Are you filing an employment claim and have questions? Check out these 3 questions about employment law, then contact our office today.
1. Do I need an attorney for my employment law claim?
Some of the clients that we talk to during the week are clients that have already started the process of bringing a claim here in California against their employer. Sometimes it’s for a client that’s filed a workers’ comp case, and they’re nervous because they feel like the employer’s putting pressure on them to resolve their case, or the insurance carrier just wants to close out their case and the employee is still injured. In those types of situations, as in most workers’ comp cases, it’s important for you to reach out to an attorney to help you with that process and ensure that somebody’s advocating for you. A lot of times, this is your one shot to become whole, with regards to that injury.
Outside of workers’ compensation, we also get calls for employees that have gone to the DFEH or the EOC – or another agency called the DLSE, depending on the type of claim – and those agencies are trying to put pressure on them to resolve their case. The employer is offering them money and the employee is saying, “Well, that doesn’t seem like enough.” A lot of times, it’s not enough. I look at the numbers being thrown around and ask, “Do you think that makes you whole?” The employee often says, “No. No way.”
The reality is California is set up so that employees can represent themselves, so you don’t actually necessarily need to hire an attorney to bring a claim to a governmental agency. You don’t even need to bring an attorney with you if you want to file a lawsuit in superior court or federal court. In my personal experience, doing this is extremely dangerous. You’re dealing in a venue or a forum that is completely unfamiliar to you. You’re going to be litigating against attorneys that are going to be aggressive and see you as being outnumbered and outmatched. They’re going to wait for you to blow deadlines, and they’re going to wait for you to provide inadequate responses, and then they will take that opportunity to try and get the case dismissed.
As to the question of whether you can file a lawsuit by yourself or file a claim with a state agency by yourself, I would encourage you to talk to an attorney to see if they can help you out with that process before doing any of that. They can help you figure out if going to a state agency is actually the best step for you. If you’ve already filed with a state agency and you’ve got questions, I think it’s important for you to talk to an attorney to figure out where you’re at in the process with the state agency, and whether or not your claim has more value or whether or not there’s more claims out there to be added to your ultimate claims to try and fully compensate you for the harm caused to you by the employer here in California.
If you are about to file a claim with a state agency or even the superior court, or if you’ve already filed a claim with a state agency, I would encourage you to talk to a law firm about what rights you have. If I can address any of those issues, feel free to give us a call. I’m more than happy to answer any questions that you may have. Thanks.
2. Am I entitled to social security disability benefits if I also receive workers’ comp?
Clients often ask if, in addition to Workers’ Compensation benefits, they are entitled to other benefits as an injured employee. First of all, it’s important to understand that you typically can only receive one type of benefit at a time, if a claim has been filed under Workers’ Comp. If you have a claim under California Workers’ Compensation and they are paying you benefits, for the most part, that’s going to be your benefit related to that injury.
If during your injury you realize that you’re not going to be able to go back to work and that you want to seek additional benefits for when your Workers’ Compensation claim is over, you are sometimes able to file a claim for Social Security Disability benefits both through the Federal government as well as here within California. Sometimes, in addition to Worker’s Compensation benefits, you also might be entitled to short-term disability payments, as well as long-term disability payments. There’s a lot of options and a lot of issues as to what benefits you’re entitled to and when you’re entitled to them.
It’s not the easiest area of the law for people to navigate on their own. If you have any questions as to what impact your Workers’ Compensation claim has on other benefits outside of California Workers’ Compensation law, please feel free to give me a call. I’d be happy to answer those questions for you.
3. What damages are available under the Fair Employment and Housing Act?
This morning I met with a new client of ours, here at the Myers Law Group. She had a question as to what type of damages we would be seeking. She had a claim under an area of the law called the Fair Employment and Housing Act. Like most of the laws in California regarding employment, California laws try to make an employee whole, addressing the damage that was caused by the employer’s decision that adversely affected the employee. I told the client that, as a result of being terminated for what I believe was unlawful conduct, we would be asking for a couple things in the lawsuit and then, ultimately, the jury, if we went that far.
The first issue that we’ll seek is emotional distress, the emotional distress of being terminated, as well as the emotional distress that this employee suffered prior to termination as a result of unlawful harassment. We’ll ask a jury or we’ll make a demand upon the employer that they compensate the employee for the emotional distress and unlawful harassment that occurred prior to the termination, and then we’ll seek emotional distress after the termination.
A lot of employees that come to me, or clients that come to me, have similar stories, but every story is unique. The uncertainty of having a job going forward is devastating, wondering how you’re going to pay for your mortgage or your rent, how you’re going to put food on the table. A lot of my clients have never been terminated. A lot of my clients have never been out of work. A lot of my clients are angry, angry that the employer didn’t do the right thing, angry for the position that they are now in. They’re nervous and scared about going forward and having to tell future employers as to what happened and why they’re no longer working for a company that they truly enjoyed working for originally.
We’ll seek emotional distress from a jury as well, including past emotional distress and future emotional distress. In addition to emotional distress, the employee is also entitled to back wages as well as front wage, or the difference between what they would’ve made at the previous employer that terminated them and what they’re currently making. If it took them time to find a job, we’d seek compensation for that period, too. If the new job that they found pays less or doesn’t have benefits as good as those offered by their previous employer, we’ll look for those benefits. The second type of damages that we’ll be seeking is wages and benefits. Some employers are subject to punitive damages, as well. We’ll be asking a jury, ultimately, to award punitive damages for the conduct of the employer, to truly punish the employer to make sure that they never to that again. Lastly, if you get to trial, we’d also be asking for attorneys’ fees and costs for bringing the litigation.
Those are the types of damages we’ll ultimately be asking a jury for. As we litigate your case, a lot of cases do settle. The demand that we put out there, or what an attorney will ask for, sort of contemplates all that – back wages, front wages, past emotional distress, future emotional distress, punitive damages if the employer is subject to attorneys’ fees and costs. Most cases settle, typically for a lump sum, and that lump sum is to address all of those damages.
If you have a question as to what damages you would be entitled to if you brought a lawsuit under the Fair Employment and Housing Act, or any other California laws, it’s important that you talk to an attorney who can describe or explain those damages to you. If I can answer any questions regarding those damages, or any other aspects of California employment law, feel free to give me a call. I’ll be happy to answer any of those questions.
Are you or a loved one in the process of filing an employment claim in California and have read these 3 questions about employment law? Contact the experienced California employment law attorneys at the Myers Law Group today for a free consultation and case evaluation.
We can help get your life back on track.
Like Us on Facebook