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Should You Keep Emails, Paystubs, & Documents if You Believe Your Boss Isn’t Paying You Properly?

What happens if your boss keeps incomplete records of the hours you worked? Can a company just get away with not paying you your full and rightful wages? What if you decide to challenge your employer in court by providing your own incomplete records or witness testimony? Will you be able to make a case for wage theft based on incomplete evidence of the hours you worked?

The California Court of Appeal has issued a ruling on this very issue, and the decision could benefit workers.

Keep reading to learn a little about this major decision, as well as associated employment issues. 

Don’t forget to check our main pages on overtime and rest breaks. If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to contact our office for more information.

Keeping Wage Records, Timesheets & Paystubs Image | Branigan Robertson

The Case, a Brief Summary

This case, filed with the California Appeals Court First Appellate District, involved a marketing director named Terry Furry and his former employer, East Bay Publishing. In 2014, Furry sued East Bay for unpaid overtime wages, meal and rest break compensation as well as statutory penalties for inaccurate wage statements.

Furry had been an employee of East Bay Publishing going back to 1996. In 2009 he was promoted to sales and marketing director. Though he was paid a base salary of $20,000 in addition to his commissions, East Bay reportedly did not keep track of the overtime hours he worked. 

After filing his lawsuit, Furry testified to working overtime hours, with some days adding up to 12 hours. Coworker testimony supported his claim.

A lower court ruled that while Furry’s employer failed to keep accurate time records, it also found that his testimony was “too uncertain to support a just and reasonable inference that he performed work for which he was not paid.” 

The appellate court disagreed.

Citing precedent, the appellate court argued that once the plaintiff shows “the amount and extent of that work as a matter of just and reasonable inference,” then the burden of proof shifts to the employer to provide evidence of the precise amount of work performed.

The court further added, “If the employer fails to produce such evidence, the court may then award damages to the employee, even though the result may be only approximate.” 

In simple terms, this means courts can rely on incomplete worker-supplied evidence regarding hours worked if the company doesn’t keep accurate wage records of its own. In this case, the incomplete evidence included testimony from Fury’s coworker.

A Word About Wage Theft – It Happens All The Time

The case detailed in this article is just one scenario involving employees being denied proper wages. In some cases, the practice is more overt. Sometimes, employers systematically refuse to pay their workers properly. Whatever the situation, an employee who feels they have not been paid their rightful wages should contact an attorney to discuss their situation.

You Should Keep Your Own Records

This case also illustrates something that any worker dealing with a difficult employer should keep in mind — the need to keep your own records. We generally recommend that folks keep their timesheets, paystubs, and other evidence that a jury could easily understand.

This applies whether you’re dealing with wage theft, discriminationharassment or any number of workplace issues. This might mean keeping detailed notes of conversations or encounters with management, it might also mean saving emails, voicemails and paystubs.

If you believe you’ve experienced wage theft, or have been denied rest breaks, talk to a lawyer to discuss your situation.

Have Questions? Contact our Office

There are a lot of different unlawful situations in which a person might be denied their rightful wages. It can happen when a person works overtime hours, when a person is forced to work on their lunch break, it can even happen when a person is asked to complete small tasks after they’ve clocked out.

Whatever your situation, if your instincts tell you something is wrong, you have nothing to lose by calling an employment attorney. Our office typically doesn’t charge for initial consultations, and cases are taken on a contingency basis. Contact the office of Branigan Robertson with your questions, and find out how we can help.

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Understanding Sexual Harassment in the Workplace – An Employment Lawyer Explains

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Can Employers Demand Your Salary History in a Job Interview?

Unless you’re nuts, chances are good you don’t enjoy searching for a new job. There are countless hours of internet research, time spent obsessing over your resume, and long drives for interviews that often don’t end with a call back.  If and when you do make it to the interview, there’s a lot of tough questions – such as “How much did you make at your last job?” Ouch….

Thankfully, changes in California law have brought a tiny bit of relief to beleaguered job seekers who already have a lot to deal with when finding a career. Employers are no longer allowed to ask about a job applicant’s salary history. 

Be sure to check out Branigan’s video (also below) on this topic or keep reading to find out and what this means for employees. If you have questions about your own employment situation, contact our office to find out if we can help.

What California Law Says About Salary History in Applications

California Labor Code§432.3 (a) states the following:

“An employer shall not rely on the salary history information of an applicant for employment as a factor in determining whether to offer employment or what salary to offer an applicant.”

Subsection (b) further states:

“An employer shall not, orally or in writing, personally or through an agent, seek salary history information, including compensation and benefits, about an applicant for employment.”

What this Law Means for Employees

This law was designed to strengthen the equal pay act. It’s long been known that women are more likely to be paid less than men. The same goes for people of color when compared to white employees. This law was designed to make it more difficult to continue this practice by allowing workers to keep their salary history private.

What if You’re Asked About Your Salary History?

Keep in mind that If you find yourself applying for a job and are asked questions about your salary history, the employer either doesn’t know the law, or is intentionally flaunting the law. While it’s your decision alone whether or not to discuss your salary history, you might want to think twice about working for a company that starts things off on the wrong foot.

It’s also important to remember the law doesn’t prohibit applicants from sharing salary history with prospective employers. The decision is yours, and you don’t have to share this information.

Have Questions? Watch Branigan’s Video, and Call and Attorney

Be sure to check out Branigan’s video on Labor Code §432.3. If you have questions about labor law, or you believe your employer has acted unlawfully, contact the officeof Branigan Robertson to schedule a consultation.

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Should You Sue Your Employer?

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New Video on Employment Classification – Exempt vs. Non-Exempt and the Laws Around Unpaid Overtime

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How to Complain at Work Without Getting Retaliated Against by Your Boss

If you would prefer to watch this video on YouTube, click here.

One of the most difficult decisions an employee may ever face occurs when an unethical, unsafe or unlawful condition exists at the company, and the employee has to decide whether or not to notify a supervisor, or other company authority. Making complaints at work, or blowing the whistle, if you will, can have serious consequences. The above video discusses this in great detail (with a bit of humor).

The employee will fears their boss will retaliate. They might get fired, passed over for a promotion, written-up, demoted, or receive a pay reduction. Our office has seen numerous cases where an employee reports a violation, and then, for the first time ever, suddenly gets hit with a bad performance evaluation.

In many cases, when an employer retaliates against a worker because the worker complained about an unsafe or unlawful condition, the company has broken the law. We have an entire sections of our website dedicated to retaliation and whistleblowing.

However, but there are simple steps that the employee can take, that if done correctly, could avert retaliation, bad feelings, and legal action altogether. In other words, when it comes to complaining at work, some approaches are better than others.

The above video discusses seven tips to avoid being retaliated against when lodging complaints. This page was written to briefly discuss some of those steps.

1. Don’t Threaten

If you are reporting an unsafe condition, keep in mind that the goal is to get the violation fixed. Don’t threaten legal action or launching a slew of legal buzzwords at the company. You run the risk of escalating the situation. Furthermore, if the case goes to court at a later date, the company can potentially paint the employee as a troublemaker more intent on levelling threats than solving an actual problem.

2. Focus on Illegal Activities, Be Specific, Be Helpful

When notifying your manger about a potential violation, focus on the things that you believe are unlawful. In many cases, our office has counseled clients who have sent a long rambling emails to the company that complains about a wide range of problems, perhaps some of which are unlawful.

This usually doesn’t help the employee when it comes to getting the problem solved. Remember, if you’re complaining about a potentially unlawful problem at work, your goal should be to get the problem fixed. Keep your complaint short, explain why you believe it’s unlawful, and try to recommend practical solutions if possible,

3. If Possible, Follow Procedures Outlined in the Employee Handbook

In many cases, a company will provide the guidelines for reporting a violation in the employee handbook. If possible, follow the company’s procedure. When faced with a retaliation claim in a court of law, companies will often claim that they knew nothing of the violation. It’s a favorite tactic of defense lawyers in these situations to say “the company never received the complaint.”

Be sure to follow the proper procedure and get the complaint to the right person. If you don’t have an employee handbook to follow, use your best judgment when getting the complaint to the right person.

4. Put it in Writing, But Check Your Wording

It’s important that you not only complain to the right person, but complain in writing. Often times, company witnesses will take the stand and won’t remember being told of a violation. Without proof of the claim, it’s impossible to prove whether the witness is being forgetful or just lying. However, it becomes more difficult for the company to pretend it never received a complaint when there is an email proving otherwise.

So, put it in writing, but keep a cool head. Make sure the tone and language of your complaint isn’t aggressive or threatening. If for instance you are reporting a violation of overtime pay, rather than saying “The company isn’t complying with the wage laws! I’m not getting all of my overtime!” You might say, “I don’t think my overtime pay is being calculated correctly. We should look into what the labor code says. If I’m right, the company needs to fix this.”

If you Have Questions, Contact an Attorney

If you’ve experienced retaliation, or have questions about a potentially unlawful work situation, reach out to an employment attorney like our firm. In some cases, taking a company to court is the only way to get a violation fixed. Workers who experience retaliation are in many cases entitled to monetary compensation. Be sure to check out our video on preventing workplace retaliation.  If you have further questions, contact our office to find out how we can help.

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Everything Business Owners, Managers & HR Wanted to Know About Employment Law in One Easy to Understand Video (Sort of)

Whether you’re in management, human resources, own a small company, or oversee a workforce of thousands, you should have some basic understanding of the employment laws that protect your workers. You already know that lawsuits are scary. With a bit of foresight and understanding, legal problems can be avoided.

Employment attorney Branigan Robertson has assembled a short video discussing some key issues that will be of interest to anyone who manages workers. Having practiced employment law for the past six years, Branigan typically represents workers. But working with aggrieved employees has given Branigan valuable insights that defense-side employment lawyers don’t typically develop. In this video, Branigan takes what he’s learned from employees and shares his wisdom with those on the management side of the equation. And he does so with minimum legal jargon.

One of the key concepts employers can take from this video, before even delving into the legal concepts, is that most employees don’t sue because the law was broken, but rather because they feel that they were treated like garbage.  Understanding the importance of treating employees with a basic level of respect and decency will help companies avoid costly lawsuits even in cases where the law may have inadvertently been broken.

Employment Law Basics for HR, Management & Ownership

Specific legal issues discussed in this broad overview include 12 key areas of employment law. These are:

  • employee contracts,
  • torts in the workplace,
  • wages & hours,
  • discrimination,
  • harassment,
  • leaves of absence,
  • workplace safety,
  • unfair competition,
  • unemployment,
  • layoffs,
  • collective bargaining, and
  • others.

Issues discussed include such topics as sales agreements—one of the most frequent triggers of employee lawsuits. Companies often run into trouble when they tinker with commission agreements affecting their sales team in the middle of a sales cycle or in the middle of a negotiation.

Or perhaps you have questions about wrongful termination. After all, California (and many other states) are “at-will.” When exactly does an employer cross the line when firing an employee? If you’re interested in learning more about the specific types of wrongful termination, you’ll want to watch this video.

Maybe you’re interested in questions of what constitutes reasonable accommodations for disabled employees. This area of employment law is particularly nuanced since it deals with more than just hiring and firing issues.

Other topics discussed in the video include:

  • Whether or not a company can discriminate against employees of a certain age (the answer might surprise you)
  • The difference between discrimination and harassment
  • The Family Medical Leave Act
  • Worker’s Compensation
  • Other Issues

If you’ve ever had questions about these or other topics, you’ll want to watch Branigan’s video. It’s an excellent opportunity for anyone in the management field. After all, you won’t find many videos produced by plaintiff-side employment attorneys tailored toward companies. You certainly won’t find this type of video presented in such an informal and easy-to-understand format. Have a watch, enjoy, and if you have any questions contact our office for further information.

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