California Employment Law
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First, let me say that I am terribly sorry to hear that you are in this situation. It is a shame when an employer makes a decision without legitimacy, especially when that decision is quite frankly wrong. However, that does not necessarily mean that the decision is unlawful. California is an at will employment state. This means that your employer is allowed to terminate your employment for any reason that does not violate your civil rights or is in breach of contract. Thus, if you are a union employee, or if you have an employment contract that says you must be fired for cause, then you might have legal recourse against them for terminating you. Additionally, if you believe the reason that you were terminated could be related to a protected category, such as your age (over 40), gender, race, religion, genetic information, pregnancy, national origin, creed, or disability, then the termination would be deemed wrongful and you would have a cause of action. In this situation, you would want to file a formal complaint for wrongful termination with the EEOC here:
or hire an employment attorney to best assist you. If you decide to hire an attorney a great resource is www.Martindale.com. This is a nationwide directory that is useful in finding highly qualified legal specialists in various fields of law. The lawyers in Martindale are not selected because they paid to be included, but rather because they have been rated by other attorneys as qualified experts in their field. Consider consulting with two or three different attorneys willing to take your case prior to selecting the one you feel most comfortable with.
Other types of termination, even if wrong, are still legal. As a consequence, the only potential remaining option that you can pursue would be to file for unemployment benefits and claim, quite rightly, that you were terminated "without cause" and seek unemployment benefits.
You would not be able to seek damages, but you would be able to contest the termination as being ultimately invalid.
If you do not believe that you were discriminated against because of a protected category, the best approach here may be to try to set up a meeting with your supervisor and explain in a calm and positive manner that you really like your job, really like working there, and wonder if there is any way that they could allow you to continue your employment there.
The justification behind your termination, however, is a completely separate issue from them not paying you.
Under Labor Code Section 201 and 227.3 you MUST have been paid all of your wages, including accrued vacation immediately at the time of termination.
In addition to the wages owed, you are owed a waiting time penalty (1 full day of pay per day it is late up to 30 days) as well as possible liquidated damages since you are paid less than minimum wage for the time you worked and were unpaid. The easiest way to make sure you get paid is to file an unpaid wage claim here:
They will make sure you get paid, and make sure you get the penalties the company now owes you for failing to pay you.
More about your rights to the waiting time penalty can be found here:
Welcome to the chat
So, in short, you should absolutely file with the DLSE to get your unpaid wages. If you were retaliated against because of a protected category, then you should file with the EEOC or DFEH here:
If, however, the harassment was paid on a request to be paid your final wages, the courts have made very clear that they will not be the arbiters of general claims for unfairness or harassment that is not premised on a protected trait such as race or religion, reasoning that if workplace unfairness/harassment could form the basis for legal action, we would see thousands of such lawsuits every day. This is certainly not to diminish your concerns or complaints, but rather to explain the policy behind the law, which may assist with your understanding. I realize that the law is not entirely in your favor here and I am truly sorry to have to deliver bad news. Nonetheless, I trust that you will appreciate an accurate explanation of the law and realize that it would be unprofessional of me and unfair to you to provide you with anything less.
Does all of this make sense?
I meant to say if the harassment was based on a request to be paid, and not on a protected category above.
Are you still here with me?
First thing this a properties management company, that hired me at the beginning just to be a leasing agent. Then after they assign me properties as a manager, Months later they call me to a meeting to named as I regional manager with a portfolio of 16 properties, they continue acquiring more properties and they add to my portfolio. Every time that they added a new property I ask for raise in my salary which should be normal since is extra duties they refused and they keep me with a same salary, in another addition they fire the Maintenance supervisor and they thought that it was a good idea to give that responsibility. I refuse to take it because I considered it was to much for me. Since recently I was ended up in the hospital for a week due overloaded responsibilities which caused me a lot of stress. I beg to the owner to reconsidered his proposal, because I was unable to do it while it is a big responsibility but they basically forced me to do it with a promise that it would be only temporary for a month until they hire another maintenance supervisor and with a promise of payment but it never happen and with the time they were demanding more from me. After lot intents to recover my salary, instead to pay they start harassing me and making my job very difficult and unbearable. Every time that I claimed my payment they used sarcasm and laugh. It was very frustrated for me. Many times I thought and quit but I didn't because really needed my job and they take advantage of that. They discriminate me saying that Mexicans work for whatever salary and we don't have rights. I don't have any contract with the company they always refuse to sign a contract with me, even when I requested multiple times, they try to make me sign a voluntary resignation, which I refuse to do it because I couldn't understand why I was fired and when I ask for reason they refuse to give any. They didn't payment for a long period time approximately for over a year for extra responsibilities they assign me with a promise of payment that never happen I have lots of proof (as a pictures, documents, receipts etc..) that I comply with new responsibilities that they add to my regular portfolio. I feel that I was abused for long time and I thing it should be laws to protect my rights.
Another questions that I have is that I still have the keys of all the properties and my charge and I want to return them, but I'm afraid because I do not how to do it to protect me and not receive any accusation. I'm waiting for a advise how to proceed. Please help me and let me know what is better to do in this case. Thank you for all your help.
were you paid as a w2 or as a 1099?
Also, do you have any coworkers willing to testify (or any witnesses) to any statement made about "mexicans work for whatever salary"
Yes many of them
Did you work only for them? Or did you work for other people? Did they have the ability to decide how you did your job every day? Or did you have free reign to complete each task as you saw fit?
those who were treated and fire the same way without pay
I only work for them, I didn't work for anybody else,
Yes I always received instructions from them and approvals for everything
It sounds like there could be a class action lawsuit against this company (which may be the best way to go) as it can show the widespread discrimination against the company. Additionally, it sounds like you should have been categorized as a W2 employee and were incorrectly categorized (as I am imagining the other employees were as well.)
So, given the new information, I would say 1) find an employment attorney in your area. If you do not want to do this, then 2) file with the EEOC and claim you should have been a w2 employee.
As for the keys, how long has it been since you have had them?
from when you should have returned them
Yes I agree and I always claim for that, but they told me that it was the best for me.
I was fired last Friday October 4th./2013. And they demanding me the keys immediately and I want to return them but at the same time I would like to be protected.
Since it's a big responsibility because is a units keys, rent box keys, legal documents as tenants leases, storages keys and I don't want them make responsible if something happen or let them to play duty with me.
I mean dirty.
I can guarantee you that they are going to play dirty. However, you do not want to get yourself in trouble for conversion. Accordingly, you will want to return the keys as soon as you can (as it has been less than a week it is completely reasonable to have had them this short amount of time)
You can get them to sign something stating that they received everything
Because your claims against them will not change, but if you do not give them keys they may be able to countersue you, which you do not want
I'm pretty sure that they are going to denied or refuse to sign anything. In this case what can I do? Should I have to take pictures of the keys when I returning them? Should I have to go to a police station to return them?
You can take a picture if you would like. You can also just make an itemized statement of each thing you are returning.
Do you recommend me to send an email to my former boss to set up an appointment to return him the keys? Would like to know if he will accept it, if not at least to keep a record that I'm trying to return them.
You can, but you should consider just going in later today and dropping them off, or in the email asking if he wants them mailed, etc. You just want to make sure there is no argument on their part that you have intentionally kept the keys (known as conversion of property) i.e. that you are stealing them.
But of course, I am speaking purely from a legal standpoint
I understand your concerns regarding a leverage standpoint, I can only tell you what will happen if the courts get involved.
What I need to do to make an attorney to be interested in my case?, because I been trying to find an attorney online, they request me tell them briefly and I do. But they don't return my call or answer my questions. They seem not being interested in my case.
If an attorney calls you back and says they are not interested, that is usually a sign they are not interested. If they simply do not call you back, that is unfortunately a condition of the legal profession. I cannot tell you how many attorneys loose numbers, forget to call people back, do not follow up, etc. In regard to an attorney being interested in your case, you need to 1) tell them how much money is owed to you, and 2) more importantly tell them about the racial statements being made against you.
The more instances you can think of that relate to discrimination, the better your case is.
Again, you can also just file with the DFEH here and claim that you were supposed to be an employee and not an independent contract, and the DLSE here:
But again, I would keep calling employment attorneys until one calls you back.
Because you likely have a good class action lawsuit here
You should specifically reference that they are doing this to all of the Hispanic/Mexican employees
Here is more information about why you are likely an employee who has been incorrectly labeled as an independent contractor
last questions, is worth it to sue them or is my case difficult?
You should absolutely sue them for unpaid wages, or at the very least file a complaint. If you worked any hours that have been unpaid, then it is in your benefit to file a lawsuit, or make a complaint.
Thank you very much for your advice it was very helpful, you answer most of my questions.
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