5-Things-You-Shouldnt-Have-to-Be-Afraid-of-In-Your-Workplace.jpg (4297×2317)Every workplace handles employee rights differently. Some are activists who make sure every employee has what they need. Some are complaint-based so that mostly only the “squeaky wheels” get requested compensation. Others are unbelievably hostile to the idea that employees are anything more than drones hired to do a job without complaint or anything more than basic pay. Some have HR departments, some don’t. Some HR departments are responsive and helpful, some are configured more like insurance agencies questioning every claim with hostility. Most employers fall somewhere in the middle.

Unfortunately, there are far too many employers that only respect certain aspect of employee rights and try to use bullying, retaliation, and even petty social pressure to keep their employees from claiming perfectly reasonable rights. Today, we’re here to highlight five things you should be able to do at work and, more to the point, you absolutely should not have to fear doing in a reasonable workplace.

1) Speaking to Your Manager about Coworker Disputes

Coworker disputes happen. Whether your office mate won’t stop humming show tunes or a member of your team is missing important deadlines, you need to be able to take these concerns to your manager. After all, that’s what managers are there to do: Manage. However, some managers and even whole workplaces take on the attitude that anyone who reports a problem is the true creator of the problem, not just an employee seeking an amicable solution.

If you are afraid to talk to your boss about normal workplace disputes and concerns for fear of retaliation or mistreatment, your employee rights are being denied.

2) Going to HR About an Employee Rights or Discrimination Concern

An evolution of this is the inability to go to HR about problems that are distinctly in their wheelhouse. If you hear a coworker make an appalling racist joke to a client, if one of your coworkers is getting bullied by the rest of their team, or if you know that a colleague needs family assistance and is too shy to ask, HR is who you are supposed to go to. This is also true if you are the subject of discrimination, denied employee rights, or if someone in your office needs disability compensation.

Unfortunately, many HR departments are not just unhelpful but abjectly hostile toward employees who report problems. Especially in toxic workplaces with a habit of covering for favored employees or shoving problems under the rug. HR is supposed to defend employee rights and if they are not doing their job, your rights (and those of all your coworkers) are likely being violated.

3) Asking for Time Off You Have Earned

You deserve to be able to take the paid time off you have earned. PTO is actually a part of your employment package and if it is denied to you, your employer is essentially refusing to pay you the full value of your yearly employment contract. You also have the right to take unpaid time off as needed, up to whatever amount was contractually agreed on by your employer.

You should not have to fear asking for time off and should be able to schedule that time with reasonable notice. An employer should not be able to frighten, threaten, or otherwise prevent you from taking earned time off. Nor should they be able to deny you time based on how they think you will be using that time. Whether you are staying home for mental health reasons, caring for a sick child, or going to theme parks, that time is yours to take.

4) Getting a Bad Reference if You Resign

It’s a sad fact that many managers and employer organizations have a pattern of vindictive mistreatment of employees who choose to leave. They may take your resignation personally or you may have simply seen similar mistreatment happen to previous employees who were left and then openly bad-mouthed after their departure.

Some employers even start to abuse an employee during their two-weeks notice in order to ‘punish’ them for resigning. This is an overt and appalling abuse of employee rights and is often an attempt to keep employees trapped in a disadvantageous working environment by threatening them with bad references after they go.

5) Filing a Workers Compensation Claim After an Injury

Finally, there is the issue of worker’s compensation. Legally, any significant workplace injury (beyond a papercut or stubbed toe) should be reported immediately. This contributes to workplace safety statistics and helps both your employer and OSHA improve safety in the future. Your employer also pays for Workers Comp insurance which is where the funds come from to pay for the medical expenses and leave time after serious workplace injuries.

However, since the insurance premiums go up after a claim, many workplaces try to bully, cajole, or threaten their employees into not filing a claim or settling for a claim that is too small to take care of their needs after the injury. If you are afraid of retaliation for filing a workers compensation claim, then your employer is most likely breaking the law in their behavior toward injured employees.

Employee mistreatment is an unpleasantly common occurrence in both big and small workplaces, but you should never let intimidation cause you to give up your employee rights. Instead, fight back! The law office of Aiman-Smith and Marcy specializes in defending the rights of employees from their employers, no matter how powerful your employer may be or what threats they have made or mistreatment they have shown in the past. If you have reason to fear when standing up for your employee rights on your own, let us back you up and, if necessary, file an employee rights lawsuit against your abusive employer. For more information about how to stand up for the rights of you and your colleagues as employees, contact us today!

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Lisseth Bayona


Education and Background

I am a Los Angeles native and daughter of Salvadorian immigrants. From an early age, my parents instilled the value of hard work and education in me and my two siblings. Their perseverance enabled each of us to graduate from college and earn professional degrees.

My interest and commitment to workers’ rights have roots in my parents’ experiences as undocumented workers in Los Angeles. Witnessing the challenges they faced inspired me to pursue a career where I can help individuals confronted with similar struggles. To help someone in those moments is very satisfying. I love connecting with people and learning about their stories. I believe that dignity in the workplace is a right of all workers, not a convenience or privilege reserved for employees of a certain race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Legal Experience

I received my J.D. from the University of Southern California (USC) Gould School of Law. While there, I served as a judicial extern to the Honorable Patrick J. Walsh of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, where I drafted a criminal judicial opinion. Also, while at Gould, I served as an extern for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. As a Criminal Division Extern, I had the opportunity to work closely with a trial team of Assistant U.S. Attorneys on a money laundering case which further sparked my interest in litigation.

Personal Interests

In my free time, I enjoy urban vegetable gardening, traveling, and spending time with my nephew and niece. I also love to spend time at San Onofre Beach learning to surf, although admittedly, I am not very good.



Hallie L. Von Rock

Attorney (SBN 233152)

Education and Background

I moved to the Bay Area from Washington after graduating high school. I had been accepted to UC Berkeley through a program where I could defer for two years while getting my California residency and attending community college, which was significant since I was paying for college on my own. I began working for Randall Aiman-Smith and Reed Marcy in 1996 as an office manager while taking night classes. My first foray into the legal world was soon after starting at the firm when I was ready to transfer to UC Berkeley. Rather than accepting my resident status, the Board of Regents took the position that California residency required a student to be in California “two calendar years.” Randall and Reed took up my case with the same verve as they helped their actual clients and I got the chance to comb through the UC Berkeley library to read their codes and regulations to support my position. In that experience, I learned what is was like to feel helpless against a big organization and then to have dedicated attorneys in my corner to take up my cause.

After a break to pursue my major in art history, I went to UC Hastings College of Law and continued working with Randall and Reed. Having worked together now for over 25 years, we have a unique ability to work collaboratively and finish each other’s sentences. I have strived throughout my career to make a difference in the lives of our clients. At the end of the day, if I am helping someone to get compensation for losses they suffered, then I know that all the work put into a case has been worth it.

Legal Experience

I have extensive experience in civil litigation and class action cases, including conducting discovery and depositions, calculating damages analysis, preparing motions for certification, writing appellate documents, and overseeing claims administration. We have handled several class actions against retailers where plaintiffs claimed they were forced to purchase clothing to wear to work and were not compensated for these purchases, including against Abercrombie & Fitch, Hugo Boss, Armani Exchange, Uniqlo, Dollar Tree, and Ross. Recently, I was trial counsel in a defamation claim against Bank of America on behalf of a former employee who claimed the Bank blacklisted her with future employers. The jury found Bank of America liable, including for punitive damages.

Personal Interests

Aiman-Smith & Marcy has sponsored me in the Boston Marathon and New York Marathon. When I race, I often wear a “Rockstar Ronan” shirt to support research for childhood cancer through The Ronan Thompson Foundation.


University of California, Berkeley, B.A., 1999

Hastings College of the Law, University of California, J.D., 2004

Randall Aiman-Smith

Abogado (SBN 124599)

Aiman-Smith & Marcy. Oakland consumer fraud attorneys.

Educación y antecedentes

Fui afortunado. A pesar de no haber terminado la escuela secundaria o la universidad, pude -aunque con mucho trabajo- ser admitido y sobresalir en una de las mejores escuelas de derecho del país: La Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Berkeley. Mientras estuve allí, tuve el privilegio de ser editor de la California Law Review y miembro del Moot Court Board, asesorando en la redacción de escritos y en la defensa de apelaciones a otros estudiantes. Después de salir de la escuela de derecho, en mis primeros años de práctica, enseñé la escritura legal y la defensa de apelación en la Universidad de California, Hastings College of the Law. También, a lo largo de los años, he sido presentador en eventos de educación legal continua.

Experiencia legal

He sido abogado durante 35 años. He dedicado mi práctica exclusivamente a representar a empleados, consumidores e inversores en los tribunales estatales y federales de primera instancia y en los tribunales de apelación. Me gusta ir a los tribunales por mis clientes y he llevado muchos casos con jurado en los tribunales estatales y federales.

¿Ejemplos? En 2010, fui la abogada principal, junto con los otros abogados del bufete, en el caso Williams v. Union Pacific Railroad donde, después de cuatro años de preparación, el bufete obtuvo un veredicto del jurado de 1.670.000 dólares para una empleada afroamericana. En Rivero v. Surdyka, fui el abogado principal en el juicio y la apelación de un caso de derechos civiles que duró 15 años, incluyendo un juicio completo y tres apelaciones al Noveno Circuito, concluyendo finalmente con una sentencia para los demandantes de más de 2.300.000 dólares. Estos casos ilustran el lema del bufete: compromiso – resultados. Hay que comprometerse con un caso, a veces durante mucho tiempo, para obtener el resultado que el cliente merece.

No siempre ganamos en el juicio. Cuando eso ocurre, el compromiso significa llevar el caso al siguiente nivel y recurrirlo. En el caso Rivero, antes mencionado, eso fue lo que ocurrió: el tribunal desestimó el caso -habíamos perdido- pero apelamos y conseguimos una victoria para nuestros clientes que mantuvimos a través de dos apelaciones más. Desde entonces, el bufete ha conseguido muchas victorias en apelación que reivindican los derechos de los empleados y los consumidores.

A lo largo de los años he sido abogado de los demandantes en numerosos casos individuales y acciones colectivas. Puede sonar cursi, o difícil de creer, pero después de todo este tiempo, y después de todas las grandes experiencias que he tenido, mi parte favorita de ser abogado es cuando consigo dar un cheque a mi cliente.



Facultad de Derecho, Universidad de California, Berkeley, J.D., 1986