Practice Areas

With over 50 years of combined experience, you can be that the lawyers at Strauss Law Group know a thing or two about California law. Below are those areas of practice that we have come to know intimately, and to which we regularly devote our time and expertise. For more information about any of these practice areas, click on the heading. A separate page will have FAQs and an explanation of the most common types of cases we see. Enjoy!

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Employment Litigation

Discrimination Lawsuits

Discrimination takes many forms: race, sex, gender, pregnancy, disability, language, religion, to name a few. California and federal laws protect employees from discrimination in the workplace. Strauss Law Group regularly represents clients — businesses and individuals alike — in discrimination lawsuits. The stakes can be high: employees who experience discrimination can sometimes win enormous awards in court. Follow this link to learn more about how California and federal laws protect employees from on-the-job discrimination.

Wrongful Termination Lawsuits

Like discrimination, allegations of wrongful or illegal terminations are far too common in the modern work environment. They can occur in many situations: a disgruntled employee claims his termination was for an improper motive, or when someone is fired in retaliation for speaking up about workplace discrimination, after an employee is injured on the job, or when an employee discloses that she is pregnant. The list is almost endless. Find out more about wrongful termination lawsuits and what employees and employers need to know.

Hostile Work Environment Lawsuits

The two types of hostile work environments claims that we see most are either sexual or racial in nature. Sexually hostile work environments generally involve repeated comments or touching of a sexual nature. Racially hostile work environments usually entail repeated, daily comments about an employee’s race or ethnicity. Either way, they are terrible for employers and the employees that have to suffer through them. Strauss Law Group has compiled frequently asked questions about hostile work environments, and we invite you to learn about them in more detail.

Government Contractor Lawsuits

Government Contractors face a multitude of employment law issues. Their liability can extend to acts committed against their employees by government employees. And the dual employment doctrine can ensure that the contractor can be liable for its employees that are completely embedded with the government. However, Strauss Law Group has experience defending government contractors by employing little-known defenses, including the Federal Enclave Doctrine and the Federal Officer Immunity Doctrine. Most lawyers that practice employment law may know nothing about these defenses, but you can learn more about them in our page dedicated to government contractor lawsuits.

Overtime Wage Claims/Lawsuits

By far the most common type of complaint we see is for unpaid overtime. Employers in California just seem to have the hardest time executing the state’s overtime rules correctly. The result is that their employees are often mis-classified as “exempt,” which means that they can go years without getting any overtime. Luckily for employees, California law can let you go back as many as four years to collect overtime wages owed. Strauss Law Group explains California and federal overtime laws and more in its overtime FAQ page.

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Employment Law

Legal Advice

By far and away, or employment lawyers spend more time providing employment law advice to both employers and employees than any other employment related service. Many employers use Strauss Law Group as an “outside” HR resource and we consult regularly on issues involving hiring, firing, layoffs, leaves of absence, personnel policies, travel expenses and a myriad of other issues that arise in the work place. We also consult with employees who feel that they have not been treated correctly, believe that they were inappropriately terminated or want us to review a severance package presented by their employer.

Whether it is advising employers or employees, we strive to provide timely and effective advice concerning this ever changing and complicated area of law.

Employee Handbooks

Strauss Law Group has been preparing employee handbooks for its business clients for decades. We have found that employee handbooks go a long way toward protecting employers from liability from discrimination, wrongful termination, and overtime lawsuits. What is more, employee handbooks can serve as guides for employers on how they should treat their employees; hence, they help ensure that employers never cross the line and violate California or federal laws. Learn more about employee handbooks here.

Employment Law Workplace Audits

Some businesses try very hard to be in compliance with California’s strict workplace laws, but often the best way to ensure compliance is to have seasoned experts audit your policies. Strauss Law Group has been providing this service to its clients for a long time. Learn more about our employment law workplace audits.

Employment-Related Contracts

Employment contracts can be a necessity in this day and age. Strauss Law Group has decades of experience drafting employment contracts and other employment-related agreements, such as arbitration agreements, covenants not to compete, employee handbooks, and non-disclosure agreements. Learn about these employment-related contracts in our FAQ section.

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Business Litigation

Business Ownership/Control/Dissolution Disputes

Business operations sometimes become divisive.  Disagreements among partners or business owners typically result from one party’s failure to honor fiduciary duties or the failure to comply with contractual obligations of the partnership agreement, corporate formation agreement, or other contract relating to the business.  Oftentimes these disagreements stem from secret business dealings which are at odds with the best interests of the company or its shareholders.  Strauss Law Group has represented businesses, owners, shareholders and other parties in business ownership, control and dissolution disputes in both state and federal court.  Strauss Law Group holds a successful track record representing both individuals and businesses in these matters.

Breach of Contract Lawsuits

The most common type of business lawsuit in today’s world is the straight-forward breach of contract. Strauss Law Group knows exactly how to win — and defeat — breach of contract claims. Read about breach of contract cases in our FAQ section.

Unfair Competition/Misleading Advertising Lawsuits

With quick and easy access to information at a push of a button, charges of unfair competition, which includes misleading advertising, are on the rise in California. Whether it is the use of confidential or proprietary information, someone who is undercutting his competitors by underpaying his employees or a business that publishes untrue statements about their products in public to get more customers, unfair competition is just that — unfair. Learn more about how California law regulates unfair competition in our FAQ section.

Americans with Disabilities Act Compliance Lawsuits

You have all heard the story by now. Someone goes from business to business inspecting their stairways, bathrooms, and other public areas, simply looking for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. One small violation can lead to thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of dollars in fines and repairs. Strauss Law Group has been defending businesses thoughout California in these ADA compliance suits for years. See what we have compiled from our lengthy experience in our Americans with Disabilities Act FAQ page.

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REAL ESTATE LITIGATION PRACTICE OVERVIEW

Failure to Disclose Defects at Sale Lawsuits

Real estate fraud is on the rise. Often, the most prevalent type is the failure by a seller to disclose known defects in the condition of real property prior to its sale. The effect can be a buyer who purchases a house with defects that may not be worth what she paid for it. Learn how you can protect yourself from being a victim or an unwitting perpetrator of a failure to disclose defects case at our FAQ page.

Fraudulent Concealment of Unpermitted Work Lawsuits

County permitting agencies are always in need of extra cash. So it is no surprise that they are ramping up efforts to catch homeowners who have done unpermitted work to their residence. While this can be a problem for many, a bigger problem is when a seller does not disclose that he did unpermitted work to his house. The buyer then finds out that not only does she have to rip out the unpermitted work, but she has to pay a fine to the permitting agency. Learn more about fraudulent concealment of unpermitted work lawsuits here.

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ESTATE PLANNING (Wills and Trusts)

Estate planning is a process. It involves people—your family, other individuals and, in many cases, charitable organizations of your choice.  It also involves your assets (your property) and the various forms of ownership and title that those assets may take.  And,  it addresses your future needs in case you ever become unable to care for yourself.
Through estate planning, you can determine:

  • Management: How and by whom your assets will be managed for your benefit during your lifetime if you ever become unable to manage them yourself.
  • Lifetime Gifts: When and under what circumstances it makes sense to distribute your assets during your lifetime.
  • Gifts at Death: How and to whom your assets will be distributed after your death.
  • Heath Care: How and by whom your personal care will be managed and how health care decisions will be made during your lifetime if you become unable to care for yourself.

In our estate planning practice, we will work with you one-on-one to design a custom-tailored estate plan that fits you and your family’s particular needs.  A properly drafted estate plan will allow you to control your property while you are alive and well, take care of yourself and your loved ones, and upon your death give what you have, to whom you want, when you want, all at the lowest overall financial and emotional cost to you and your loved ones.

During your estate planning consultation, we will take the time to get to learn about you, your family, your estate and, most importantly, your goals.  Our meetings should help you to understand your options, the process, and earn your trust. The first consultation is always free — with no obligation.  Please call today to set up an appointment.

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Probate

Probate is a court-supervised process for transferring a deceased person’s assets.   If the deceased had a will, then the probate process will distribute the assets to the beneficiaries listed in his or her will.  If the deceased did not have a will, then the assets will be distributed according to state law.  Proper estate planning before death, through the use of a revocable living trust, can eliminate the need for probate all together.

Typically a probate begins when the executor named in the will files a petition in court and seeks appointment.  The executor would then take charge of the decedent’s assets, pay any debts and, after receiving court approval, distribute the rest of the estate to the chosen beneficiaries.  If there is no will, a relative or other interested person could start the process.  The terms “executor,” “administrator,” and “personal representative” are used by the court to refer to the person who is appointed to be in charge of the estate.

There are advantages and disadvantages to probate.  One advantage is that the probate court reviews the personal representative’s handling of each estate, which can help protect the beneficiaries’ interests.

One disadvantage, however, is that probates are public. Your estate plan and the value of your assets will become a public record.  Also, because lawyer’s fees and executor’s commissions are based on a statutory fee schedule, a probate may cost more than the management and distribution of a comparable estate under a living trust.   Time can be a factor as well.  A probate proceeding generally takes longer than the administration of a living trust.

If you need of an attorney to help begin the probate process, or just have questions regarding probate, please call for a free 30 minute consultation.  We’re here to help you each step of the way.

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Trust Administration

This office represents personal representatives, trustees, and beneficiaries in all stages of trust administration.  If you need an attorney, or just have questions, please call for a free 30 minute consultation.  We’re here to help you each step of the way.

With a revocable living trust (also known as a revocable inter vivos trust or grantor trust), your assets are put into the trust, administered for your benefit during your lifetime and transferred to your beneficiaries when you die.   Trusts avoid the court procedure, called probate, otherwise required to transfer assets to a person’s beneficiaries at death.  However, even though no court procedure is involved, that does not mean there is nothing to do. The trust makes administration easier, but it does not do away with administration altogether.

In both probates and trust administrations, assets need to be collected and managed, appraisals of assets have to be made, debts and taxes have to be paid, tax returns may be required, and legal documents must be prepared in connection with the distribution of the trust property to the beneficiaries.  The major difference is that, with a trust, these tasks are generally handled privately, without court supervision, which makes for (in most cases) a faster, less expensive administration process.

There are some circumstances that may arise in which there are questions about whether the Trustee should or should not take certain actions (e.g., selling a business interest or real property, commencing litigation).  In such cases, it may be advisable for the Trustee to petition the court for instructions whether to proceed in a certain way. The beneficiaries will be given notice of the hearing and will be given a copy of the petition that describes the proposed action.

The matter will then be addressed in open court, and the beneficiaries will have an opportunity to appear in court and be heard.  By obtaining an order from the court in this manner, the Trustee may be able to cut off the beneficiary’s right to complain about the particular action if he or she fails to appear in court. Such a petition protects the Trustee if there is a fear that the Trustee’s decision will be second-guessed by a beneficiary. Also, if relations between the Trustee and the beneficiaries are hostile, it may be advisable for the Trustee to seek court approval of the Trustee’s accountings to minimize potential arguments with the beneficiaries.

Trust Litigation

This office has significant experience litigating on behalf of trust beneficiaries, as well as defending trustees.   We represent clients in a variety of trust actions, including trust contests, beneficiary claims, trust reformation, and accounting of trust finances.  One of the largest areas of trust litigation surrounds the trustee’s actions during the administration.  If you are a trustee, you occupy a position of trust and confidence and it is imperative that you have competent counsel to guide you through the process.  If you are a beneficiary, you should know that the trustee owes a duty of care to the beneficiaries.  A trustee:

  1. must contact beneficiaries to make them aware of the existence of the Trust and to keep them reasonably informed of the Trust and its administration;
  2. has a duty to administer the Trust solely in the interest of the beneficiaries and to deal impartially with them;
  3. cannot use trust property for their own profit or for any nontrust purpose;
  4. must not engage in any transaction that will result in a conflict of interest between you and the Trust or a beneficiary;
  5. must take reasonable steps to take and keep control of trust property and to preserve the trust property and make it productive;
  6. must not commingle (mix-up) trust property with their own property under any circumstance;
  7. must provide the beneficiaries with certain information on reasonable request (see Probate Code §16061) even if the Trust Instrument waives this requirement (see Probate Code §16068); and
  8. must give a full accounting and report of all trust transactions not less often than annually or at the termination of the Trust or on a change of trustee (see Probate Code §16062), unless the Trust instrument or a beneficiary waives this requirement in writing.

If you are a trustee, or a beneficiary, and need an attorney, please call for a free 30 minute consultation.  We’re here to help you each step of the way.

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Mediation/Arbitration

Mediation has become the principal way of resolving disputes. Tony Strauss saw this trend developing and trained to be a mediator in 2002 to better understand the process and thereby assist his clients engaged in litigation. Since then he has frequently been asked by colleagues to serve as a mediator of employment law disputes. He has also served as a court appointed mediator.

With over 38 years of experience handling employment cases on behalf of both plaintiffs and defendants in the public and private sectors, there are few employment scenarios that he hasn’t seen. When serving as a mediator, he has been able to use that experience to settle complicated employment disputes. Tony is now focusing more attention on employment mediation and provides those professional services in his beautiful offices at reasonable rates.

Tony is also available to serve as an arbitrator in employment disputes. His experience includes multiple years as a court appointed arbitrator for the Ventura Superior Court.

For references from attorneys who have used Tony as a mediator, contact Tony directly at ars@strausslawgroup.com.

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Other Practice Areas

Disability Retirements for Public Employees

Strauss Law Group devotes a substantial amount of its time handling disability retirement cases for public employees. These clients are usually employed by Ventura, Santa Barbara, or Los AngelesCounties, and they are no longer able to work. If their inability to work is a work-related injury (even possibly including stress), it may be possible for them to get a “service-connected” disability retirement. If the injury is non-work-related, but the individual is still unable to work as a result, they may be eligible for a “non-service-connected” disability retirement. The benefit of either of these two types of retirements is that the injured employee may be able to receive long-term benefits. Read more about what is possible to obtain for injured public employees in our page dedicated to disability retirements.

EDD (Unemployment) Hearings

California employees who lose their job may be eligible for unemployment benefits. However, many employers fight over whether the employee should receive unemployment. These fights occur at EDD (Unemployment) hearings. Strauss Law Group has been representing employers and employees at EDD hearings for years, and we have compiled our FAQs on EDD/unemployment hearings here.

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