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San Diego Employment Law Attorney Blog

How defamation works in employment law cases

As is the case throughout the United States, "defamation" is illegal in California. This means that anyone, including a San Diego worker, can sue, should another person, including that worker's former employer, make false statements about the worker that hurt the worker.

Employers can be accused of defamation for references. After all, a bad reference can ruin a Californian's career as it could make other prospective employers uninterested.

Review of who an "exempt" employee is for overtime

Most San Diego workers are aware that hourly employees have to be paid overtime, at one-and-a-half times their normal hourly wage, if they wind up working more than 40 hours in a given week. However, many if not most employees in the area are not hourly workers but rather receive a regular salary.

Presumably, these people do not get overtime because their salary accounts for the fact that they may have to work for extra hours from time to time. In theory, the reverse is also true, and the employee may not have to work full hours in a given week, although in practice it is rare that an employer would just let an employee frequently go home early or come in late.

Assistance with benefit dispute with your employer

When San Diego residents think about a dispute over pay with their employer, the first thing that will likely pop in to their mind is a debate how much an employee is entitled to in ordinary cash payments under California law.

While it is true that employees are entitled to their agreed upon cash salary, that is just one area in which an employer might try take advantage of an employee by undercompensating him or her. For instance, many employees receive special benefits and incentives, which can include stock options, guaranteed bonuses, perks and other compensation. These benefits are often described in detail in an employee's employment contract.

What are stock options and how do they work?

A San Diego employee who is taking on his or her first job after graduating college may be expected to sign an employment agreement of some sort before starting work. This agreement may discuss the employee's access to stock options, which employers may but not have to offer to their employees.

Basically, and as the name implies, a stock option allows an employee the opportunity to buy shares in a company's corporate stock. The reason this option is an advantage to an employee who might otherwise be able to buy the stock on the open market for the listed price of that day is that the price of the stock offered under the option is fixed, and this fixed price is called the exercise price.

Southern California resort accused of wage violations

The Terranea resort, which sits on the Pacific coastline about 100 miles away from San Diego, is facing allegations from its workers that it has violated applicable wage and hours laws, including California's provisions about mandatory breaks which previous posts on this blog have discussed.

The impending litigation is a class action lawsuit, meaning that several Terranea employees have banded together in their efforts to seek justice in court against their employer. They accuse their employer of underpaying them in several respects.

Representing Californians deprived of breaks

A previous post on this blog discussed how, under California law, an employer in San Diego or, for that matter, in any other part of the state has to give all employees who are paid by the hour a certain number of breaks. These breaks must be provided under certain conditions and must also last for a specified amount of time. Certain breaks must also be provided with compensation.

However, the fact that the law affords California employees with the breaks they need to rest and thus protect their physical and mental safety does not mean that all employers respect the law. Some may flat out ignore it in the hopes their employees will be too frightened to report the violation, while many others will try to subtly get around California's laws. In either case, employees who suspect they are being taken advantage of might not know exactly what to do or where to turn.

How an implied contract work in California

Like all but one of the other states, California is what is called an employment "at will" state. This means that absent an employment agreement to the contrary, an employer in San Diego or in other parts of the state can end his or her employee's job for any reason, so long as the reason is otherwise legal under federal and state law.

However, many state courts, including the courts in California, are relatively quick to imply that there was in fact an employment agreement in place even if an employer did not expressly intend as much or put anything in writing. If part of this implied contract was some sort of a promise that if an employee did certain things, he or she could count on keeping his or her job, then the court will enforce that promise.

California requires employees have breaks

As this blog has mentioned previously, sometimes California law affords broader protections to San Diego employees than does the federal law. Such is the case when it comes to giving employees regular breaks and time to take their meais.

Under California law, hourly employees must get a 10 minute paid break for every 4 hours they work if they work 3 hours 45 minutes or more on a given day. The obligation to provide a paid break also applies to a major fraction of every 4 hours worked, with major fraction being 2 hours. So, a worker who is on due for 6 hours has a right to 2 paid breaks.

The 'just cause' standard in employment contracts

As one of the perks of a job, many San Diego employers will offer their prospective employees some extra job security by promising in a formal employment agreement not to terminate the employee except for good cause or just cause.

In other cases, an employer may create what is called an implied contract by making promises to an employee of ongoing job security, even if the promise lacks the formality of a detailed written agreement. California courts can and do enforce these sorts of implied promises.

California powerhouse company hit with gender bias lawsuit

The internet giant Google has been sued for gender discrimination, with three women who used to work for the company alleging a system of Google's giving males better positions which lead to better pay. The women are seeking certification as a legal "class" entitled to treat this litigation as a class action suit.

The suit follows a lot of controversy which suggested that Google had in a place a pay system which leads to workplace discrimination against women. For instance, at the beginning of this year, the United States Department of Labor sought to prevent Google from accepting federal contracts after the company would not cooperate with a request for documents.