Stephen Danz has hired some of the most experienced associates in government employment law and has given them the training that only an employment attorney with over 30 years of experience can offer.
As a California government or Federal government employee you are afforded certain rights and benefits that employees of private sector employers do not have. Union benefits and protections, retirement and disability protections, and state and federal regulations create many safety nets and prohibit employers from making decisions that negatively affect your position or your benefits. In addition, you are similarly protected by the numerous anti-discrimination and harassment laws, the leave laws, and the whistleblower protections and anti-retaliation laws.
Stephen Danz has dedicated his practice to defending the rights of employees across the state and around the globe for more than three decades. He has garnered a reputation as one of the premier employment law attorneys in California. His associates are trained to represent their clients with efficiency, effectiveness, and understanding.
One of Stephen’s most recent cases in representing government employees involved a case of whistle-blowing wherein a state employee complained about a system of ‘under-reporting’ hours worked to CALPERS. The employee was subsequently terminated in a classic case of retaliation.
Stephen sees cases like this on a weekly basis and has even more reports of cases of discrimination and retaliation for leave-taking.
In California it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against employees based on any of the following:
- Age (40 and over)
- Religious Creed (including religious dress and grooming practices)
- Use of Family and Medical Care Leave
- Disability (mental and physical) including HIV and AIDS
- Marital Status
- Medical Condition (cancer and genetic characteristics)
- Genetic Information
- National Origin (including language use restrictions)
- Sex (which includes pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and medical conditions related to pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding)
- Gender, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression
- Sexual Orientation
Of course, that does not keep employers from discriminating against employees on any of the above-listed topics. In fact, discrimination cases are on the rise across the state and the nation.
Stephen has taken hundreds of these cases to trial and through settlement negotiations and trial verdcicts obtained millions of dollars for his clients.
California and the Federal government have provided considerable protections for employees needing to take certain kinds of leaves of absence from work for various reasons. Medical conditions, family issues, and military training and duty are all protected by leave laws.
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) protect employees from discharge for taking a leave of absence for medical reasons; including pregnancy and pregnancy-related issues. The Uniformed Service Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) protects military members from being terminated while out of work for training purposes or while on active duty and therefore unable to work.
There are numerous cases of employees taking validly recognized leave under one of the above-listed laws and returning to work to find that their position has been filled by another employee. Under the leaves laws as they exist today, an employer is required to return a worker to the same position or a substantially similar position when he or she returns from leave, as that which he or she held before he or she left. A substantially similar position means one with the same mental and physical requirements, the same pay, and the same status and power.
An employer who fails to do so may be liable for damages including back pay and wages and may still be required to return the employee to his or her old position. In addition to back pay, the CFRA allows an employee to recover punitive damages where the employer acted with malice or reckless indifference, and the FMLA allows an employee to recover liquidated damages where the employer acted with malice or reckless indifference.
Protection from termination
Though California is an ‘at-will’ employment state, meaning that an employer can generally terminate an employee for no reason, public sector employees are protected from termination in many instances by the government’s own procedures. Once a review system is set in place, government agencies are bound by their own rules of conduct when making hiring, firing, promotion, and demotion decisions.
Stephen Danz has represented hundreds of government employees where agencies have failed to follow the law or their own procedures, and have been found liable for damages because of those breaches.
While there are many protections that government employees enjoy, there are also several loopholes that government employees must jump through, about which private sector employees need not worry.
Employees of public agencies, when seeking to claim monetary damages against their public sector employer, must generally file a “claim” under the California Government Claims Act, BEFORE they can proceed with their administrative actions or lawsuit. (See California Government Code §§ 905, 910) Generally, no suit for money or damages may be brought against a government entity or employee (acting in the scope of employment) unless a timely claim has been presented to the entity, and the entity acts upon the claim or the claim is rejected by the passage of time. See, Government Code §§ 945.4, 950.2, 912.4). Even though language about “tort” claims is often used, the Act is not restricted to torts; it applies to all suits for money or damages, including contract claims. Hart v. Alameda County (1999) 76 Cal. App. 4th 766; Baines Pickwick Ltd. v. City of Los Angeles (1999) 72 Cal. App. 4th 298.
Failing to file a proper claim can bar the right to collect money or damages which otherwise are clearly owed to a public employee. The Act sets a very short time limit for filing a claim–6 months! (The time can possibly be extended under certain circumstances.)
STEPHEN DANZ IS AN EXPERT IN GOVERNMENT EMPLOYMENT LAW
Hiring an experienced government employment law attorney can help you avoid losing your case before it is even filed. The California Government Claims Act is only one of the potential pitfalls through which your attorney must guide your case if it is to be successful.
Stephen Danz & Associates are proud to have one of the top government employment attorneys in the state of California on staff. Samuel J. Wells partners with Stephen on cases involving government employees and civil rights. Having graduated from Stanford University, he went on to graduate from the University of Kansas, School of Law in 1970. He has been named a California Super Lawyer by Los Angeles Magazine for 4 years in a row and has represented clients against government employers for decades.
Stephen is happy to partner with Samuel on government employment cases across the state. Stephen has offices from San Diego to Northern California, but he and Samuel will sit down with you at a location that is convenient for you – close to your home or place of work or school. Dealing with California traffic can be a nightmare at the best of times and Stephen takes pride in the fact that he and his associates make things as easy as possible when scheduling appointments and meeting with clients to go over cases.
Contact our Los Angeles office today on our toll-free number (877) 789-9707, or use the Contact form on our website to schedule a free consultation with Stephen. All of our scheduling is done through our Los Angeles office, but as mentioned previously, Stephen and one of his associates will sit down with you in a location that is convenient for you and works with your schedule. We will examine the facts of your case and alert you to any potential roadblocks and outline any potential claims you may have. We will also lay out the procedure your case will follow and help you develop a plan to gather the necessary evidence and to protect yourself from retaliation while your case is moving forward. The clock is ticking, especially if you are a government employee, so contact us today.
We look forward to defending your rights.