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Rand L. Stephens & Richard Koss
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Frequently Asked Questions

The Bay Area Employment Lawyers Rand L. Stephens and Richard Koss assist California employees and employers in labor law matters ranging from discrimination to retaliation to contract issues. In the interest of sharing some general information, we offer the following answers to some frequently asked questions about employee rights.

How do I apply for time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in California?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides job protection and unpaid leave to eligible employees should they miss work for family and medical purposes, such as a birth or injury. Under the FMLA, an employee can take a leave of absence to care for his or her own serious medical condition or to care for an immediate family member with a serious medical condition.

Not all employers and employees are covered under the FMLA. Whether your employer is covered depends on the size of the employer in addition to other criteria, and whether you are covered depends on how long you have worked for your employer as well as the number of hours you have worked during the applicable time period. If you are covered by the FMLA, you can apply for protected leave by obtaining a form from your employer, which must be properly filled out by you and your health care provider. We can help you through the process, ensuring that you keep your job and health insurance coverage.

How do I report discrimination in the workplace?

If you are experiencing discrimination in the workplace, your first step is to obtain a copy of your employer’s policies on discrimination, which should contain procedures for filing a complaint. Follow these steps to ensure proper and timely reporting. Next, write down your issues and concerns, including specific examples and quotes contained in emails or other electronic communications. Also, list other employees or third-parties who were present during the discriminatory act.

Once you have gathered all of your information, you will need to officially report the problem to your employer, usually through your direct supervisor, a manager, or the human resources department. If your employer fails to respond to your complaint or you are unsatisfied with the result, you may contact the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

What constitutes a hostile work environment in California?

A hostile work environment exists when an employee experiences workplace harassment, and cannot perform his or her job duties because of the offensive, intimidating or oppressive atmosphere generated by the harasser. A hostile work environment may also be created when management acts in a manner designed to make an employee quit his or her job.

What is “retaliation” in the workplace?

Federal and California laws protect employees from retaliation by employers for asserting protected rights, such as the right to work in a non-hostile environment, the right to proper overtime pay, and the right to pregnancy disability leave. The basis for a retaliation claim is that the employer disciplined, suspended, terminated, or otherwise improperly treated the employee for doing something that is protected by law. In order to win a retaliation claim, an employee must show that he or she:

  • Engaged in protected conduct
  • Suffered an adverse action by his or her employer
  • Suffered the adverse action because of the protected conduct

Please see our retaliation page for further information about employee protection from retaliation and actions that constitute retaliation. Contact our offices to schedule a consultation if you believe you have a claim.

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