Every year, hundreds of employment-related lawsuits are filed across the country. These lawsuits have resulted in over $100 million dollars in settlements in 2020 alone, according to data from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It is in the interests of business owners to mitigate the impact of these lawsuits,. And so, more and more employers are seeking proactive assistance from employment litigation defense lawyers. Vanegas Law Group represents California employers across industries in even the most complicated lawsuits. As experienced litigators with a history of success, we ensure that our clients’ rights are preserved at every step of the litigation process. Our innovative processes allow seamless transfer of information from our clients in defense of their case. We are dedicated to expedient, courageous, and cost-effective defense strategies and providing compassionate and candid case assessments. If you were served with a lawsuit, do not panic. Instead, take a deep breath and call the Vanegas Law Group today at (925) 937-5433 for a consultation about your options.
What Do We Do?
Vanegas Law Group is an employment law firm with significant experience in all matters related to the employment relationship and business operations. We have observed that even the best-intentioned employers are often subject to a legal dispute. Issues and disagreements arise frequently in the area of employment law, for a variety of reasons, and sometimes these disputes become severe and emotionally-charged. Sometimes, these disagreements result in heated demands and protracted litigation.
As employment litigation defense lawyers, we are regarded as a team of fearless and steadfast litigators, unwavering in the face of tough legal disputes. Given our extensive experience in handling employment lawsuits, we have provided counsel for the full gamut of litigation matters, including:
- Wrongful termination
- Wage-and-hour disputes
- Civil rights violations
- Breach of contract issues
- Trade secret matters
- Employee classification disputes
- Whistleblower/retaliation claims
- Administrative audits involving major state and federal agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the California Department of Fair Housing and Employment (DFEH), and the Department of Labor (DOL)
The laws and regulations surrounding employment matters are subject to frequent changes, primarily due to the growing need of the workforce and the political climate at the time. Staying up-to-date with these laws is difficult enough, which is only compounded by their consistent legislative and regulatory overhauls. While preventing disputes is key to avoiding employment litigation, this is not always feasible. And, the Covid-19 pandemic further complicated today’s employment law landscape.
When disputes remove your focus from your business and haul you into the courtroom, you only benefit from having a dedicated, courageous, candid, and confident employment litigation defense team by your side. Our breadth of experience positions the Vanegas Law Group as the go-to option for employers facing employee lawsuits in California.
Even though a majority of employment agreements contain an “at-will” policy, permitting the employer to end the working relationship at any time, this does not relieve the business of all legal responsibility. In certain situations, however, an employee’s discharged may be deemed wrongful termination. If a former employee of a business can prove that they were fired due to unlawful reasons, they may have the ability to file a lawsuit and recover compensation and their attorney’s fees.
Employees are guaranteed protections under state and federal law against discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and other grossly unfair treatment. These safeguards are in place to prevent employers from discharging employees on discriminatory, prejudicial, or any other inequitable basis. Unfair treatment on the basis of any of the following is illegal under state or federal law:
- Race or color
- Sex, gender, or gender identity/expression
- National origin or ancestry
- Sexual orientation
- Family or marital status
Under the combination of laws that govern wrongful termination, an employee cannot be fired solely due to immutable characteristics of their identity. Additionally, it is wrongful termination if an employee is fired in retaliation for participating in a workplace investigation or reporting a violation of the law to or against the employer.
Wrongful termination may also occur when the employer fails to abide by their own written employment policies and procedures. If an employer has a written employment policy detailing certain steps of disciplinary actions, they must adhere to these steps. These “progressive discipline” policies remove the at-will presumption of employment. Therefore, failure to follow these disciplinary steps may constitute a breach of contract, and employees may seek compensation for wrongful termination.
Claims of wrongful termination can take many forms and it is important for employers to safeguard their business against such issues. In the event of a lawsuit, employers will be required to show that they had legitimate, non-discriminatory and non-retaliatory reasons for the termination. In many cases, this can be an uphill battle. The litigation team at Vanegas Law Group approaches every employment litigation defense case strategically, working zealously and systematically, using innovative approaches to resolve the dispute as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Employee Classification Disputes
Another common cause for employer/employee disputes is employee classification issues. Employee classification refers to how employers compensate the employee for their job. Based on the job duties and responsibilities, often written in job descriptions, and the reporting structure of the position, a skilled employment lawyer can counsel the business to properly classify employees’ entitlement to overtime pay. If, however, an employer fails to correctly classify the employee and, thus, fails to pay her overtime compensation, there may be grounds for an employee classification lawsuit. These wage-and-hour lawsuits can become quite costly for the business, as employees often proceed on a class-action or representative basis to enforce wage-and-hour laws throughout the company, affecting all misclassified employees. Additionally, state and federal law provides for significant penalties for failure to pay overtime wages to workers.
Another common example of misclassification is paying employees as if they were independent contractors. Under both state and federal law, employees are guaranteed more serious protections. In, California, Assembly Bill No. 5 establishes the “ABC” test” which is used to determine whether a worker is classified as an employee or an independent contractor. Again, a mistake in classifying a worker as an independent contractor can expose a business to costly and time-consuming legal battles.
Wage and Hour Disputes
Section 11040 of the California Code of Regulation sets forth the industrial wage orders in the state. This law is in addition to a variety of other statutes, such as the Labor Code, that govern how employees are compensated for their work. Some of the most common wage and hour violations that often result in litigation include:
- Failure to pay minimum wage
- Failure to pay overtime
- Requiring off-the-clock work
- Failure to provide rest or meal breaks or the failure to relieve the employee of duty during their breaks
- Misclassifying employees as salaried-exempt or as independent contractors
Under California’s statute of limitations for wage-and-hour disputes, workers have three years from the time that the violation occurred to file a lawsuit. The amount of compensation that an employee will receive depends on the specific statute that the employer violated and on the penalties that may be assessed for such violations. Our employment litigation defense attorneys at the Vanegas Law Group can provide more information regarding compensation related to wage and hour disputes.
How Can Employment Litigation Defense Attorneys at Vanegas Law Group Help?
For the majority of business owners, handling employment disputes is a major area of concern. Employment lawsuits can result in significant financial consequences, leaving employers with an incentive to handle such issues with as much care as possible. In some cases, however, the only way to resolve employment issues is through litigation.
As a leading Walnut Creek, California law firm, Vanegas Law Group has skillfully handled all areas of employment and business law. With employment litigation at the forefront of our practice, we fearlessly represent our clients in a variety of employment-related lawsuits, ensuring that their rights are protected to the fullest extent. Employment litigation matters can be stressful, but you do not need to bear the burden alone. Contact us at (925) 937-5433 to schedule a consultation with an experienced employment litigation defense attorney.