Eliminating Discrimination and Ensuring Fair Pay

At Lohr Ripamonti & Segarich LLP, we believe in the right to a fair and just workplace. There are many state and federal laws in place to protect workers and we navigate these complex laws and regulations to ensure your rights are protected. By recovering compensation for employees who suffer legal violations and compelling employers to follow the law, we proudly help our clients stop unfair practices and encourage employers to comply with their legal obligations to their employees. Our firm represents clients in all of these areas, including:

Fair Pay Practices: Wage and Hour Law

Most employees willingly go the extra mile to make a supervisor happy or help their company succeed. Some employers, however, take advantage of that devotion and begin to expect or require their employees to work under conditions that do not meet the minimum labor standards under state and federal law, such as forcing them to work off the clock, or work overtime with no additional pay.

We can help you pursue your right to fair pay under the California Labor Code, the California Industrial Wage Orders, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, and other wage protection laws. Lohr Ripamonti & Segarich LLP helps California workers recover unpaid wages, overtime premiums, vacation and termination pay, and penalties for missed meal and rest breaks or inaccurate paystubs, among other remedies.

Misclassification and Unpaid Overtime

Many tech industry employees are misclassified as exempt employees and are illegally expected to work unpaid overtime. Similarly, many salaried retail supervisors must work unpaid overtime while spending most of their time on the floor alongside the hourly staff, doing the same work as their hourly employees. Other workers are wrongly treated as independent contractors when they are actually employees entitled to workers' compensation insurance, W-2 tax treatment, and other protections. The law sets out strict rules for which employees are allowed to be paid a salary instead of an hourly wage and overtime pay, or as an independent contractor, and it is the employer’s burden to prove its workers do not need to be paid overtime.

Off the Clock Work

Employees may also be illegally required to attend training outside of work, or complete work before or after their shifts without pay. In other circumstances, hourly employees may use a time clock system that shaves off time from the start or end of their shifts in favor of their employer, illegally depriving them of pay for all the hours they work.

Meal and Rest Breaks

Similarly, some managers expect their employees to work through their lunch breaks, or the company may try to force its employees to agree to waive their right to a ten-minute rest period or thirty-minute lunch break in violation of the law. Hourly employees who are denied meal and rest breaks are entitled to premium pay equal to one hour’s pay for the breaks they miss.

Inaccurate Pay Stubs

Employees have the right to receive pay stubs with each check that show the total number of hours worked in each pay period, the rate of pay for all the time they worked, and other information about how they are being paid. Employers who fail to provide full and accurate information may be liable for civil penalties.

Final Paycheck

Whether an employee quits his or her job, or is fired or laid off, the company must pay that employee all of their final wages, including the value of unused vacation time or paid time off, within strict time limits. Employers who delay these payments are subject to penalties equal to the employee’s daily pay rate for each day these penalties are late, up for up to a month.

These are just a few examples of unfair and illegal pay practices commonly faced by employees. Contact Lohr Ripamonti & Segarich LLP today to learn how you can protect your right to a fair and just workplace.

Severance Pay

Employees who are laid off sometimes receive severance packages from their employer. These severance packages can include cash, stock options, continued health insurance coverage, or other benefits. There is generally no legal right to severance pay, and each employee and company’s situation is different. But, when employees are being terminated, they should consider their severance options carefully. We work with employees to help them negotiate as favorable a severance as possible.

We also help employees who have received severance package offers from their employers and want to understand their rights. These offers often require employees to give up their right to sue their former employers in exchange for whatever severance they receive. Other times, the offer will require the employee not to compete with their former employer, or to maintain the confidentiality of the company’s trade secrets or other information.

Each of these issues requires careful scrutiny because they can affect former employees’ legal rights. If the company does not hold up its end of the bargain, the former employee may be able to bring a claim for breach of contract. Or, the company may try to (illegally) prevent the employee from working for a competitor or in the same geographic area.

Contact us today if you would like our attorneys to help you negotiate a severance, understand your rights under a severance agreement, or ensure a company follows through with its promises.

Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation

It is your right to seek an attorney if you feel a law has been violated. Federal and state laws prohibit private companies, organizations, and governments from discrimination by sex, race, age, and other types of discrimination. If you have been fired, denied a position, raise, or promotion, demoted, or treated poorly at work because of your sex, gender identity, race, ethnicity, national origin, disability, or religion, we will stand up for your right to a discrimination-free job. 

Similarly, harassing an employee based on sex, race, or other characteristic violates the law. If you feel you have been harassed on the job, it is your right to seek a lawyer to represent you in your sexual harassment claim, lawsuit, or appeal. Our attorneys can help you understand your legal rights and options for enforcing your rights and resolving your case.

Last, you have the right to report illegal discrimination and harassment in the workplace. The law protects these kinds of complaints, and prohibits taking adverse actions against employees if they complain about illegal acts in the workplace, and other protected activities. If you believe you have been fired, denied a promotion or raise, or experienced other changes to your working conditions because you reported illegal activity to management or a government agency, we can help you vindicate your rights.

Family and Medical Leave

The Fair Employment and Housing Act contains family care and medical leave provisions for certain California employees. These leave provisions, known as the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), cover employers who do business in California and employ 50 or more part-time or full-time people. This law is the state equivalent of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

The CFRA and FMLA provide unpaid leave to eligible employees for a number of family and medical issues. For example, an eligible employee may take an unpaid leave to bond with an adopted or foster child or to bond with a newborn. Employees may also take unpaid leave to care for a parent, spouse, or child with a serious health condition. Family and medical leave is also available for the employee’s own serious health condition.

Eligible full-time employees may take leave of up to 12 work weeks in a 12-month period. Part-time employees may take leave on a proportional basis. The leave does not need to be taken in one continuous period of time (known as “intermittent leave”). Employers are not required to pay employees during family or medical leave, and employers may require an employee to use accrued vacation time or other accumulated paid leave other than sick time. However, employees may also use this paid time so that not all of their leave time is unpaid. Employees on leave may also be eligible for six weeks of paid leave under Family Temporary Disability Insurance (FTDI), a program administered by the California Employment Development Department (EDD).

Employees on family or medical leave are entitled to all seniority rights and accrual of benefits they would have if they had not taken leave. Finally, after leave, employees are guaranteed a return to the same or comparable position and can request the guarantee in writing. If the same position is no longer available because of layoffs, the employer must offer a position that is comparable in terms of pay, location, job content, and promotional opportunities, unless the employer can prove that no comparable position exists.

Pregnancy and Family Responsibilities Leave

California law also specifically protects the workplace rights of pregnant women and new mothers and fathers. Female employees often are not promoted because employers wrongly believe women cannot balance their work and family lives, or will get pregnant and leave once they are promoted. Sometimes, female employees are even terminated or laid-off when an employer learns they will be taking their legally authorized maternity leave. Likewise, male employees often experience stigma, harassment, or adverse employment actions for exercising their rights to take paternity leave. We vigorously defend the rights and protections working parents have under the law so they can simultaneously work and take on family responsibilities.

It is important to know your rights: Pregnant employees or employees disabled due to childbirth cannot be denied reasonable leave by their employers, and must have their jobs protected while they are away.  Employers must also grant reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers to make sure they can work safely and comfortably, especially if the job is a strenuous or hazardous one.  It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against a pregnant employee in anyway, including pressuring them to take unpaid absences, or laying them off for pretextual reasons.  If you feel your employer has treated you unfairly due to pregnancy or childbirth, take action now, as the time to act may be limited.

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