FAQ

DISCRIMINATIONWAGE & HOUR LAWPERSONAL INJURY

Discrimination

If you’re reading this, you probably have questions about your legal rights and what to do next if you’ve been the victim of a workplace violation. The employment lawyers at Pimentel Law are highly-experienced in helping victims of workplace discrimination, harassment, retaliation and termination. We are here to help answer any questions you may have, and encourage you to call us for a free consultation at (877) 265-8084 or browse our employment law FAQs.

What type of discrimination, retaliation and harassment is prohibited in the workplace?

The Fair Employment & Housing Act (FEHA) (Cal. Gov’t Code § 12940) prohibits employers from discriminating against or harassing you because of your race, religious creed, color, ancestry, national origin, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, marital status, genetic information, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, or military and veteran status. It also prohibits employers from retaliating against you for (1) opposing any employment practice that is prohibited by the FEHA, (2) filing a complaint, testifying or assisting in any proceeding under the FEHA or (3) requesting an accommodation for a disability or a religious belief.

To prove discrimination or retaliation, you must show that you were subjected to an adverse employment action that materially affects the conditions and terms of your employment. An adverse employment action could be a loss in pay, loss of a promotion, a less desirable transfer, a more burdensome work schedule or termination.

To prove harassment, you must first decide whether it is (1) non-sexual or (2) sexual.

For harassment claims unrelated to sex, you must show that the unwelcome conduct was based on your race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, age, medical condition, marital status, genetic information, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, or military and veteran status and that it interfered with your work performance by creating an intimidating, offensive or hostile work environment.
For harassment claims related to sex, there are two categories: (1) quid pro quo and (2) hostile work environment.

Quid pro quo harassment occurs when employment benefits (like being hired or promoted) or the absence of a job detriment (like being demoted or fired) are conditioned on submission to unwelcome sexual conduct.

Hostile work environment harassment is unwelcome verbal or physical conduct based on your sex that alters the conditions of your employment and creates a hostile work environment. This includes requests for sexual favors, unwanted sexual advances or propositions, epithets, derogatory comments, slurs, comments about your body, appearance, or sexual activity, assault, impeding movement, leering, interference with work, offensive gestures, derogatory posters, cartoons or drawings. The harassment need not have anything to do with sexual advances or be motivated by a sexual desire. It could consist of treating one gender more favorably than the other, such as statements that women do not belong in the workplace, shouting, using foul language, using threatening physical gestures and invading the personal space of female employees, but not treating male employees the same way. It could also consist of gender harassment and harassment based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, such as breast-feeding.

Is my employer required to accommodate my disability?

The Fair Employment & Housing Act (Cal. Gov’t Code § 12940) requires your employer to make reasonable accommodations for your medical condition, physical disability or mental disability unless doing so would be an undue hardship on its business operations.

Reasonable accommodations include making existing facilities accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, granting a leave of absence to recover from an injury, reassignment to a vacant position, restructuring job schedules and responsibilities, acquiring or modifying equipment or devices and providing interpreters or readers.

A medical condition is a health impairment related to or associated with cancer or any genetic characteristic that is associated with a disease or disorder.

A physical disability is defined as a disorder, disease or condition that limits a major life activity. “Physical disabilities” include conditions such as a back, neck or knee injuries, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, epilepsy, seizure disorder, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, obesity, hypersensitivity to tobacco smoke and high blood pressure.

A mental disability is defined as any mental or psychological disorder or condition that limits a major life activity. “Mental disabilities” include intellectual disability, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness or learning disabilities.

“Major life activity” is defined broadly, and includes any physical, mental, or social activities, including working, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, sitting, reaching, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating and interacting with others.

To be eligible for accommodation, your employer must be aware of your disability or medical condition. Once your employer becomes aware of this, it is required by law to initiate a timely, good faith, “interactive process,” which is an informal process between the employer and employee to attempt to identify a reasonable accommodation that will enable the employee to perform the job effectively. During this process, the employer is required to explore the alternatives to accommodate the disability. Once the interactive process is initiated, the employer’s obligation to engage in this process in good faith is continuous. It extends beyond the first attempt at accommodation and continues when the employee asks for different accommodation.

However, to qualify for accommodation, you must be able to do the essential functions of an available vacant position with or without accommodation. “Essential functions” means the fundamental job duties of the employment position you hold or desire. “Essential functions” does not include the marginal functions of the position.

Do I qualify for family leave?

The California Family Rights Act (Cal. Gov’t Code § 12945.2), or CFRA, is California’s version of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The CFRA entitles you to take an unpaid leave of absence of up to 12 weeks for (1) the birth or adoption of a child, (2) to care for your spouse, registered domestic partner, child or parent who has a serious health condition or (3) for your own serious health condition that renders you unable to perform one or more of the essential functions of your job.

To be eligible for leave under the CFRA, you (1) must have at least 12 months employment, (2) have worked at least 1250 hours within the last 12 months and (3) work at a site where the employer employs at least 50 persons within a 75-mile radius.

Do I qualify for pregnancy leave?

California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (Cal. Gov’t Code § 12945), or PDLL, allows an employee, including transgendered, up to 4 months of leave when she is disabled by (1) pregnancy, (2) childbirth or a (3) related medical condition. “Related medical condition” is any medically recognized physical or mental conditions related to pregnancy, childbirth or recovery from pregnancy or childbirth, including lactation-related medical conditions. The PDLL makes it unlawful to refuse to grant pregnancy disability leave to a disabled employee or to retaliate against her for attempting to take or taking pregnancy leave.

An employee is disabled by pregnancy if, in the opinion of her health care provider, she is unable to perform one or more of the essential functions of her job or is unable to perform those functions without undue risk to herself, to the successful completion of her pregnancy or to other persons. An employee is also deemed disabled by pregnancy if, in the opinion of her health care provider, she is suffering from “severe morning sickness” or needs to take time off for prenatal or postnatal care, bed rest, gestational diabetes, pregnancy-induced hypertension, preeclampsia, postpartum depression, childbirth, loss or end of pregnancy or recovery from childbirth, loss or end of pregnancy.

Thus, in California, eligible employees are entitled to up to 4 months of pregnancy disability leave under the PDLL in addition to up to 12 weeks of CFRA leave to bond with her newborn child, which does not start until after she is no longer disabled by the pregnancy. Lastly, under the PDLL, the pregnancy leave need not be taken in one continuous period of time.

Was my termination illegal?

In California, unless you have an employment contract that states otherwise, you can be fired or laid off “at will.” That means your employer doesn’t need a good reason or any reason to fire you. This also means that you can quit your job at any time without any reason or notice. However, California has anti-disrcimination and whistleblower protections that prohibit your employer from terminating you even if your employment as “at will.”

The Fair Employment & Housing Act (Cal. Gov’t Code § 12940) prohibits your employer from terminating you based on your race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, or military and veteran status.

California’s whistleblower statute (Cal. Lab. Code § 1102.5) prohibits your employer from retaliating against you for refusing to participate in, or disclosing to a government agency, an activity that you reasonably believe is a violation of law.

If you were fired because of your protected status under the state’s anti-discrimination law or you engaged in protected activity under the whistleblower law, then your termination was unlawful.

What am I entitled to if I am unlawfully terminated?

If you are a victim of unlawful termination, you are entitled to compensation of all past lost earnings, which includes wages, health benefits, vacation pay, pension contributions, bonuses, overtime, paid time off, sick leave and any other tangible employment benefit you have lost from the date of termination to the date of trial. In addition, if you have not found comparable employment at the time of your trial, you are entitled to compensation for future lost earnings, which is all money you estimate to lose in the future until you find comparable employment. You are also entitled to money damages to compensate for all emotional harm, mental anguish and other “psychic” injuries caused by your employer’s unlawful actions. There is no limit in California on the amount you can be awarded for this type of harm. You are also entitled to recover punitive damages if your employer acted with malice, oppression, fraud or with conscious disregard of your rights. This money is intended to punish and deter the employer from committing similar future unlawful acts. Lastly, the court may require your employer to reinstate you to a position that is substantially the same as your previous one.

What should I do if I think I’ve been the victim of unlawful termination, discrimination, retaliation or harassment?

If you think you’ve been unlawfully terminated, harassed, discriminated or retaliated against, immediately contact our office for a free consultation. In our meeting, we’ll confirm whether your employer broke the law, and if so, walk you through what to do next.

How much will it cost to hire Pimentel Law?

We never charge you any fees upfront. All fees are paid at the end of the case from the settlement or judgment proceeds. The percentage we charge depends on the stage of the litigation your case is resolved. We also pay 100% of your litigation costs up front, including court filing fees and court reporter fees, and you don’t reimburse us for those costs unless we win you a settlement or judgment.

How long will the lawsuit take?

There is no easy or short answer. This all depends on various factors, such as the complexity of your case, the nature of your legal claims, the competence and responsiveness of the defendant’s lawyer, the length of time it takes to gather the necessary evidence, how soon the court sets your case for trial and how reasonably both sides act. Our approach is to do things the right way. That means doing a proper investigation, evidence gathering and research before we are ready to talk settlement with the other side. Depending on the factors listed above, this process can take as little as one month or as long as several years.

If I file a lawsuit does that mean I will have to go to trial?

Statistically speaking, the probability of any single case making it to trial is low. That’s because about 97% of all lawsuits in the U.S. settle out of court. So if you have a legitimate case, but don’t want to go to trial, you should hire a personal injury attorney with extensive trial experience to give you the upperhand in settlement negotiations. Chances are, the other side probably doesn’t want to go to trial either, so hiring a lawyer who poses a legitimate trial threat can tilt the scales in your favor and get you the result that you want. So whether you want to increase your chances of getting a good out-of-court settlement, or whether you are serious about having a trial, you’ll want to hire an employment attorney with the trial experience necessary to achieve your desired outcome.

Is there a time limit on bringing my claims?

Yes! If the unlawful termination, harassment, discrimination or retaliation occurred on or after January 1, 2020, the deadline to file a charge with the Department of Fair Employment & Housing is three years. If the unlawful conduct occurred before then, you have only one year to file your charge. Once the charge is filed, you may then immediately request a Right-to-Sue Letter, which is required before you are allowed to proceed with a lawsuit. Once the Letter is obtained, you then have an additional year to file your lawsuit. Avoid these hyper technicalities and contact our office for your free consultation. If you have a righteous claim, we’ll take care of all the technicalities so you don’t have to.

Wage & Hour Law

If you’re reading this, you probably have questions about your legal rights and what to do next if you’re owed wages or haven’t been reimbursed for work expenses. The employment lawyers at Pimentel Law are highly-experienced in helping victims of wage & hour violations. We are here to help answer any questions you may have, and encourage you to call us for a free consultation at (877) 265-8084 or browse our wage & hour law FAQs.

Am I an employee or independent contractor?

The protections of wage and hour laws apply only to employees. Thus, it is important to know whether you are an independent contractor or employee. Under the ABC test, a worker is considered an employee and not an independent contractor, unless the hiring entity satisfies all three of the following conditions: (1) the worker is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, (2) the worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business and (3) the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as that involved in the work performed. If the hiring entity fails to prove even one of these conditions, you are considered an employee.

What are my employer’s obligations to provide meal periods?

California Labor Code § 512 prohibits your employer from working you more than five hours without providing a meal period. To comply with law, the employer must (1) relieve you of all duty, (2) relinquish control over your activities, (3) permit you a reasonable opportunity to take an uninterrupted 30-minute break and (4) not impede or discourage you from doing so. If your employer fails to provide you with a meal period, it is required to pay you one additional hour’s pay for each work day the meal period is not provided.

What are my employer’s obligations to provide rest periods?

California Wage Orders require employers to authorize and permit rest periods for nonexempt employees whose total daily work time is at least 3 ½ hours. You are entitled to a 10 minute rest for shifts from 3 ½ to 6 hours in length, 20 minutes for shifts of more than 6 hours to 10 hours, 30 minutes for shifts of more than 10 hours to 14 hours and 40 minutes for shifts over 14 hours to 18 hours. If your employer fails to provide you with a rest period, it is required to pay you one additional hour’s pay for each work day the rest period is not provided.

Which minimum wage rate applies to me?

California

Effective January 1, 2020, the minimum wage in California is $12.00 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees and $13.00 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees.

Effective January 1, 2021, the minimum wage in California is $13.00 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees and $14.00 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees.

Effective January 1, 2022, the minimum wage in California is $14.00 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees and $15.00 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees.

Effective January 1, 2023, the minimum wage in California for all employers is $15.00 per hour.

In addition, many California cities, municipalities, and counties have adopted local minimum wage requirements that are often higher than the state minimum wage.

Los Angeles

Effective July 1, 2019, the minimum wage in Los Angeles is $13.25 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees and $14.50 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees.

Effective July 1, 2020, the minimum wage in Los Angeles is $14.25 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees and $15.00 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees.

Malibu

Effective July 1, 2020, the minimum wage is $14.25 for employers with 25 or fewer employees and $15.00 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees.

Pasadena

Effective July 1, 2020, the minimum wage is $14.25 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees and $15.00 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees.

San Francisco

Effective July 1, 2019, the minimum wage is $15.59 per hour.

Santa Monica

Effective July 1, 2019, the minimum wage is $13.25 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees and $14.25 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees.

Effective January 1, 2020, here is the minimum wage wage applicable to the following cities:

Belmont: $15.00

Cupertino: $15.35

El Cerrito: $15.00

Mountain View: $16.05

Oakland: $14.14

Palo Alto: $15.40

Redwood City: $15.38

Richmond: $15.00

San Diego: $13.00

San Jose: $15.25

Santa Clara: $15.40

San Mateo: $15.38

Sunnyvale: $16.05

Effective July 1, 2020, here is the minimum wage wage applicable to the following cities:

Alameda: $15.00

Berkeley: $15.59

Emeryville: $16.84

San Leandro: $15.00

Special minimum wage rules apply to employees in professional, technical, clerical and mechanical occupations who supply their own tools or equipment. When tools or equipment are required by your employer or are necessary to perform your job and are not supplied by the employer, you are entitled to at least two times the minimum wage. If your employer fails to pay your double minimum wage, you are entitled to either (1) payment of the unpaid balance of wages or (2) reimbursement of your tool purchases in addition to interest at the rate of 10% per year.

If your employer fails to pay you minimum wage, you are entitled to payment of all wages due, in addition to liquidated damages equal to the unpaid balance of the unpaid wages and interest at a rate of 10% per year.

When am I entitled to overtime pay?

State law requires your employer to pay you a rate of 1 ½ times your regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week or 8 hours per day. In addition, state law requires that you be paid twice your regular rate of pay for hours worked in excess of 12 in any workday. If your employer fails to pay you overtime, you are entitled to payment of all wages due, in addition to liquidated damages equal to the unpaid balance of the unpaid wages and interest at a rate of 10% per year.

When am I entitled to reimbursement of work expenses?

California Labor Code § 2802 requires your employer to reimburse you for work expenses if (1) they were incurred in the discharge of your duties or at the direction of your employer and (2) those expenditures were necessary. This rule is designed to prevent employers from passing their operating expenses on to their employees. If your employer fails to reimburse you for work expenditures, you are entitled to recover all sums incurred by you for those work expenses in addition to interest at a rate of 10% per year.

What should I do if I think my employer has been violating wage & hour laws?

If you think your employer has violated wage & hour laws, immediately contact our office for a free consultation. In our meeting, we’ll confirm whether your employer broke the law, and if so, walk you through what to do next. Many times, we can guide you through the process of bringing the violations to your employer’s attention to give them a chance to fix the issue informally. Oftentimes though, litigation is unfortunately the only way to correct your employer’s violations. Fortunately, our firm is fully-equipped to litigate a broad range of wage & hour issues ranging from individual claims, to class-action and Private Attorney General Act lawsuits.

How much will it cost to hire Pimentel Law?

We never charge you any fees upfront. All fees are paid at the end of the case from the settlement or judgment proceeds. The percentage we charge depends on the stage of the litigation your case is resolved. We also pay 100% of your litigation costs up front, including court filing fees and court reporter fees, and you don’t reimburse us for those costs unless we win you a settlement or judgment.

How long will the lawsuit take?

There is no easy or short answer. This all depends on various factors, such as the complexity of your case, the nature of your legal claims, the competence and responsiveness of the defendant’s lawyer, the length of time it takes to gather the necessary evidence, how soon the court sets your case for trial and how reasonably both sides act. Our approach is to do things the right way. That means doing a proper investigation, evidence gathering and research before we are ready to talk settlement with the other side. Depending on the factors listed above, this process can take as little as one month or as long as several years.

If I file a lawsuit does that mean I will have to go to trial?

Statistically speaking, the probability of any single case making it to trial is low. That’s because about 97% of all lawsuits in the U.S. settle out of court. So if you have a legitimate case, but don’t want to go to trial, you should hire a personal injury attorney with extensive trial experience to give you the upperhand in settlement negotiations. Chances are, the other side probably doesn’t want to go to trial either, so hiring a lawyer who poses a legitimate trial threat can tilt the scales in your favor and get you the result that you want. So whether you want to increase your chances of getting a good out-of-court settlement, or whether you are serious about having a trial, you’ll want to hire an employment law attorney with the trial experience necessary to achieve your desired outcome.

Is there a time limit on bringing my claims?

Yes! Depending on the type of wage & hour claim you’re bringing, you’ll have from as little as 1 year to as much as 3 years from the date of the most recent violation to bring your suit. Call us today for a free consultation to find out which statute of limitations applies to your claim.

Personal Injury

If you’re reading this, you probably have questions about your legal rights and what to do next if you’ve suffered a personal injury as a result of someone else’s negligence. The personal injury lawyers at Pimentel Law are highly-experienced in helping personal injury victims. We are here to help answer any questions you may have, and encourage you to call us for a free consultation at (877) 265-8084 or browse our wage & hour law FAQs.

I was just injured in an accident, what do I do?

The first thing you should do if you were injured in an accident is to get medical treatment. Then contact a skilled and experienced personal injury attorney. This is a very important second step because in many cases, time is of the essence. For example, there could be video footage captured of the accident that could prove the other side was at fault. Because many camera systems self erase after 15-30 days, sometimes in even less time, it is imperative that you seek the help of a professional to find valuable evidence to prove your case.

What types of personal injury claims do you handle?

The infinite number of ways in which our fellow man can commit negligence has no boundaries. For that reason, there is no limit on the type of negligence or injury our firm is equipped to handle. We have litigated a broad spectrum of negligence cases, including auto, trucking, motorcycle, boating and aviation accidents, trip/slip and fall accidents and medical malpractice claims. We have also litigated cases involving a broad range of physical harms, including severe brain and spine injuries, soft-tissue injuries, broken bones and wrongful death. Our experience makes us well equipped to handle negligence cases and personal injuries of any type.

Do I have a negligence case?

In order to have a legal right to recover compensation for your personal injuries, you’ll have to show that the negligence of a third party caused or contributed to your harm. Negligence is the failure to use reasonable care to prevent harm to others. A person can be negligent by acting or by failing to act. A person is negligent if he or she does something that a reasonably careful person would not do in the same situation or fails to do something that a reasonably careful person would do in the same situation. In some cases, negligence is obvious to any nonlawyer. In other cases, you’ll need a skilled and experienced personal injury attorney to scrutinize the injury-causing event to determine whether you have a negligence case. And because we’ve seen a thing-or-two, we know a thing-or-two. So we’ll help you determine who was at fault in our free consultation.

What am I entitled to if someone’s negligence caused me personal injuries?

When a third party’s negligence causes you personal injuries, you are entitled to money to reasonably compensate you for all of the harm. This compensation is called “damages,” and falls into two categories: (1) economic harm and (2) non-economic harm.

Items of economic harms include past and future medical expenses, past and future loss of earnings, loss of ability to earn money, loss of ability to provide household services, damage or destruction of property, loss of use of property and lost profits.

Items of non-economic harms include past and future pain, mental suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, physical impairment, inconvenience, grief, anxiety, humiliation and emotional distress. In addition, if your injury has caused your spouse to suffer a loss of your companionship or services, including the loss of love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society moral support, loss of the enjoyment of sexual relations or the ability to have children, then your spouse is entitled to compensation for that harm. There is no fixed standard for deciding the amount of non-economic damages.

If I file a lawsuit does that mean I will have to go to trial?

Statistically speaking, the probability of any single case making it to trial is low. That’s because about 97% of all lawsuits in the U.S. settle out of court. So if you have a legitimate case, but don’t want to go to trial, you should hire a personal injury attorney with extensive trial experience to give you the upperhand in settlement negotiations. Chances are, the other side probably doesn’t want to go to trial either, so hiring a lawyer who poses a legitimate trial threat can tilt the scales in your favor and get you the result that you want. So whether you want to increase your chances of getting a good out-of-court settlement, or whether you are serious about having a trial, you’ll want to hire a personal injury attorney with the trial experience necessary to achieve your desired outcome.

How long will the lawsuit take?

There is no easy or short answer. This all depends on various factors, such as the complexity of your case, the nature of your injuries, the competence and responsiveness of the defendant’s lawyer, the length of time it takes to gather the necessary evidence, how soon the court sets your case for trial and how reasonably both sides act. Our approach is to do things the right way. That means doing a proper investigation, evidence gathering and research before we are ready to talk settlement with the other side. Depending on the factors listed above, this process can take as little as one month or as long as several years.

Is there a time limit on how long I have to bring a lawsuit?

Yes! Per California Civil Procedure Code § 335.1, the statute of limitations for filing a negligence lawsuit is two years from the date of injury. However, there are some exceptions and different rules may apply depending on who you are suing. For example, the statute of limitations under California Civil Procedure Code § 340.5 for filing a negligence lawsuit against your doctor is three years from either the date of injury, or within one year from the date you actually discovered or should have discovered the injury, whichever occurs first. Figuring out the correct deadline for filing your suit can be tricky. Which is all the more reason to call for your free consultation so that we can help you navigate this complicated process.

Do I need a personal injury lawyer?

If you have suffered significant injuries, yes. Bringing a negligence claim requires a comprehensive understanding of complex laws and procedure. It also requires litigation, investigation, research, negotiation and trial skills. Lastly, in most cases it will require a significant financial investment to pay for things like filing fees, court reporters, investigators and expert witnesses. This is why it is important to hire a personal injury attorney with the knowledge and experience necessary to handle your personal injury lawsuit.

Ready to contact Pimentel Law?

Schedule a free consultation with our team. We believe that our approach to the practice of law, expertise and experience make us among the best Los Angeles area employment and personal injury lawyers.

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