Is your employer violating your rights?

What to do if your current employer is violating your rights.

Businesses make mistakes. Whether intentional or not, employers miscalculate wages or overtime, discriminate, neglect to give employees proper rest and meal breaks, and make a host of other violations. Our employment lawyers have seen everything from employers interrupting designated breaks with texts and phone calls, to failing to pay full salaries and overtime, to discriminating on the basis of national origin, race, color, religion, disability, and gender. So what should you do if your employer is violating your rights?


1. Take a deep breath and gather any documentation you will need.

We know it can be hard to speak up, but remember these two things: you are protected under the law from repercussions that could arise when you voice your concerns and often employers are eager to correct a violation  Whatever you have—paystubs, phone records, emails, faxes, text messages, etc.—organize it and make copies in case you need to leave it with your supervisor or HR professional.

Takeaway: Most employers are reasonable and will be eager to right a wrong.

2. Tell your employer.

Make sure you’re feeling calm and reasonable. Often it’s best to approach your supervisor or HR department in the morning when everyone is feeling fresh and well-rested and not focused on getting out the door. Clearly state the issue you’re having and present any supporting documentation. First, this will give you the best opportunity to resolve the issue with your employer. And second, if you do eventually need to take legal action, you will have a stronger case if you begin by seeking a reasonable solution

Make sure you speak to the appropriate people within your organization. Many times we’ve consulted with clients or potential clients who didn’t complain to the right people about the issue. For example, they may have spoken to their direct supervisor, but never told anyone else. Here are a couple more scenarios and what you should do:

  • If you have a medical condition, disability, pregnancy, or other medical issue, it’s important that you tell your employer. You can’t sue your employer for not accommodating your disability if they weren’t aware of it. You have to give them a chance to help you.
  • If you’re being harassed or discriminated against by co-workers or your supervisor, file a complaint with HR or speak with the appropriate person at the company. Some employers have hotlines. Others have an HR department or complaint process.

Takeaway: Employers cannot correct problems that they don’t know about, so make sure you’ve spoken to the right people about your situation. 

3. Document all efforts to communicate with your employer/HR/boss about how they are violating your rights.

Keep track of a timeline of events and issues. Save all emails, text messages, voicemails, or any other communications with the company. 

Takeaway: Documentation is critical in moving your complaint forward.

4. File a claim with the appropriate federal or state agencies.

If you’ve made reasonable attempts to put your employer on notice and the issues are still continuing, you may want to consider filing a complaint with a state or federal agency that can help resolve the issues. Here’s what to do next if an employer continues violating your rights.

Takeaway: If you aren’t able to resolve the issue yourself, you’ll need to file a complaint with the appropriate agency or hire an employment lawyer. 

5. If you need help navigating any of these situations, contact an experienced employment lawyer.

We know this can be a difficult step and we’re here to help. A couple of questions we get asked often are addressed below.

How much do we charge? 0 unless we recover compensation for you. We take cases on a contingency basis, which means you don’t pay any upfront fees or costs. If we negotiate a settlement from your employer or win your case in court, our fee comes out of the recovery from the employer. If we didn’t win your case, you owe absolutely nothing. 

Can my employer retaliate against me for hiring a lawyer to represent me with my claims? 

In California, it is illegal for an employer to retaliate against current or former employees for filing a lawsuit or complaint against them. This means the employer cannot legally terminate, demote, harass, or discriminate against you for hiring an attorney to write a demand letter, filing a complaint in court, or complaining about workplace violations. If you are retaliated against, we can help fight for your rights and recover the compensation you deserve. 

Takeaway: Give us a call at 888-492-0633 to see if we can help. 

For more information, check out our Free Download, First Steps to Take If Your Employment Rights Have Been Violated

Are you a California employee with questions for an employment attorney?

At SW Employment Law employment law is what we do — it’s what we’re passionate about, and it’s the sole focus of our law practice. 

We’re committed to effectively representing the rights of employees across the state of California — because we believe that everyone has the right to earn a living and provide for their family, free of unlawful discrimination and harassment. 

Our employment lawyers have won millions of dollars for employees all over California and we only take cases on contingency, which means we don’t get paid unless we win your case. Our fees come out of the court verdict or settlement with the company, so you don’t pay anything out of pocket. If you’d like our help evaluating your case and understanding the options available to you, we would love to help.

Contact SW Employment Law today at 888-492-0633 . Consultations are free and confidential.


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