Know-Your-Employee-Rights.jpg (4297×2317)Employees in the United States have federally and state-mandated rights that work to ensure safe working conditions and equal treatment of all workers. These laws are often updated to make the workplace more equitable and more inclusive. It is important to know your rights and how they are be enforced.

You have the right to work without discrimination or harassment

Three key laws protect your right to work without being harassed or discriminated against. Under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act an employee cannot be fired, denied promotion, harassed or “suffer other adverse employment actions based on the employee’s race, religion, creed, gender, or national origin.” The Age Discrimination in Employment Act forbids age-related discrimination. However, this can be hard to prove as it is legal to ask for dates of diplomas. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) forbids discrimination that is based on a disability. City and state laws can include broader protection, so if the ADA does not cover your particular situation see if a city or state law does.

You have the right to the accommodations you require to do your job

Accommodations are usually thought of in the context of poor health or disability now that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has made wheelchair ramps and accessible restrooms an everyday sight. But accommodations should also be made for medical appointments when an employee has a chronic medical condition and for the observation of religious rites. The United States Department of Labor lists other accommodations such as accessible communications and other technologies. If an employee uses a service dog, that dog must be allowed to accompany the employee in the work environment.

You have the right to fair treatment in all employer-sponsored plans

Your employee retirement plan funds should be deposited directly into your retirement account. It may not be used to benefit your employers no matter how it is justified. “To grow the company” is an illegal use of your funds. Check your retirement account often and, depending on the situation, notify your superior if you think it is an honest mistake or request an investigation from the Department of Labor.

You have the right to take needed time off

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act requires job-protected leave for personal and family medical problems and the birth or adoption of a child. This law applies to companies with 50 or more employees (not counting independent contractors) and that the person requesting leave has worked for the company for at least 12 months. The law does not require that you be paid on leave. Smaller companies usually have family and medical leave policies. Be sure to get a copy that is dated and in writing and demand your right to a leave policy that is equal to other employees.

You have a right to safety on the job

The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA) mandates that if you do hazardous work, you must be provided with appropriate safety gear. Machines, tools, and equipment you work with or operate must be maintained to minimize danger as much as possible. OSHA requires that employers post OSHA’s job safety notice in the workplace, provide safety training if needed, and keep a record of deaths, injuries, and exposure to hazardous materials.

You have the right to be paid in full and on time

This is a state, not a federal right and laws differ according to state. Although all states demand that you be paid “fairly and on time,” pay periods may differ. The laws are getting stricter, and now all states except South Carolina and Alabama require that employees be paid at least every month. You have the right to know how often and when you will be paid.

You have a right to privacy

The law protects your privacy rights in the workplace beginning at the interview stage. The interviewer must not ask personal questions that do not pertain to the job. She may not ask if you are married, if you have or plan to have children, your sexual orientation, your religion, or your credit rating. She must not ask your health history or about physical and mental conditions you may have. Some hiring processes require a background check and a credit check, but this can be done only if you agree to it in writing. A background check may include fingerprinting, and you may be required to pass a drug test.

On-the-job privacy includes personal possessions, personal storage areas, and private mail addressed only to you. Telephone calls and voicemail messages fall into a gray area, so restrict them to business as much as possible. Your email and Internet privacy rights are extremely limited. Ask before using your work email account for personal messages and remember that your employer can easily check the websites you visit. Most companies have an Internet policy so be sure to ask. You may be able to do online shopping on your lunch break – or it may be cause for termination.

If you feel your worker rights are being violated, contact us. We are committed to eradicating unethical business practices and upholding your rights.

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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