Employment and Personal Injury Attorney John Furstenthal

Employment & Personal Injury Lawyer

John Furstenthal has become an expert in employment law. He has also handled numerous cases involving injuries, housing discrimination, medical malpractice, contract disputes, and FELA/railroad cases. He handles all phases of the case to ensure the best possible outcome. 

John Furstenthal can handle cases anywhere in California, in state or federal court. Contact the Furstenthal Law Office to schedule a free consultation.

How Will the Trump Administration Affect Employment Law?

Donald Trump’s first few weeks in office have been exciting. But what significance will his presidency have on work rules?

Now, we don’t really know. First, most laws are created not by presidents, but by legislators. Second, most employment laws are created by state law, not federal law. In California, most state laws are more worker-friendly than similar federal laws.
Trump has said that he will re-write rules that will affect workers in many ways:

  • reduced business “regulation” (regulation is really just a law)
  • immigration
  • religion
  • employment law enforcement bodies (like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)
  • minimum wage and leave rules
  • health benefits

It remains to be seen how his presidency will affect the rights of workers.

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
8163 Hits

Drug and Alcohol Use: Job-Related Issues

An employer can lawfully regulate an employee’s use of alcohol and illegal drugs at work. Employment rules about alcohol or drug use are allowed.

An employer can require a drug test to a prospective worker. If an employee fails that test, an employer can refuse to hire that worker or rescind an offer. An employee should notify an employer of any legal prescription drugs that may result in a failed drug test. The employer needs to keep any drug testing information private, as it is considered medical information.

Finally, an employer can probably fire a worker for marijuana use, even if it used to treat a disability consistent with medical marijuana laws. The state and federal laws do not stop employers for firing a worker for marijuana use. It is possible this law could change, or a judge could modify the rule in the future, but for now, an employee could be fired for using marijuana.

The laws are complicated, and there are additional rules and some exceptions to these general rules, so talk to a Bay Area employment law attorney for more details.

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
8355 Hits

Disabilities on the Job: Reasonable Accomodation

Most workers have heard the term “reasonable accomodation” without understanding what it means according to state and federal law. If a worker qualifies as an individual with a disability, s/he may be entitled to a “reasonable accommodation” to continue to do his or her work. This rule applies both when starting a job or after something has happened to make the worker disabled.
In California, employers with five or more workers must provide the accommodation. Under federal law, employers need to have 15 or more workers. Typically, accommodation falls into two categories:

(1) an employee needs some kind of workplace setup to help with a disability, like someone with carpel tunnels syndrome may need an ergonomic desk and computer

(2) an employee needs to have flexible work hours or work at home so that they can get medical treatment. 
The kind and “reasonableness” of accommodation depends on the situation of both employer and employee. A large company may more easily spend more for a new chair and desk. The large company may have more flexibility to provide for different work hours or for working at home. And the employee’s disability may require a minor or a major accommodation.

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
8306 Hits

California To Raise Hourly Minimum Wage

On Monday April 4, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a new law to increase the state hourly minimum wage. The state minimum wage will rise by 50 cents to $10.50 in 2017, $11 in 2018, and then by $1 per year until it reaches $15 per hour in 2022. Businesses with 25 or fewer employees will have a year more to make the change. After that, starting in 2023, the hourly state minimum wage will be connected to the Consumer Price Index (which measures changes in the costs of goods and services commonly used in households). The new law leaves open the right for the governor to make adjustments if the Department of Finance forecasts job losses or other financial issues.

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
8210 Hits

A Worker’s Right To Take Leave to Care for Family Member

California and federal laws provide some workers the right to take unpaid leave from work. If s/he meets the qualifications, s/he can return to work at your prior position. The employer may not fire that employee. S/he can take up to 12 weeks of leave and continue to have the health insurance regularly provided. The employer cannot retaliate against the employee for exercising those rights.
Generally speaking, an employee must have worked for the employer for the last 12 months for at least 1250 hours, work for a company with at least 50 or more employees within 75 miles of the worksite, and have a parent, child, spouse, or registered domestic partner with a serious health condition.
Other laws allow certain workers to take time off for their own medical condition.
This entry just provides a summary of the law; additional specifics and some exceptions are also part of the law.

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
8347 Hits

Medical Malpractice Law and Damages

There are very specific laws about medical malpractice in California. Generally, the law is similar to any other kind of “negligence” cases like a slip and fall in a grocery store or a car crash. First, the plaintiff in a medical malpractice case needs to show “negligence” or that the action of a medical provider (whether it’s a doctor, a medical technician, etc.) fell below the standard of care. In other words, the medical provider did not do what s/he should have done. Just because there is a bad result from a medical procedure does not mean that the doctor failed, because sometimes medical procedures turn out badly despite proper actions by the doctor. Second, the plaintiff needs to show that s/he suffered injuries. Usually, those injuries include medical bills, wage losses (from missed work), and emotional distress. Third, the plaintiff needs to show that the negligence is what caused the injuries. A plaintiff who would have had medical problems even if a procedure had gone well is not entitled to all those injuries, just the injuries that the negligence made worse.
There are more complicated matters having to do with timing of a lawsuit, notice to the medical provider, and other matters. Please do not hesitate to contact John Furstenthal about your case.

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
7830 Hits

Surveillance at work

Most workers think that they cannot be recorded at work. In fact, the opposite is usually true. An employer has the right to record with video or audio most places at work. An employer can conduct secret surveillance in open places where an employee could be observed by the naked eye, even if the employee thinks that they are not being recorded. An employer cannot places like a bathroom or changing room however; it would be considered an illegal invasion of privacy there.

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
7707 Hits

Sexual Orientation Laws in Employment - What San Francisco Bay Area workers need to know

The US Supreme Court this week made a much-publicized decision granting gay couples the right to marry no matter what state they are in.

What are the rules about sexual-orientation discrimination in the workplace?

There is no federal law prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination on the job. Fewer the half of the states have laws prohibiting it. California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act does make it illegal to discriminate on the job because of a worker’s sexual orientation. You can look at this map to see if your state has a law. Non-Discrimination Laws: State by State Information - Map

There is a proposed federal law, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (“ENDA”) that may eventually make it illegal in all states to discriminate based on sexual orientation. I believe this law will eventually pass and become the law of the land. I also believe that before too long the rest of the states will adopt similar laws.

In the meantime, other laws, like sexual harassment and sexual discrimination laws, may protect a victim of discrimination.

If you feel you have been discriminated on the job, contact San Francisco Bay Area Employment Law Attorney John Furstenthal at (925)-284-1718 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation.

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
7782 Hits

The Verdict Is In: Ellen Pao v. Kleiner Perkins

Last month, I described the high profile employment case of Pao v. Kleiner Perkins, in which a high level employee of the venture capital firm claimed sexual discrimination. The jury found in favor of the defendant, giving Ms. Pao nothing.

This case highlights that a plaintiff in this kind of case needs clear evidence of gender bias to prove her case. The jury did not believe that she provided enough evidence that she was treated differently because she was a woman. They believed that she was not promoted, and eventually fired, because of her poor performance. Often times, an employee believes that because she was treated badly, demoted, refused promotion, or fired, it must be because of her gender. An employee, or plaintiff in this case, needs to show that the motivation for a termination is gender. It is by definition hard to prove what someone is thinking, or motivated by, when s/he acts. No one says, “I’m going to demote you because you’re a woman.”
The case will hopefully be powerful at least to force employers to reconsider how and why they are acting and treat women more fairly.

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
7706 Hits

In the news: Ellen Pao v. Kleiner Perkins

In San Francisco, the high profile case of Pao v. Kleiner Perkins has been continuing for several weeks. The defense is finishing its witnesses and closing arguments will go ahead shortly.

This case is about a woman at the large venture capital firm (mostly tech investing) who claims that she was the victim of gender discrimination and harassment. She argues that men were hired ahead of her. She claims that she was not invited to meetings and on trips because she is a woman. She claims that she was fired after complaining about the gender discrimination.

Kleiner Perkins, in their defense, said that she was not a competent leader, and that their promotions of other women showed no bias against women.

The case has produced ugly witness testimony about affairs and stereotyping. It also underlines the tech industry’s low employment of women.

More to follow when the jury reaches a verdict.

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
7883 Hits

California Bill Would Give employees Greater Certainty in Work Hours

California state Assemblymembers David Chiu and Shirley Weber introduced AB 357 in February 2015. The "Fair Scheduling Act," if passed, would require employers to provide a schedule to employees at least two weeks in advance. It would give workers additional pay if there are any last minute changes. In restaurants and retail stores, last minute scheduling and cancellations regularly make workers' wages uncertain and inconsistent. Workers with children can be put in an awkward position without flexible childcare. It would apply only to food and retail establishments with 500 or more California employees. California would be the first state in the US to establish such a law. Stay tuned to this blog to see if the bill becomes law in California.

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
8070 Hits

Fair Treatment by Your Union

Many employees are part of a labor union. Usually, a contract (often called a memorandum of understanding or collective bargaining agreement) includes what a union must do for its members.

A union member can sue the union for poor representation. However, there are very narrow grounds for bringing that lawsuit. The union has a “duty of fair representation” to the workers it represents. But the union’s actions must fall into one of three categories to break the law. A worker can bring a case if the union treats the employee in ways that are either:

  1. arbitrary: there is no reason for the union not to grieve your matter;
  2. discriminatory: the refusal to help is based on the worker’s race, gender, religion, etc.; or
  3. in bad faith: a union official refuses to grieve because s/he doesn’t like the member.

The duty of fair representation does not require that the union be competent. The union need not appeal an employee’s claim. In general, this claim is a very hard one to prove in court.

Employment Law Attorney John Furstenthal helps clients throughout the East Bay Area, California from his office in Contra Costa County. To schedule a free initial consultation, please call (925)-284-1718 or fill out our onine form today!

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
8559 Hits

Rules About Uniforms for Employees in California

Many employees need to wear uniforms, from chain employees to firefighters. Who pays for the uniforms? Who cleans them?

California law answers these and other questions. First, an employee can force employees to wear uniforms. Second, an employer usually must provide the uniform. However, if the uniform is consistent with other in the field, an employee can be forced to but it. For example, a business consultant can be forced to wear a suit and dress shirt. But if the employer’s name is printed on the shirt – or if the color or style is unusual and specific to the company – the employer will have to pay for it. Third, if the uniform is required, the employee has to take care of the normal laundering of the uniform. Employers must generally pay for special cleaning (like dry cleaning, stain removal).

There are some other specifics, but this blog entry provides the big picture of the California law.

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
9070 Hits

California Will Provide Paid Sick Leave - Assembly Bill 1522

Governor Jerry Brown on September 10, 2014 signed into law Assembly Bill 1522 which will provide workers in California guaranteed sick days. Covered employees will get one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. It does not matter the size of the employer.

California becomes the second state, after Connecticut, to require paid sick days.

This will be a relatively small benefit, allowing the employer to provide just three days, or 24 hours, of paid sick leave per year. An employer can of course choose to provide more such pay. It is common, for example, for union contracts to provide additional sick pay for union workers.
This sick leave will cover an employee’s sick days or for care for an employee’s sick family member. The law makes it illegal to retaliate for an employee’s using these rights. There are some excluded classes of workers, most significantly in-home support workers.

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
8207 Hits

California Workers’ Compensation Overview

When an employee is hurt on the job, his or her only remedy is usually temporary or permanent workers’ compensation benefits. An employee cannot usually sue an employer for an on-the-job injury. If a third party is responsible for the injuries, an employee can sue that third party for damages from the harm. On duty injuries will be covered whether the employee is at fault or not (but an employee will not be covered if the injury was on purpose). An injury covered by workers’ compensation can be 1. a specific injury (like falling off a ladder), 2.  a cumulative trauma injury (like carpel tunnel syndrome for a computer operator), 3. an exposure injury (like a lung injury from smoke inhalation), or 4. under certain circumstances, a psychological injury. An employer cannot retaliate against an employee for making a workers’ compensation claim. An employer may pay the benefits willingly, or a hurt worker may have to make a claim against the employer.
This section is meant to summarize workers’ compensation laws. It can be much more complicated. Most workers’ compensation lawyers specialize in only that field of the law. The Furstenthal Law Office does not handle workers’ compensation cases, but can recommend attorneys who do.

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
7855 Hits

COBRA Overview: Continuing Health Coverage After you Leave a Job

When an employee loses his or her job, s/he may be entitled to continue health coverage. The former employee would have to pay what the employer was paying plus two percent. For example, if an employee was getting Kaiser insurance that costs $100/month, the former employee could continue the health insurance for $102. The insurance may or may not be a better deal, so a former employee should shop around for health plans. Qualified employers include most any with 2 or more employees; government and church employers are not required to provide this benefit. To qualify, an employee must have been fired without committing a serious wrong or have quit and not be eligible for Medicare. A reduction of hours may also trigger qualification. COBRA typically lasts 36 months. An employer must provide written notice to a former employee of the employee’s rights. There are more details, but the above provides a summary.

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
8148 Hits

California Unemployment Benefits Basics

If you have been fired – or in some circumstances, if you quit – you may be entitled to unemployment payments.

First, you must have lost your job due to no fault of your own. This usually falls into two categories. If you quit: you quit for “good cause,” which means a reasonable person in your shoes, felt you had no choice but to quit. If you were fired: if must not be “misconduct,” which means that you knowingly fail to do an important part of your job or violated an important work policy that harms the business. Theft and violence always fall under misconduct, but lesser offenses may also qualify.

Second, you must have earned a minimum set by the state, usually a total of $1300 during three months.

Third, you must be unemployed.

Fourth, you must be ready, willing, and able to work.

Fifth, you must be actively looking for work.

You need to make a claim with the California Employment Development Department (“EDD”), which administers the benefits. There are more complicated details in the requirements, but this entry provides a basic summary.

John Furstenthal is an Employment Law attorney located near Concord, California, in LaFayette, and serves clients throughout the East Bay Area. To schedule a consultation with Mr. Furstenthal, please calll 925-284-1718 or fill out the online form.

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
8159 Hits

Your Boss Cannot Fine You For an Honest Mistake

It is illegal for an employer to deduct money from an employee’s paycheck for, or make an employee pay for, an inadvertent error, cash shortage, or breakage. So a waiter at a restaurant cannot be docked pay for accidentally  dropping and breaking a plate. A cashier who makes an honest mistake and comes up short in the register is not required to “make up” the difference. Only when an employer can show the employee’s shortage or mistake was the result of dishonesty, willful misconduct, or gross negligence can the employer recover the loss.

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
9188 Hits

Harassment and Discrimination on the Job

Just because your boss is treating you poorly, does not mean that you are the victim of discrimination or harassment that is against the law. Your employer may be treating you badly without breaking the law. A boss can legally raise his or her voice, be unprofessional, act in a way that’s bad for business at your expense, while not illegally harassing or discriminating against you.

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
8602 Hits

When Can a California Employer Fire You?

Although most employees don’t realize it, an employee in California can be fired at any time for any reason (or no reason). An employee under this scheme is “at will” as s/he can be fired at the will of the employer. Although this may be unfair and unprofessional, it is perfectly legal.

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
12938 Hits


Let Us Help You Experience You Can Trust


    Contra Costa County Employment Contracts Attorney Walnut Creek, Lafayette, Concord, California Negotiating an employment contract is a critical element to Read More

    Concord Employment Discrimination Attorney Discrimination Lawyer Serving the East Bay Area, California Is your manager or supervisor making your life Read More

    Has your family become burdened by the tragedy of a catastrophic injury or wrongful death caused by someone else's negligence?John Read More
  • 1