California & New York Employment Lawyers

Employment Lawyers for Employees in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York

For more than twenty years, Ottinger Employment Lawyers has focused on just one thing: helping employees resolve serious employment problems. We are one of the country’s top boutique employment law firms with offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York.

Ottinger Employment Lawyers Have Been Helping Employees for Over 20 Years

We devote our practice to helping employees in difficult situations throughout California and New York. Formed in 1999, our San Francisco and Los Angeles employment lawyers have helped thousands of employees. We have handled most every kind of employment case imaginable from illegally fired sanitation workers to rock stars and artists engaged in compensation disputes. We have helped top level executives negotiate employment and severance agreements. We have helped financial executives, salespeople, designers, tech workers, drivers, marketing and advertising executives and people in most every industry resolve complex problems. Our employment lawyers handle cases in San Francisco and Los Angeles, and New York that range from employment discrimination, whistleblowing, sexual harassment, and wage & hour class actions. We also have an executive practice area that focuses on severance, employment contracts and non-compete negotiations. We represent clients in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Fernando Valley, the Silicon Valley, the Bay Area and New York City.

Client Reviews

  • Wonderful Experience working with the Ottinger Firm! I was upset and very emotional after losing my job. The attorneys at the firm were very patient, caring and knowledgeable. They fought for me and won!  

    Candith J.
  • Everybody at this firm was helpful, thorough, and knew what they were doing! They efficiently managed to get results. Any questions I had were answered with depth. The process in which they work made things feel very at ease when it came to the case I hired them for. I would highly recommend this firm!

    Christian S.
  • I never hesitate to recommend Robert Ottinger to friends and family. He is thoughtful, responsive, realistic in managing expectations, an expert in employment law and really cares about helping people with their employment situations. I'm grateful for the help he has provided to me.

    Amy Z.
  • Thank you to the Ottinger firm for taking our case, fighting for us and getting positive results. When a business does not pay you what you are owed and you want results, The Ottinger firm is your go to!

    Robin H.

California Employment Law

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Ottinger Employment Lawyers has been helping employees and executives since 1999. We have offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York. We represent people at all levels from C-suite executives, middle managers to hourly workers. We can help you solve your problem.

Robert Ottinger founded this firm in New York City in 1999. Before starting the firm, he worked as Deputy Attorney General in Los Angeles and clerked for two judges at the Los Angeles Superior Court. We encourage you to browse the resources below to gain an understanding of California employment law.

New York Employment Law

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Since 1999, our New York employment lawyers have been trusted and recommended by New York employees and executives. We have earned this trust by delivering outstanding results and customer service. We represent people in all industries and have extensive experience in the financial, entertainment and technology sectors.

Ottinger Employment Law Blog

Attorney Portrait

103 Laws Protecting California Employees

If you want to find a comprehensive list of laws protecting California employees, then this post is the place for you! Below you will find 103 laws that offer legal protection to employees working in California. If you are looking for a specific type of employment law, you can click on the categories listed below to jump to that section. Check it out! Wage and Hour Minimum Wage and Overtime IWC Order MW-2019: As of January 1, 2020, employers with 26 or more employees must pay their California employees $13 per hour. Additionally, employers with 25 or fewer employees must pay their California employees $12 per hour. Cal. Labor Code Section 510: Non-exempt employees must receive overtime for eight or more hours worked in a single day. Also, employers owe overtime for more than 40 hours worked in a workweek. Employers must pay double time for hours worked in excess of 12 in a day or eight on the seventh day of any workweek. Cal. Labor Code Section 1194: Any employee who is receiving less than the legal minimum or overtime wage can file a lawsuit. This lawsuit can be for unpaid wages, interest, and attorney’s fees. San Francisco Administrative Code, Section 12R (For San Francisco Employees): Any employee who performs two or more hours of work in a week for an employer in San Francisco is entitled to San Francisco’s specified minimum wage. As of July 1, 2020, this minimum wage will be $16.07. Meal and Rest Breaks Cal. Labor Code section 226.7: Non-exempt employees must receive rest breaks of at least 10 minutes for every four hours of work. If rest breaks are not provided, then an employer must pay the employee one hour of pay for each day that the rest break was not offered. Cal. Labor Code Section 512: Non-exempt employees that work more than six hours in a day must receive a meal period by the fifth hour. Additionally, this meal period must be at least 30 minutes long. Along with this, employers must offer additional meal periods for employees who work over 10 hours. Record-keeping Cal. Labor Code Section 1198.5: Any current or former California employee, with limited exceptions, has the right to receive a copy of his or her personnel records. 29 CFR Section 516.2: All employers must maintain accurate payroll records for their employees. For instance, these records must contain the employee’s rate of pay, hours worked, overtime hours, and deductions. Cal. Labor Code Section 226: An employer must provide employees with accurate and itemized wage statements. Cal. Labor Code Section 353: An employer must keep accurate records of all tips received. Cal. Labor Code Section 1174: Employers must keep an employee’s payroll records on file for no less than three years. Along with other information, these records must include the ages of any minors who worked for the employer. Los Angeles Ordinance No. 184320, section 188.03(B) (For Los Angeles Employees): Employers within the city of Los Angeles must maintain payroll records for four years. Cal. Labor Code Section 432.3: Employers cannot ask prospective employees for salary history. Employers must also offer prospective employees with pay scale information upon request. Wages Cal. Labor Code Section 2802: Employees are entitled to reimbursement of any necessary business-related expenses that they make. As a result, employers cannot pass operational costs onto their employees. Cal. Labor Code Section 201: Employers must pay wages immediately to an employee who is discharged. Cal. Labor Code Section 202: Employees who quit are owed wages within 72 hours after quitting. If the employee gave 72 hours’ notice of quitting, then the employer must pay the wages at the time that the employee quits. Cal. Labor Code Section 203: Employers must pay employees wages owed when their job ends. If they do not, the employee is entitled to payment for each day he or she is not paid owed wages. Additionally, this penalty continues for a maximum of 30 days, unless payment is submitted or legal actions commence. Cal. Labor Code Section 204: California employees, with some exceptions, must be paid at least twice a month. Also, employers must establish a regular payday for their employees. Cal. Labor Code Section 231: If an employer requires an employee to have a driver’s license for the job, then the employee must pay for any medical exams associated with obtaining that license. However, this does not apply to medical exams taken prior to the employee’s application. Cal. Labor Code Section 232(a): An employer cannot prevent an employee from disclosing the amount of his or her wages. Cal. Labor Code Section 351: Generally, an employer cannot withhold or take a portion of an employee’s tips. Cal. Labor Code Section 2800: An employer must compensate an employee for losses incurred due to the employer’s “want of ordinary care.” So, employers must take reasonable precautions to prevent an employee’s losses. Discrimination and Harassment General Protections Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964: This federal law makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, and/or religion. Cal. Gov. Code Section 12940(a): This law, also known as FEHA, offers protections from discrimination to certain classes of employees. Among these classes are race, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, gender identity, age, and veteran status. Cal. Gov. Code section 12940(j): An employer cannot harass an employee, applicant, or intern because the employee is a member of any of the protected classes in Section 12940(a). Cal. Gov. Code Section 12990: This law applies to workers contracted by the state for public work. These workers cannot be discriminated against for any of the protected classes listed in FEHA. Cal. Labor Code Section 1735: A contractor for public works projects cannot discriminate employment of people to work on public works on any basis listed in FEHA. Hiring and Firing Cal. Labor Code Section 432.7(a): An employer cannot use any record of arrest or detention that did not result in a conviction for […]

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Defeating a Non-Compete Agreement

In this post, I’m going to show you EXACTLY how to get out of a New York non-compete agreement. In fact, this is the exact process we use to help all of our clients get out of non-compete agreements.  If you want to get out of a New York non-compete agreement, you’ll like this post.  The graphic above makes it easy to see how this works. You can also visit FindLaw to learn more about non-compete agreements in detail. Let’s dive right in …. 1. Fired Without Cause Were you fired without cause? If you were fired without cause, you most likely have nothing to worry about.  Courts in New York generally will not enforce a non-compete against you in this situation because it’s so unfair. If your employer is not willing to employ you, then it cannot prevent you from working within your field. It’s just that simple.  Also, most firings are without cause. Cause only exists if you do something seriously wrong like commit a major crime, steal from your employer or do something intentionally harmful to the company.  If you were not fired, then go to steps 2 & 3 below. 2. Company Trade Secrets New York courts will not enforce a non-compete agreement against an employee unless the company has a legitimate interest to protect. In almost every case, the only possible legitimate interests are trade secrets. Therefore, your non-compete agreement is probably unenforceable unless you have access to your employer’s trade secrets.   Most people do not have access to trade secrets. For example, at the Coca Cola company, their trade secrets are the formulas for coke and other drinks, and they are closely guarded secrets.  If you do have access to trade secrets or confidential information, then go to step 4 below.  3. Unique Skillset Do you have unique or extraordinary skills? This step only covers doctors, famous singers, actors & athletes and nationally renowned experts. Very few people have to worry about this. Unless you are one of them, your non-compete will not be enforced.  4. Reasonable Geographic Scope Is the non-compete agreement reasonable in time and geographic scope?  This step only applies if you answered yes to step 2 or 3 above. Generally, a non-compete will be deemed reasonable if the restriction is limited to a year or less but that can vary. An agreement is reasonable in geographic scope if it covers the company’s service area or market.  For example, if you are a doctor who works for a medical practice that serves Brooklyn, then the non-compete should only cover Brooklyn. Or if you work for Google, most of their products have global reach so a non-compete with Google could cover the globe.  Summing it Up Those are the four steps. If you answered yes to the first step or no to steps two and three, then your non-compete is unenforceable. These rules only apply to New York cases because other states have different rules.  If you need help with a non-compete agreement or want to learn more about New York Non- Compete Core Concepts, please contact us.  

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Zoom and the Inside Sales Exemption

The Coronavirus pandemic is forcing rapid change on the way we work and some of those changes might stick.  Zoom meetings, for example, are replacing business trips while travel is restricted.   But will the convenience and efficiency of online meetings reduce business travel once the restrictions are lifted? Why travel to see prospects when you can meet them online for a fraction of the cost?  If this becomes a lasting change in business behavior, it could have serious legal implications for sales teams.           The Distinction Between Inside and Outside Sales in California In California, there is an important legal difference between inside and outside salespeople. Inside salespeople have more rights than outside salespeople. Namely, inside salespeople are entitled to meal and rest breaks and, in some cases, overtime pay. Outside salespeople, on the other hand, are not entitled to breaks or overtime pay. Companies are required to properly classify salespeople so they know who is entitled to and breaks and overtime. Misclassification of salespeople can be costly because there are steep penalties for missing breaks and failing to pay overtime As sales teams reduce travel, they may need to be reclassified from outside sales to inside sales.  This is because the classification system is based on travel frequency.  The defining characteristic of an outside salesperson is travel. Those who spend more than 50% of their time traveling outside of the office are classified as outside sales.   Those who don’t travel much and spend most of their time working from the office are inside sales.   If salespeople conduct more business online and travel less, their classification can change from outside sales to inside. Contact Us Schedule your free consultation. Inside Salespeople are Always Entitled to Meal & Rest Breaks All inside salespeople are always entitled to meal and rest breaks. There are no exceptions.  When rest breaks and meal periods are not provided as required, employees may recover penalty payments from employers of up to two hours of play per day for missed meal periods and rest breaks (one hour for each missed break).  United Parcel Service, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County, 192 Cal.App.4th 1043 (2011). Outside salespeople are not entitled to meal and rest breaks. Inside Salespeople and Overtime Pay Inside salespeople are also entitled to overtime pay. But the right to overtime pay is a moving target and difficult to track. As explained below, a salesperson’s right to overtime pay can vary each quarter and each pay period. Here is the rule: inside salespeople are entitled to overtime pay, unless more than half of their pay comes from commissions and their earnings exceed one and one-half times the minimum wage.  Each part of this rule is discussed below. The 50% Commission Rule Applies Quarterly As explained above, a salesperson is entitled to overtime pay unless commissions make up 50% or more of their total compensation. This rule is not applied annually. Instead, it must be measured during the “representative period.” Since most sales organizations operate on a quarterly cycle, the period is typically a quarter. Therefore, a salesperson’s total compensation must be measured each quarter. If commissions make up less than half of their total compensation for the quarter, the salesperson is entitled to overtime pay. A salesperson’s right to overtime pay can vary quarter to quarter. During a good quarter with high commissions, a salesperson might not be entitled to overtime. But during a slower quarter, they might be entitled to overtime pay. The Minimum Wage Test Must be Calculated each Pay Period A salesperson must be paid overtime for each pay period that their total earnings do not exceed 1.5 times the minimum wage. This is true even if commissions account for more than 50% of their compensation. And, in California, commission payments cannot be carried over to other pay periods. Each pay period is analyzed separately and the right to overtime pay can vary each pay period. As a result, employers must essentially run the overtime exemption test anew for each pay period to determine whether or not a particular employee is overtime-eligible or -exempt, based on the earnings for that pay period.  Employers must also maintain diligent, accurate timekeeping records for any insides sales employees for whom they wish to claim the California overtime exemption.  Anytime requirements for the exemption are not met in a workweek, the employer must ensure the employee is paid appropriately for any overtime worked. Failure by employers to properly classify inside salespeople can also have other costly repercussions.  For example, there are requirements for employers to pay all overtime due prior to an employee’s last day of employment.  Failure to do so can result in “waiting time penalties” if the failure is willful.  Employers must also itemize paystubs for non-exempt employees, showing the number of hours worked by the employee during the pay period.  California Labor Code §226(a).  If an employer has misclassified an inside salesperson as exempt when they shouldn’t have, they may also have failed to properly itemize the employee’s hours on their pay stub.  Employees who have been misclassified by an employer may also recover attorney’s fees in many cases. The Impact of More Zoom Meetings and Less Travel As you can see, a company is required to treat inside salespeople much differently than outside salespeople. It’s very possible that thousands of outside salespeople are now actually inside salespeople. If they are conducting meetings online instead of traveling, they might be entitled to meal and rest breaks and overtime pay. But companies are just trying to survive the pandemic and possibly unaware that their sales teams now are entitled to breaks and overtime pay. A wave of Zoom misclassification lawsuits may be on the horizon.

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