I am Ron Zambrano, Partner and Employment Chair at West Coast Employment Lawyers in California. I have more than a decade of experience fighting for employee rights including workplace discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful termination, and more. It's important to me that employees are informed and empowered. I’m here to answer your burning questions.

Here is my [proof] (https://x.com/WestCoastTrial/status/1717276902971617491?s=20), my [website] (https://westcoastemploymentlawyers.com/), a CNN article on my [topic] (https://www.cnn.com/2023/08/09/entertainment/lizzo-complaints-lawsuit-charges/index.html), and my [blog page] (employmentattorneylosangeles.com)

**EDIT: This AMA is closed. I had a great time answering all your questions and appreciate all the responses! Thank you and I hope to do this again in the future!**

Comments: 346 • Responses: 36  • Date: 

vincemici232 karma

You're obviously a very successful attorney with years of experience in your field, that being said, do you still have student loans at this point in your career?

attorneyronzambrano418 karma

Great question!! Took me 11 years to pay off my student loans.

Wizard196464 karma

How do you deal with situations of unethical behavior by employers that are not necessarily illegal?

attorneyronzambrano164 karma

If it's too much to stomach, look for other employment. Bringing up the unethical behavior is not a protected activity.

TabulaRasaNot157 karma

Are noncompetes really all that enforceable?

attorneyronzambrano218 karma

Depends on the state you're in. In California, they're not enforceable at all. In Oregon, they might be enforceable, as long as the term is not longer than 12 months.

TabulaRasaNot27 karma


attorneyronzambrano62 karma

Florida allows them under certain rules. https://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2018/0542.335

Smokey_Katt134 karma

What’s your funniest “did they actually say that” story from your career?

attorneyronzambrano290 karma

Good question..... A large supermarket brand had a General Manager who testified he told my client a joke where the punch line was "Dick in your mouth." The case was about sexual harassment. The part I will always remember is I asked him why did he say this joke. His response "My teenage daughter told me that joke." I was in shock. That was 10 years ago.

CPA_temp_account86 karma

I am an accountant and was terminated after one week of work for pointing out that clients were not being informed of all 1099 filing requirements per the IRS rules. I also requested not to have my name associated with returns claiming all 1099s were filed when I knew they were not. Would this be considered wrongful termination?

attorneyronzambrano132 karma

Absolutely! You engaged in a protected activity of reporting what you believed to be unlawful activity, then you were punished. If the connection between the two is established, you've a good claim for whistleblower retaliation.

pop_pop_crack76 karma


attorneyronzambrano125 karma

I'm sorry for what they've put you through. I would definitely consult an employment attorney in Texas. If there was never any actual complaint against you, the use of the pretext to punish you may be a civil claim.

pop_pop_crack8 karma


attorneyronzambrano20 karma

Not being happy with your service (regardless if it's true or not) is at face value a complaint. The work for any attorney would be to put people under oath to verify it actually happened.

ConnectPick658266 karma

Can your boss berate you, call you names, and curse you out? If it's nothing racist or discriminatory, can they get away with that? For example, "You're a dumb fucking idiot that should never have been hired here. Moron."

attorneyronzambrano152 karma

Unfortunately, from a civil standpoint, if the words used don't touch upon a protected class (e.g., race, national origin, religion, sexual orientation), then there is no liability for what sounds like a very terrible boss.

JayDanger71049 karma

I'm the youngest man in my department (creative writer at a radio station). The older sales reps continue to call me "hon" "sweetie" "baby" and "sugar" even though it's been brought up that I expect my name to be used. Not only do I find it demeaning or disrespectful, I find it a blaring double standard. If I called one of these sales reps "sweetie" or "toots" or something demeaning I'd be fired before my lips close. I have no personal relationship with any of these women. Do I have grounds to do anything to make this stop, or will I just continue to be laughed off my HR and have to suck it up?

attorneyronzambrano74 karma

You are being unlawfully harassed from what you've described here. You should complain to your HR about this treatment. If HR won't do anything about it, and it continues, consult an attorney.

SaucyAndSweet33348 karma

How do you figure out damages in an employment case?

attorneyronzambrano94 karma

I start with loss of earnings, then loss of benefits, then I take a longer time to calculate emotional distress - which takes consideration of lots of factors.

attorneyronzambrano49 karma

There's two categories in all civil cases. Things I can calculate, like loss of earnings, and things I can't calculate, like emotional distress.

barbieftken41 karma

Hi Ron! What can I do if I witnessed workplace harassment, but the victim does not want it to be reported?

attorneyronzambrano68 karma

You can report the harassment on their behalf. Once you do that, you've engaged in a protected activity for which you should not be retaliated against.

QuixoticPorVida29 karma

As a recent job seeker in a 'religious' town, mid america, there were a few listings I saw that said basically that you had to be christian, believe in jesus. I don't see how that is legal, and as an agnostic person definitely made me feel unwelcome to apply.

Is that legal?

attorneyronzambrano44 karma

If you end up applying and not getting the job because you're agnostic, you'd have rights under Title VII and Civil Rights Act of 1964. Unless, it's a non-profit religious corporation. They're exempt for the most part from the religious discrimination laws.

coeranys27 karma

I am seeing a lot of news articles about the big tech companies, including Amazon, forcing their employees to move across the country after they were hired remote. Is that sort of thing legal here in the States?

attorneyronzambrano60 karma

An employer can require an employee to go from zoom to in-person, even if that means moving, for continued employment. It's not fair, I agree. But there's nothing unlawful in an employer changing their method of operations and having workers follow suit.

PeanutSalsa23 karma

Are there employee rights that apply to freelance/contract workers as well, or do they only apply to employees?

attorneyronzambrano67 karma

Employee rights do not apply to independent contractors, unfortunately. Although, I have found 75% treated as independent contractors are intentionally misclassified as non-employees.

BigMax21 karma

Let's say an offer letter for a job is given, and signed by both parties (new employer and new employee), and the employee quits his old job in anticipation of starting the new one.

Does the employee have any recourse if the job offer is rescinded before the starting date?

attorneyronzambrano24 karma

Only of the signed job offer allows for recourse aka it's a breach of the agreement. Or, if you think there was unlawful activity that led to the rescission of the job offer.

QueefingQuerent20 karma

Do workplaces have to provide working restrooms?

attorneyronzambrano46 karma

99% of them do, unless it's unpractical to do so. For instance, if you work in oil refineries that are square miles long, there may not be a bathroom on the facility, but you should be allowed access to one if you need to leave.

QueefingQuerent7 karma

What law is in place if there isn't one? Is it part of ADA?

attorneyronzambrano30 karma

It's state specific, then industry specific. It's not a federal law.

Rich__Peach17 karma

As the wife of someone studying law, what made you decide to do employment law and not other type of law? And also, any advice for an 1L? Thank you!

attorneyronzambrano78 karma

I went to law school with the intent of being armed with a law license so I can help people. I didn't know what that really meant from a practical standpoint. I tried immigration first. Didn't like it. Then family law. Didn't like it for different reasons. I fell into employment law by accident a year after passing the bar and I fell in love with it because I was helping every-day people by giving them a voice against companies. My advice for all law students, clerk/work at different law offices either during the semester or in the summer and try different areas of law each time. Go from defense to plaintiffs. And try different areas of law that you think you'd be interested in. I clerked at a PI firm in law school and knew I didn't want to do that.

Jukai212116 karma

What type of action would an employee have if they have reported a colleague for sexual harassment and endangering others on the job, but the business / HR team disregards the claims?

attorneyronzambrano31 karma

If that reporting employee suffers and adverse employment action (i.e., demotion, termination), then it would be a claim for retaliation. If, however, nothing happens to the employee who reported the harassment, then there is no civil claim for that employee. HR not doing their job, although a failure on their part, does not by itself create civil liability.

PeanutSalsa15 karma

What are the minimum amount of breaks and times for the breaks an employer must provide an employee, and any other useful information you can give surrounding this topic?

attorneyronzambrano36 karma

Depends what state you work in. There is no federal law requiring breaks. California requires a 10min paid break every 3 hours of work, and 1 30min unpaid meal break for every 5 hours of work, unless your shift is just 6 hours. What state are you in?

residentasian14 karma

Is it a terrible idea to redline an employment contract you receive from a potential employer?

attorneyronzambrano30 karma

If you don't care about getting the job, there's no risk. But if you really like the job and want it, I would not recommend it as you have no real bargaining power. Unless you're someone who is highly recruited constantly.

Blastoxic99911 karma

Is a legal fight against a celebrity more stressful and scary for you than if it was just between two nobodies?

attorneyronzambrano36 karma

Not one difference. The stress is more in evaluating whether to take on a case against a celebrity. Once I get enough information and spend time with the clients so that I'm confident in their stories, the stress after that is no different than anyone else.

EquityOptns10 karma

Can employers put limits on PTO across a whole company when it is not accumulated? They won’t use the word “unlimited” but it seems like this is trying to split the difference.

attorneyronzambrano18 karma

Yes. Use of PTO can be capped. PTO can be given as a block without having to be accumulated. Just because you're provided a block of Paid Time Off doesn't mean you're entitled to more than the block given.

texlex10 karma

At what point do you think, yeah, that’s a solid constructive termination?

attorneyronzambrano9 karma

When what the employee is going through is something I wouldn't tolerate. There's a spectrum and it all depends on the industry, characters and the story. But, if I think the conditions are so bad I would quit, that's where I think it's solid.

filagrey9 karma

Can an employee be forced to zoom while driving?

attorneyronzambrano27 karma

As long as the video is not required, yes. Otherwise, it's a safety issue and you would be engaging in a protected activity by refusing to put yourself in an unsafe situation.

Oldbayistheshit6 karma

Can I get hazmat pay for removing asbestos for the federal government?

attorneyronzambrano13 karma

Depends on the contract between your employer that is contracted by the Federal Government to do the abatement. There are minimum standards of prevailing wages and fringe benefits when entering into Federal Contracts. I'm not familiar of what those specific requirements would be for asbestos abatement.

MonkeyPolice4 karma

What type of documentation is recommended if you are considering a hostile work environment claim?

attorneyronzambrano5 karma

Well, the documents should already exist if they are part of what is creating the hostile work environment. Regardless, I tell everyone that they should put their complaints of hostile work environment in writing (e.g., email or text) to put the employer on notice, as well as having evidence later in case things go south.

NeoMoose3 karma

A common phrase I hear is that there is no such thing as zero retaliation. Unfortunately, I tend to agree with it.

Do you have any immediate thoughts that come to mind when you hear that phrase?

attorneyronzambrano2 karma

I need a little more context. Are you referring to no adverse consequences to someone that makes a complaint of unlawful activity?

NeoMoose2 karma

Yes. I meant that there's always going to be some retaliation even if it doesn't approach something actionable. Like petty things that would be hard to prove.

attorneyronzambrano7 karma

I suppose there can be adolescent level retributions but my experience with clients or potential clients is that life typically goes on without a hitch. Sometimes, the employee has better treatment because the employer knows that employee isn't afraid to cause a ruckus, so they're left alone.

Axe-of-Kindness3 karma

What are you able to share with us about the Lizzo case?

attorneyronzambrano11 karma

It's super early. There's really no developments other than the complaint. Sorry.

randomgirl683 karma

What are the conditions for a fair and safe workplace??

attorneyronzambrano7 karma

Good questions but I can go on and on. Depends on the industry. Can you be more specific?

PeytonInc1 karma

If I’m a female as well as a POC in the same position as my male coworker who may be white and he is getting paid more, what are the procedures to asking to be fairly paid?

attorneyronzambrano18 karma

You potentially have a claim of wage discrimination based on your gender and race under Title VII. The standard is that you and the other employee have the same experience, qualification and tenure, but the pay is different.

KarmaCycle-17 karma

How many of your cases end in settlements?

Just curious, bc in the case against Lizzo looks like a cash grab.

attorneyronzambrano26 karma

99% of cases settle. All people that get sued feel like the plaintiff is just looking for cash. I didn't sue Lizzo for money or notoriety. I sued her because I believe my clients' story, which involve violations of a lot of civil laws. Also, two dozen people have called me to share their own stories similar to the dancers that have come forward. Where there is smoke, there is fire.

Proof_Finance9751-29 karma

Hello, can I get in trouble/fired for having a sign for Trump 2024 in my own office at work?

attorneyronzambrano17 karma

Unfortunately, political views are not a protected activity. You may be lawfully treated differently if your boss has different political views than you.