How JustAnswer Works:

  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.

Ask Patrick, Esq. Your Own Question

Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 7630
Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
60109343
Type Your California Employment Law Question Here...
Patrick, Esq. is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

My family member was suspended without pay because his employer

Resolved Question:

My family member was suspended without pay because his employer found a pornographic magazine within his personal belongings. The magazine was located inside a briefcase. The briefcase was inside a locked file cabinet.

The employer claims that they needed to break into the file cabinet while the employee was on vacation in order to locate some supplies they needed (paint). We feel that it was unnecessary and unlawful for the employer to open the employee's personal briefcase and then suspend him based on the contents of the briefcase.

The employer claims that their employee handbook stipulates that pornographic materials are prohibited in the workplace, however the employee was never provided with the handbook. Furthermore, the magazine was locked away inside his personal briefcase,which the employer had no reason to open.

Were the employee's rights violated? The employee works as a maintenance worker at an apartment complex.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Hello and thank you for entrusting me to answer your question. I am very sorry to hear about your family member's termination and can understand why he feels as though his rights have been violated--in fact, they likely have.

Employees have a limited though well-established expectation of privacy in the workplace that arises from both the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and California law. This expectation of privacy is heightened when it comes to the employee's personal briefcases, purses, and handbags and most such searches will be found to be unreasonable absent strong justification to conduct an immediate search based on suspected employee misconduct (i.e., an employee is suspected of having brought a gun to work).

In your family member's case, the search was conducted for reasons not relating to suspected misconduct, but to look for paint. I cannot conceive of a circumstance wherein such a search would be justified. Add to this the fact that paint is unlikely to be located in a briefcase, if even capable of fitting inside, and you really have a search with no possible justification.

While an employee is generally bound by the terms of a handbook even if they never received a copy, this is irrelevant because the violation was discovered through an unlawful search. Since the search was unlawful, any employment action premised on the findings of such a search is, by extension, also unlawful. Accordingly, an individual in your family member's circumstance would have a reasonable claim for damages in the form of lost income arising from his termination based on the results of this illegal search.

For attorney referrals to pursue the case, visit this link: http://apps.americanbar.org/legalservices/lris/directory/main.cfm?id=CA or visit http://www.martindale.com I particularly like Martin Dale because the site allows you to search attorneys by practice area and also provides attorney ratings.

Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.

If you do not require any further assistance, I would be most grateful if you would remember to provide my service a positive rating, as this is the only way I will receive credit for assisting you.

Finally, please bear in mind that none of the above constitutes legal advice nor is any attorney client relationship created between us.

Very best wishes and happy holidays to you.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you. I appreciate your help. Can you provide some low to no cost legal resources? My family member cannot afford a lawyer and will likely be intimidated about pursuing this due to financial limitations. We are in California. Thanks again.

Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you very much for your reply. Here on Just Answer we cannot ourselves provide legal representation, nor can we refer out to specific attorneys. The good news, though, is that your family member need not pay an attorney up front for this sort of legal representation.

Employment attorneys would accept a case such as this on a contingency fee basis. That means that there is no up front fee and no fee at all if you don't recover anything. In a contingency fee arrangement, the attorney is compensated by a percentage of the total recovery--typically 33%.

Contingency fee arrangements are a very common form of fee agreement and really the norm, rather than the exception, in employment cases such as this.

You can use the links provided above to find an attorney on a contingency fee basis. You may also want to check your local county bar referral service, which you can find here: http://www.calbar.ca.gov/Public/LawyerReferralServicesLRS.aspx

Again, I sincerely XXXXX XXXXX this information helps you and I wish you the best. If I have answered your question, I would be very grateful for a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you.

Kindest regards.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 7630
Experience: Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
Patrick, Esq. and other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you

JustAnswer in the News:

 
 
 
Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... Justanswer.com.
JustAnswer.com...has seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like justanswer.com/legal
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.
 
 
 

What Customers are Saying:

 
 
 
  • Mr. Kaplun clearly had an exceptional understanding of the issue and was able to explain it concisely. I would recommend JustAnswer to anyone. Great service that lives up to its promises! Gary B. Edmond, OK
< Last | Next >
  • Mr. Kaplun clearly had an exceptional understanding of the issue and was able to explain it concisely. I would recommend JustAnswer to anyone. Great service that lives up to its promises! Gary B. Edmond, OK
  • My Expert was fast and seemed to have the answer to my taser question at the tips of her fingers. Communication was excellent. I left feeling confident in her answer. Eric Redwood City, CA
  • I am very pleased with JustAnswer as a place to go for divorce or criminal law knowledge and insight. Michael Wichita, KS
  • PaulMJD helped me with questions I had regarding an urgent legal matter. His answers were excellent. Three H. Houston, TX
  • Anne was extremely helpful. Her information put me in the right direction for action that kept me legal, possible saving me a ton of money in the future. Thank you again, Anne!! Elaine Atlanta, GA
  • It worked great. I had the facts and I presented them to my ex-landlord and she folded and returned my deposit. The 50 bucks I spent with you solved my problem. Tony Apopka, FL
  • Wonderful service, prompt, efficient, and accurate. Couldn't have asked for more. I cannot thank you enough for your help. Mary C. Freshfield, Liverpool, UK
 
 
 

Meet The Experts:

 
 
 
  • LawTalk

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    936
    I have 30 years of experience in the practice of law, including employment law and discrimination law.
< Last | Next >
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/LA/LawTalk/2012-6-6_17379_LawTalk.64x64.JPG LawTalk's Avatar

    LawTalk

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    936
    I have 30 years of experience in the practice of law, including employment law and discrimination law.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/MU/multistatelaw/2011-11-27_173951_Tinaglamourshotworkglow102011.64x64.jpg Tina's Avatar

    Tina

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    888
    JD, 17 years experience & recognized by ABA for excellence in employment law.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/PI/PIExpert/2012-7-1_152453_Attorney.64x64.jpg Brandon, Esq.'s Avatar

    Brandon, Esq.

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    334
    Has received a certificate of recognition from the California State Senate for his outstanding legal service.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/PH/phoenixrising119/2012-7-26_11214_043.64x64.jpg melissamesq's Avatar

    melissamesq

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    47
    Represent clients to maximum recovery in employment cases.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/IG/Iggy1001/2013-11-20_23344_JApic.64x64.jpg Joseph's Avatar

    Joseph

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    3755
    Extensive experience representing employees and management
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/JK/jkiani22/2013-11-18_15348_JacobKiani1copy2.64x64.jpg jkiani22's Avatar

    jkiani22

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    24
    Attorney
  • /img/opt/shirt.png Legal Counsel's Avatar

    Legal Counsel

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    32
    California Licensed Attorney- 29 years- Wages, Hours, Overtime, Discrimination, Wrongful Termination.
 
 
 

Related California Employment Law Questions

Chat Now With A California Employment Lawyer
Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq.
2314 Satisfied Customers
Significant experience in all areas of employment law.