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Palo Alto Employment Law Blog

Which factors are used to determine just cause?

When someone loses their source of income after they are fired or laid off, their entire life may change in an instant. Unfortunately, in Palo Alto, Santa Clara, and across the state of California, some employees have been wrongfully terminated from their job. With regard to wrongful dismissal, it is very important to understand which factors comprise just cause if you are represented by a labor union. Furthermore, these factors can also impact an at-will employee who was wrongfully terminated, such as those who were subjected to unlawful discrimination and whistleblower retaliation.

The State of California Employment Development Department presents the seven factors which are used to determine just cause on their website, which may be helpful to review if you were unlawfully fired from your job. Arbitrators take these factors into account when determining whether or not an employer who terminated an employee's contract had just cause. For example, was the employee forewarned by the employer of the potential consequences of their actions? Also, were the employer's rules prohibiting such actions genuinely related to their business interests? Was an investigation conducted prior to the disciplinary action and if so, was the investigation fair and did it show clear evidence of wrongdoing? Other factors include whether an employer has punished other employees equally for the same wrongdoing and if the disciplinary action was appropriate given the employee's misconduct and their past record.

What are probationary periods?

When it comes to employment agreements, there are a number of considerations that you may have to take into account, such as compensation and benefits. However, when you are reviewing a contract, there may be other elements to focus on, such as a probationary period. In Palo Alto, California, it is essential for both employers and employees to thoroughly understand and agree upon the terms of employment contracts to prevent a future contract dispute or other contract-related problem. Furthermore, if you are already in the middle of a dispute over your employment agreement, it is absolutely necessary to understand the ins and outs of your particular situation.

The California Department of Human Resources provides information regarding probationary periods on their site. Also, since the material was written for supervisors, it may also provide employees with a better understanding of their manager's perspective. Employees who are signing an employment agreement should make sure they thoroughly comprehend the details of their contract. During a probationary period, people will work as trial employees. Over the course of a probationary period, supervisors will consider whether an employee can satisfy the requirements for the position they applied for. If not, they may be terminated. Additionally, the duration of probationary periods vary. For example, a probationary period may last for six months or could be up to 12 months long.

Taking a look at defined contribution plans

When it comes to retirement plans, two significant types include defined contribution plans and defined benefit plans. Defined benefit plans promise specific monthly benefits when an individual retires, while defined contribution plans don't have a specified amount of monthly benefits upon retirement. There are a variety of types of defined contribution plans and it is very important for employees to understand the details of their retirement plan in Palo Alto, and across California.

The Department of Labor provides an overview of pension plans and the various kinds of defined contribution plans on their website. For example, some employees have a 401(k) plan, which lets them contribute to their retirement from their check before taxes. Employees can choose between a number of investment options with a 401(k) and their employer may contribute as well. Profit Sharing Plans are another type of defined contribution plan and these plans let employers decide the amount of stock or cash they will provide to participants every year.

Recognizing the prevalence of wage violations

When dedicated employees head to work, they deserve fair treatment and should never have to put up with wage violations that prevent them from receiving the pay their hard work has earned. Unfortunately, far too many have experienced some type of wage violation and it is important to realize just how prevalent this problem is. In Palo Alto, Santa Clara, and throughout California, employees who have encountered violations of wage and hour laws should assess their situation and hold their employer accountable for any illegal behavior.

The State of California Department of Industrial Relations provides numerous examples of wage violations on their website. For example, if an employee did not receive their last check, was denied breaks or worked unpaid overtime, they can file wage claims. To file a wage claim, an employee must fill out the proper forms and provide all required documentation. If successful, they can recover unpaid wages and taking action promptly is critical for employees who have dealt with wage violations firsthand.

When is a worker considered an employee?

While some workers sign an employment contract that clearly outlines their employee status and incentives, others begin working after reaching a verbal agreement and are not sure if they are considered an employee or independent contractor. If you are in this position and wondering whether or not you are an employee, it is important to understand some of the factors involved in determining an employee-employer relationship. In Palo Alto, and across California, employees have a number of rights that other workers (such as volunteers and independent contractors) are not entitled to. For example, employees are protected from minimum wage and overtime pay violations, civil rights violations and have insurance coverage if they become injured or unemployed.

On the State of California Employment Development Department's website, you can take a closer look at some of the legal considerations regarding the establishment of employment contracts. According to EDD, the right to control is the main factor in determining employee status. The Department references a 1946 California Supreme Court case, which took a variety of factors into account when determining employee status and found that this factor was of the greatest importance. If employers have the authority to utilize full control, regardless of whether they exercise control over every detail, an employee-employer relationship exists. Other factors include whether the worker has a certain occupation that indicates independent contractor status, the amount of supervision involved, whether they have a unique skill and whether they provide their own tools.

How does the Wage Theft Protection Act protect employees?

The State of California Department of Industrial Relations' website provides helpful information on the Wage Theft Protection Act of 2011. For employees who are unsure of their rights or involved in a wage dispute, it is important to understand how they are protected by the law. Whether you work in Palo Alto, Santa Clara, or anywhere else in the state of California, it is vital to address any violations of employment-related laws immediately.

The Wage Theft Protection Act of 2011 provides a number of additional safeguards for employees. For example, the Act makes it a crime for employers to willfully violate a court judgment which requires them to pay an employee's wages. Furthermore, employers who fail to pay their employees minimum wage may face civil penalties and be required pay restitution to their employees. Other protections include a requirement that employers provide employees with specific information when they are hired and enabling employees to recover legal costs and attorney's fees which they were subjected to because of the enforcement of unpaid wages.

Offering solutions to those who have been fired illegally

There are many reasons why employers decide to let one of their workers go. However, sometimes an employee's contract is terminated illegally. In Palo Alto, California, people who think that they may have been fired illegally should promptly assess the ins and outs of their dismissal and take action. At Kastner Kim LLP, we are very familiar with the plethora of hardships that people who are going through this often encounter, such as significant stress, financial problems and difficulty finding another job. As a result, we are committed to finding ways to make life easier for people in this position and hold employers who have violated employment law accountable.

If you have been discharged from your job, it is important to meticulously review the details of your dismissal and immediately take action if you believe you were illegally fired. Wrongful discharge is a serious problem and can completely turn the lives of hard-working Americans upside down. Whether an employer fires an employee as an act of retaliation for reporting unsafe working conditions or because of illegal discrimination, workers who are dealing with a wrongful dismissal should review their rights and hold their employer accountable. Employment laws were put in place to help make sure that employers cannot treat their workers unfairly and those who have should not be let off the hook.

Assisting employees who are involved in wage disputes

From denied breaks to unpaid overtime, there are a variety of ways in which employees are treated unfairly at work. Unfortunately, these incidents occur too often Palo Alto, Santa Clara and across the state of California. When an employer violates the rights of an employee and fails to abide by employment laws such as the Fair Labor Standards Act, those who have been mistreated may have no idea of how to move forward. At Kastner Kim LLP, we take these violations very seriously and work hard to help ensure that our clients who are in this position take the most sensible course of action.

When it comes to wage disputes, every case is unique and there are different types of disputes which take place. For example, some employers may be guilty of illegally withholding an employee's pay or refusing to compensate an employee according to the terms of an employment contract. An employee may also discover that their employer has been paying them less than the national minimum wage or minimum wage laws in their state. Regardless of the details surrounding a wage dispute, it is critical for workers whose rights have been violated to carefully assess their situation and address the violations without delay. After all, employers who unlawfully mistreat their workers should be held accountable.

What are some examples of ERISA violations?

When it comes to retirement, there are a variety of considerations employees should take into account. However, it is crucial for forward-thinking employees, those who are nearing retirement and people who are already retired to make sure they focus on protecting employee benefit plans. In Palo Alto, Santa Clara and every other California city, employees who are dealing with violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 should closely evaluate their situation and stand up for their rights. If you think you may have experienced an ERISA violation firsthand, you should address the issue as soon as you can.

On their website, the United States Department of Labor published information that may be useful for those who are dealing with an ERISA violation. The DOL lists a number of examples of ERISA violations and it is imperative for people who have experienced any of them to take action. These violations take many forms, such as the failure to carefully operate a plan solely for the recipients who are entitled to benefits or using a plan's assets to benefit other parties (plan sponsors, administrators, etc.). Other examples of ERISA violations include the failure to correctly value the assets of a plan at fair market values, holding a plan's assets in trust, the failure to follow a plan's terms, the improper selection and monitoring of service providers and retaliating against people who have exercised their rights under a plan.

Woman files suit over alleged wrongful termination

When wrongful termination takes place, it can turn the lives of dedicated workers upside down. Unfortunately, people are wrongfully discharged from their job far too often in Palo Alto, Santa Clara and across the state of California. After an employee is wrongfully dismissed from work, they may be unsure of how to handle the situation and try to move forward. However, it is essential for those who think they may have been wrongfully terminated to take a close look at what happened and immediately address the situation.

A woman from Idaho recently filed suit against her employer over allegations of wrongful termination and racial discrimination. The woman claims she was fired after voicing her concerns about the restaurant's hiring practices with regard to the racial background of candidates.

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