Lori Costanzo of the Costanzo Law Firm along with Co-Counsel Lori Andrus of Andrus Anderson announce that Farmers Insurance has agreed to settle the pay discrimination class action lawsuit brought by its female attorney-employees, who allege that they are paid less than their male counterparts for doing similar work. Symbolically, the agreement was announced the same week as Equal Pay Day on April 12, 2016. Equal Pay Day is the representational day when women’s earnings “catch up” to men’s earnings from the previous year.
Employment law issues can be very sensitive; knowing when and how to assert ones rights as an employee is difficult. Not only could the future with the employee’s present employer at risk, but often their professional reputation moving forward is at stake as well. Lori Costanzo, with over 25 years of civil litigation experience, places a special emphasis on employment matters in her legal practice.
California is an at-will employment state, which means that absent a contract, or other types of agreements giving an employee a continued expectation of employment, an employer can terminate an employee for any reason or no reason at all. However, an employer can either expressly or impliedly modify that at-will relationship. If the relationship has been modified, the employer must then have good cause to terminate an employee.
Additionally, California courts have reasoned that an at-will employee cannot be terminated for reasons that would violate public policy, such as an employer firing an employee for reporting illegal activity. Wrongful termination cases are very much fact specific and proof can be difficult as much of the information and records are controlled by the employer.
Both federal and state laws shield an employee who is a member of a protected class. It is unlawful if an employee suffers a negative employment consequence solely due to their national origin, race, religion, gender, age, sex or sexual orientation. Based on the facts and circumstances, there can be disparate treatment of an individual in a protected class or a disparate impact on the individual as a member of the class. Employers might go to great lengths to hide their true motivations behind discriminatory company policies. Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination.
California law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who engage in protected activities. Examples of protected activities are where an employee complains about an incident of harassment or discrimination or if the company is engaging in illegal activities. Employees are also protected from negative employment consequences if they cooperate with an official investigation being conducted at the workplace. The retaliation can come in many forms, such as demotions, being overlooked for promotions, unjustified admonishments, work place bullying, transfers to less favorable working conditions or any other negative result.
Employee benefits are not required to be offered to employees but once they are, California law regulates the manner in which the benefits are paid. The feeling of security an employee may have can be quickly shattered when the filing of a claim results in a denial of benefits. Most of the matters involving employee benefits such as health, disability and retirement plans are complex and require experienced and knowledgeable counsel.
In addition to employment law issues, Ms. Costanzo’s firm handles a wide variety of civil matters including:
Ms. Costanzo has had great success as a litigator and is always ready, willing and able to take a case to trial if that is in the best interests of her client. However, she also realizes that not every situation calls for litigation. A particular strength of Ms. Costanzo is her dedication to her clients; this means thoroughly investigating all the details of the case, exploring every option possible and crafting a well-thought out strategy designed to achieve the best result possible. Sometimes mediation and a settlement are the best answer, and sometimes the courtroom will provide the remedy. In every case, Ms. Costanzo’s clients receive the highest quality legal services with a true compassion for what they are going through.
For all your legal issues, from simple advice to complex litigation, call Lori Costanzo at 408-993-8493.
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