Employee Information Center

Employees have a right to privacy in certain aspects of the workplace. An employer generally may not search an employee's handbag, briefcase, locked desk drawer, locked storage locker or person without permission from the employee. Likewise, an employee has some privacy in personal telephone conversations but does not have a strong right to privacy in company e-mail messages and Internet use. If you feel your right to privacy has been violated by your employer, contact an experienced employment law attorney today.

Employment Law Information Center

Employment law is complex, governed by a significant number of state and federal regulations that serve to protect both employees and employers. Whether you are a business owner facing a lawsuit or you are an employee in need of legal protection, Freeland Law APC is a law firm with experience you can trust. If you need legal advocacy in an employment matter, it is important to consult with an attorney as soon as possible to avoid waiving your rights or take preventative measures. We will take a strategic approach from the outset to help you navigate the employment legal system to protect your rights and long-term interests.

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DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Employment Law

Q: What laws must employers follow when hiring new employees?

A: A prospective employer must avoid any illegal discrimination based on race, national origin, gender, pregnancy, age, disability or religion during the hiring process. Employers should also be sure to protect the privacy rights of applicants by protecting confidential or private information provided by the applicant and by disclosing to the applicant any background or credit checks that the employer wishes to perform. Employers are required to follow all applicable documentation rules regarding immigration and take care not to discriminate against applicants over 40 because of their age.

Q: Can employers monitor their employees' Internet usage or read their emails?

A: The Supreme Court has found that employees have very limited rights to privacy in their employers' computer systems. Employers may monitor Web sites visited by their employees and may block their employees from visiting certain Web sites. Employers can also limit employees' Internet usage to business-related Web sites. If the employer has a company policy that its computer systems are to be used only for work-related activities, it may reprimand or punish an employee who used its equipment for personal purposes. Emails are considered to be company property if they are sent using the company email system, and many employers monitor or archive all incoming and outgoing emails sent through their systems.

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Employment Law for Employees - An Overview

Employment law covers the relationships between employers and their current, prospective and former employees. Both federal and state laws control various aspects of the employer-employee relationship, including each side's rights and obligations. Because of the complexity of the employment relationship, this area of law involves issues as diverse as discrimination, record keeping, taxation and workplace safety.

There are also different types of employment relationships. Employment relationships can be based on a contract, or they can be "at-will." If the employment relationship is based on a valid contract entered into by the employer and the employee, the terms of that contract will govern the relationship. By contrast, an at-will employment arrangement can be terminated at any time, with or without reason, by either the employer (as long as the reason does not constitute illegal discrimination) or the employee.

With all these factors to consider, it is clear why employment law is such a complex area. If you have an employment law concern, contact an employment lawyer at Freeland Law APC in La Mesa, California, who can provide advice and representation in a range of workplace-related matters.

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Independent Contractors

Independent contractors perform compensated work for businesses and individuals, but they are not considered to be employees. This non-employment relationship is based on an oral or written agreement between the business and the independent contractor. This contract may provide specific standards for the work product and establish the pay rate for that work. Businesses that hire independent contractors generally do not withhold federal or state income taxes or Social Security taxes from payments to independent contractors, and they do not maintain unemployment or workers' compensation insurance for those workers. Most independent contractors, therefore, need to make their own quarterly tax payments.

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Privacy Issues at Work

Technology is a boon to business, but it also raises complicated issues of privacy in the workplace. The vast majority of businesses use computers, and technology has enabled employers to monitor nearly every aspect of workplace communications involving employees' computer and telephone usage. Indeed, many companies take advantage of technology to monitor their employees' use of the Internet and email. When an employee has a reasonable expectation of privacy, however, such as with a physical space like a locked office, the employee may receive privacy protection. Drug testing by an employer, on the other hand, when the testing is reasonable and not a highly offensive intrusion, is usually acceptable.

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The Hiring Process

Applicants for employment positions have rights whether or not they become employees. Under federal law, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate in its hiring process based on race, national origin, gender, pregnancy, age, disability or religion. State and local laws may specify additional protected classes based on categories such as sexual orientation. Employers must abide by anti-discrimination laws at each stage of the hiring process, from placing the ad to interviewing and the final selection of the candidate. There are few exceptions to these rules, but an employer may discriminate on some bases if a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) exists. A BFOQ can be based on a reasonable and necessary job requirement, but this is a narrow exception.

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Employment Law Resource Links

United States Department of Labor (DOL)
Information for workers, employers and unions.

Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
Information regarding enforcement of federal labor laws, including minimum wage; child labor and overtime standards set out under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA); the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA); and the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA).

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)
The NLRB site provides background information on the functions and services of the National Labor Relations Board of interest to employers, employees and policymakers.

Employee Rights
List of rights guaranteed to employees covered under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

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