Northern California Employment & Personal Injury Law Blog

Employment & personal injury law news, insights, and information.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Employment Law: Exceptions of Overtime Pay

Last time I discussed overtime pay and breaks. There are some exceptions to these rules, when an employee is not entitled to overtime pay and need not be provided with breaks.

“White collar employees” are exempt from these rules. This employee must meet both of the following criteria:

1. The salary basis test:

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