EMPLOYMENT LAW PRACTICE

Work consumes most of our lives. So, when problems do arise, I help make the process easier by analyzing, explaining and advocating for my clients’ legal protections. Specifically, California law shields employees against harassment and discrimination based on their belonging to a protected class, retaliation for asserting a right under the law, whistleblower retaliation, wrongful termination, and defamation.  Additionally, eligible workers have the right to take medical leave under the California Family Rights Act or Family Medical Leave Act as well as the right to pregnancy leave available under the Pregnancy Disability Leave Act. 

Further, employees who suffer a disability are entitled to a reasonable accommodation and to be engaged in an interactive process with their employer to determine whether such an accommodation is possible.  I also help my clients obtain personnel and related records, often to gage the strength of their legal claims; review employment contracts and severance agreements to answer specific questions or gain leverage for a better deal; and, ensure that clients have been properly paid wages owed.  If disputes arise, I am ready to represent and advise. 

Please use our About Us > Contact page, or email representation questions to:

HeidiMachen@MachenLaw.com   

Sample representation:

  • Won Plaintiff’s verdict following a two-week jury trial for hostile work environment - disability harassment, affirmed on appeal in 2015. [Client took workers’compensation and required a leave of absence from her government job.  She returned for a short time with reasonable accommodations; and, her boss made derogatory and taunting remarks to her about her disability each and every time she saw him over a two-week period. As she started a second round of leave, she was terminated. The jury awarded emotional distress damages for harassment; and attorneys recovered fees under the Fair Employment and Housing Act.]     

  • Reviewed and advised technology clients on their employment contract or severance agreement.  [Over the past several years, I have counseled various clients, especially in technology fields, on how to navigate, interpret or negotiate their employment contracts, especially those including confidentiality or trade secret clauses. When termination or layoff is at issue, I review the circumstances with an eye toward whether the proposed waiver of claims typically accompanying any severance agreement may assume much greater value in the context of potential illegalities.  I also advise on industry standards or legal rights that may entitle the client to a higher payout.]

  • Obtained $185K settlement for wrongfully terminated employee who had suffered disability discrimination, whistleblower retaliation and wrongful termination. [‘Marie’ was working as a public relations manager for a senior residential care facility when she had a severe panic attack related to her lifetime diagnosed hidden disability, anxiety.  During the previous six to eight months, she had reported compliance irregularities at the facility; and, management had long been on notice that she required an accommodation for her anxiety. Nonetheless, she was terminated, and continued to struggle with agoraphobia as a consequence. She also learned that her manager had made post-employment derogatory untrue remarks about her to staff and residents, amounting to a claim for defamation. Following mediation and within six months, we were able to secure the immediate future by obtaining a favorable pre-litigation settlement for Marie and her young daughter.]    

  • Secured $75K judgment from Department of Labor (DOL) for client’s unpaid vacation hours. [‘Jim,’an accountant from a well-known tax firm had relied on the oral promise of a managing partner that he would be exempt from the otherwise firm-wide written policy requiring employees to ‘use or lose’their vacation time.  At hearing, we positioned Jim as being unique among his colleagues in that he would rarely be able to take extended vacation and still be able to perform his job. Thus, Jim had agreed to defer his vacations over an eight year period on condition that he would be exempt from this company policy. The administrative law judge agreed that the firm owed Jim for his full 772.82 hours of accrued vacation, nearly $50,000, plus significant wait-time penalties.] 

  •  Negotiated a $75K settlement for client who suffered sexual harassment at work. [‘Ayla’ worked as a secretary at a male-dominated division of a utility company where she was subject to such a hostile work environment that she was eventually forced to resign and accept a lower paid position elsewhere. Ayla’s complaints to management had not been taken seriously and Human Resources were ‘not able to substantiate’her claims. At mediation, we stressed the outrageousness of the conduct, Ayla’s financial and emotional distress damages, and the added insult of her living in a small town where she continued to run into her abusers to obtain 1.5 years salary in settlement of her claims.] 

  • Advocated for clients to overcome black marks on background checks by using applicable local ordinances, accessing expungement or providing evidence of rehabilitation. [‘Fargo’ had been working as a temporary desk clerk at an SRO hotel partially subsidized by the City and County of San Francisco and thus subject to its Second Chance Ordinance. When offered a permanent assignment, a background check revealed his past felonies and history of substance abuse and the company initially rejected his application. I advocated for the company to take a second look in light of San Francisco’s Second Chance ordinance, mitigating circumstances and rehabilitation and he was happily offered the the full-time job.]