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.

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.

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.

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Ottinger Employment Law Blog

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What Are Time Clock Laws in California?

If you’re an employee in California, make sure your employer pays you for your time and lets you rest. Under California labor law, employers are not required to offer mandatory grace periods for clocking in and out. However, employers have the option to provide a voluntary 10-minute grace period for employees when they clock out. This flexibility aims to enhance the ease of clocking in and out for California workers. California law takes proper employee compensation and break times seriously. If an employer violates California time clock laws regarding employee breaks and compensation, they might have to pay damages. To receive damages for time clock violations, employees need to know their rights and their employers’ obligations.  You can reach out to us through our online contact form or give us a call at 866-328-0486. California Time Clock Laws Regarding Compensation California law typically requires your employer to timely and regularly pay you for all your working time. California timekeeping requirements also obligate your employer to keep detailed records of your payroll history and make them available to you.  If you inspect your payroll records, you might notice that the amount of time your employer pays you for doesn’t always match the amount of time you actually work. This is likely because your employer engages in rounding hours. Some employers round the hours or minutes their employees work to simplify payroll calculations. An employer might round your working time to the nearest minute, six minutes, quarter-hour, or other amount. Your employer might round your hours up or down. Since time clock rules for hourly employees require that California employers pay for all working time, is hour rounding legal? Rounding hours worked in CA can be legal, but it depends on the details of your situation. In AHMC Healthcare, Inc. v. Superior Court, the California Court of Appeals decided that an employer’s pay policy that rounded hours worked to the closest quarter-hour were legal since:  This means that if a rounding policy rounds up and down, is not applied to only reduce employee hours, and doesn’t result in constant undercompensation, it’s probably legal. Some California wage laws also closely follow federal law. Under federal law, an employer can round down working time lasting seven minutes or less. This can be disappointing, but the California Court of Appeals indicates that employees should at least break even in a rounding system if they work long enough.  If an employee in California clocks in for work before their scheduled start time with permission from their employer, it generally shouldn’t pose an issue. California labor law allows for flexible clock-in practices when authorized by the employer. However, it’s crucial to ensure accurate record-keeping and payroll management. In California, every minute an employee works must be compensated according to state labor regulations. In California, salaried employees are not required by law to clock in and out, especially if they are exempt from overtime regulations. The decision primarily lies with the employer. However, it’s important to note that non-exempt employees, including some salaried employees, must adhere to time-tracking requirements as mandated by labor regulations in the state. California Time Clock Laws Regarding Meal Breaks California law requires that your employer give you a 30-minute, unpaid meal break if you work more than five hours in a workday. The amount of meal breaks you must receive increases with the amount of hours you work. There are some exceptions to this rule. You can waive your meal break if you and your employer agree, and you don’t work more than six hours. You can also waive your second meal break in a 10 to 12-hour shift, as long as you and your employer agree. While there are some exceptions to the meal break rules, they generally apply to hourly and salaried employees alike. And if your employer doesn’t give you proper, uninterrupted meal breaks, you could have a right to premium pay.  Contact Us Schedule your flat-rate consultation. Schedule your consultation today. What If My Employer Doesn’t Comply with the Time Clock Laws in California? If your employer denies you proper breaks or pays you according to an unlawful hour-rounding policy, you can file a wage-and-hour claim with the California Department of Industrial Relations. You have one year to file a complaint if your employer fails to supply you with your payroll records. You have three years to file a complaint if you don’t get paid for all your hours or you don’t receive proper rest and meal breaks. The time you have to file a complaint can pass quicker than you think. This is why you should contact an attorney as soon as you suspect your employer has violated your rights. Your attorney can meet your filing deadlines and handle your claim while you tend to your other obligations.  Contact an Attorney to Claim What You’ve Earned Contrary to popular belief, you aren’t always at the mercy of your employer. Your employer needs to pay what they owe you and provide the rest times you deserve. At Ottinger Employment Lawyers, we are dedicated to helping wronged employees assert their rights. We have more than 20 years of experience, and we have helped thousands of employees. If you’re having trouble with your employer, we hope you’ll reach out. Contact us online or call us at 866-328-0486. 

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What Employees Need to Know about California’s New Wage Theft Law

Workers in California are cheated out of an estimated $2 billion in stolen wages every year. Although California has some of the strongest employee protection laws in the nation, wage theft is unfortunately still pervasive in the state. Especially among low-wage and hourly workers. Many employees don’t even realize that their employers are stealing from them. And those who do are often afraid to take action for fear of employer retaliation.  In 2021, California employees sought only $320 million in civil restitution for unpaid wages — a fraction of the estimated $2 billion stolen by employers every year. To combat this epidemic, the state recently adopted a law that takes an aggressive new approach to cracking down on employers who intentionally withhold compensation from their workers.  In this blog post, we’ll explain what wage theft is in California, break down how California’s new law takes a strong stance against it, and outline how workers in California can take action to get compensation for lost wages. If you still have questions or would like to speak with a California employment lawyer, please contact us online today or call 213-204-8002. What Does Wage Theft Look Like In California? In California, wage theft is a serious offense. As per Assembly Bill 1003 passed in 2021, instances of wage theft exceeding $950 are prosecuted as grand theft. Victims can report such cases to law enforcement authorities. Wage theft happens any time an employer fails to give an employee the compensation that they’re legally owed for their work. Wage theft can happen in a variety of different ways, and it doesn’t necessarily have to involve just your wages. Withholding any earned benefits or gratuities, like meal breaks or sick leave, also constitutes wage theft under California law.  Here are some more examples of what wage theft can look like, according to the California Labor Commissioner’s office: In 2011, California passed the Wage Theft Prevention Act, which aimed to raise awareness about the extent of wage theft in the state and put the onus on employers to inform workers about their rights to fair pay. Under this law, all private employers have the duty to inform their employees about certain basic but critical information about their compensation and benefits. This includes: Employers have to provide this information to workers in writing (in their preferred language) when they’re hired. They’re also required to disclose any and all alternate names the company might use as part of their business. For example, if a landscaper is incorporated under the owner’s name, but uses different “trade names” for its locations in different cities. If there are any changes to the pay or benefits policy, it’s the employer’s responsibility to provide workers with updated information, if it’s not included in their pay stubs.  The 2011 law only applies to employers in the private sector, though. Employees who are considered “exempt” (i.e. don’t receive overtime pay) or who are covered by collective bargaining agreements are also not required to receive pay notice from their employers under the law. What Is Ab 1003 And How Does It Change Wage Theft Law In California? In 2022, a new law went into effect in California that raises the stakes on the battle to prevent the rampant spread of wage theft in the state.  Under this law, known as AB 1003, certain incidents of wage theft can now be treated as “grand theft” — a serious offense that poses business owners, managers, and executives with much more serious consequences for stolen wages than before.  According to the bill, employers commit grand theft of wages when they intentionally withhold compensation (including wages and gratuities) “in an amount greater than $950 from any one employee, or $2,350 in the aggregate from 2 or more employees, by an employer in any consecutive 12-month period.”  The 2022 law applies to all employers in California, regardless of size. Importantly, it also applies to independent contractors as well as direct employees.  This is a significant piece of legislation that employers can’t afford to ignore without consequences. Grand theft is considered a felony offense under California law. Prior to 2022, all wage and hour violations were treated as misdemeanor crimes. This meant that if an employee made a complaint or brought civil charges for their stolen wages, companies would be compelled to pay recovery and face fines, but often not much else.  Now that employers can be subject to felony prosecution, violating wage laws can mean potential jail time — up to a three-year prison sentence — in addition to severe fines. Access to felony charges also gives California prosecutors more resources to work with during wage theft investigations, such as search warrants and the use of grand juries. This could encourage California prosecutors to investigate wage theft cases as criminal offenses and take legal action against employers.  How severe this legal action ends up being will play out on a case-by-case basis. It will also likely hinge on one critical element of the new law: whether or not the wage theft was “intentional.”  Proving that an employer was purposefully stealing wages is a bit more complicated than it may seem. Wage violations can stem from miscommunication between employers and workers over policies like break times or payroll scheduling. An employer could even miss an overtime payment due to simple oversight, not out of the intent to deprive a worker their compensation. Demonstrating intentional wage theft in court will require more specific evidence. For example, proof of an employer’s refusal to pay a previously agreed-upon hourly rate of pay. Since AB 1003 doesn’t provide an exact definition of what “intentional” wage theft looks like, interpretations will be determined by the circumstances of each case. How to Report Wage Theft in California If you’ve experienced wage theft in California, you have recourse. The primary avenues for reporting wage theft include: By utilizing these resources, you can take action against wage theft and ensure fair treatment in the workplace. What Should I Do If My […]

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Signs Your Employer Is Violating Your FMLA Rights in California

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) permits eligible employees unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. The FMLA allows qualifying employees approximately 12 weeks of unpaid time. During leave, the FMLA requires employers to continue the employee’s health insurance coverage. Employers must also allow employees to return to their jobs with no repercussions. Violations of FMLA by employers include taking action to prevent an employee from exercising their FMLA rights or retaliating against an employee for exercising their rights. Retaliation can include firing someone, demoting them, changing their working conditions, treating them differently from other employees, and more. Employers are also prohibited from retaliating against anyone who takes action to enforce their FMLA rights or aids an investigation of an FMLA violation.  FLMA violations, unfortunately, are not as rare as they should be, and many employees find their employers make it difficult for them to take the leave the FMLA entitles them to or return to work once they’ve taken leave.  If you believe your FMLA rights have been violated, contact a California employment attorney at Ottinger Employment Lawyers today. Specific Examples of FMLA Violations by Employers  1. Your Employer Demands You Give an Inappropriate Amount of Notice Under the FMLA, when you need to take leave due to something foreseeable, the law instructs that you give your employer 30 days’ notice. If it’s not foreseeable, you need to give notice as soon as practicable under the circumstances. Unfortunately, employers sometimes break the 30-day rule by requiring an employee to give more notice than 30 days’ notice. Or they use the 30-day rule to deny emergency FMLA leave even though it was not reasonably foreseeable. 2. Your Employer Doesn’t Recognize Your Request The FMLA does not require you to use the term “FMLA” when requesting FMLA leave. An employer should know to look at your request and discern how to categorize your leave based on the circumstances. Violations of FMLA by employers include implying you didn’t make the “right” FMLA request. 3. Your Employer Denies or Delays Your Request Your employer may request that you schedule FMLA to leave at times that aren’t as disruptive to your job. But if your physician tells you that you need treatment in a week, it’s wrong for your employer to request that you delay that treatment because they don’t like the timing. 4. Your Employer Requires You to Work While on Leave Your employer should not ask you to work from home or ask to you be available while on FMLA leave, even if it’s only for a limited number of hours each week. Emergencies make it difficult for you to perform as expected. For this reason, when employees who have been fired for “performance issues” while on leave go to court, juries often find FMLA violations by employers. 5. Your Employer Disciplines You or Retaliates for Taking FMLA Leave You cannot be fired for taking FMLA leave. But your employer may try to discipline you for being absent. Verbal abuses upon return from leave or indications your leave is a mark against you when seeking promotion are signs of FMLA violations by employers. 6. Your Employer Makes It Difficult to Take Intermittent Leave Under the FMLA you can take leave in one large sum or take “intermittent leave,” where you scale back the number of hours or days you work per week. While on intermittent leave, if your employer demotes you or loads you up with more work than is reasonable to accomplish within specified hours, your FMLA rights have been violated and you should contact an employment lawyer as soon as possible. 7. Your Employer Doesn’t Reinstate You at Your Previous Level When you return to work after leave, the FMLA requires your employer to restore your previous job or assign you to an equivalent position. Everything, including your job duties, location, benefits, and pay, should be the same as or equivalent to what it was before you left. Penalties for Violating FMLA Regulations If you violate the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) regulations, you may face the following penalties: What to Do If You Suspect Your FMLA Rights Are Being Violated Violations of FMLA by employers involve statutory time limitations that dictate exactly how long you have to file a claim. If you believe your rights are being violated, call Ottinger Employment Lawyers at 213-204-8002 or contact us online. We have defended the rights of workers throughout California for over twenty years. As one of the country’s top boutique employment law firms, we are devoted to helping employees in difficult employment situations.

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