How to Save Emails for an Employment Lawsuit – Pt. 2

In this video employment lawyer Branigan Robertson details how and why people should save important emails from work if they suspect they are the victim of unlawful retaliation, harassment, or discrimination. Mr. Robertson explains when employees should start saving emails, what emails they should save, several strategies on how to save them, and why emails can increase the value of your case.

This video is Part 2 in a four-part series called “How to Document Bad Behavior at Work.” The first video was about taking good notes while at work. This video focuses exclusively on emails. The next video is about taking company documents. The final video is all about text messages. All of these videos are very important so if you’re still employed I recommend you watch all of them! Here are links to each video:

Why Emails are Key to Winning Employment Cases

Emails are the most common type of evidence in employment cases. That makes so much sense because most of our modern workplace communication is done via email. But so many clients call our office after being fired and they didn’t keep any documents! This is terrible as it makes it much harder to pursue your case without any supporting documentation. While it doesn’t ruin the case, it makes it much harder to pursue justice.

By their very nature, employment lawsuits have a lot of moving parts. There are bad bosses, their bad behavior, the treacherous coworkers, more bad behavior, the witnesses who see it all, and the jury that hears the case. Of course, there’s the judge that instructs the jury, and the lawyer that fights for the rights of his client—the worker. And when it comes down to winning nothing or scoring a million-dollar award, time and again, it’s the humble email that makes or break a case. Simply put, it’s important that workers learn how to save emails for a potential lawsuit.

In this video employment lawyer Branigan Robertson details how and why people should save important emails from work if they suspect they are the victim of unlawful retaliation, harassment or discrimination. Mr. Robertson also explains when employees should start saving emails, several strategies on how to save them, and why emails can increase the value of a case.

Why Save Emails in the First Place? 

Legally speaking, it’s always better if you can show that something bad happened at work as opposed to simply alleging that something bad happened. Evidence such as emails can drastically improve the strength of your case, and in some situations, might even quickly bring the employer to the negotiating table.

One of the most frustrating types of calls our office receives involves an employee who was treated poorly by a coworker or supervisor. The coworker was harassed for months—maybe because of religious practices, their ethnicity, or because they refused to do something illegal. The caller tells us about several different incidents. The caller tells us how they complained via email to HR. But when we ask if they still have a copy of that email, they tell us they don’t. At this point steam shoots out of our ears.

The caller will often suggest that we can just simply obtain that information during discovery. While this is a possibility, there’s a lot that can happen before a case gets to the discovery phase. In a worst-case scenario, unscrupulous employers might make important evidence disappear.

When Should You Start Saving Emails? 

In general, you’ll want to start saving emails once you decide you are being treated unlawfully by a coworker or your boss.  This leads us to another question that can be difficult (though no less important) to answer: when is the law being broken?

When asking this question, it’s important to remember that there is a lot of bad behavior that employers and coworkers can get away with that is unfortunately perfectly legal. There is a significant difference between unfair and illegal behavior. 

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act states that it is unlawful for an employer to harass or discriminate against an employee due to several characteristics including race, gender, sexuality, pregnancy status, age (over 40), military status, national origin, gender identity, among others. The law also protects employees who witness their coworkers being harassed and speak up about it. 

For the sake of simplicity, let’s just assume that you suspect you are being treated unlawfully. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is the behavior significant (i.e., were you called a vulgar racist slur, did you experience unwanted touching by a manger or coworker, were you told you would be fired if the boss found out you are pregnant)?
  2. Has the incident or behavior significantly impacted your job?

If the answer to these questions is yes, it might be time to reach out to our office for a free consultation.

How Should You Save Emails for a Potential Lawsuit?

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of how to save emails for a potential lawsuit, let’s first look at a couple methods that should be avoided. For instance, it’s a bad idea to save the emails on a work computer or mobile device. Even if the emails are stored in a ‘hidden’ folder, once the employer catches wind of what’s happening, the employee might be locked out of the device in which case they will lose access to the emails. It’s also a bad idea to send work emails to a personal email account. This potentially opens the employee’s personal email account to discovery down the road. Trust us, you don’t want a defense attorney sleuthing through your personal account. 

Here are four methods for saving emails for a potential lawsuit that are better:

  1. Print them out and take them home. Printing work emails will leave a substantially smaller digital footprint making it difficult for the employer to figure out what’s going on.
  2. Send the email via PDF or similar format to an independent email account set up solely to receive the work emails. It’s recommended the employee use a free, web-based service such as Gmail or Yahoo.
  3. Take a picture of the email with a cell phone. This is a less preferred method but is also less likely to leave a digital footprint than the previous methods.  That said, it can cause your attorney substantial frustration if he or she must figure out how to put hundreds of pixelated cell phone pictures into chronological order.
  4. Keep a descriptive log of the emails. This method requires the employee to handwrite or digitally type descriptions of the important emails. This method can be done to avoid leaving a digital footprint entirely. While it’s not as good as the previous methods, keeping a log can still help your attorney to figure out which emails need to be requested during discovery. Such a log can also serve as a record if the employer deletes incriminating emails.

Contact Our Office for a Free Consultation

If you’ve been mistreated, harassed or wrongfully terminated, give our office a call. There is no charge for Mr. Robertson to review the facts of your case. If Mr. Robertson believes that you have a case worth pursuing, he generally represents clients on a contingency basis. This means there are no out-of-pocket expenses, and Mr. Robertson is paid with a portion of the settlement or judgment at the case’s conclusion. Give our office a call to find out if Mr. Robertson can help you.

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

Comments Off on How to Save Emails for an Employment Lawsuit – Pt. 2

Filed under Age, Defamation, Disability, Discrimination, Employment Contract, FEHA, Harassment, Leave of Absence, Pregnancy, Race, Religion, Retaliation, Settlements, Severance, Wage & Hour, Whistleblower, Wrongful Termination

How to Document Bad Behavior at Work – Pt. 1

This video details how employees like you should properly document bad behavior at work so you can protect yourself down the road if legal action becomes necessary.

In the video, employment attorney Branigan Robertson talks in depth about when you should take notes, what they will be used for, what you should write down, three strategies that are best for how you should write them down, and he discusses best practices.

This video gives simple guidelines that might dramatically help you preserve key evidence (facts, dates, witnesses, events, and occurrences) that will be important later on. If your boss, manager, or coworker is treating you poorly, this video is an essential watch.

This video is part 1 in a four-part series called “How to Document Bad Behavior at Work.”

This video series is especially important if you feel like your legal issues fall within one of the following categories:

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

Be sure to watch the whole video for Branigan’s in deep dive into this important issue. If you prefer, you can read the rest of this blog to get a general overview. But be sure to watch the video for full understanding.

Is the Bad Behavior Unfair, or Unlawful?

Unfortunately, there is a lot of bad behavior that happens in the workspace that’s perfectly legal. For an attorney like Branigan Robertson to pursue a case, he must believe there has been a violation of state or federal law. In California, §12940 of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) states that it is a violation of law for an employer to discriminate against an employee based on several characteristics. These include race, religion, gender identity, sexuality, national origin, disability and several other classes. 

Harassment of a protected person rises to a violation of law when the bad behavior is severe or pervasive enough to alter the working environment. If you believe that you are being harassed, the quality of the notes you take can help an attorney to determine if you have a case worth pursuing.

Simplicity is Key

The first thing to keep in mind when documenting bad behavior at work is that you must keep things simple. Remember that you might be presenting your case to a jury of your peers at some point. You don’t want a defense attorney holding up pages and pages of scribbled notes in which you document your bosses’ every little misstep, perceived hypocrisy or office snub. Furthermore, you’ll want to refrain from psychoanalyzing the boss—even if he or she is a narcissistic tyrant. 

Poorly compiled notes have the potential to make you come across to the jury as a whiner, or worse. When taking notes, focus on the significant events, which by their very nature are rare. These are the events you suspect are unlawful and impact your work:

  • ­Boss called me to his office, closed the door and rubbed my shoulders.
  • Devon threatened to hit me and used a racial slur.
  • Supervisor Sara made a joke at office lunch that she only promotes white people.

The Five W’s

Once you’ve decided you need to document something at work, keep it to the Five W’s:

  • Who
  • What
  • When
  • Where
  • Witnesses

People who call our office often struggle to remember simple but key details. They’ll begin the call by telling us about the hostile work environment they’re in and all the laws that are being broken. But when asked for the date when the illegal behavior happened, or who was there when it happened, these same callers’ minds’ go blank. If you’re documenting the significant issues, be sure you can answer the five W’s.

Set Up a Free Email Account

If you’re documenting bad behavior at work, you’ll want to have an email account set up where you can email and store your notes. This ensures that the notes have timestamp information that will corroborate your facts. It’s important you don’t store this information in a company email account, or your personal email account. In the former case, your employer probably has software or other ways of monitoring the information you store in a company account. In the latter situation you don’t want to trigger discovery that could result in a a defense lawyer sleuthing through your personal information.

Call an Attorney

If you’ve watched Mr. Robertson’s videos on documenting bad behavior at work and feel that you can relate a little too much to the discussion, it might be time to give our office a call. 

While Mr. Robertson doesn’t generally take on cases while a person is still employed, he will review the facts of your case for free. When Mr. Robertson does take a case, he generally does so on a contingency basis. This means the client doesn’t pay for legal services out of pocket. Attorney’s fees are paid with a portion of proceeds at the conclusion of the case. Give the law office of Branigan Robertson a call to find out if he can help.

Comments Off on How to Document Bad Behavior at Work – Pt. 1

Filed under Abuse, Discrimination, Harassment, Race, Retaliation, Whistleblower, Wrongful Termination

Can an Attorney Save Your Job if You Have a Legal Issue?

We get calls all the time from folks who are still employed but they are facing a significant legal issue at work. Whether it is harassment, retaliation, or something else, folks want to know if a lawyer can step in and help them. We get this question so often that Mr. Robertson decided to make a video about it.

Comments Off on Can an Attorney Save Your Job if You Have a Legal Issue?

Filed under Abuse, Age, Defamation, Disability, Discrimination, Harassment, Pregnancy, Privacy, Race, Religion, Retaliation, Whistleblower, Wrongful Termination

Can Laid Off Workers (During COIVD-19) Get Their Jobs Back?

California workers laid off during the pandemic just got a little boost of hope. On April 16, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 93 into law, which went into effect immediately. The law requires employers to give rehire preference to qualified workers laid off during the pandemic.

This is good news for employees laid off in industries hit hard by the pandemic: hospitality, airports, private clubs, restaurants and hotels.

Keep reading this article to learn a little about this new California law. If you were laid off during the pandemic, or you are experiencing another type of employment issue such as harassment or retaliationcall our office to schedule a consultation.

What This New Law Says (Senate Bill 93)

Senate Bill 93 updates Labor Code §2810.8. The law states that an employer is required:

“To offer its laid-off employees specified information about job positions that become available for which the laid-off employees are qualified, and to offer positions to those laid-off employees based on a preference system, in accordance with specified timelines and procedures.”

Senate Bill 93

For purposes of this law a “laid off employee” is anyone who was employed for six months or more in the 12 months before January 1 2020, and whose separation was related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Does the Law Apply to You?

Simply put, if you were terminated because of the pandemic, you could be legally entitled to your old position. Types of layoffs covered by this statute include:

  • Downsizing
  • An order to close from a government agency
  • A lack of business
  • Other non-disciplinary reasons

What if Multiple Laid Off Employees Qualify for a Single Position?

If two laid off employees are entitled to the same position, the employer shall offer the position to the laid-off employee with the greatest length of service.

The law, as currently written, will remain in effect until December 31, 2024.

What You Should Do if Your Employer is Hiring Again but Won’t Consider You for Your Old Position

The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE aka Labor Board) shall have exclusive jurisdiction to enforce this new law. So, if your employer refused to rehire you for a job that you were laid off of, you should contact the DLSE and file a claim.

The DLSE has the authority to award aggrieved employees the following:

  • Hiring and reinstatement rights
  • Front pay or back pay for each day during which the violation continues
  • Value of the benefits the laid-off employee would have received under the employer’s benefit plan

We hope this article has been helpful. Take care!

Comments Off on Can Laid Off Workers (During COIVD-19) Get Their Jobs Back?

Filed under Uncategorized

Maternity Leave California

Pregnant women often find that maternity leave is complicated and daunting. It does not have to be! There are a few basics that we cover in this post: what are your rights, what if your boss is upset that you will take a leave, and what to do if you get fired. Taking maternity leave in California is better than most states. The laws protect you here more than anywhere else in the country.

Basic Maternity Leave Rights in CA

The first question that many expecting employees face is whether they are entitled to maternity leave at all. The answer is usually, yes! California’s main pregnancy leave of absence laws (CFRA, FMLAPDL, FEHA) apply to most employers. You have a right to take maternity leave. Employers are not required to pay employees during maternity leave. Even though employees do not have a right to pay from their employers during maternity leave, most California employees have a right to California’s state disability insurance during their leave. Fortunately, pregnancy related illnesses are considered disabilities by California law; employees often have a right to disability insurance payments during their leave. Visit California’s EDD website for more information.

Before you continue reading, sign up for our free monthly employment newsletter! We will email you useful employment information that will help you protect yourself from workplace abuse.

Leave to Bond With Your Child – 12 Weeks

California provides leave rights under the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) and California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”). To be eligible for leave under CFRA, certain requirements must be met. The employee must work for an employer that has at least 50 employees within a 75 mile radius of the employee’s worksite. The employee must have worked for their employer more than 12 months. The employee must have worked at least 1,250 hours for the employer of work in the preceding year.

If these requirements are met, the employee is entitled to take up to 12 weeks of family care and medical leave in any given 12-month period. This leave can be used for the purpose of child bonding. To learn more about FMLA & CFRA visit this page that details who is eligible. 

Pregnancy Disability In CA – Four Months

In California, expecting employees are not only entitled to maternity leave for the childbirth itself, but they also have a right to time off for disabilities related to the pregnancy as well. The definition of “disabled” is fairly broad. Most employers that have five or more employees, which includes most businesses in California, are governed by California’s main pregnancy discrimination law, the Fair Employment & Housing Act (FEHA).

A law directly under FEHA is CA’s pregnancy disability law, PDL, which requires employers to give female employees time off work if:

  • She is disabled by pregnancy
  • She is disabled by childbirth
  • She has a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth

This can include, but is not limited too, the following: childbirth, loss of child, post-partum depression, bed-rest, prenatal care, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, postnatal care, etc.

How long can you pregnancy disability leave last? FEHA gives female employees a right to maternity leave for up to four months. However, this maternity leave is only available to the employee as long as she is disabled from the childbirth, pregnancy, or some related condition.

The right to as much as 12 weeks of bonding time under CFRA is distinct from the right to pregnancy disability leave under FEHA. Accordingly, the bonding time under CFRA may be taken after the employee takes up to four months of pregnancy disability leave—totaling up to as much as seven months of total maternity leave depending on the length of the employee’s pregnancy disability.

Does maternity leave need to be taken all at once?

Maternity Leave CaliforniaNo, California’s FEHA provides for as much as four months of maternity leave for disabilities related to pregnancy and childbirth. But often disabilities are not continuous. Expecting mothers can take some time off during one trimester, or during an emergency, and then take the rest after delivery. This is called intermittent leave and is considered a reasonable accommodation.

Employers must provide reasonable accommodations for employees if they’re requested and if a health care provider has advised it. Your employer will likely ask you for a doctors note. If intermittent leave is expected, employers may explore a temporary transfer to a similar position with equal pay and benefits.

Can your company fire you for becoming pregnant?

No. California employers are prohibited from wrongfully terminating female employees due to pregnancy. Employment discrimination based on pregnancy is a type of sex discrimination, which is prohibited by FEHA. Expecting mothers also protected from harassment on the basis of pregnancy.

However, just because you are pregnant, does not mean they cannot fire you. If you are a bad employee, they can fire you. If they are laying off your department, you can go too. If you get fired while you are pregnant suspect the reason you were fired was your pregnancy, call a wrongful termination lawyer to investigate your case.

Do California employees have a right to their job after taking maternity leave?

Yes. Employees in California that exercise their right to maternity leave may not be discriminated against for taking a leave of absence. They have a right to return to their same or a similar position after their maternity leave has ended. The employer is not allowed to cut your pay when you return.

2021 Pregnacy Discrimination Update

I originally posted this article on February 27, 2015. I’ve updated it several times. Its now 2021 and some women are wondering if CA’s maternity leave laws have changed at all. First of all, the foundation of CA’s anti-discrimination laws have not changed. If you believe that you were fired because of your pregnancy, disability related to pregnancy, or maternity leave you should call the best employment lawyer in California for a free consultation. Some administrative rules and laws may have changed in 2019, but the majority of the calls to our office are about termination or expected termination. Therefore, it is unlikely that the maternity leave laws in California that may have changed in 2019 would affect the analysis of our office during your consultation.





Filed under FEHA, Pregnancy

What are the Legal Implications of Quitting Your Job?

What are the legal implications of quitting your job? Can you collect unemployment? Severance? What if you have a case and you quit (vs letting them fire you), will you still be able to take action? I answer all of those questions in this video.

My office gets a lot of calls from people who quit and still want to take action. This video details the critical things that lawyers look at in this situation.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Age, Defamation, Disability, Discrimination, Employment Contract, FEHA, Harassment, Health Care, Layoffs, Leave of Absence, Pregnancy, Privacy, Race, Religion, Retaliation, Settlements, Severance, Wage & Hour, Whistleblower, Wrongful Termination

How to Complain to Human Resources the Right Way

As with all things in life, making a complaint at work is a risk. If you complain to human resources the wrong way, you might get fired (it happens far more often than people think). That is why I took the time to make a video about the correct way to complain to HR.

This video will explain the five things you need to know before you complain about your issue at work. It also covers how HR will react to your complaint and what you should expect if they conduct an “investigation.”