Are you considering starting an employment claim and have questions? Read this article for guidance, then give our California office a call to get started.
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.
How do I choose the right attorney for my employment law claim?
A question that I got last week from a potential client was, “How do I choose an attorney for my employment law claim?” It was an interesting question because she was calling me, an employment lawyer, and asking what factors she should look at in trying to find the right employment law attorney. We talked for a little bit about the fact that what she should be looking for is somebody that actually specializes in employment law. I told her she should look for a lawyer at a practice where the entire practice is devoted, to some degree and to some aspect, to employment labor law. Especially in California, you want an attorney familiar with an area of the law called the Fair Employment and Housing Act. You need to look for an attorney that really specializes in discrimination or employment law.
The next step I think is really important is to look for an attorney that has the resources. Whether you take on a large corporation or a smaller employer, employers don’t just roll over. They do have the resources to fight you, and they will fight you. I think it’s important that you find a firm that’s big enough and has the resources to go toe-to-toe with the employer and with the employer’s counsel that they hire.
Next, I think it’s important that you find attorneys that will be able to take your case to trial. At the end of the day, it’s always surprising to me how many people call themselves civil litigators or trial attorneys. Truth be told, they’ve actually never tried a case. It’s important for you to find an attorney that has routinely tried cases.
Lastly, I think it’s important for you to find somebody that you trust and that you trust will tell your story and has your best interests in mind. Sometimes your best interest is going all the way; sometimes your best interest is to go to trial. At other times, your best interest might be to find closure before you go to trial, and that might be pursuant to a settlement agreement, in which you have the peace of mind that you feel that you’re able to resolve the case and move forward. That peace of mind has value to you.
Really, those are the factors that I think are important for you in finding an attorney. Find an attorney that has all of those aspects or all of those attributes that you can attribute to them. If you have questions as to what you should look for in an attorney or whether or not my firm could be that firm, always feel free to give me a call. I’m happy to answer any questions that you may have regarding your case or whether or not we’re the right attorneys for you. I appreciate your time and I look forward to hopefully talking to you.
Can I file an employment claim if I quit my job?
A lot of employees that we represent throughout the year are employees that have been fired. There’s a smaller subset of employees that we get that quit their jobs, and they wonder what affect quitting their job in California has on any claims they may or may not have. For employees that feel like they’ve been subjected to wage violations, what affect does quitting your job have on your claim? Not much. Any rights that you had as an employee will survive either termination or quitting. If you have a wage claim of some kind – an underpayment of overtime, unpaid wages, meal rest breaks – whether you quit or get fired for any reason, you’re always going to be able to assert your claims.
If you’re an employee that quits and you’ve been subject to what you believe is unlawful conduct – discrimination, harassment, or retaliation – and you quit, that can be a harder question as to whether or not the courts are going to allow you to proceed in court. This has to do with what we in California call ‘constructive discharge.’ Without getting too legal about it, constructive discharge is the court or a jury will determine whether a person in your setting had no other choice but to quit, that a reasonable person in your situation had to quit or else face additional discrimination, harassment or retaliation.
Before anybody quits, I think it’s extremely important that you talk to an attorney. If you’re trying to make a decision as to whether or not you quit, please don’t make that decision based off of something you read on the internet. It’s very important that before you quit your job in California because of retaliation, discrimination, or harassment that you talk to somebody, whether that’s my firm or another one.
If you have questions and you think our firm can help you answer those questions, please reach out to us. We’re more than happy to discuss what options you may have as a current employee.
Are you or a loved one dealing with an employment law matter and need help starting an employment claim? 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