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Month: May 2020

Productivity quotas can result in unsafe working conditions when goals are unrealistic.

Losing your job is always difficult, particularly when you have worked very hard to be a good employee. Recently, some large corporations have been criticized for having unrealistic expectations regarding employee performance, and have fired employees for failing to be sufficiently productive at work. Here are some frequently asked questions that you may find helpful if you have been fired for failing to meet productivity quotas:

What are productivity quotas?

Productivity quotas are efficiency standards that an employer sets for employees. In other words, the employee is required to meet certain goals at work. Job performance and employee evaluations can be based on whether they meet productivity goals. For example, in a manufacturing plant, the productivity quota could require an employee to assemble “X” number of units per hour. Another example of a productivity quote would be for a delivery person to deliver “X” number of packages per shift. Failure to meet these goals would result in a poor performance evaluation.

Productivity quotes are often unilaterally established by employers, and employees have little or no input on what the productivity quotas are or whether they are realistic. As a result, employees feel tremendous pressure and stress to meet these goals to avoid a bad evaluation and possibly termination.

Are productivity quotas against the law?

No. Unfortunately, for the most part, productivity quotas are not against the law because employers have the right to evaluate the efficiency of employees. However, there are many local, state and federal laws that protect employees and productivity quotas do play a role in the larger question of whether an employee is the victim of an unlawful termination. For example, an employee may have a disability that is protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act which requires employers to provide a reasonable accommodation which may include an adjustment to any existing productivity quotas.

Also, failing to meet productivity quotes cannot be a pretext for an unlawful termination based on age, race, disability or protected activities including collective bargaining and whistleblowing. Other factors that must be considered with productivity quotas is whether employees are forced to forgo lawful meal and rest breaks in order to meet goals. In other words, employees are entitled to breaks under the law which includes proper compensation for tasks like clocking in or changing in to uniform. Employers are not allowed to penalize employees by setting productivity goals that encourage or require employees to work through breaks or not receive proper compensation. If you have been fired for failing to meet productivity goals, you should consult with an experienced labor attorney to determine whether the termination was lawful.

Can I be fired for failing to meet productivity quotas?

There is no simple answer to whether you can be legally fired for failing to meet productivity goals. Employers should have several ways to evaluate employee performance, and productivity goals should be one of many factors. However, all employment terminations must be lawful. In other words, if the only factor that leads to losing your job is failure to meet productivity quotas, there may be grounds to challenge that decision. For example, federal labor law requires a safe and secure workplace that is free of hazards. Therefore, employers cannot create a situation where the workplace is hazardous due to productivity quotas that would require employees to sacrifice safety in order to reach the goals out of fear of being fired. 

California law offers even stronger protections for employees and requires every employer to have an injury and illness prevention program which must include safety training and safe work practices. Moreover, according to California Labor Code section 6401, employers must “adopt and use practices, means, methods, operations, and processes which are reasonably adequate to render such employment and place of employment safe and healthful.” Therefore, unrealistic productivity quotas could threaten the safety and health of employees which employers are required by law to protect. Labor law is complex and whether your have a cause of action depends on the specific facts. You should consult an experienced labor attorney to discuss your case if you have been terminated.

Is California an “at-will” employment state? What does that mean?

Yes. California is an “at-will” state which generally means an employer may fire an employee at any time for any reason without “good cause.” Good cause means a reason for an employer to fire an employee such as insubordination or dishonesty. Therefore, as an at-will employment state, employers in California do not have to have good cause to fire an employee. However, the employee may not be fired for an illegal purpose or in violation of the employee’s rights.

All employees have rights, and employees in California benefit from some of the country’s strongest protections. So, even though California is an at-will state, which seems to allow an employer to fire an employee for any reason whatsoever, including failure to meet productivity quotas, the reality of labor law is much more complex. In most cases, you will need the advice of an experienced labor attorney to assess your case and file a lawsuit if you have been the victim of an unlawful termination.

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Srourian Law Firm, with locations in Los Angeles, Westwood, Woodland Hills, and Orange County is experienced in all aspects of employment law including termination based on productivity quotas and have aggressively represented employees in Los Angeles, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Orange, Irvine, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Fullerton, Tustin, Mission Viejo, San Clemente, Garden Grove, Laguna Niguel, Brea, Fountain Valley, Aliso Viejo, Yorba Linda, Westminster, Laguna Hills, Cypress, and La Habra.

If you or someone you know suffered employment violations as an employee including termination based on productivity quotas, you may have certain employee rights under state and federal law and may be entitled to overtime wages, meal breaks and rest breaks; as well as compensation as a part of the class action lawsuit. Please contact us to speak with one of our lawyers for a free consultation.


Severance agreements are legally binding contracts. Consult an attorney to protect your rights.

Learning that you are being laid off or fired from your job is stressful, to say the least. In many cases, your employer will offer you a severance package and ask you to sign a severance agreement. Before you sign any severance agreement, you should know your rights and protect yourself financially and professionally. You should also consult an attorney to ensure your severance agreement is accurate and fair.

Here are some FAQs about severance:

Q: What is a severance package?

A: A severance package refers to a payment or other benefits an employer offers an employee upon termination of employment. Generally, an employer is not required by law to offer a severance package to every employee unless there was a previous agreement included in the terms of employment. Nevertheless, many employers voluntarily offer a severance package in order to limit liability and as a way of assisting employees. Employees who are terminated for poor performance or terminated for cause are generally not entitled to severance.

Q: What is a severance agreement?

A: First and foremost, a severance agreement is a legally binding contract between you and your employer that indicates you have agreed to accept a severance package as a result of the termination of your employment. You should realize that you are agreeing to the terms of the agreement, and the agreement will be enforceable. Signing a severance agreement will usually mean that the employee agrees to give up (or waive) certain rights in exchange for the payment specified in the agreement. The most important right that an employee waives by signing a severance agreement is the right to sue the employer for any reason, such as harassment, discrimination, retaliation, wrongful termination, or violations of the California Labor Code. In other words, your employer is offering to give you a payment in exchange for a promise that you will not sue them for terminating your employment. Also, depending on the severance agreement, you may be giving up other rights as well such as a confidentiality clause that prohibits you from speaking about the termination. Because you are waiving important rights, you should always consult with an attorney before signing a severance agreement.

Q: Are severance agreements enforceable?

A: Yes. Since the severance agreement is a contract, it is legally binding and courts will generally enforce the terms of the contract. That means, for the most part, you are bound by the terms of the severance agreement. Of course, there are some employment rights that are not waiveable under a severance agreement, and even if they are included will not be enforceable. These include rights that are strictly protected under California and/or federal law such as a dispute over unpaid wages or overtime pay you may be entitled to. However, for the most part, a severance agreement is enforceable absent certain theories of contract law such as duress, fraud or unconscionability.

Q: Do I have to sign a severance agreement to receive a severance package?

A: Yes. By design, you will not receive your severance package unless you sign a severance agreement. That’s why it is important to consult an attorney so you fully understand the terms of the agreement. But before you sign a severance agreement, you are free to negotiate the terms of the severance package. Remember, a severance package is merely an offer that you are free to accept, reject or negotiate. Of course, if you do not agree to a severance package, you will not receive any severance payment or benefits.

Once you are told that your employment is being terminated, you should consult the employee handbook to see what rights and benefits you have as an employee as well as any pre-employment terms and agreements to ensure the severance package fairly reflects any prior agreements. Also, there are also certain benefits that are protected by law that you are entitled to after termination such as COBRA for health care, and ERISA for retirement benefits.

Q: Do I need an attorney?

A: Yes. In all legal matters, it is best to consult with an attorney, particularly in a stressful situation like losing your job. Even if you are caught off guard, don’t rush to accept a severance package or sign a severance agreement. You have certain rights as an employee that are protected by law, and you need an experienced labor attorney to ensure your rights are protected.

Labor law is quite complicated, and losing your job is stressful. You should consider consulting an attorney to advise you about relevant local, state and federal labor laws that are enacted to protect employees. Also, an attorney should review the severance agreement to ensure the terms are accurate and lawful. More importantly, an attorney can advocate for you during this difficult situation.

FREE CONSULTATION

Srourian Law Firm, with locations in Los Angeles, Westwood, Woodland Hills, and Orange County is experienced in all aspects of employment law including severance agreements and have aggressively represented employees in Los Angeles, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Orange, Irvine, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Fullerton, Tustin, Mission Viejo, San Clemente, Garden Grove, Laguna Niguel, Brea, Fountain Valley, Aliso Viejo, Yorba Linda, Westminster, Laguna Hills, Cypress, and La Habra.

If you or someone you know suffered employment violations as an employee or need advice regarding a severance agreement, you should be aware of the employee rights and protections under state and federal law to ensure the severance package is fair and accurate. Please contact us to speak with one of our lawyers for a free consultation.


Employees must know their rights as businesses around the world continue to adapt to the challenges due to the CoVid-19 pandemic. As social distancing and other safety precautions are put in place, businesses must comply with local, state and federal requirements for maintaining a safe work environment and ensure the good health and safety of employees. Most laws enacted in response to CoVid-19 vary depending on whether a business is considered essential or non-essential. For example, non-essential businesses may not compel non-essential employees to report to work, and it is illegal to retaliate against any non-essential employee who refuses to go to work. Essential workers, however, also have protections that require employers to ensure and maintain a safe workplace.

In March 2020, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued new guidelines as a result of the pandemic to clarify existing federal law that protects employees. The guidelines address the additional health risks posed by CoVid-19. Under the “General Duties Clause” enacted in 1970, OSHA (as part of the Labor Code), requires employers ensure the workplace is free from “recognized hazards” that are likely to result in serious injury or death of employees.

29 U.S. Code § 654 (5)(a)(1): shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.

The new OSHA guidelines, for the most part, provide guidance that follows the advice of public health officials that are already recommended for everyone such as washing hands frequently and maintaining social distancing. While the guidelines are not legally binding, they do outline recommended precautions that employers should take in order to ensure the safety of employees.

The new guidelines address four categories, or controls, for businesses to ensure employee safety: (1) engineering, (2) administrative, (3) safe work practices, and (4) personal protective equipment. The first category, engineering, identifies safety measures to separate employees with physical barriers. Administrative controls include ensuring sick employees stay home, and creating enough space for employees to stay six feet apart. Under safe work practices, OSHA recommends that company policies and practices promote good health such as providing hand sanitizer, sufficient time to wash hands frequently, and having disinfecting products available. Finally, personal protection equipment includes providing masks, gloves and eye protection to reduce the risk of exposure to CoVid-19, and would depend on the type of work and level or risk.

Additional federal, state and local laws may provide additional protection to employees. For example, in Los Angeles County, local law requires social distancing in public as well as wearing non-surgical masks by employees of essential business as well as customers. Businesses that fail to provide employees with personal protective equipment or ensure customers are wearing masks are violating the law.

New OSHA guidelines clarify federal law protecting employees from hazards at work.

FREE CONSULTATION

Srourian Law Firm, with locations in Los Angeles, Westwood, Woodland Hills, and Orange County is experienced in all aspects of employment law including OSHA violations and have aggressively represented employees in Los Angeles, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Orange, Irvine, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Fullerton, Tustin, Mission Viejo, San Clemente, Garden Grove, Laguna Niguel, Brea, Fountain Valley, Aliso Viejo, Yorba Linda, Westminster, Laguna Hills, Cypress, and La Habra.

If you or someone you know suffered employment violations as an employee including OSHA violations, you may have certain employee rights under state and federal law. Employees may be entitled to damages as a part of the class action lawsuit. Please contact us to speak with one of our lawyers for a free consultation.


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