Every business owner I speak to always has a story about how their business got started; why they were interested in that particular industry; why their employees are so important to them; and how upset they are when one of them sues. They are shocked. They tell me how they treated that employee so well. They gave great benefits, gave them time off when they asked, let them leave early and so on.
When employers come to me due to a lawsuit being filed against them, or a demand letter being sent (don’t ignore those!), one of the first things I do is look at how they hire, discipline and fire. I look at their paystubs and Handbook (if any); and especially today, their COVID-19 polices. 9.5 times out 10 something is wrong. The paystubs are not compliant; the Handbook, if they have one, is out of date; they do not have state mandated Paid Sick Leave; their vacation policy is illegal; the personnel file is incomplete, they are missing documents or didn’t have them in the first place. 10 times out of 10, they tell me they got their documents from their payroll company, the internet or other online resource. This is a big mistake in California—and what’s at stake? You got it – your business!
California has specific laws that are much more employee-favorable than many other states (well New York fights hard vs. California to be one of the toughest places to be an employer). And to make it even harder, local jurisdictions have their own more narrowly tailored laws and ordinances that most employers don’t even know about. No matter your company size, it is critical to know what laws (local, state & federal) apply to your business. Are you California Labor Compliant? When was the last time you had an audit done of your hiring documents? When was your Handbook last reviewed? What risks are you facing if tomorrow YOU are that employer that gets that lawsuit or demand letter.
Lawsuits are scary, financially, and emotionally. You worked so hard to cultivate, market and create your business which can be severely impacted by the costs and fees of a lawsuit. It is far cheaper to ensure your business is running according to the laws applicable to what you do and where you do it. One size does not fit all. The attorneys at Chauvel & Glatt make a point to understand your business, what you do and will counsel you on what is applicable to your business based on your business goals.
So, if you get a demand letter or personnel file request from an attorney on behalf of a former employee, or a Notice of Claim and Conference from the Department of Labor (DLSE), or a “Right to Sue” letter from the Department of Fair Employment & Housing (DFEH), don’t ignore it. If you get a lawsuit, don’t ignore it. If you know your employment documents are not compliant, don’t ignore it. For more information on how to run YOUR business California Labor Compliant and whether you are ready for 2022, or to assist you in responding to a demand letter or personnel file request from an attorney, please contact the Employer Lawyers at Chauvel & Glatt.
The material in this article, provided by Chauvel & Glatt, is designed to provide informative and current information as of the date of the post. It should not be considered, nor is it intended to constitute, legal advice or promise similar outcomes. For information on your particular circumstances, please contact Chauvel & Glatt at 650-573-9500. (photo credit: