Author Archives: admin

New California Employment Laws For 2016

2016 will bring new changes to employment laws in the State of California, and these changes are ones that employers of all sizes and industries will want to take note of. The Law Office of Robert David Baker has more than 30 years of experience defending the rights of both business owners and employees in greater San Jose and across California and we’ve built our reputation on complete and zealous representation. If you have any questions about your employer’s compliance with the following laws, or if you are an employer concerned about your ability to comply with any of the following new laws, please contact our office today.

The following employment laws all took effect January 1, 2016 and generally apply to all employers in the State of California, with some limited exceptions.

  • Restrictions on employers’ use of the federal E-Verify worker program: Beginning on January 1, 2016 employers will only be legally authorized to run background checks through the E-Verify program on prospective workers who have received a formal work offer but have not yet begun work. Additionally, employers will be required in 2016 to “promptly” notify employees whose E-Verify information does not match the information provided by the prospective employee to the employer.
  • California’s Fair Pay Act: Section 1197.50 of the California Labor Code has been updated to reflect California’s passage of the state Fair Pay Act. This new law requires that California employers pay male and female workers who perform “substantially similar work” equal rates of pay, even if they work in different locations. Employers who face litigation due to alleged violations of the Fair Pay Act will have the burden of proof to justify pay differences between employees of opposite genders who perform substantially similar work.
  • Minimum compensation levels for computer software professionals classified as exempt workers: Pursuant to California Labor Code Section 515.5, in order to classify a computer software professional as an exempt employee, employer’s will be required to pay that worker a minimum of $41.85 an hour, or $87,185.14 a year.
  • State minimum wage increase: Starting January 1, 2016 the minimum wage in California will be $10.00 an hour. Employers take note though: many California cities including San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley have their own local minimum wage ordinances you’ll need to comply with.

Although there were additional employment laws passed in 2015 which will take effect this year, we believe that these ones will have the most widespread impact for employers in San Jose. If you are an employer in San Jose and are concerned with your company’s compliance with any employment law, whether federal or state, please contact our office today. Likewise, if you are a greater San Jose area employee who has been discriminated against by your employer, or your employer is refusing to comply with any employment law provision, contact the Law Office of Robert David Baker today. For more than 30 years, we’ve been getting justice and compensation for San Jose area employees.

EEOC Issues New Guidance On Discrimination Against Muslims

In part in response to the terror attack in San Bernardino and other world events in late 2015, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (or, EEOC), issued new guidance to employers on workplace discrimination against Muslims, those of Middle Eastern descent or anyone assumed to be of either Middle Eastern descent or the Muslim faith. This EEOC guidance offered employers information on handling situations like where a manager is worried about customers’ reactions to an employees’ wearing of a hijab, verbal harassment against employees who are Muslim and whether or not employers must honor a Muslim employee’s request to use a section of the workplace for daily prayers.

Discrimination claims by Muslim and Middle Eastern workers, and many individuals who have been improperly assumed to be Middle Eastern or Muslim by their fellow employees or managers have been on the rise for more than a decade, and this discrimination is definitely something being watched by the EEOC. You can read the EEOC’s guidance here, and our law office is available to answer any questions you may have.

Pursuant to the EEOC’s official guidance, employers may not require Muslims to remove their hijabs or other religious attire, nor refuse to hire an individual because they wear a hijab. This is unlawful discrimination. It would also be unlawful discrimination to hire a Muslim who wears a hijab, but refuse to offer them a position in your company that interacts with the public. You cannot “hide” Muslim workers from the general public because of their religious attire.

Managers and supervisors who learn of harassment targeted at Muslims because of their religious faith or harassment targeted at employers believed to be of Middle Eastern descent should be very firm that that sort of harassment will not be tolerated in their workplace. Workplace harassment is often preventable with the right training and management support, however, not all employers enforce these rules. Whether you are an employer concerned about potential harassment at your workplace, or a Muslim or Middle Eastern employee who has been the subject of racial or religious harassment, the Law Office of Robert David Baker is your local employment law solution.

One important piece of guidance for all employers to take note of is that employers cannot require applications who are Middle Eastern, Muslim or assumed to be either to undergo background checks more rigorous than other nationalities would be subject to, unless required by law. Employers who conduct security screenings on prospective or current employees should be careful not to subject any Muslim employees to additional screenings that other employees of different faiths are not subjected to.

What California Employers Can Expect In 2016

2016 will bring many changes in the law that California employers should take note of. We’ve collected several changes we anticipate that 2016 will bring for California employers, and our office is available to answer any questions you may have about ensuring that your company complies will all changes in labor and employment laws for the coming year.

  • Independent Contractors: classify them carefully! The federal Department of Labor and the State of California ended 2015 with a watchful eye on the classification of independent contractors by employers across the county. If you treat your contractor as an employee, simply calling them an “independent contractor” is not enough to protect your business from scrutiny from the IRS, Department of Labor and other regulatory authorities and employers can face steep penalties and fines for improper employee classification. If you are unsure whether to classify a worker as an independent contractor or an employee, the IRS offers some guidance on classification testing, but your safest bet is to contact an employment law specialist like the Law Office of Robert David Baker. Contacting a legal profession to properly classify your workers will give you not only peace of mind, but can offer some protections against future claims of improper worker classification.

  • California is leading the way with equal pay laws: California’s Fair Pay Act is one of the most far-reaching equal treatment and pay laws in the country and employers should be careful to ensure that they are paying male and female workers who perform the same or similar job functions the same. Updating compensation tables and your employee handbook to reference compliance with the Fair Pay Act can help employers to be proactive regarding this law.

  • Don’t forget your local laws and ordinances: many California municipalities are looking to implement their own minimum wage laws, sick pay laws and other employment law regulations. If you’re only looking to California State statutes and federal laws, you may miss something important. Berkeley, El Cerrito, Emeryville, Los Angeles (City and County), Mountain View, Oakland, Palo Alto, Richmond, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Clara and Sunnyvale have already passed minimum wage ordinances and other California cities look like to follow suit in 2016.

No matter your business size or industry, as an employer you have a responsibility to comply with all laws applicable to your place of business. If you have any questions or concerns about recently passed local legislation in your city or town, or are worried about your compliance with the Fair Pay Act, California labor law or federal labor law, call the Law Office of Robert David Baker today to speak to our experienced labor and employment attorneys.

Can I Sue For Depression After I Am Fired

If you’ve ever been out of work or lost your job, you know how demoralizing and stressful it can be – especially if you were fired for arbitrary or discriminatory reasons. Like any major life change or upheaval, being fired can leave some people shaken up emotionally, which for some can turn into full blown depression.

Many people who have been fired from their jobs worry about whether or not they will be able to receive unemployment, fearing that their former employer will challenge or appeal any award of unemployment or that their former employer may lie about their job performance and the reason that they were fired. Unfair job firing can cause stress in your home life as you worry about whether or not you will be able to pay your rent or mortgage payments in the future, and what your family will think about you knowing that you were fired from your job. You may worry about whether or not your former employer will provide you a positive job reference, or if he will impact your ability to find work in the future.
If you’ve given everything to your job, only to be rewarded with an unfair termination or firing, call the Law Office of Robert David Baker today to speak with our experienced labor and employment law professionals.

My employer fired me, what can I do?
If you have been improperly or unfairly fired by your employer, you may have legal recourse and may be eligible to receive financial compensation or other remedies for your employer’s actions. If you have experienced depression as a result of your job termination, you do not have to accept it any longer. Hold your employer accountable for their actions and fight for everything you may be legally entitled to under the law. Contact the Law Office of Robert David Baker today to learn more about how we can help you regain your good name and your reputation through a wrongful termination lawsuit and/or other legal remedies.

What is wrongful termination?
Wrongful termination, simply put, occurs when an employer fires an employee for a reason that is protected by their labor contract or by local, state or federal law. Employers may not retaliate against or fire employees who have been victims of sexual, racial or other forms of harassment or violence, those who have reported the sexual, racial or other forms of harassment or violence of other employees to a manager or business owner, an employee who has acted as a whistleblower. Employers may not terminate individuals because of their gender, sexual orientation, race, nationality, disability or a number of other factors. If you have been unfairly terminated, we can advise you whether or not you may have a case for illegal or wrongful termination. Do not let a depression following job termination ruin your life any longer: contact the Law Office of Robert David Baker today to speak with one of our experienced and compassionate legal professionals.

What You Need To Know About California Immigrant Victims of Crime Equity Act

Beginning in January, prosecutors and police in California will be required to assist some immigrants who are victims of crime in California in obtaining special visas in exchange for the individual’s help in criminal investigations. The so-called “U Visa” will be made available to immigrants who assist law enforcement and prosecutor’s offices in criminal investigations, and all law enforcement agencies across California will be required to complete certification forms for the U-Visa when immigrants provide them assistance. 

The aim of the California Immigrant Victims of Crime Equity Act is to increase public safety by encouraging all individuals who witness crimes in California or have any knowledge or information about a crime to come forward and report their information to law enforcement, without concern for their current immigration status. 

San Diego immigration attorney Maria Chavez cites immigrants’ fears of deportation as a reason that some may fail to come forward an assist in criminal investigations. She believes that with the passage of this Act, immigrants will begin to come forward to work with police and prosecutor’s offices to assist in criminal investigations and to help solve active criminal cases. 

California’s Immigrant Victims of Crime Equity Act is similar to a current federal law that governs U-Visas and offers additional protections for select crime victims who are immigrants to the United States. What sets California’s Act apart from the federal law is that the federal law gives law enforcement agencies the discretion in whether or not to complete the certification that would allow an immigrant to qualify for the U-Visa, while California’s Act requires law enforcement to complete the certificate for the U-Visa if the individual assists with a criminal investigation. This provides immigrants who come forward with legal protections not offered by other states. With California’s large undocumented immigrant population, this Act allows California to offer extended legal protections to large groups of people who may otherwise fear coming forward. 

At the Law Office of Robert David Baker, Inc., we’ve built our practice and our reputation around advocating for the immigration rights of those looking to become US citizens. We are proud to offer expert immigration legal services and we are available to answer questions or concerns you have about U-Visas or any other immigration law or program. Call us today to schedule a free consultation, and to have your case evaluated by our experienced legal staff. 

Did You Work Off The Clock And Not Get Paid?

Occasionally, we all set in when we’re needed and help out before or past our scheduled work hours. If you have made yourself available to work for your employer when technically “off the clock”, or if your employer has asked you not to report all of your house worked and then refuses to compensate you for work performed and time worked, they may be violating California law. Employment matters are complex and often require a skilled, dedicated and experienced employment lawyer like the law offices of Robert David Baker.

What is “working off the clock”?

Working off the clock can either be worked performed at the request of your employer before or after your scheduled shift, or can take other forms, including:

  • Your employer asking you not to report any time worked on off hours, like hours worked when “on call”;
  • Your employer asking you not to report time which, if reported, would result in your being owed overtime pay;
  • Your employer asking you not to take or not to report meal breaks allowed by California law.

You deserve to be paid for your hours worked – all of them. If your employer is refusing or has refused to pay you for all hours worked, you have a couple of options. You may file a claim and complaint with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, or you may file a civil lawsuit for back pay and other civil penalties. The law offices of Robert P. Baker can assist you with either option, and is proud to be a veteran Los Angeles area employment law specialist. Attorney Baker knows hour and hour and overtime pay legislation inside and out, and also knows all of the remedies that may be available to you under the law if your employer is acting inappropriately and illegally regarding your pay.

If you have any questions about work you have performed, and whether or not you should have been paid for your work and your time, call us today. California employees have rights under the law, and employers must abide by the law. If you have been treated unfairly by your employer, we look forward to hearing from you, and to getting you all the compensation you’re entitled to under the law. We’re conveniently located and available in person, via our online site, or over the phone.

What You Need To Know About Your Sick Leave Right Bill AB 1522

Are you a San Jose area employee concerned about sick leave? Do you have questions about sick leave in California? If so, call the Law Offices of Robert P. Baker today to speak to our experienced and knowledgeable employer law specialists. Attorney Robert David Baker has been zealously advocating for Los Angeles area employees for several decades, and is proud to live and work in our community.

Under California law, as of January 1, 2015, nearly all California employees are eligible for paid sick leave.

What is Bill AB 1522 and how does it impact me?

Bill AB 1522 was signed by Governor Jerry Brown and became effective on January 1, 2015, although the right to begin accruing and taking sick leave under the law associated with this bill did not go into effect until July 1, 2015.

The government of the State of California saw a need to protect employee’s rights regarding leave. They recognized that employees must be able to legally take time away from their jobs in order to care for sick or injured family members or themselves. Although many California employers already provided for paid sick leave, or had sick leave policies, many did not, and AB 1522 aimed at creating an even playing field for all employees regarding some base levels of sick leave.

AB 1522 sets up a baseline for paid sick leave, and generally, the law requires that California employers provide each employee who satisfies the requirements explained below at least 24 hours or 3 work days of paid sick leave per year.

How do you quality for paid sick leave in California?

In order to qualify for paid sick leave in California, an employee must work for the same employer (on or after January 1, 2015) for at least 30 days within a one year period, and that employee must complete a 90-day “probationary” employment period before taking any sick leave. If you work less than 30 days for the same employer within a one year period, you are not eligible for leave from that employer. Likewise, if you work for a California employer for more than 30 days, but less than the 90 required to complete the “probationary” employment period, then you will not be entitled to take paid sick leave under AB 1522.

Leave policies, like all employment law matters, can be complex. Leave policies may also vary by employer, which many employers offering richer paid leave offerings in order to retain the most qualified staff. If you believe that your employer may not be complying with California’s paid sick leave law, or any other law, please call us today. If you have worked for the same employer in California for more than 30 days and have satisfied your 90-day “probationary” period without taking paid sick leave, and then have been denied the use of your accrued paid sick leave, please contact us to set up a free consultation. We’re proud to represent worker’s rights, and will advocate aggressively on your behalf to secure for you everything you are entitled to under the law.

Getting Fired From A Staffing Agency Temporary Job

Have you been recently fired from a staffing agency or other temporary employment agency? Do you believe that your firing was unjust or possibly illegal? If so, call the Los Angeles area employment law expert: Attorney Robert David. Baker.

The Law Offices of Robert David Baker has been advocating for worker’s rights for several decades and we are proud to champion the rights of employees to work in offices free from illegal discrimination.

Determining which employer is legally responsible

When you work through a temp or staffing agency, you may legally have one employer, or you may have multiple legal employers. Before any legal action can be taken on your behalf, we will need to determine which employer is legally responsible. Some factors that will help define your employment relationship with both your former employment or staffing agency and the employer who you actually performed work for may include:

  • Who directed your work?
  • Who managed and/or supervised you?
  • How long was your employment with each employer?
  • Did the company or individual that you performed work for actually have the right to fire you? Did the employment, temp or staffing agency have the legal right to fire you?

In questions about defining an employment relationship, the focus for a court will be on your individual relationship with both the employment staffing firm and the individual or corporation that you performed work for.

Staffing agencies are often unregulated, and many do not play by the rules required of all California employers by the law. Some staffing agencies may believe that their contracted workers do not have any employment rights – they are wrong. If you or a loved one has been fired from a staffing agency or temporary job and has reason to believe that the firing was done in retaliation for a legitimate workplace grievance or some other action protected by California law, please call us today to schedule a free consultation. Our staff is available either over the phone or in person at our conveniently located offices to hear the facts of your case and advise you of your legal rights. Attorney Robert David Baker has built a solid reputation for defending worker’s rights in greater Los Angeles, and he looks forward to hearing from you today.

California Employment Laws Affect Mandatory Sexual Harassment Training For Supervisors

As of the beginning of this year, California employers that are legally required to provide sexual harassment training and must include specific training for supervisors. The training which must be provided to supervisors now includes mandatory training on the prevention of “abusive conduct”. This new law, AB 2053, made the prevention of “abusive conduct” a required component of the sexual harassment training that previously have been required under California law.

What is “abusive conduct”?

Under AB 2053, “abusive conduct” is defined as conduct of an employer or employee “in the workplace, with malice, that a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive and unrelated to the employer’s legitimate business interests.” Examples of abusive conduct include repeated verbal attacks or verbal abuse (such as the use of derogatory remarks, insults), physical conduct that a reasonable person would likely find threatening, intimidating or humiliating, or the unjustified and unreasonable sabotage of a person’s work performance. Generally, a single act or action won’t constitute abusive conduct, but it can if the act or action is especially severe or egregious.

What does the law require?

AB 2053 requires that employees in supervisory positions be provided training on the prevention of abusive conduct in the workplace. There are not clear mandates on exactly how long or extensive the new training must be, but there is some guidance available to employers that highlights that their training should include discussions on the detrimental consequences of this conduct on employers and that the training should specifically discuss the elements of abusive conduct.

Current California law requires that employers with 50 or more employees and/or independent contractors (including state and city governmental entities) must provide supervisors with 2 hours of harassment prevention training every 2 years. Newly hired or promoted supervisors must receive and complete training within 6 months of their hiring or promotion.

I’ve been subject to abusive conduct in the workplace; how can the Laww oOfices of Robert P. Baker help me?

If you have been subject to abusive conduct in the workplace, please call our office immediately. The Law Offices of Robert P. Baker has been advocating for worker’s rights for several decades and we are proud to champion the rights of employees to work in offices free from illegal discrimination. If you believe that you have been a victim of abusive conduct in the workplace, you should also document your experience and contact your human resources department in order to formally document your complaint. No matter where you’re at in the process, our staff is available either over the phone or in person at our conveniently located offices to hear the facts of your case and advise you of your legal rights. Call us today for a free consultation.

California Paid Sick Leave Laws

Employees in California enjoy some job benefits that workers in other states do not enjoy, including mandatory paid sick leave laws. Many employers in the State of California are legally obligated to provide their employees paid sick leave, which employees can use for themselves or to care for an ill family member.

This past July, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law AB 304 Sick Leave: Accrual and Limitations legislation, which amended the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014, which is found in California’s Labor Code.  This new law became effective as soon as the Governor signed it, and it has paved the way for nearly mandatory paid sick leave in California.

Which employers are impacted by this law?

Unlike some other leave legislation, California paid sick leave laws have been written broadly enough to encompass most every employer in the State of California. There are no exemptions for small employers (like there is with federal unpaid leave). We recommend that all employers review their leave policies to ensure that they are compliant with California’s new paid sick leave laws.

How does this law impact employers who already offered paid sick leave?

Employers who provide sick leave may not be required to offer additional sick leave under the new law if: the employer has a paid leave policy or a paid time off policy and the employer has made available amounts of leave for specific uses (like sickness) and the employer’s paid leave policy either satisfies the accrual, carry over and use requirements of the law or paid leave is provided pursuant to other provisions of law or some other legal agreements that meets the requirement of the California sick leave laws.

Can employers limit employees’ use of sick leave?

Yes. Under the law, an employer may limit an employee to either 3 days or 24 hours of paid sick leave in either each year of employment, each calendar year or a 12-month period.

How can the Law Offices of Robert P. Baker help me?

If you have concerns that your employer is not complying with California’s paid sick leave laws, or if you have been denied paid sick leave or use of paid sick leave or other leave by your employer, please contact us today. Since graduating from Harvard Law School, attorney Robert P. Baker has built a career on defending the rights of ordinary citizens. Let us be your voice and let us advocate on your behalf for justice and any compensation you may be entitled to under the law. California has set up laws to protect workers and we are proud to enforce those laws and hold employers accountable for their actions.