What-Do-You-Really-Have-a-Right-to-as-an-Employee.jpg (4297×2317)In the United States, a system of civil law defending the rights of workers has evolved over the last half of the 20th century, largely linked to the growth of the worker-driven labor movement and the civil rights movement. The laws regarding employee rights are relatively weak and rely on civil action to get satisfaction.

Legally Enshrined Workers’ Rights.

Employee rights are largely enshrined in state laws. In most states, the employee has the right to his or her personal possessions in the workplace. These personal possessions include handbags or briefcases, storage lockers that are to be accessible only by the employee, personal private mail addressed only to the employee. Employees have the right to privacy in personal telephone conversations and voice messages. The employee computer system is considered the employer’s private property so the use of the office computer network limits employee privacy. Privacy in the use of the office network is limited and subject to the interests of the employer.

In companies staffed by with more than 15, employees have the right to be free of harassment and discrimination (discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, race, national origin, religion, age). Employees have the right to a safe workplace as free as possible from dangerous conditions, toxic substances, and other safety hazards. Employees have the right to fair wages for work performed. Employees have “whistleblower rights,” namely the right to be safe from retaliation when they report unsafe or otherwise un-standard conditions.

Federal laws were designed to protect a minimal set of employee rights nationally (unless state laws offer better protection) in larger companies (more than 15 employees).

Title VII prohibits discrimination in hiring on the basis of the five institutionalized grounds for discrimination: race, color, religion, gender, or national origin.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides for people with disabilities the right to work if they are able  to perform the essential functions of a job with or without reasonable accommodation.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act provides the right to expect equal treatment as far as advancement and hiring for older employees (over 40 years old or older) working in larger companies (20 employees or more). There are no age discrimination protections for younger workers.

The Fair Labor Standards Act establishes a basic framework for employee working conditions, minimum salary levels, the right to breaks, reasonable work hours, and overtime pay. The Fair Labor Standards Act includes the right to organize. Employees have the right to join labor unions. This right to organize has been under continuous threat in the United States.

The Family and Medical Leave Act gives the right to up to 12 weeks of medical leave for employees with one year of seniority, preserving the jobs of those who take the leave. Employees have the right to take family leave if they decide to stay home to take care of a new baby or to care for a seriously ill family member. The employee has the right to expect that his or her job will still be there on their return.

Enforcement of Workers Rights.

If you feel your employer has violated one of the workers’ rights laws, you must make a complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) in person, by mail, or online. The EEOC is tasked with the investigation workers’ rights complaints under the law. The process often requires the advice of an attorney.

Many employers view workers’ rights as a drag on their profits. Festering complaints are often treated through the company’s disciplinary process. Some workers’ rights protections are in danger. According to the The Washington Post, influential groups of business owners have been aggressively organizing a “Right to Work” campaign for decades. This political-economic movement would weaken the right of workers to join labor unions and to fight against discrimination in the workplace. Protecting hard gained workers’ rights has to be a conscientious ongoing effort.

Aiman-Smith & Marcy are expert attorneys in areas of employment law, consumer fraud & class actions. Please contact us to learn more.

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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