OUR SERVICES

COMMITTED TO PROVIDING INNOVATIVE, COST-EFFECTIVE LEGAL SERVICES TO SCHOOLS, BUSINESSES AND NON-PROFITS IN CENTRAL CALIFORNIA

We represent schools, private business and non-profit employers in human resources matters to ensure compliance with California state and federal labor and employment laws. We are experienced in providing labor and employment legal services impacting the entire employment relationship from before hire through termination, and are experienced in handling the following:

Labor Law Matters
• Leading negotiations on behalf of management with labor unions, including experience bargaining with the California Teachers Association and California School Employees Association.
• Drafting collective bargaining agreement language.
• Processing, responding to and managing union grievances, including representing management at mediations and other administrative proceedings.
• Responding to Unfair Labor Practice charges.

Employment Law Matters
• Rules regarding employment applications, interviews, background checks, drug screenings and making offers of employment.
• Preparing executive level and school administrator employment agreements.
• Employee handbooks and workplace policies.
• Drug and alcohol testing both prior to and during employment, including impact of marijuana laws.
• Employee exempt status or “salaried” classifications.
• Wage and hour compliance.
• Sick leave, vacation, and leaves of absence, including pregnancy leave, long-term illness leave, and school employee leaves under the Education Code.
• Compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act interactive dialogue process for disabled employees.
• Advising and preparing documents related to employee performance and discipline for misconduct, including both minor and serious violations of law or policy (e.g., physical abuse, unauthorized weapons, fraud, misappropriation of employer funds).
• Advising and preparing documents related to unique issues associated with contracted employees as well as classified, certificated and administrative employees working in the K-12 systems.
• Employee privacy and off-duty conduct.
• Last chance agreements
• Severance/settlement agreements.
• Terminations of at-will, contracted, and union employees.
• Discrimination, sexual and other harassment & retaliation claims, including workplace complaints, demand letters, DFEH/EEOC complaints, and related coordination with insurance carriers.
• Workplace trainings for employees and/or managers on various areas of employment law compliance, including sexual harassment prevention training required under California Law.

Receiving a complaint from an employee, member of the public, student or customer can be unexpected and often frustrating; however, they are incredibly common. Our approach to complaint management is to handle the complaint in a way that de-escalates the situation whenever possible. In some cases, complaints will need to be investigated to ensure compliance with the law and to protect the company or school. We are experienced at advising clients on which matters should be investigated, and options available for when an investigation is necessary. We advise on a wide variety of different types of allegations, including, but not limited to, sexual harassment allegations, Title IX school complaints, complaints about curriculum or physical conditions, or complaints against an employee or a supervisor.

Under California law, there are generally three types of individuals who can provide investigation services lawfully: a trained employee of the company or school, an attorney, or a licensed private investigator. While there are some other statutory exceptions, most usually will not apply to California workplace or school investigation. All three options have risks and benefits that should be considered before engaging in an investigation of a complaint. We work with our clients to choose the best option for their company or school.

For employers either in the private sector or at schools that wish to receive appropriate training to enable them to conduct an investigation directly, we are experienced at providing the necessary training and ongoing support throughout the investigation process. We also provide seasoned assistance with preparing documents related to the investigation, including investigation reports, to ensure the investigation is thorough, fair and compliant with law and the organization’s policies.

For private, non-profit or school employers that wish for our attorneys to directly investigate complaints, we can handle the investigation from start to finish. This includes preparing witness lists, interviewing the complainant, interviewing the accused and witnesses, review of relevant documents, and preparation of witness statements and/or final reports to the employer or school. In these cases, we will work closely with a designated manager or school administrator during the investigation.

For employers or schools that prefer to hire a private investigator, we have long-standing relationships with many local and non-local investigator options. We can retain the private investigator on your behalf, thereby bringing it under the protection of applicable attorney-client privileges and bringing a heightened level of confidentiality to the process.

Following an investigation, we provide options regarding what actions to take based on an investigation, if any. This may include employee discipline or termination, as well as responding in writing to the complainant.

Our attorneys have significant experience researching and analyzing laws and regulations regarding the CalSTRS and CalPERS public retirement systems, as well as 403(b) and other defined contribution and defined benefit plans open to public employees in California.

We are skilled at explaining what constitutes creditable service, creditable compensation and rules regarding post-retirement employment restrictions for public employees. Creditable service rules determine what type of work is credited for retirement. Creditable compensation rules determine what type of compensation is credited to an employee’s retirement account for purposes of determining final compensation, which these systems use to calculate the amount paid in retirement. Post-retirement employment restriction rules determine whether a retiree can perform certain types of work without jeopardizing their receipt of CalSTRS or CalPERS benefits.

Importantly, we bring this expertise to the following areas of our work, among others:

• Preparing administrator or executive employment agreements;
• Negotiations with CTA and CSEA bargaining units;
• Revising bargaining agreement language on compensation and salary schedules;
• Analyzing the retirement impact of previously agreed upon language in bargaining agreements or administrator contracts to determine exposure to liability;
• Consulting with the public entity’s litigation counsel on CalSTRS/CalPERS administrative hearings or litigation cases raising issues of creditable service, creditable compensation or post-retirement work.

Supporting local for-profit and non-profit business in Central California is important to us. We provide such clients with transactional and advisory legal services in general business matters. We also work with small businesses to ensure the costs and benefits of our legal services work for the company. Whether you are starting a new business or maintaining one, we can assist in the following business law matters:

• Preparing formation and initial filing documents for corporations, limited liability companies and other business entities.

•Serving as general counsel to the business, including advising on general business practices, insurance coverage analysis and risk management, and representing the company's interests with government agencies, in negotiations with third parties and in employment matters.

• Preparing and advising on contractual arrangements with customers, vendors and other third parties.

• Advising on corporate governance issues.

• Advising regarding commercial landlord-tenant issues.

We are experienced at representing residential and commercial landlords and renters with understanding their rights and obligations under California law. We understand that the stakes can be significant with emotions running high for the parties involved.  We work with both landlords and tenants to achieve their goals in compliance with state laws in a manner that is respectful of the rights of all involved and deescalates conflict whenever possible.  Specifically, we provide services in the following matters:

• Drafting, reviewing and advising on leases, sub-lease agreements, notices and other communications to and from tenants and landlords;

• Advising on landlord's obligations with respect to security, habitability, inspections, repairs, security deposits, emotional support animals, and prohibited discrimination and harassment; 

• Assistance with move-out inspections;

• Negotiating breaking a lease and other options for early termination of the relationship;

• Communicating directly with landlords on behalf of tenants, or with tenant's legal counsel on behalf of landlords;

• Initiating evictions (unlawful detainer actions) and eviction defense;

• Affirmative habitability actions.