Cal/OSHA routinely brags about how aggressive it is in enforcing its standards, claiming it conducts the most workplace safety inspections in the nation (7,571 in 2019) and maintains a fatality rate lower than the national average, 2.3 per 100,000 workers vs. 3.5 nationally.

Equal Employment &
Anti-Discrimination Laws

Anti-discrimination laws originate from the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the subsequent establishment of an enforcing agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Title VII of the Civil Rights Act created “protected classes” based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. Since then, subsequent legislation has extended protections based on age, pregnancy status, genetic history, veteran status, sexual orientation, and more.

Discrimination against these protected classes can assume different forms, including rejection of a job applicant, denying promotions to existing employees — or worse, demoting or terminating employees — but equally objectionable and illegal is harassment. Harassment can also assume many forms, including slurs, exclusion of individuals from groups, offensive jokes, and more.

The California equivalent of the EEOC is the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).

Retaliation & Wrongful Termination

By federal and state statutes, employers are barred from retaliating against workers, whether they are members of a protected class or not. Like discrimination, retaliation can assume many forms. Denying promotions, assigning someone to a less desirable position or work hours, giving an employee an undeserved performance review, moving an employee’s workstation to an undesirable location, subjecting a worker to increased scrutiny, and worst of all, terminating an employee — all of these actions can be considered retaliation.

Retaliation at work can rear its ugly head when an employee reports a safety violation to Cal/OSHA or reports an incident of harassment to a state or federal agency.

If you believe an action taken against you was due to retaliation, you can report it to the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement and ultimately seek redress in the court system, especially if you’ve been wrongfully terminated for whatever reason, whether retaliation or discrimination.

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You don’t need to accept — or suffer — the insufferable at work. It’s often human nature not to challenge adverse actions against you for fear of even worse retaliation, such as being fired.

Our lives and livelihoods largely depend on the job we have, so being cautious and compliant in the face of employment discrimination or retaliation is understandable. Keep in mind — if you put up with it, it may only get worse. Seek legal advice and help whenever your employment rights and protections have been ignored, denied, or turned against you.

Employment Law Attorney
Serving Sherman Oaks, California

Our team at The Sweeney Law Firm, APC will listen to your story, investigate the circumstances, discuss your options with you, and guide you toward the best available course to achieve the result you desire. Call us immediately to schedule a consultation to discuss your employment law issues. We proudly serve clients throughout Sherman Oaks, California, and across the entire San Fernando Valley.