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

How Does California’s Equal Pay Act Impact Your Compensation?

California passed the Equal Pay Act in 1949 in hopes of closing the wage gap between men and women. Unfortunately, the original law had significant loopholes. To strengthen the Equal Pay Act, California enacted the Fair Pay Act in 2015. This law, along with additional changes that came after it, significantly improved the chances of success for Californians pursuing wage and hour claims against their employers. Our experienced California employment lawyers can help navigate this issue for you. Contact us today for more information. Who Does the Equal Pay Act Protect? The California Equal Pay Act prohibits employers from paying some workers less than employees of the opposite sex “for substantially similar work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility, and performed under similar working conditions.” Though the law is gender-neutral, it was written to prevent employers from paying men more than women.  As amended, the Equal Pay Act now similarly protects employees of other races and ethnicities from being paid less than their coworkers for substantially similar work.  Both provisions apply to public and private employers. What Protections Does the Updated California Equal Pay Act Provide? Current California compensation laws provide strong tools for leveling the playing field.  Fair Pay Act The Fair Pay Act closed loopholes in the original act that made it difficult for women to successfully sue their employers. For example, it changed the Equal Pay Act definition so that it covers “substantially similar work” instead of “equal work.” This makes clear that what matters is the nature of the work, not the job title. Under the current law, workers also do not need to compare themselves to others located in the exact same establishment. That means you can see if the women in your factory make the same amount as the men in the factory across town that the same company owns. To provide a way to evaluate wage differences, the law now requires employers to keep wage and wage scale records for three years instead of two. Finally, employees no longer need to prove that the employer had a discriminatory intent. Instead, the burden is on the employer to explain why it is paying the employee less than other employees of different sex, race, or ethnicity. California Labor Code § 432.3 California Labor Code § 432.3 provides new leverage during salary negotiations. Specifically, it: Bars employers from asking about your prior salary; and Requires employers to provide pay scales (wage ranges) upon reasonable request. These rules prevent your boss from making your new salary artificially low because your old one was based on discriminatory standards. Can an Employer Ever Justify Unequal Wage Rates? An employer can justify paying some employees less if the wage difference is based on one or more of the following: A seniority system, A merit system, A system that measures earnings by production quantity or quality, or A bona fide factor other than sex, race, or ethnicity (e.g. education, training, or experience). The difference also must relate to the job and be consistent with a business necessity. If another business practice would achieve the same business goal without producing a wage difference, it is not a business necessity. Finally, the justification has to be reasonable and account for the entire salary difference. Can I Compare Wages with My Coworkers? Yes. Your employer cannot discipline you for disclosing how much you make or talking to coworkers about their wages. Can My Boss Retaliate Against Me for Talking to Coworkers or Filing a Complaint? No. The Equal Pay Act expressly prohibits retaliation. What If I Have Questions? Ottinger Employment Lawyers can help you figure out if you have a California Equal Pay Act claim. For over twenty years, we have represented everyone from sanitation workers to rock stars in compensation disputes. Let us pursue the fair compensation you deserve. Contact us today to get started!

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How FEHA Can Help a CA Employment Discrimination Case

The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) is the primary law that protects California employees from workplace discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. And thanks to a fairly recent revision to the law, employees now have more time to file a FEHA complaint. For help, or questions about how the FEHA affects you in the workplace, contact the team at Ottinger Employment Lawyers for more information today. What Is FEHA? FEHA prohibits discrimination in the workplace based on a person’s  Race,  Religious creed,  Color,  National origin,  Ancestry,  Physical disability,  Mental disability,  Medical condition,  Genetic information,  Marital status,  Sex,  Gender,  Gender identity,  Gender expression,  Age,  Sexual orientation, or  Veteran or military status.  Unlike federal law, which offers piecemeal protection for specific groups (e.g. the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits workplace discrimination based on a mental or physical disability), the California FEHA protection extends to just about all California workers. Specifically, FEHA makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate based on any of the  protected categories listed above: Refusing to hire someone for a job or training program; Firing an employee from a job or training program; or Providing unequal compensation or terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.  Labor unions and employment agencies also are barred from discriminating based on these factors. What Is the FEHA Statute of Limitations? The statute of limitations is the length of time you have to file an administrative claim or lawsuit. For a California FEHA employment discrimination claim, the statute of limitations used to be one year. However, Assembly Bill (AB) 9 extended the time period for filing a FEHA complaint to three years. But it only applies to employment discrimination that happened after January 1, 2020. It does not revive expired claims. FEHA Claims Process The first step in making an employment discrimination claim against your employer is to file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). At that point, you can opt to have DFEH investigate your claim or ask DFEH to issue a right-to-sue notice. It’s best to request a right-to-sue notice only if you have an experienced employment attorney to help you file a lawsuit.  How the AB 9 Extension Impacted the FEHA Statute of Limitations The impact of the AB 9 extension was to give employees three years to file employment discrimination claims in the DFEH. Once the DFEH issues a right-to-sue letter, the employee has another year to file a lawsuit. So the AB 9 extension effectively extended the statute of limitations to over four years.  Recovery Options on a California FEHA Employment Discrimination Claim The purpose of filing a lawsuit based on California anti-discrimination laws is to seek compensation for the economic and non-economic damages you suffered because of your employer’s actions. Economic damages restore measurable financial losses such as: Unpaid past wages, Lost future wages, Lost benefits, and  Job search costs. These damages are intended to cover your actual and out-of-pocket losses. Noneconomic damages compensate you for the more subjective hardships that result from employment discrimination, such as: Emotional distress, Anxiety, Loss of enjoyment of life, and Post-traumatic stress.  A court sometimes will also award punitive damages to punish an employer for particularly malicious discrimination and to deter them from doing the same thing in the future.  Next Steps for Those Who Still Have Time to File Some people who have been discriminated against, harassed, or retaliated against at work need time to process what has happened and end up missing the one-year statute of limitations to file a claim. That was part of the rationale for extending the limitation period to three years. If you are one of these people, but you’re still within the three-year window, you should seek help from a seasoned employment attorney.  At Ottinger Employment Lawyers, employment law is all we do. We focus on client happiness and results. Schedule a consultation today to see how we can help you through this challenging time.

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Working from Home and Electronic Monitoring Laws 

With so many people now working from home, it’s understandable to wonder how much of our remote work employers can monitor—and, of course, whether any privacy laws protect against electronic monitoring. The experienced attorneys at Ottinger Employment Lawyers are here to help guide you. Contact us for more information today. What Is Electronic Monitoring? Electronic monitoring means collecting information about employee communications and activities via computer, telephone, webcam, microphone, etc. It’s a way to conduct workplace surveillance of activities that a supervisor cannot directly see or hear. How Does Electronic Monitoring Work? Companies can electronically monitor their employees in numerous ways. If you have a work-issued computer, your boss can access your keystroke data, how much time you spend idle, webcam data, and your microphone. Some monitoring programs even take regular snapshots of your screen without your knowledge. Having a corporate internet connection allows the company to see what websites you visit and all your emails. Unfortunately, if you also use the connection to check private email, websites, or social media accounts, your employer may be able to view those as well.  How about all those handy collaboration tools you use like Slack, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams? They, too, are owned by your employer, so they can access the content. Your company may also be recording your video conferences on Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Watch out for that company-issued phone too. All your GPS data can be tracked. Why Do Companies Conduct Electronic Monitoring of Employees in the Workplace? The primary justifications employers use for having a workplace monitoring policy are security and productivity. Automated employee monitoring programs can catch cybersecurity errors or attempts by employees to steal sensitive information. But they pick up lots of private data in the meantime. Likewise, keystroke tracking and surreptitious screenshots can be used to highlight which employees are lagging. The problem is that while companies say they use this information to encourage employees to boost productivity, they also can use it for disciplinary reasons.  Are There Any Laws that Protect Employee Privacy? Yes, but they provide minimal privacy protection. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA) prohibits employers from intentionally intercepting their employees’ oral, wire, and electronic communications. But the law makes exceptions where the employee consents or where the employer can show a legitimate business reason for monitoring oral and electronic communications. In general, workers should not expect much privacy when it comes to workplace communications—especially when using employer-issued computers, phones, and networks. Some states have gone a step further in addressing electronic monitoring in the workplace. For example, California already prohibits the recording of confidential audio communications without the consent of the person being recorded. On January 1, 2023, the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA), which amends the California Consumer Privacy Act, will go into effect. This workplace privacy law requires employers to provide a notice to employees of the categories of sensitive personal information that will be collected and the purpose for doing so. In New York, an amendment to the state’s Civil Rights Law that goes into effect on May 7, 2022, requires New York employers to provide notice to their employees that telephone, email, and internet usage data will be monitored and to obtain the employee’s written acknowledgment that they received the notice.  Do These Laws Protect Me If My Company Is in Another State? Whether electronic monitoring laws in your state protect you if your employer is in another state depends on a lot of factors. If you have concerns, it’s best to ask your employer about their policy.  Contact Ottinger Employment Lawyers to Learn More About Your Privacy Rights If you live or work in California or New York, Ottinger Employer Lawyers can provide guidance on your rights. Our boutique practice focuses solely on employment law. We can advise you regarding your electronic monitoring concerns while working from home. Call us today or contact us online to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced employment attorneys.

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Meet the Ottinger Employment Law Attorneys

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