Los Angeles Employment Lawyer

Why Do You Work for Free?

More likely than not, your employer makes you work long and hard hours, and does not appreciate how hard you work for them. Your hard work contributes to the success of their business, makes your employers richer, yet they do not appreciate you. Your employers know the labor laws better than you. They know they can be severely punished if you took action against them, yet they still exploit you and not pay you overtime wages.

In California, the labor laws were made to protect you, the employee. Most employees are entitled to receive overtime wages even if they receive a salary, and even if their employers call them “managers” or “independent contractors.” Millions of employees are owed money by their employers and they don’t even know it. Your employer may tell you you are not entitled to overtime because you are a “manager” but you do not perform manager duties and do not get paid the manager wages. And, your employer forces you to work 50, 60, even 70 hour weeks, and tells you that you shouldn’t get overtime because you get paid a salary. No matter what, you should be paid overtime wages for your extra work if you are entitled to overtime wages.

If you work in a restaurant, auto repair shop, office, or even as a maid, our experience is that there is a high chance that you have earned more under the law than your employer has paid to you.

We have helped many employees in your situation. And, we have achieved excellent results for employees, regardless of immigration status. More importantly, because we are also immigration lawyers, we known how to best protect your interests and still recover your unpaid wages, commissions, and vacation pay. Please remember that every case is different, and no warranties can be made about the outcome of your case.

Consult with us, and we will see if you are entitled to recover money you have worked for. Your consultation with us is free and completely confidential. Employers who consult with our firm must pay a consultation fee.

We understand that your financial situation would usually prevent you from hiring a lawyer. No money is paid by an Employee up front to us. Because we ask your Employer to pay our fees, we try to maximize your recovery. If we don’t recover, we don’t get paid.

Thomas M. Lee also represents Employers – successfully defending them from dishonest claims and protecting them with compliant employee handbooks setting forth all of the policies mandated by law, arbitration agreements, confidentiality agreements, severance agreements, and other mandatory notices which must be given to and signed by all employees. One of the primary reasons why Thomas M. Lee has been so successful in pursuing wage and hour claims against employers is that many employers are often ignorant of California’s complex employment laws. Put simply, a good defense requires knowledge of a good offense. Let us help you protect your business before a claim or lawsuit is filed.

What if an Employee’s Immigration Status in the United States Is Uncertain?
All persons who perform work in the United States are entitled to be paid properly and legally for the time they have worked. Every Court in the United States which has been asked has determined that immigration status is not relevant to a wage claim. Under California law, Employers are not permitted to use an Employee's immigration status against them.
An Employee Received a Salary Wage. How Can They Collect Overtime Pay?
The fact that an Employee received a salary does not mean they are not entitled to overtime pay. In fact, many people who receive a salary are not properly paid. We’ll ask you some questions to see if an Employee might be entitled to overtime even if paid by salary.
The Employer Keeps Telling the Employee They Are “Exempt” and Don’t Get Overtime. Should I Talk to a Lawyer?
Yes. Too many Employers try to get their Employees to work 50 or 60 hours a week for the price of 40; or 10 or more hours a days for the price of 8. Employers who misclassify an Employee as overtime exempt is in violation of the law and may owe the Employee large amounts of money in unpaid overtime wages, meal & rest break penalties, and paystub penalties.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
You need someone on your side who knows your rights, will fight to enforce them, and who will give proper attention to your case. The Labor Commissioner is full of well-meaning people who have too many cases, and suffer from too many budget cuts. A good lawyer will ask an Employee for no money, get them paid, and get the Employer to pay the attorney fee. Bottom line: You likely get a better result if you hire a lawyer. As for Employers, it is always better to have Employees sign severance agreements which release their claims for unpaid overtime wages and to maintain accurate time and wage records.
Aren’t Lawyers Expensive?
An attorney who is experienced in this area of law will never ask an Employee for a penny in advance, and will get them paid for his costs and fees at the end of the case. Because the law requires Employers to pay for the Employee's lawyer, the expensive lawyer becomes your employer’s problem. As for Employers, attorneys can be expensive, which is why it is better to consult with an experienced Employment & Labor Law attorney to take precautionary measures, become educated on all of the intricacies of the law, and to comply with all legal requirements.
How Much Should I Expect to Pay for This First Step?
Lawyers experienced in handling wage claims will not ask Employees for any money up front. If you are an Employee and have a case worth taking, a contingency fee agreement will be entered with the lawyer. As noted, the law provides your employer pay for your lawyer, with minor exceptions. Employers are required to pay an hourly fee.
An Employee Has Worked for an Employer for Many Years. Can They Make a Claim for All of Those Years?
Long term employees need to speak with an attorney right away. Time runs out on a claim. Legal rights are preserved only when the case is filed, not when they think they have a claim or when they see a lawyer. An Employee's claim can usually go back four years from when when they file a complaint or legal action under California law. Long term employees need to act to avoid giving more “gifts” of your time to your employer.
The Employee Has Never Complained About Their Overtime. Can They Still Claim It?
Yes. As long as the Employee did the work, with or without "permissions" or authorization," and your employer knew about it, the Employee can make the claim.
The Employer Didn’t Keep Any Time Records. What Happens Now?
Contact us. It is the Employer’s duty to keep accurate time records, not the Employee's. The Employee's truthful testimony of the amount of time they estimate they worked is sufficient. Of course, if you have a diary, calendar, or other record about the days and hours worked, let us know.
Can the Employee Recover Any Damages in Addition to Unpaid Overtime Wages?
Yes, Employees have claims for interest and statutory penalties. They may also have claims they don’t know about. Vacation pay, tip sharing, minimum wage claims may also be available. Talking to a lawyer will allow the chance to explore other amounts which may be due to them, or other claims they may have.
What Do I Have to Do in a Lawsuit?
Every party must be committed to their case. Although most cases don’t go to trial, you must still be willing to come to an attorney’s office for an interview, provide full and truthful information to answer questions about your case, for a deposition (questions under oath asked by the opposing attorney), and anything else necessary to pursue your claims or defenses, including a trial, if necessary. We need your help to develop information to prosecute or defend your case. Each case is different. While we will be working hard on your case, usually only modest effort is required by you over a six to eight month period, but some cases take longer (or, of course, shorter), and require that you work hard to be sure you win your case.
Other Lawyers Claim That They Won a $3.5 Million Judgments for Their Clients. Does That Mean I Can Get a Similar Amount From My Employer?
Although Attorney Lee has achieved comparable results for his Employee clients in class action matters, every case is different. The amount of money an Employee obtains at judgment or settlement is based on numerous factors. For example, an Employee who worked 60 or more hours a week for over three years, received wages in cash with no pay-stubs, and was paid a monthly salary would have a larger claim than an employee who worked 45 hours a week for one or two months. If you need assistance in determining an estimate of how much you may be owed by your Employer, please call us for a free consultation.

Client Reviews

Mr. Lee is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to employment law. I was amazed by his tenacity and skill and in the end, I walked away with a settlement I was very happy about. I highly recommended him to anyone.

Sarah G.

Earlier this year I was very confused about a legal employer/employee situation and needed professional advice. In my desire to move quickly on my situation I spent hours signing up for legal services (e.g. legal shield...

Richard H., Los Angeles, CA

Hands down, the best immigration lawyer in Los Angeles that you could possibly find. Period. After an extremely poor experience with another law firm, which had come highly recommended by one of my company's attorneys...

Robert K., Beverly Hills, CA

My old company was breaking some labor laws and I decided to look for some legal advice. I went to Tom to see what course of action I can take and when we sat down to talk about the details, I decided to hire him and his...

Ethan Y., Orange, CA

It's quite rare to find a lawyer that sincerely cares about your best interest. Most employment lawyers are extremely hungry for business which makes them naturally have their best interest not mine. However, Tom truly...

Jen T., Central LA, Los Angeles, CA

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