San Gabriel, CA asked in Employment Discrimination and Employment Law for California

Q: i worked for a restaurant for 5 and sum years. i felt i was forced to quit after being yelled at for something petty

the boss was chef and the wife was cashier. the kids ran as floaters. i never called out always there on time. i did everything there. the daughter for some reason was picking on me. pointing things out to her father to where he was now yelling at me. one day he approached me to tell me not to make it a habit to bring my 15 year old daughter to work. she sat at a table to eat food that she paid for. to me she was a paying customer. how could that have bothered him? Another time i called out due to being sick. i went back the next day and when i asked for my tip money she said "i am sorry but because you called out we are now disciplining everyone who calls out by not giving you the tips for the WEEK" i only got a 20 min break for the 8 and a half hours that i was there. (10;30am-7pm) i was forced to quit. i felt i was being discriminated against.

3 Lawyer Answers
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Employment Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Under California law, your situation may involve several legal considerations.

First, if your employer's conduct towards you was based on your race, gender, religion, or another protected characteristic, it could constitute illegal discrimination.

Second, California labor laws require employers to provide certain break periods based on the number of hours worked, and failure to comply could be a labor violation.

Third, withholding tips as a form of discipline is generally not permissible, as tips are considered the property of the employee who earned them.

Fourth, the issue with your daughter being treated unfairly as a paying customer might not directly fall under employment law, but it could contribute to a hostile work environment if it was part of broader discriminatory or harassing behavior.

Lastly, if you felt compelled to resign due to intolerable working conditions, this might be construed as constructive dismissal. It's advisable to consult with an employment attorney to discuss the specifics of your case and explore potential legal options.

Neil Pedersen
Neil Pedersen
  • Employment Law Lawyer
  • Westminster, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Being yelled at about something petty is generally not unlawful.

Nepotism - an employer treating a friend or relative more favorably - is not unlawful.

However, your employer was not providing you with legally required meal and rest periods and you are entitled to be compensated for those violations.

Additionally, it is unlawful to take your tips for any reason. The new policy is against the law.

Finally, punishing an employee for the need to take medical time off violates California's paid sick leave law.

It would be wise for you to locate and consult with an experienced employment law attorney as soon as possible to explore your facts and determine your options. I would suggest you look either on this site, or go to, the home page for the California Employment Lawyers Association, an organization whose members are dedicated to the representation of employees against their employers.

Most employment attorneys who practice this area of law offer a free or low cost consultation in the beginning and then, if the matter has merit and value, will usually agree to work on a contingency basis, meaning you can hire an attorney without paying any money until the matter results in a positive outcome for you. Many advance all the costs of the litigation as well. Do not let fear of fees and costs keep you from finding a good attorney.

Good luck to you.

Louis George Fazzi
Louis George Fazzi
  • Employment Law Lawyer
  • Jess Ranch, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: What you can do right away, is contact the labor commissioner of the state of California. Their only job is to protect workers and to make sure that their rights are secure. You can reach the Labor Commissioner on the web here:

Report what happened to you, and ask for an investigation of your employer. It is illegal for an employer to retaliate against any employee who reports wrongdoing, so you don't have to worry about what might happen.

Go to the website today, get your claim started, then you can start looking for a lawyer who might be able to help you.

Most good employment law lawyers know how to get themselves paid, so you shouldn't have to worry about exorbitant legal fees.

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