Can Your Employer Fire You For Talking to an Attorney About Unpaid Overtime?

employee carting off with desk supplies in a boxUnpaid overtime is a widespread problem, affecting employees in many industries. Many employees do not know they are being wrongly denied overtime because their employers have misclassified them. Others may be afraid to speak up about it out of fear of losing their jobs.

Some people may be unsure if they may be able to take legal action, but they do not seek help from a qualified legal professional. Our Sacramento wage and hour attorneys can explain if you may have a case in a free consultation.

If you have questions about potential legal options, give us a call today. Despite misconceptions to the contrary, your employer is not allowed to fire you simply for talking to a lawyer. This is against the law and gives the victim grounds for legal action.

Why Employers Cannot Fire Employees for Talking to Lawyers

Federal law says employees cannot be fired for engaging in a protected activity. For example, you cannot be fired for filing a complaint about being denied overtime or minimum wage. This is considered a protected activity.

Filing a complaint encompasses the actual filing of a complaint, along with attempting to file a complaint, discussing a complaint, or talking to a lawyer about your employer.

Firing you simply for talking to a lawyer about potentially filing a complaint would be illegal, as it is retaliation.

Unfortunately, firing you is not the only form of retaliation you may be subjected to. For example, you could be harassed, lose pay, or be given less work. You may not be scheduled to work as often as you used to be, which would greatly affect your monthly income.

Other examples of workplace retaliation include:

  • Being ignored
  • Not being offered a raise
  • Being denied a promotion
  • Not receiving the same training and mentoring opportunities as others you work with
  • Being shut out of workplace discussions

Fortunately, California also has laws prohibiting employers from retaliating against employees who seek out legal advice or file a complaint against their employer.

According to California Labor Code 98.6, an employer shall not discharge an employee or in any manner discriminate, retaliate or take any adverse action against any employee or applicant for employment because he or she has gotten in contact with an attorney or filed a work complaint.

Any employer who fires, threatens or otherwise retaliates against an employee standing up for his or her labor rights may face misdemeanor charges. Additionally, the employer may face civil penalties of up to $10,000 per employee and violation.

Is a Consultation With an Attorney Confidential?

Even though it is illegal to retaliate against an employee standing up for his or her labor rights, some people may still choose to keep their contact with an attorney confidential.

So long as you are seeking legal advice or representation and have reason to believe the conversation is confidential, your consultation with an attorney is protected by attorney-client privilege.

When conversations or communications are protected by attorney-client privilege, they cannot be shared with others, with rare exceptions. Emails and phone calls about a potential claim are also covered by this privilege.

If you were to discuss your meeting with others, it might get back to your employer. If you told your employer about going to an attorney, they would obviously know. However, they would not hear about it from your lawyer because that violates confidentiality.

At our firm, an initial consultation is free and comes with no obligation to take legal action. When you combine this with the protection of attorney-client privilege, there is no risk in meeting with one of our attorneys. We have extensive knowledge of the law and can inform you of whether you have a valid case.

Even if it turns out you do not have a case, it is better to hear this from an attorney. That way you have peace of mind knowing you have looked at the situation thoroughly.

Contact Us Today to Discuss Legal Action

There are no upfront fees for our services and the initial consultation is free of charge. That means there is no risk in meeting with us to discuss how we may be able to assist you.

We have vast experience with wage and hour claims and are prepared to guide you through every step of the process.

Have questions? Call today. We are here to help. 916-777-7777