Sacramento Employment Lawyer

Sacramento Employment Lawyer

Sacramento Employment Attorney

When issues arise in the workplace, litigation is often a last resort. Fortunately, many issues can be resolved without litigation, and most of them can be prevented with the proper knowledge and steps to protect both employer and employee. If you need assistance with employment law, contact Peterson Watts Law Group, LLP, today to work with a qualified Sacramento employment lawyer who can help.

Why Us?

With nearly 70 collective years of working with and providing legal counsel to employers across California, we are knowledgeable about California employment law. While there are federal and state laws in place regarding employment, we also know that each business has its own specific needs. We can help you create or tailor your systems in place to avoid legal disputes.

At Peterson Watts Law Group, LLP, we believe in preventative measures when it comes to employment law. We emphasize risk management. This way, you do not have to be subjected to a costly and time-consuming legal dispute. We stay updated on the law and can inform you of laws you may not be aware of so your business is compliant and up-to-date.

What Is Employment Law?

Employment law describes the law in regard to the relationship between an employer and their employees. Employment law is in place to protect all parties involved. It covers a wide range of topics, such as wage and labor laws, workplace discrimination and harassment, workplace safety, and termination.

Some issues that can arise under employment law include unfair or unlawful wages (such as unpaid work, unpaid overtime, or being paid less than the minimum wage), sexual harassment, alleged wrongful termination, workplace discrimination, claims of safety violations, and claims of workplace retaliation.

Employee Rights

In order to ensure that the rules and workings of your business are compliant, it is important to know the rights of your employees. In California, every worker has a right to:

  • Privacy. Privacy can look different ways in the workplace, but employees are entitled to a reasonable amount of it. This can include having a private phone conversation or having their own private belongings.
  • Fair wages. In California, as with all other states, there are laws in place that outline the amount of compensation every worker must be paid, at minimum. Workers are also entitled to overtime pay.
  • Workplace safety. Employees are entitled to a safe work environment that protects them from injury and sickness, even while some jobs will have more inherent risks than others.
  • Protection against harassment and discrimination. Workplace discrimination can take many forms, including discrimination based on age, nationality, and gender. Employees have a right to a safe work environment that protects them against discrimination, sexual harassment, and unfair treatment.
  • Protection against retaliation. If an employee makes a complaint against their employer, they have a right to protection against retaliation from their employer. Retaliation can look like docked pay or benefits, demotion, refusing to promote, shifting a person’s work responsibilities or work hours, denying requests, or terminating their position.
  • Breaks. Depending on the number of hours an employee works every day, they are entitled to at least a 30-minute meal break. There are laws in place regarding additional breaks as well.
  • Protection against wrongful termination. Wrongful termination can happen as a result of breach of contract, discrimination, or retaliation. Employees have a right to be protected from being terminated on an unlawful basis.

Employer Rights and Responsibilities

When it comes to employment law, the rights of employees are often highlighted. However, as an employer in Sacramento, California, you have rights too. Some of these rights include:

  • Right to employment decisions. These decisions include the right to hire and terminate. You are allowed to hire qualified employees as you see fit. You are also allowed to terminate employees based on any legally allowed reason.
  • Right to determine pay and benefits. Employers are allowed to set pay and benefits so long as they comply with minimum wage and overtime pay laws. They can also design their own benefits packages, such as determining executive compensation plans.
  • Right to establish workplace policies. Employers can determine the dress code, work schedules, codes of conduct, employee evaluation techniques, and disciplinary actions.
  • Right to confidentiality. Employers have a right to establish confidentiality agreements with their employees if they have information they would prefer not to be shared outside the workplace. They also have a right to protect trade secrets.

Employers have these rights and more in California. They also have a responsibility to ensure that their employees’ rights are being upheld. Their responsibilities include ensuring that:

  • Their employees do not face discrimination
  • Their employees are paid fairly and lawfully
  • The workplace environment is safe, protecting employees against injury
  • Their employees receive breaks
  • Their employees receive sick time, if applicable
  • Their employees receive overtime pay
  • Any employee who files a complaint does not face retaliation
  • Complaints are properly investigated and rectified

If any of these instances occur in the workplace, the employer has a responsibility to correct the issue.

California Wage and Hour Laws

In every state, all employees must be paid a minimum amount, referred to as minimum wage. In California, the minimum wage is $16.00 an hour. Employers must pay their employees at least this much.

California also has laws related to overtime pay. If an employee works more than 40 hours per week, they are entitled to overtime pay. Employees are also entitled to overtime pay if they work more than eight hours in a single workday and if they work seven consecutive days in a week.

These laws for overtime only apply to non-exempt employees. Overtime pay is 1.5 times the regular rate of pay for every hour worked over the threshold. If an employer violates these laws, they can face penalties, including fines and back pay to the affected employee.

Discrimination and Harassment

Some of the biggest issues in the workplace include discrimination and harassment. Employees can face discrimination and harassment from their employers, but they can also face it from other employees as well. When it comes to employment discrimination, California protects individuals who fall under certain classes. These classes include:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sex/gender, or the expression thereof
  • Sexual orientation
  • Nationality
  • Disability
  • Age
  • Marital status
  • Medical condition
  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Political affiliation
  • Domestic violence status
  • Military status

Sexual Harassment

Employees are also protected from sexual harassment in the workplace. Sexual harassment covers a range of behaviors, and they don’t always have to be overtly sexual in nature. Some forms of sexual harassment are overt and obvious, such as being propositioned for sex, especially for workplace benefits such as a promotion, unwanted kissing or touching of genitals, or making sexual comments.

However, there are other more subtle ways that sexual harassment can occur in the workplace. These have become more common. These may not seem like harassment at face value, but if the behavior happens repeatedly or is severe enough to create an uncomfortable and hostile work environment, it becomes sexual harassment. Examples of this include:

  • Crude or sexually explicit jokes
  • Commenting on another employee’s appearance or sex life
  • Sending suggestive photos in the workplace. These do not have to be explicitly pornographic in nature, such as photos of men or women in bathing suits or underwear.
  • Sending explicit or suggestive messages, emails, or notes
  • Unwanted touching, whether overtly sexual or not, such as repeated touches on a person’s leg or back

It’s important to note that sexual harassment does not always have to be sexual. For instance, it can be considered sexual harassment if women in the workplace are left out of certain meetings simply because they are women. In this sense, “sexual harassment” refers to discrimination based on gender and not sexual behaviors.

Harassment also is not only between men and women. Women can also be guilty of sexual harassment against men. Harassment between members of the opposite sex and members of the same sex are both illegal.

Employers have a responsibility to protect their employees from this type of harassment, not only from fellow employees but from outsiders as well. Some of these outsiders include customers, contractors, and business partners. Once the employer is made aware of the harassment, they have a duty to attempt to stop it.

Preventative Measures

Employers have the option to prevent breaking employment law by implementing preventative measures. Even if an issue or conflict arises, there are options available to avoid litigation. These options include:

  • Drafting employment agreements. Employment agreements and handbooks are specific to your business. They outline the rights and responsibilities of both the employee and the employer. It is important that these agreements are specific to the needs of your company and that they are in alignment with federal and state laws.Some issues that are addressed in these agreements include health insurance, vacation, medical leave, non-disclosure terms, protection of the company’s intellectual property, and stock options, if available.
  • Investigate harassment and discrimination claims. If an employee comes to you regarding harassment or discrimination occurring in the workplace, it is your responsibility to investigate these claims. Investigating and taking the proper actions, including disciplinary action against the offender, can save you time and money in the long run if the complaints escalate to litigation.
  • Comply with wage and hour laws. Complying with minimum wage laws is straightforward. However, complying with overtime laws is sometimes trickier. There have been instances where employers have allowed employees to work overtime one day and attempted to bypass paying overtime by decreasing their hours on subsequent days.However, if an employee works more than eight hours in one day, regardless of whether they worked more than 40 hours in that week or not, they are entitled to overtime pay for the time they worked more than eight on that particular day.
  • Seek alternative dispute routes. Disputes do not always have to result in litigation. There are other options, including mediation and arbitration. Litigation can take a long time, sometimes years, and be a costly process. Alternative methods help to resolve issues quickly and in a cost-efficient manner.


Q: How Much Do Employment Lawyers Charge in California?

A: Employment lawyers charge different amounts in California. The cost of an employment lawyer will depend on a number of things. Some attorneys charge by the hour, some charge a contingency fee where their payment is a percentage of the settlement, some charge a flat fee, and others charge a retainer fee.

Q: What Are Employee Rights in California?

A: In California, employees have a number of rights. They have a right to fair wages, overtime pay, meal and break times, family and medical leave, safe work environments, protection against harassment and discrimination, and protection against retaliation if they file a complaint. These rights are outlined in federal and state laws.

Q: What Is At-Will Employment in California?

A: At-will employment means that an employer can terminate an employee at any time for any legal reason, and at the same time, an employee can leave the job at any time without reason or notice. Exceptions include terminations that are based on discrimination or retaliation against an employee or those that violate public policy, the law, or an implied contract.

Q: What Steps Can an Employer Take to Prevent Workplace Discrimination?

A: An employer can do a number of things to protect employees from workplace discrimination. First, they can create clear and thorough anti-discrimination policies. These can be both discussed verbally upfront and outlined in employee handbooks. Other ideas include promoting workplace diversity, offering regular training, having clear channels for reporting, and responding promptly to complaints. These steps help ensure a safe workplace for everyone.

Q: What Counts as Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?

A: Sexual harassment in the workplace is unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature or unwanted behavior based on a person’s sex. It causes an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment or affects an individual’s employment and ability to perform their job duties. Under both federal and California state laws, there are two main types of sexual harassment: quid pro quo and hostile work environment.

Contact Peterson Watts Law Group, LLP Today

Peterson Watts Law Group, LLP, understands the intricacies of employment law. We can help you put preventative measures in place to avoid legal penalties and ensure a safe and compliant workplace for everyone involved. If you do have an issue that requires litigation, Peterson Watts Law Group, LLP, can help. Contact us today for more information.

Practice Areas

Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property

Commercial Real Estate

Commercial Real Estate

Labor & Employment

Labor & Employment

Litigation and Appeals

Litigation and Appeals

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Business Law And Litigation

Business Law And Litigation

Executive Contract

Executive Contract