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San Francisco Employment Law

Conflicts between employers and employees can be costly and time consuming. Mike works to produce constructive, fair, morale-boosting workplace solutions. Particularly in this area, he believes strongly in preventive law practices and employee training. If, despite such measures, conflicts develop, Mike focuses early on finding answers through negotiation rather than confrontation.

However, should it become necessary to take a matter to court, Mike has more than 30 years of litigation experience. He has assisted individuals, and businesses of all sizes, as either plaintiffs or defendants, in resolving employment-related conflicts.

Mike’s employment law services include:

Preventive Law Training

Mike played the role of the judge in one of the best-selling workplace training videos of all time, Litigation Landmines. He also helped develop an approach to workplace sexual harassment training that allowed a major American corporation to reduce its sexual harassment cases from 37 to 6 in one year, — an approach that was recognized in a feature story in The New York Times and in Workforce Magazine. Very comfortable in front of a roomful of people, he has personally conducted workplace training for many different “live” audiences.

Among the many subjects he can address in training sessions are:

  • Preventing Sexual Harassment by Co-employees
  • Preventing Sexual Harassment by Managers
  • Preventing Unlawful Harassment (e.g., race)
  • Reducing Workplace Violence
  • Effective Hiring
  • Protecting Employee Privacy
  • Effective Investigations and Discipline
  • Lawful Terminations
  • Addressing Substance Abuse
  • The Law of Employment
  • Preventive Employment Relations

Independent Contractor, Overtime & Exempt Employees, and Wage Concerns

Among the trickiest of “up front” employment law issues is sometimes that of whether an individual is an independent contractor or an employee.

Once it is decided that an individual is an employee, it must be determined whether they are an exempt salaried employee or an employee who must be compensated on an hourly basis. If an employee is non-exempt, their eligibility for overtime compensation can trip up all but the most seasoned human relations specialists. And, the consequences of misclassification, or of a failure to pay overtime, can be enormous.

Severance Agreements

Severance agreements establish the terms of a separation of employment. Severance is a agreements may include items such as severance pay, continuing benefits, and release agreements (companies may wish to offer a compensation package in exchange for an employee’s agreement to waive future legal claims). Mike can help craft individualized severance agreements that protect the rights of both employers and employees.

California does not require severance pay in the absence of a signed employment contract. However, employers have legal obligations related to employee insurance rights, final paychecks, and the confidentiality of severance information. Guidance from an attorney may prove helpful in this area.

Wrongful Termination

Despite the fact that California is what is known as an “at-will” employment state, a wrongful termination complaint may be sustained, by way of example, if an employee’s separation violates an employment contract, or State or Federal labor laws, or if the termination is claimed to be in retaliation for a complaint against the business (such as for an alleged safety violation).

Anti-Discrimination Laws

Whenever an employer decides to hire one applicant rather than another, or to promote certain employees rather than their co-workers, that employer is discriminating. Basically, discrimination is simply making a distinction between two or more people. Discriminating on the basis of measurable qualifications happens regularly in most workplaces. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, it is almost always a good thing.

However, certain forms of discrimination in employment have often been unfair and have produced results that adversely affect individuals and society as a whole. As a result, many local, State, and Federal laws now prohibit targeted and defined types of discrimination, especially discrimination based on what is called in the law membership in a “protected class.” Most Americans can recite most of the protected classifications that now exist under the law, such as race, color, religion, gender, etc.

But, there other protected classes that are less well known. For example, it is unlawful to discriminate against an employee who lawfully exercises her right to make a claim under our State’s workers compensation laws. Discrimination cases can present many challenges, whether one is an individual or a business.

Mike has been dealing with discrimination matters on a State and Federal level for well over two decades, on behalf of plaintiffs and defendants, both on an administrative level and a litigation level.

Although employers may intend no harm, they almost always violate employment discrimination laws when they treat individuals differently because of a protected characteristic or activity. It is not always necessary to prove unlawful intent to prevail in a discrimination case.

Discrimination can occur in any aspect of an employment relationship, including:

  • recruiting
  • advertising
  • applications
  • testing
  • hiring and firing
  • promotions
  • assignments
  • transfers
  • job descriptions
  • seniority
  • discipline
  • training
  • compensation
  • company activities

Put simply, all employees, regardless of their protected characteristics or activities, must have the same opportunities for career advancement. Employers, with very few exceptions, may not have separate employee classifications or job descriptions that are based on a protected characteristic

Employers today also have an affirmative duty to prevent discrimination in their workplaces. They may be liable for violations of discrimination laws if they do not take steps to prevent discrimination and harassment in their workplace. An employer “in denial” may have a rude awakening. Guidance from an experienced attorney may prove helpful, especially with respect to preventive law training.

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