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  • Court Costs

    On May 4, 2015, the California Supreme Court unanimously decided a case that will be a game-changer for lawsuits brought under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). In Williams v. Chino Valley Independent Fire District, the Court addressed the issue of when losing FEHA plaintiffs may be required to pay their opponents’ case costs. The Court held that a losing plaintiff may be ordered to pay a prevailing defendant’s costs only if the “court finds the action was objectively without foundation when brought, or the plaintiff continued to litigate after it clearly became so.”

    Williams was a firefighter who sued his employer for disability discrimination in violation of FEHA. Williams lost the case on a summary judgment motion. The trial court then awarded the employer-defendant costs totaling $5,368.88. Williams appealed and the Court of Appeal affirmed.

    On review, the California Supreme Court explored two issues:

    Is a defendant prevailing in a FEHA action entitled to its ordinary court costs as a matter of right . . . or only in the discretion of the trial court . . . ? And, if the trial court does have discretion, must that discretion be exercised according to the rule applicable to attorney fee awards in certain federal civil rights actions under Christiansburg Garment Co. v. EEOC (1978) 434 U.S. 412 (Christiansburg), according to which a prevailing defendant receives its attorney fees only if the plaintiff‘s action was objectively groundless?

    The California Supreme Court held that the FEHA allows the court . . .

  • Employees hands tied with noncompete agreement

    Can your employer stop you from going to work for a competitor? In California, the answer is probably no.

    What Are Non-Compete Agreements?

    When an employee starts a new job, he is usually presented with a flurry of paperwork to fill out and sign. Usually, the employee has little time to read everything–and doesn’t. One of the things that is often buried among the other documents is an agreement that the employee won’t later compete with the employer. Such a document, often called a “non-compete agreement” or “covenant not to compete,” seeks a promise from the employee that he won’t later go work for a competitor or start his own business in the same area. Employees often sign these agreements without realizing the devastating impact that they can have. . . .

  • unsigned severance agreement

    Employers often offer severance payments to employees who are terminated or laid off. The payments usually come with strings attached; mainly, that employees must give up all rights to sue the employer for any claims that they may have. Employees may be required to sign lengthy severance agreements with complicated terms and conditions to receive their payment.

    If you are provided with a severance agreement, you must think carefully before signing it. You are well-advised to consult with an experienced employment lawyer to help make an informed decision. A lawyer can help you understand the legal rights you are giving up. They can explain [ . . . ]

  • A stack of employment records

    So you think you have an employment discrimination or wrongful termination case and are looking to hire a lawyer. Just as you must evaluate the lawyer to decide if they are right for you, the lawyer must assess your legal claims to determine whether they should represent you. Once you have gone through the preliminary consultation and conflict check, the lawyer will likely schedule an in-person meeting to delve into your claims in greater detail. The more information you have readily available, the more easily an employment lawyer can assess your claims. Of course, that does not mean you should bring with you every scrap of paper conceivable! Below, I describe some of the documents you should bring with you to help the consulting lawyer evaluate your case.

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