Were You Asked to Sign Something Just to Get Paid?

fiprkThe day an employee leaves their job can be a very emotional experience, even if the employee is leaving the job by choice. It is often much more so if an employee is being fired or laid off for lack of work. It makes sense, in a world where most people work paycheck to paycheck. When a job is ending, people often wonder where their next month’s rent is coming from and whether or not they’re eligible to collect unemployment.

Too often, an employer will ask an employee to sign something on this day. And employees will sign it, sometimes without even reading it, believing it is necessary to get their final paycheck. Often, they are very concerned about what their employer will say to prospective employers who call and ask about their job performance and behavior. Sometimes, employees will sign anything just because they want things to be gotten over with.

However, employees should carefully read anything they’re asked to sign regarding their employment, especially at the end of their job. The employer could be trying to get the employee to agree they have been paid everything they are owed, or even waiving their rights to sue in exchange for a small severance payment.

Labor Code 206 and 206.5 may protect employees in this situation. Labor Code Section 206.5 clearly states that an employer cannot require an employee to sign a release in order to get paid. Violation of this section can be a misdemeanor, and it covers claims regarding wages due or about to become due. Labor Code Section 206 states that in any dispute over wages, the employer shall pay the undisputed amount due within the required time limits. Triple damages can sometimes be recovered in this situation under the code. This section also provides that the employee still has the right to bring a lawsuit over disputed amounts paid, even if the employer pays the undisputed amount.

One thing an employee shouldn’t have to worry about is whether or not they’ve been paid all their wages, especially when they’re in a precarious situation to begin with.

Do You Have a Favoritism Situation, a Nepotism Case, or Discrimination?

nepOur office just received a call from an employee asking if it was legal for their boss to treat family members better than the other employees who work for them. This is a question that comes up regularly, and it is a valid question, because it involves an issue of basic fairness. Often, the caller describes a person who is related to the boss that does less work, gets more pay or gets a better schedule than the employees who are not related in these calls. The legal term here is nepotism. It means a family member is getting better treatment than the rest of the employees simply because they’re related to the boss or owner of the business. The truth is that unless you’re working for the government, and are covered under a Government Code Section, there are no specific laws preventing an employer from treating an employee better than the rest because they are related.
However, an employer could be breaking their own anti-nepotism policy. Such policies can often be found in an employee handbook. At times, union contracts forbid such treatment and require that things like preferred schedules or jobs be based upon seniority, or another neutral criteria. Sometimes, a breach of contract or breach of implied contract case can be the result of such a situation.
But, just because you don’t work for the government, have a contract or an anti-nepotism policy — that doesn’t mean you don’t have a case. Situations that look like nepotism can actually turn out to be a possible discrimination case. If you are being treated differently because of your gender, age, race, nationality or sexual orientation, you may have a violation of the law taking place. Such cases are generally fact specific and will require an interview with an experienced law office to determine what is happening.

Has a School or Training Program Promised You a Job and Failed to Deliver?

kloaThe advertisements sound so great. They show smiling, successful workers with great jobs and happy families. They can seem like the answer to all your problems, especially if you’re at home watching television because you are out of work, really unhappy with your current job, or just not sure what to do next with your life. They say if you go to this school, and complete the program, you’ll get a job that pays well and offers great benefits. You’ll be able to work in the medical profession, or other acclaimed and in-demand field. They show people who have attended the school extolling the benefits of the program –talking about their enviable promotion or new position and how it changed their lives. They are so glad they went to this program.

What they don’t always say is that these results are not typical. They also might leave out the fact that the school is a for-profit institution, and that their students are borrowing thousands upon thousands of dollars, and investing months of precious time for a degree or certificate that won’t guarantee them anything.

Such schools can be sued for false advertising, misrepresentation of job placement rates, or even fraud. In some cases, schools have been targeted by the attorney general’s office for preying on veterans, many of whom served in hopes of getting money for schooling they could not otherwise afford. Even when the victims involved are not veterans, they often involve the most sympathetic of victims, in that the students just want to pursue the American dream of doing better by improving themselves through hard work.

Buyers should definitely be aware of the fine print when choosing a vocational school or college. They should keep copies of anything they sign, and ask for written material regarding placement rates, average wages achieved in placement, and exactly what services are available to help those graduates get jobs. Bringing a private fraud case, or even a class action, is a possibility if sufficient evidence exists that promises were made but not kept. It is not uncommon for some schools too simply close their doors, leaving students without what they paid for.