Home > Civil Litigation

CIVIL LITIGATION

WAGE & HOUR CLAIMS & LITIGATION

California law is friendlier to employees than similar Federal laws regarding minimum wages. Federal law uses an averaging method to calculate whether an employee has received minimum wages. Our law firm’s attorneys have assisted clients from diverse employment backgrounds, from bank employees, restaurant cooks, servers, manager, casino dealers, office administrative employees, restaurant full time delivery workers, private caretakers, construction workers who are attempting to recover overtime wages and/or payment for missed meal and break periods, and/or reimbursable expenses. California law provides for stiff penalties if an employer fails to pay employees the correct amount of wages at the correct time. If you work for a large company in which many employees might be facing the same underpayment or misclassification issues, particularly when your individual claims are small, our attorneys may consider applying for class action a status in order to take advantage of the cost sharing inherent in the class action litigation.

Regardless of the type of employee we represent, we approach every case as if it is our only case. Whether justice is achieved through an individual client case or a California wage class action, all our clients can rely on our attorneys’ solid knowledge and experience to achieve the best possible results. When conducting your free evaluation, our attorneys will determine whether your claim should be handled as an individual case by early demand and settlement, or litigation, or by a California wage and hour class action. Regardless of the type of wage claim you may have, you can be assured that your case will receive the utmost care and precision.

Unpaid Overtime • Missed Work Breaks • Misclassification of Exempt/Non-Exempt Status

Your employer may have accidentally or intentionally failed to pay you for the overtime you have earned. Often, businesses find creative ways to justify unpaid overtime. Some tactics include but are not limited to:

  • Incorrectly classifying employees as exempt to avoid paying overtime
  • Failing to account for hours worked in two locations for the same company
  • Erroneously failing to count required work completed “off the clock”
  • Expecting an employee to work through meal breaks or rest periods
  • Calculating overtime by hours worked over a one-week period, but ignoring single day shifts in excess of 8 hours
  • Implementing a compensation system to offset days when more than eight hours were worked (comp time)
  • Requiring employees work overtime but not paid overtime
  • Requiring employees clock out but to stay behind for office meeting or clean up
  • Requiring employees work through their meal or rest breaks
  • Requiring employees attend company meeting during their lunch breaks
  • Requiring employees report to work but not pay for time that they have to wait to begin work
  • Requiring employees travel between job sites but not pay for travel time
  • Requiring employees to pay for their uniforms or business expenses; and
  • Requiring employees share gratuities with the management or the employer

According to California Labor Law, with the exception of live-in housekeepers, all non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime compensation for any hours worked in excess of 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week. This means overtime pay is earned if a single shift exceeds 8 hours, even if less than 40 hours are worked during the week. “Comp time” is not recognized as compensation for overtime.

There are many ways that employers can cheat employees of their hourly wages, often without the employee even knowing they are being cheated. Whether it’s the occasional request to stay an extra hour that then becomes a regular pattern — always without pay — or the “press of business” that means you can’t take your lunch break, failing to pay employees for time worked is illegal. Wage and hour violations often affect an entire class of workers, not just one employee. Immigrant workers are most vulnerable but many hourly workers are not well informed about how California and federal employment laws protect them.

If you are an hourly worker, you are protected from illegal and unreasonable employer demands that you work overtime or skip breaks. But you might need legal help to ensure your rights are protected and to help you get the wages you are legally entitled to. You can call (949) 654-2490 to speak directly to our attorney or contact our law office online. Your initial consultation in the matter of wage and hour dispute is free and in most instances we will handle your case on a contingency fee basis. That means you pay no attorneys’ fees until we achieve a successful verdict or settlement for you. For the past fifteen years, we have represented clients from various work industries, including but are not limited to, manufacture, restaurants, casinos, banks, housekeepers, and administrative offices. Our attorneys are experienced and aggressive advocates for workers’ rights in wage and overtime disputes.

Misclassification of Exempt/Nonexempt Status

One of the biggest problems in the area of wage and hour claims is misclassification of lower-level workers as “managers,” and misclassification of employees as “contractors” in order to bypass wage and hour laws. Salaried employees whose job duties are generally routine most likely have been misclassified. One of the ways employers get employees to work additional hours without additional pay is by misclassifying them as “exempt” employees. As an exempt employee, you are not covered by the California Wages Orders, which would cap your work hours at 40 hours a week, unless you were paid overtime for additional hours.

Exempt employees are paid a salary, not an hourly wage. Exempt employees typically include managers, administrators, professionals, and creative staff, and may include sales staff who work on commissions. The decision about whether a position is exempt or nonexempt depends not on the job title, but on the job duties. Exempt employees are typically:

  • Executives who spend more than 50 percent of their time managing two or more employees and who have the authority to hire and fire and to influence promotions;
  • Administrative employees who perform office or non-manual work directly related to the management or general business operations of the company and who regularly exercise discretion and judgment under general supervision;
  • Professionals whose work requires education and advanced knowledge, and often a license or certification issued by the state;
  • Employees who work with high-tech equipment or computers;
  • Certain sales employees
  • Another group of employees who can be misclassified is independent contractors. In order for a worker to be an independent contractor, the worker needs to be in control of the manner of his or her work. The only thing the company can direct is the result of the work — what is produced and when. If your employer tells you how to do your work or the hours you must work, then you are probably an employee and not truly an independent contractor. This would mean your employer must offer you the benefits offered to similar employees and must pay their share of employment taxes.

    You have a right to fair pay for the work you performed in good faith. Employee misclassification is very common. All too often companies promote an hourly employee to “assistant manager,” but then require that employee has to do the same job duties he or she did before. Does this sound like your situation?

  • Are you a manager who does not manage any employees?
  • Do you spend more than half your time doing routine tasks like stocking shelves, inputting data, running the cash register or taking on the work of those under you?
  • Are you on call 24 hours a day?
  • Are you working such long hours that your salary does not add up to double the minimum wage?
  • Just because you have been classified as exempt by your employer that does not mean you are exempt under the law. If you think your employer has misclassified your job, get a professional legal opinion. You can call (949) 654-2490 directly to speak to our attorney or contact our law office online. Your initial consultation in the area wage and hour disputes is free in the area of wage and hour disputes. In most instances we will handle your case on a contingency fee basis, which means you pay no attorneys’ fees until we achieve a successful verdict or settlement for you.

    Common Types of Misclassification of Employees

    Exempt employees are paid a salary, not an hourly wage. Exempt employees typically include managers, administrators, professionals, and creative staff, and may include sales staff who work on commission. The decision about whether a position is exempt or nonexempt depends not on the job title, but on the job duties. Exempt employees will typically:

  • Executives who spend more than 50 percent of their time managing two or more employees and who have the authority to hire and fire and to influence promotions;
  • Administrative employees who perform office or non-manual work directly related to the management or general business operations of the company and who regularly exercise discretion and judgment under general supervision;
  • Professionals whose work requires education and advanced knowledge, and often a license or certification issued by the state;
  • Employees who work with high-tech equipment or computers;
  • Certain sales employees
  • Another group of employees who can be misclassified is independent contractors. In order for a worker to be an independent contractor, the worker needs to be in control of the manner of his or her work. The only thing the company can direct is the result of the work — what is produced and when. If your employer tells you how to do your work or the hours you must work, then you are probably an employee and not truly an independent contractor. This would mean your employer must offer you the benefits offered to similar employees and must pay their share of employment taxes.

    Some employers mistakenly believe that if you are paid a salary, you are not entitled to overtime pay. In California, this is not necessarily true; in fact, this is a major misconception among employees and employers. If you believe you have been misclassified as an exempt or contract employee, get the facts about how California employment laws apply to you. You might need legal help to ensure your rights are protected and to help you get the wages you are legally entitled to. You can call (949) 654-2490 to speak directly to our attorney or contact our law office online. Your initial consultation in the matter of wage and hour dispute is free and in most instances we will handle your case on a contingency fee basis. That means you pay no attorneys’ fees until we achieve a successful verdict or settlement for you. For the past fifteen years, we have represented clients from various work industries, including but are not limited to, manufacture, restaurants, casinos, banks, housekeepers, and administrative offices. Our attorneys are experienced and aggressive advocates for workers’ rights in wage and overtime disputes.

    PERSONAL INJURY CLAIMS & LITIGATION

    If you are injured in an accident, obtaining the help you need from a reliable and qualified Irvine personal injury attorney can help you pursue fair and full compensation for your injuries and other damages. At Law Offices of Rachel H. Lew, APLC and associates have helped numerous clients to get settlements for all manner of personal injury claims, including cases involving car accident, truck accident, drunk driver accident, premises liability, wrongful death, defective products, traumatic brain injury, and spinal cord injury.

    With catastrophic injuries that are caused by the negligence of another, it is important for you to seek legal counsel who is knowledgeable regarding the best method of investigating your claim and pursuing all compensation your claim deserves. When a person’s death is a result of another’s recklessness, wrongdoing or negligence, the deceased’s family may be entitled to damages from those associated with the victim’s death under a wrongful death claim, a legal remedy that didn’t previously exist for survivors. The Wrongful Death Act, however, was created so that family members could be compensated for their loss. Some of the losses that could be recovered include: funeral expenses, loss of future income, loss of companionship / protection / intimacy, estate administration expenses and the loss of the value of other contributions to the household.

    Proving your claim is one of the most important aspects of recovering damages for your losses. Our attorneys we carefully review your case to determine what steps that should be taken and what parties are responsible for the accident. We are also familiar with how insurance companies generally resolve claims, which is to quickly offer a small figure in order to rapidly close their case. But this is where we use our excellent negotiating skills in pursuing a settlement on your behalf. Whether we settle during negotiation or proceed to trials, you can trust that we have your best interests in mind to help you through the resolution of your claim.

    For personal injury lawsuits, you must prove certain facts that entitle you to damages. You must also file your lawsuit within the statute of limitations. Statutes of limitation provide limits on how long you have to commence a lawsuit on your claim. The statute for personal injury claims in California is a two-year statute. That is, you must either settle your claim or file a lawsuit against the responsible parties within two years after the accident. Additionally, there are different statutes of limitation that apply to claims against government agencies, attorneys, doctors and many others.

    A personal injury case is usually based on negligence, intentional tort, or strict liability. To prove negligence, you must prove that the defendant failed to fulfill a duty to you (the duty to drive safely, for example), that this failure caused an accident, and that the accident injured you. You can prove an intentional tort by showing that the defendant acted with the intention of harming you – like by punching you in the nose. In some cases you can win based on “strict liability,” without proving the defendant was at fault. Strict liability may apply if you were injured by a defective product. Unlike in a criminal prosecution, the legal standard is “guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” the legal standard in a personal injury case is a “preponderance of evidence.” This means all you have to prove is that the defendant is more than 50 percent likely to be responsible for your injury.

    You can claim damages for many different aspects of your injury, including past and future medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Damages for pain and suffering are often several times as large as damages for medical bills and lost work time. In negligence cases, your damages may be reduced if the accident was partially your fault. However, most personal injury lawsuits are resolved through settlements prior to or during litigation rather than courtroom verdicts after trials.

    BUSINESS LITIGATION

    Many business people come to law firm and say they either want to sue someone, or say that they are being sued. Before proceeding with a lawsuit, it is vital to first review all the facts and circumstances surrounding the lawsuit, analyze and apply relevant statutory and common law, analyze and determine the strengths and weaknesses in the opposition’s position, and craft an effective litigation strategy. If the client is the Plaintiff, he or she must ensure that he or she not only has a case supported by facts, prevailing law, and a well thought out legal strategy, but he or she must also determine that the business or person that will be sued has enough assets that can be collected by judgment at the end of the legal action. If the client is a Defendant, he must focus on all applicable legal defenses and countersuits.

    When a controversy arises between two or more people or businesses, we believe it is prudent to first attempt to resolve the issue through negotiation on terms most favorable to our client. This is frequently accomplished by phone calls, letter writing, and through intense and serious negotiations. However, when litigation is in the best interest of our client, we will then aggressively and expeditiously represent our client’s legal interests in court. Whether prosecuting or defending a business litigation matter, the attorneys at Law Offices of Rachel H. Lew, APLC will perform a thorough analysis of our client’s legal position and strategy. From the onset of accepting any case, we will advise our clients concerning the costs of litigation in terms of where their money can be saved, and where their money should be spent. Because business litigation is costly, our prudent management of client’s litigation costs can be one of the most important factors in succeeding in litigation.

    Our firm’s attorneys and associates have represented, and continue to represent plaintiffs or defendants, both in and out of court, numerous corporations, partnerships, limited liability companies, and sole proprietors in the areas, including but not limited to: Breach of contract, Fraud, Intentional or Negligent Misrepresentation, Intentional interference with contract, Unfair competition, Negligence and Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Breach of Non-Competition Agreements, Breach of Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing, real property disputes, Violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act and Unruh Civil Rights Act.