Kristin's Blog
Practice Areas
Workplace Investigations
Ms. Rizzo’s reputation for integrity and professionalism, combined with her sound judgment and vast legal knowledge of employment law matters (including both the Plaintiff’s and Defendant’s perspective), make Rizzo Law a reliable choice for independent workplace investigations. Kristin Rizzo is able to assist you by, among other things:

  • Conducting fact-finding investigations
  • Performing effective witness interviews
  • Making credibility assessments
  • Identifying potential policy and legal violations
  • Suggesting remedial measures (if desired)
  • Providing a written report with findings and recommendations (if desired)

If you are a business in need of an effective and efficient workplace investigation, contact Rizzo Law, and Kristin Rizzo, for assistance.

Mediation
Ms. Rizzo is dedicated to helping people resolve their disputes. As an attorney who has practiced both the plaintiff side and defense side of litigation, Ms. Rizzo has had years of working experience on both sides of disputes. Through this varied professional background, Ms. Rizzo has earned the respect of colleagues, adversaries, mediators and the Courts. As a trained mediator, Ms. Rizzo will approach your dispute with insight, dedication, integrity and compassion to assist you toward resolution. Contact Rizzo Law to discuss your mediation needs.

“The courts of this country should not be the places where resolution of disputes begins. They should be the places where the disputes end after alternative methods of resolving disputes have been considered and tried.” — Sandra Day O’Connor

Workplace Discrimination

Pregnant woman

Discrimination and harassment in the workplace can come in many forms, and although such misconduct can sometimes be overt, it can be subtle or even concealed. If you feel you are being treated differently from other employees at work because of your age, race, gender, religion, pregnancy, sexual orientation, disability or medical condition, you may be a victim of workplace discrimination.

Some of the most common types of discrimination include:

  • Age Discrimination
  • Racial Discrimination
  • Pregnancy Discrimination
  • Gender Discrimination and Equal Pay
  • Sexual Orientation and Transgender Discrimination
  • Transgender, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression Discrimination *
  • Disability or Handicap Discrimination
  • Religion or Belief Discrimination
  • AIDS and HIV Discrimination
  • Medical Condition (Cancer) Discrimination

* See Kristin’s Blog post, entitled, “Protection Against Transgender, Gender Identification and Gender Expression Discrimination and Harassment.”

If you feel that you have been the victim of discrimination, contact Rizzo Law for help. Call today for a free initial consultation and an honest and accurate case assessment.

Workplace Harassment

Harassment in the workplace can come in many forms, and although such misconduct can sometimes be overt, it can be subtle or even concealed. If you feel your employer or its agents have created a hostile work environment, which has been defined as a pervasive atmosphere of severe or unwelcome working conditions that interfere with an employee’s work performance or create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment, you may be a victim of workplace harassment.

Some of the most common types of harassment claims are based on:

  • Age
  • Race
  • Gender
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Transgender, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression *
  • Disability
  • Religion/National Origin
  • Marital Status
  • Veteran Status

* See Kristin’s Blog post, entitled, “Protection Against Transgender, Gender Identification and Gender Expression Discrimination and Harassment.”

Many people may believe that sexual harassment is the one and only type of harassment that can happen to employees. In reality, sexual harassment is perhaps one of the most common forms of harassing behavior, but it is by far not the only one. In fact, many federal, state, and local government anti-discrimination laws have very specific provisions prohibiting harassment for what are sometimes very unique classes of individuals.

If you feel that you have been harassed in the workplace, contact Rizzo Law for help. Call today for a free initial consultation and an honest and accurate case assessment.

Wrongful Termination

Have you been terminated or fired and believe the termination was wrongful? If the answer is “yes,” then you should contact an attorney immediately.

California courts have held that an employer’s general right to terminate an “at-will” employee is subject to limits imposed by public policy. Under California law, a wrongful discharge case usually falls under one of the following categories:

  • Violation of employment contract
  • Discrimination cases
  • Hostile work environment
  • Whistleblower/Retaliation cases

If you believe that you have been a victim of wrongful discharge, contact Rizzo Law for help. Call today for a free initial consultation and an honest and accurate case assessment.

Whistleblower / Retaliation
discrimination

In California it is illegal to fire, demote, refuse to promote, harass, discriminate or retaliate against an employee who is in a protected class, or whose conduct is within a protected category, which includes persons who “blow the whistle” on improper or illegal activities. In short, a “whistleblower” is a person who opposes, makes public, or threatens to make public, illegal actions by an employer or supervisor. “Retaliation” can result in a termination or demotion following a report or complaint of known or suspected unlawful conduct in the workplace.

For example, it is illegal for an employer to take adverse action materially affecting the terms or conditions of employment against an employee who reports racial discrimination. It is likewise illegal to take such adverse action against an employee who testifies in a proceeding against the employer for sexual harassment, or who informs the government that a company has been falsifying documents in order to receive payment from the government.

Many more examples of whistleblowing / retaliation activities exist. Where an employer engages in adverse treatment of a whistleblower, it may be the basis for a lawsuit under numerous state and federal laws.

If you feel that you have been fired, demoted, harassed, discriminated or retaliated against because you have reported or blown the whistle on your employer’s improper or illegal conduct, contact Rizzo Law for help. Call today for a free initial consultation and an honest and accurate case assessment.

Wage and Hour / Misclassification

Federal and state laws set out in detail the minimum wage every worker is entitled to receive. These laws also identify which workers are employees versus independent contractors, which employees are entitled to receive overtime pay for working longer hours, and which employees are entitled to regulated meal periods and rest breaks. Unfortunately, and often unintentionally, some employers fail to comply with these legal requirements. Common violations of the law related to employment wages include:

  • Not paying the correct minimum wage.
  • Paying the lower “training wage” or “youth minimum wage” to workers who should be paid more.
  • Not paying overtime or improperly classified exempt employees.
  • Improperly classifying employees as independent contractors.
  • Failing to provide meal periods and/or rest breaks.
  • Making employees work “off-the-clock,” and not paying them for it.
  • Deducting too much for tips.
  • Deducting for wages paid in goods, such as meals or food.

often are forced to work hours in excess of eight hours, or off-the-clock, and forgo overtime pay as conditions of continuing employment.Wage and hour laws are meant to protect employees, and to ensure that their employers treat them with fairness in terms of payment for work done.Employees.

California employees whose employers have violated the wage laws may seek to recover those wages, as well as other damages and penalties under certain circumstances either by filing an action in court (legal relief) or by pursuing an action through the Division of Labor Standards and Enforcement (DLSE) for administrative relief.

If you are an employee who seeks experienced assistance concerning issues of misclassification, failure to pay wages owed, missed meal or rest breaks, lack of overtime pay and other unfair employment law practices, contact Rizzo Law for help. Call today for a free initial consultation and an honest and accurate case assessment.

Severance Review and Negotiation

Severance packages are often offered by employers in conjunction with lay-offs or terminations. These offers allow an employer to make a clean break with an employee. But there is a catch. The employer will almost always require the employee to sign a “release of all claims” in exchange for the severance agreement. This may be simply a formality in some situations, but in others, the employer may actually know it has violated the law and is attempting to insulate itself from liability “on the cheap.” Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to collect a larger severance, a cash bonus, stock options or more insurance benefits.

Rizzo Law has helped many clients get more from their employer through effective and aggressive negotiation. Before signing away valuable rights, consider contacting Rizzo Law for help.

Employment Consultation for Employees

Employer-employee relationships are very complex. There are many reasons for an employee to seek consultation from an attorney.

  • If you are employee facing an investigation, disciplinary action or workplace accusations, you may benefit from valuable legal advice. Consultation with an attorney can assist you by understanding your legal rights, preparing you on what to expect during discussions with your employer or an employer-investigator, and providing you with knowledge and insight into your options.
  • Some employers may offer an employee an employment contract prior to initiating the employment relationship.  Employment offers may sometimes be based upon complex employment contracts, which often provide certain protections for the employee.  Before signing an employment contract, it may benefit you to seek the assistance of an employment attorney.  An attorney can review the terms of the contract, explain to you all terms, and assist you in potentially getting more benefits from your employer before signing the contract.
  • When an employer violates the terms of an employment contract, the employee may be able to bring a breach of contract action against the employer.  Likewise, if an employee breaches a provision of an employment contract, he or she may be liable to the employer for any damages resulting from that breach of contract.If an employer breaches the terms of an employment contract, it can be held liable and required to pay damages to the employee.  Examples of common breach of contract claims include:
    • Termination in breach of the contract
    • Failure to honor contract
    • Promissory estoppel
    • Misrepresentation in violation of California Labor Code
    • Violation of a severance agreement
    • Failure to pay commission, a bonus, or other compensation

If you are facing employment-related issues, have employment concerns, or believe your employer has violated your contract, it is important to consult with an employment attorney.  Rizzo Law is dedicated to counseling employees, educating employees, empowering employees and assisting employees who have been wronged by their employers or find themselves in a difficult or confusing employment situation.  Contact Rizzo Law today for a consultation.

Advice and Strategic Planning for Employers

Kristin Rizzo, Esq. has helped many employers, whether in litigation or by providing advice to employers regarding various employment laws.  If you are a business owner who needs one or more of the following employment services, you should consider seeking employment counsel:

  • Implementing workplace processes and/or policies
  • Employment Handbook or Policy Manual for your company
  • Updating or Revising your company’s Employment Handbook or Policy Manual
  • Consultation regarding employee hiring
  • Consultation before terminating an employee, including risk-assessment
  • Workplace investigation of an employee complaint
  • Guidance on personnel, management or human resources issues

If you are an employer and need assistance with drafting your Employment Handbook or Policy Manual, need consultation regarding employee management, implementing workplace processes or need guidance on personnel or human resources issues, contact Rizzo Law today for a consultation and rate quote.

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