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San Fernando Valley Employment Law Blog

Many diverse TV writers experience workplace discrimination

Being a TV writer in California can certainly present many interesting and rewarding opportunities. However, diverse writers working in the television industry may not have such a positive attitude about this profession, according to the results of a report prepared by a group of working TV writers and a therapist. The report found that more than 60 percent of writers who are women, non-binary, LGBTQ, people of color or individuals with disabilities experienced discrimination, bias and/or harassment.

According to the report, this type of workplace discrimination also involved push-back when pitching diverse storylines or non-stereotypically diverse characters. Most than half of the writers questioned also reported instances of having story ideas rejected only to have those same ideas accepted later when pitched by a non-diverse writer. The report further contends that many diverse writers are hired because they allow employers to "check the box" for diversity hiring. Yet such writers aren't given sufficient opportunities for advancement.

Time's Up moves to help health care workers

A group called Time's Up Healthcare will aim to resolve issues related to harassment and discrimination that workers in California and elsewhere may face. It will try to accomplish this goal in part by seeking greater gender balance among health care leadership. This group is similar to the Time's Up movement that was inspired by the #MeToo movement that played a role in bringing awareness to gender issues in Hollywood.

The Time's Up organization raised more than $20 million in 2018 through the site GoFundMe, which was more than any other organization during that time. According to Time's Up, health care workers were the next largest group of individuals who sought legal help from them. Although women make up about 80 percent of the workforce in the industry, they hold only about 10 percent of top leadership positions. One survey found that many women in the medical profession who had experienced sexual harassment did not report it.

What are the legal remedies for sexual harassment at work?

Many people who experience sexual harassment in the workplace face conflicting pressures that can make it difficult to know how to respond. These victims may feel as though they cannot spend the time, energy and resources necessary to pursue legal action, or may worry that the ultimate outcome of a sexual harassment lawsuit may not justify the emotional and financial impact it may bring.

For many victims, these fears are well founded, particularly if they work in an industry that does not value respectful treatment in the workplace. If you believe that your experience may justify a lawsuit, it is important to build a strong legal strategy before you move forward. Doing so helps ensure that your rights remain protected throughout the process. It will also give you the tools to make the most of this opportunity to bring about much needed change in your work environment.

Oracle, other tech companies face allegations of discrimination

Some California tech employees may be aware that their industry has been plagued with allegations of workplace discrimination. A number of companies, including Microsoft, Uber, Google and Spotify, have faced complaints about discrimination and harassment. While companies are making efforts to address these complaints, a 2018 survey by an anonymous workplace app, Blind, found that nearly three-quarters of tech workers said they did not trust human resources.

The U.S. Department of Labor began an investigation into Oracle's employment practices in 2014, and in 2017, it filed a lawsuit. In an updated complaint, the DOL says that over four years, female, Asian and black employees lost $400 million in wages due to the company's discriminatory practices. Oracle has also been accused of favoring Asian visa holders in its hiring practices. Since these employees are dependent on the company to keep their work visas, Oracle is allegedly able to keep their wages depressed. Oracle is also accused of keeping salaries down by basing pay on the person's previous salary.

Age discrimination may be on the rise in the US

As workers reach retirement age, the way they are treated by employers can change significantly. Forced early retirement or layoffs are more common than many believe, according to recent research. For Californians in their 50s and beyond, job prospects can be discouraging.

In a newly released survey of workers in their 50s, a majority of respondents experienced forced layoffs, business closings or early retirement. Of those seeking employment after a job termination, only 10 percent found work for comparable pay and benefits. Not surprisingly, the household income of those in retirement years was less than other age groups.

California expands sexual harassment protections to business or service relationships

In response to the recent high-profile allegations of sexual harassment following the #MeToo campaign, the California legislature passed Senate Bill 224 (SB-224) to expand existing protections of employees and applicants from sexual harassment in the workplace. In addition to the Fair Employment and Housing Act's (FEHA) protection, Civil Code section 51.9 of the Unruh Act imposes liability for sexual harassment occurring within a non-employment context involving a business, service, or professional relationship.

Hotel Employees Required to Undergo Human Trafficking Awareness Training (SB 970)

The California legislature recently passed Senate Bill 970 (SB 970) in an effort to combat human trafficking. SB 970 added Section 12950.3 to the Government Code and amended the Federal Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). FEHA already requires employers to provide sexual harassment training to their employees but is now taking it a step further with some employers.

Both genders can face employment discrimination

Both men and women can be victims of gender discrimination if they apply for jobs traditionally held by the opposite sex. For instance, if a man in California decides to be a housekeeper, he may have a harder time getting the job because of his gender. The same could be true of a woman who wants to be a janitor or work in another industry dominated by males.

That was the key takeaway of a study conducted by an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina Charlotte. She sent out 3,000 job applications usually held by those in the working or middle classes. The positions were selected because of their tendency to attract individuals of one gender over the other. Among jobs in the janitorial and industrial fields, men were called back for interviews 44 percent more often than women.

Employers' right to silence sexual harassment victims restricted under new California law

Under Assembly Bill 3109 (AB-3109), any contract or settlement agreement will be deemed void and unenforceable if it contains a provision waiving a party's right to testify regarding criminal conduct or sexual harassment by the other party or the other party's employees or agents in an administrative, legislative or judicial proceeding.

Nursing mothers must be provided location other than bathroom to express milk per new California employment law

California employers were already required to provide employees with a reasonable break time and a reasonable room or other location, "other than a toilet stall," for the purposes of expressing milk. That, however, is no longer enough thanks to the passage of Assembly Bill 1976 (AB-1976). Employers are now required to make reasonable efforts to provide employees with use of a room or other location, other than a bathroom, for purposes of expressing milk.

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