Answers Posted By Drew Lewis

Answer to Sexual harassment question

In California, employees are at-will which means that they can be terminated at any point for good reason, bad reason, or no reason at all. It is not clear whether or not you actually committed sexual harassment. Here's a resources that might help you: Regardless, even if you did not commit sexual harassment, you can still be terminated.

posted Jul 21, 2020 02:55 AM [EST]

Answer to Am I being taken advantage by being labeled as a private contractor ?

There are very few instances when someone doing work should not be paid. Volunteering is certainly one of those. But the way you describe your work situation does not seem as though you have legally "volunteered" to do the work. If you are not a volunteer, then you're owed wages, penalties and interest for the hours you worked but for which you were not paid.

I put together some information on our site about unpaid wages. I think you might find it helpful.

posted May 24, 2020 12:20 AM [EST]

Answer to Can my employer deny me time off to go to a family members funeral

If you are a public employee you might be entitled to up to 3 days of paid bereavement leave.

posted Apr 23, 2020 5:21 PM [EST]

Answer to Can I sign up for unemployment benefits if I am on a severance package

Yes, you can. While severance "pay" is considered wages generally for tax purposes, it is not considered an extension of being employed such that you wouldn't be able to receive unemployment because you have or are receiving severance payment(s). We actually address this specific issue in our article on severance agreements.

posted Apr 23, 2020 5:18 PM [EST]

Answer to No OT if making more than double minimum wage? CAlifornia

This is not correct. One of the requirements is that you must be paid a salary of twice the minimum wage. "Salary" is a very technical term in the law. But it effectively means that if you are paid an hourly rate, you are not paid a salary and you cannot be paid exempt--you're owed overtime! This is true even if you are making $200/hr. Here is some information that might be helpful to you:

posted Apr 23, 2020 5:15 PM [EST]

Answer to lay-off employee to not give retention bonus

The answer to this very much depends on your contract. If, as you suggest, the only language relevant to this is that you give up the right to your bonus if you voluntarily leave the company, then you may in fact have a claim for unpaid wages. This might also mean you have a claim for waiting-time penalties as well. But again, you need to have an employment attorney look at your contract. Also, here's a resource that might be helpful to you:

posted Apr 23, 2020 5:13 PM [EST]

Answer to if a position is being eliminated shouldn't there be a severence offered

Most at-will employees are not entitled to severance. In fact the law doesn't require any companies to provide severance. Some employees are entitled to severance because their contracts build them in. These employees are generally high up and at an executive level.

There are numerous reasons why an employer might want to offer you severance, even though they're not required to. I talk in more detail about this in the article below, but most of the time, companies are offering severance agreements to create a clean breakup.

They require you to release any potential claims (threat of a lawsuit) in exchange for some money. Even where companies know you do not have strong legal claims, they will sometimes offer severance. Additionally, they might offer severance in order to make sure you do not disparage the company.

posted Apr 23, 2020 5:10 PM [EST]

Answer to Can salaried sales emp'ee get overtime? I am expected to work weekends in addition to the rest of the week. Salary 90k annually.

The answer is potentially. If you were misclassified as an exempt employee but are in fact a non-exempt employee, in California, you have effectively been paid $0 for every single hour of overtime you worked while being paid a salary.

In order to be exempt, you have to meet very strict requirements. You've apparently satisfied the "salary" requirement which requires you to make 2x the minimum wage.

But you also need to be able to use your discretion and independent judgment on matters of "significance." This essentially means that if you are doing highly routinized tasks or tasks that do not require a lot of judgment to complete, then you may not be exempt even though you're paid a salary and called exempt.

This type of issue is very fact specific. Here are some links to additional information. But also, it would be wise to speak with an attorney.

posted Apr 23, 2020 5:07 PM [EST]

Answer to I am a manager at a locally owned Subway restaurant in Orange County California. Do I qualify for an additional hazard payrate for working under a State of Emergency declaration ? We are open under restrictions, limited hours, take-out & delivery only, et

Hi, Unless you have a contract or collective bargaining agreement (union) that provides you with hazard pay, you are not entitled to it. The California labor code doesn't provide hazard pay to workers--though all the same protections still remain in effect.

I know you didn't ask about it directly, but there might be a helpful resource because you mentioned that the store is working on reduced hours. If your hours are reduced, you can apply for unemployment insurance. The unemployment insurance system is going to get a huge boost shortly with the new stimulus that is being signed.

Good luck!


posted Mar 27, 2020 12:13 PM [EST]

Answer to Califorina stay home order and workplaces

The answer is, it depends. Your employer may be able to make you work if it's work that you can do remotely from home. If it's not, however, then you probably can't work and if the employer tries to fire you after refusing to work, it's probably illegal.

You also might be entitled to be paid during the time that you're off. California has numerous wage replacement laws including unemployment insurance, paid family leave, and disability insurance to name of a few. It also has paid sick leave, though those are limited in the reasons that you can use to take sick leave.

But, something BIG just happened. President Trump signed the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act which gives full-time workers up to 80 hours of paid sick leave. And one of the reasons that employees are allowed to take paid sick leave for under the act is if they are subject to a self-quarantine order.

We put out a comprehensive guide on the new law that you should take a look at. It answers questions like:

- Who ie eligible?
- How many hours of sick leave do you get?
- What are the reasons you can take it?
- How much do you get paid?
- How do you request it?
- Are you protected from retaliation if you take sick leave?

posted Mar 20, 2020 2:49 PM [EST]