Costa Mesa Employment Lawyers

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Perhaps no other state has labor and employment laws as robust as those found in California. These laws benefit employees and business owners alike – at least those who know how to utilize them. The California Labor Code can be complex, which is one reason why labor issues are best resolved with the help of an experienced employment law attorney. Finding the right Costa Mesa employment lawyers is essential to protecting your rights and limiting your costs, whether you are an employee or an employer.

Employment Attorneys Protecting Your Rights

Your employment attorney needs to understand both negotiation and litigation in employment law and be familiar with state, local, and federal laws. At Engels-Janzen, we represent both employees and employers involved in litigated disputes. With over 15 years of combined legal experience and the insight gained from being on “both sides of the courtroom,” our employment law attorneys are ready to help you resolve nearly any issue you may be facing.

Representing Workers Harmed By Adverse Employment Actions

Employee rights are essential and frequently stepped over. We proudly protect the rights of workers who have been victims of:

  • Illegal workplace discrimination (race, gender, religion, pregnancy, disability, etc.)

    It is illegal under both state and federal law to treat an employee differently based on a protected characteristic. Discrimination may take many forms during employment and in the hiring process, including not being hired, being fired, or being passed over for a promotion without clear reason.

  • Harassment and sexual harassment

    In California, harassment includes both sexual harassment and discriminatory harassment. Harassment includes unwanted sexual advances, inappropriate physical or verbal conduct, gender-based harassment, and other harassment based on a protected class.

  • Wrongful termination

    It can be financially devastating to lose your job, and not every termination is a wrongful termination. California is an at-will employment state, meaning that either employees or employers can end the employment relationship at any time. In practice, this protects the interests of employers much more.

    A wrongful termination occurs when an employer terminates an employee partially or fully based on an illegal reason. Firing an employee based on discrimination or in retaliation for an employee’s protected action would be considered wrongful termination.

  • Violations of wage and hour laws

    Employees have a right to be paid for their work, and specific employees have a right to mandated breaks and overtime pay. If an employer isn’t paying their employees the minimum wage, paying them for their overtime, or not allowing or discouraging breaks, this is wage theft. Some employees are exempt from these requirements. If you are unsure whether you are facing wage and hour violations, contact an employment attorney.

  • Retaliation for taking legally protected employment actions

    Retaliation is when an employer takes a negative employment action against an employee in response to the employee taking a protected action.

    Protected employment actions include whistleblowing, disclosing wages, filing a claim with the Labor Commissioner’s Office for discrimination or harassment, taking protected sick leave in good faith, or engaging in political activity.

    A negative employment action by an employer may include termination, lowering an employee’s benefits or wages, demotion, or giving an employee undesirable job duties or hours.

  • Worker misclassification

    Employee misclassification is a form of wage and hour violation, as it usually allows an employer to avoid paying a worker the full benefits they are owed. Misclassification most commonly occurs when employers label an employee as an independent contractor when they are an employee to avoid paying for certain expenses or benefits. It also occurs when employers classify nonexempt employees as exempt to avoid providing them mandated breaks.

    When you hire us, we immediately begin investigating your case to determine whether your employer broke the law. We then help you gather evidence to corroborate your allegations and prepare your case for trial or settlement negotiations.

    We know that litigation is often overwhelming and expensive for individual clients, and work to find a solution that is cost-effective and protects your rights. Our in-depth legal knowledge and experience representing employers allow us to notice important details that may go overlooked by other attorneys.

Advising Business Owners And Defending Litigated Employment Claims

As a business owner, you focus on the health and growth of your business, including fully complying with employment laws. Full compliance with labor laws not only helps your employees but it can protect you from future liability. Unfortunately, the length and complexity of the California Labor Code can sometimes make compliance difficult. Working with a skilled employer defense attorney can help your business avoid these pitfalls and resolve any issues that do arise.

We understand that litigation is a huge investment of time and money, and it can cause reputational damage to the business. The stakes are very high for companies in employment claims, and your attorney should understand the importance of the case.

Good faith employment claims should be dealt with in a way that is fair and does not harm your business. Not all employment claims are valid or good faith claims. We work efficiently to help you dismiss frivolous claims and resolve disputes outside the courtroom, when possible. If the case does go to trial, we will advocate aggressively on your behalf to limit liability and avoid damaging publicity.

At Engels-Janzen, we take the time to understand your priorities as an employer and a business owner. Each company has different wishes for the resolution of employment claims, and our skilled attorneys learn your goals to better represent your interests in negotiation or litigation.

Questions About California’s Wage And Hour Laws

One of the major topics we cover with both employees and employers is potential violations of wage and hour laws. These laws are not well understood, even by many business owners, and that can lead to issues on both sides.

We are ready to advise you of your rights, responsibilities and legal options when confronting an issue related to:

  • Failure or refusal to pay overtime
  • Misclassifying a worker as exempt or nonexempt
  • Misclassifying a regular employee as an independent contractor
  • Wage theft
  • Minimum wage violations
  • Denial of legally mandated meal and rest breaks
  • Making employees pay for the costs of uniforms, tools or other items necessary to do their jobs

The best way to protect yourself is to understand how the law applies to you, and that starts by contacting an experienced employment law attorney.


Q: What Is the New Law in California for Employment?

A: There are several new labor laws in California, including:

  1. The minimum wage increased as of January 1, 2024, to $16 per hour, regardless of the size of an employer’s company
  2. The minimum salary for exempt employees is $66,560 as of January 1, 2024
  3. Employees are entitled to 40 hours or five days of paid sick leave per year, whichever is more
  4. Employers are prohibited from enforcing or creating noncompete agreements with employees, voiding all noncompete agreements between these parties
  5. Employers are required to notify current and former employees that noncompete agreements that have been signed are void
Q: What Are My Rights as an Employee in California?

A: California employees have several rights outlined by state labor laws, including:

  1. The right to earn at least minimum wage, overtime pay, and double-time pay when applicable
  2. The right to mandated rest and meal breaks
  3. The right to a safe and healthy work environment
  4. The right to a workplace free of discrimination and sexual harassment
  5. The right to sick leave under the state and federal laws
  6. The right to be protected from retaliation and wrongful termination

Some employees are exempt from certain rights. For example, overtime pay does not apply to independent contractors or specific administrative and other exempt employees.

Q: Can You Be Fired Without Warning in California?

A: Because of California’s at-will employment laws, an employer can fire an employee at any time for any or no reason. Both parties have the right to terminate employment at any time, but this law protects employers much more than it protects employees.

Although at-will employment allows employers to fire an employee for any reason, employees cannot be fired for an illegal reason. If you are fired and you believe it was due to discriminatory reasons or in retaliation for protected actions you took, this may be a wrongful termination.

Q: What Is Wrongful Termination in California?

A: Wrongful termination in California occurs when an employee has been fired based on illegal reasons. An illegal reason includes:

  1. The termination was partially or fully due to discrimination based on the employee’s protected characteristic
  2. The termination was retaliation after the employee took a protected action, which includes taking protected medical leave under state or federal laws, whistleblowing, discussing your wages, or reporting harassment or discrimination

If you believe your employment was terminated because of discrimination or retaliation, you should discuss your situation with an employment attorney.

Free Consultations Available – Contact Us Today

At Engels-Janzen, we have a deep understanding of local, state, and federal employment law, as well as civil and business law. Engels-Janzen represents employers and employees throughout Los Angeles and Orange counties. To take advantage of a free consultation, call our office in Costa Mesa at 949-269-7709. You can also fill out our online contact form.

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