Although California has the world's eighth largest economy, experts anticipate difficult times ahead as the state struggles to recover from the recession. The UCLA Anderson Forecast Group has said they expected to see unemployment at 10% or higher through late 2011. The figures show that in today's challenging economic climate where a steady paying job is as important as ever, a good understanding of employment law is a must.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, California worker's compensation system covers 15,256,000 employees working for over 800,000 employers in the state. These employees and employers generated a GDP of $1.8 trillion in 2007. In addition, 644,700 occupational injuries and illnesses were reported in 2007. Statistics also showed that in 2007, there were at least 229,871 compensation related hearings.
Some Companies Disregard Employment Laws
A steady paycheck offers more than just a way to provide for your family's needs. It provides a sense of security that is hard to come by these days. Unfortunately, some employers intentionally or unintentionally neglect or refuse to pay their employees what they are rightfully owed under their contracts or under California law.
In September 2009, the California Labor Commissioner filed a $17.5 million lawsuit against the Federal Loan Modification Law Center for failing to pay their workers for all the hours worked.
In December 2008, the commission also filed a $250,000 lawsuit against an online health care company for unpaid wages. The commission hit the nail squarely when it argued that companies that fail to pay their employees when wages are due create hardships for employees who depend on their wages for the necessities of their family.
Know Your Employee Rights to Protect Yourself and Your Family
Sadly, many employers will go to great lengths to avoid paying their employees properly so they can maximize their profits, even if it means that families must struggle to survive. They count on their employees' ignorance of employment law or their fear of confronting their superiors. Hence, it is important to be apprised of one's rights for the sake of one's self and, more importantly, one's family.
For example, many employees are unaware that under California employment law, they are entitled to wages if they are forced to work through or miss a meal or rest period.
They're also unaware that under California employment law, companies cannot deduct, subtract or withhold from an employee's wages the cost of doing business. This means, for example, that if your company forces you to wear a uniform; they cannot force you to shoulder the expense of paying for and maintaining the uniform.
In addition, many employees do not know how to properly calculate wages due to them for overtime.
Aside from unpaid wages, employees also face the prospect of suffering workplace injuries. Statistics from California's Department of Industrial Relations showed that in 2005, at least 456 employees were killed in occupational accidents. Out of the number, 384 were wage and salary workers and the majority were men between the ages of 35 and 44. Some common workplace injuries include slip and falls, back injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome and mental stress.
The Labyrinth Of Employment Law and Filing Claims
Unfortunately, fighting for one's rights can be fraught with many obstacles. When the Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently discovered many troubling trends on how labor complaints were handled.
They discovered that the department tasked to enforce laws on minimum wage and overtime responded slowly to complaints and had a poor complaint intake process. In addition, they also found that many claims were insufficiently investigated. The same problems unfortunately plague California's Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). In short, these public entities do not have the resources or manpower to handle all of these labor complaints.
In addition to these obstacles, the process is made even more complicated by the fact that even the DLSE has no set criteria on how to define an independent contractor. This means that one must often look to the interpretations of courts and enforcement agencies to decide if in a particular claim, one is an employee or an independent contractor. Because of their lack of resources and inability to adequately investigate each claim that comes to the, the DLSE has even urged employees to enlist the help of an employment lawyer.
The author Oscar Wilde once said that the best way to appreciate one's job is to imagine oneself without it. But having a job and not getting paid properly for it is not only frustrating, it is illegal.
In over three decades, BISNAR | CHASE lawyers have represented over six thousand people in car, motorcycle, truck, pedestrian and other personal injury cases. The law firm has an "AV" rating, the highest level of professional excellence, by Martindale-Hubble. John Bisnar, who is the author of this article, and his partner Brian Chase each have a "Superb 10/10" Avvo rating, the highest possible. John was named a "Community Hero" by the United Way, while Brian was named a "Trial Lawyer of the Year" in 2004,one of the 2007 Top 100 Trial Lawyers, and a 2009 OC METRO Top Personal Injury Lawyer. Isn't this the legal team you want representing you? For more information on employment law, visit http://www.employee-rights-attorneys.com or call 1-800-561-4887 for a free consultation.
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