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Providing legal counsel to San Jose and the Bay Area for over 30 years in the areas of criminal defense, personal injury, employment and disability law.
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CA employment lawyerProviding care for a rapidly aging population is a problem that has reached acute levels throughout California. When the burden of caring for aging loved ones becomes too great, nursing homes and long term care facilities are often required. A lucrative business for facility owners, workers often end up getting the short end of the stick. Claims centering on long hours and low wages that defy state employment laws have been initiated throughout the state and have resulted in lawsuits being filed by Bay area employees.

California’s Elder Care Crisis

The older adult population has risen dramatically over the past decade and will continue to do so in the years to come. This increase results in a corresponding need for elder care. The UC Berkeley Labor Center reports that there are currently more than five million people over the age of 65 residing in the state. This number is expected to nearly double by 2030. In order to provide for them, the state will need more than three million home health aides and assisted living workers.

Currently, there are less than 600,000 people performing these types of jobs. Part of the problem in recruiting workers for these positions is the low wages and long hours that are often required. Workers in nursing homes and long term care facilities are required to perform numerous duties, which include:

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CA employment attorneyThe rapid approach of summer in San Jose means many employers will be putting out ‘help wanted’ signs. Whether you are searching for a seasonal position, something part-time to supplement your existing income, or hope to make a major career move, it is important to prepare yourself for the interview process. Unfortunately, there is a chance you could encounter employment discrimination in a potential employer’s hiring practices and interview policies. The following can help protect your rights in these situations.

What Employers Can and Cannot Ask on Applications and in Interviews

While restaurants, hotels, retail stores, and other businesses in the hospitality industry typically require additional help in the summer months, they are not the only employers currently hiring. The city of San Jose itself currently has more than 600 job openings. Among the various positions available include city accountants, code enforcement officials, electricians, police officers, and park rangers.

Whether you are applying for these or other positions, even if it is only a part-time or temporary job, you will likely be required to go through an extensive application and interview process. While you will want to provide prospective employers with as much information as possible about yourself, your assets, and your potential with the company, keep in mind that there are certain topics employers are not permitted to ask about. According to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), questions you can and can’t be asked include:

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CA employment attorneyWhen you are offered employment with a company, the position will often fit under a specific job classification. This determines your work requirements, your wages and benefits, and the hours you can typically expect to spend on the job. In the case of certain employees, it can also dictate what type of tax category you fall in. If at a later date an employer decides to change your job classification, it can have a major impact on your work life as well as your financial security. When this happens, it raises complex employment law issues and could result in legal liability on the part of your employer.

San Jose Workers Protest Job Reclassifications

Employees with the San Jose Unified School district have recently launched protests over the decision made by district administrators to eliminate or reclassify nearly 40 employee positions. Dozens of impacted employees picketed outside district offices on Lenzen Avenue, claiming the move violates a prior agreement negotiated between the board and district employees.

As union workers represented by the California State Employees Association (CSEA), they had been in support of an agreement reached in November 2018 that would require a certain number of layoffs to fund a three percent across the board pay raise. However, the employees and the union did not agree to job reclassifications, which had the potential to deprive certain workers of hours and benefits while requiring additional job duties that were not included in hiring agreements.

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CA employment attorneyAs summer fast approaches, the school year is winding down for teens and college students at area schools and universities. While some plan to travel or otherwise enjoy the time off, many will end up looking for summer jobs. While students can make a decent amount of money during the warm weather months, which typically bring in plenty of tourists, they do need to be aware of some important precautions. Under the state’s employment laws, students are eligible for the same protections as any other worker in terms of hiring practices, payment, break periods, safety practices, and the types of work they are required to perform.

Know Your Rights on the Job

For young people, their eagerness to obtain a job and earn some income over the summer months can make them reckless in terms of their rights as employees. Unfortunately, their lack of knowledge and experience in the workforce can easily lead to them being exploited. Ways in which employers may take advantage of young workers include:

  • Paying them less;
  • Refusing to provide uniforms where appropriate;
  • Not providing proper safety gear and equipment;
  • Requiring them to work long hours;
  • Refusing to provide regular days off or breaks;
  • Not giving them adequate notice of their schedules;
  • Subjecting them to abuse, discrimination, or harassment; and
  • Withholding too much from their paychecks.

In situations where any of the above occurs, the California Department of Labor Relations may get involved. In addition to filing a complaint against the specific employer, you may be entitled to compensation for any lost wages and benefits, along with additional amounts meant to punish the employer for their behavior.

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CA wage lawyerFor employers, cutting costs is just one of several methods for increasing profits. However, when these cuts come at the expense of employees and involve denying them the wages they are entitled to, business owners can find themselves facing criminal charges, as well as civil penalties. Wage theft claims are a serious matter in San Jose and one that state officials relentlessly pursue. A recent case involving a popular and longtime local restaurant shows how employers can be held accountable for the losses they cause their workers to incur.

San Jose Burrito Chain Liable for Back Wages

In 2017, local workers began lodging complaints with state officials regarding unfair wage practices on the part of the Burrito Factor. The local chain restaurant has been in business for more than 20 years, with four locations throughout the San Jose area. The case has finally been resolved and the company has agreed to pay a $1 million settlement, which will be spread among more than 200 impacted employees.

The original complaint was based on allegations that the business owners paid the workers less than minimum wage. The California Labor Commissioner’s Office eventually found that, in addition to wage theft, the Burrito Factory was engaged in other types of behaviors which violated the state’s labor laws:

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