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May 2018 Archives

Chipotle settles wrongful termination claim with former manager

On May 14, it was reported that Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. settled with a California former manager after she claimed that the company wrongly terminated her. According to the lawsuit, the woman was accused of stealing $626 from a safe at one of the company's restaurants.

New mothers who nurse or pump have legal protections at work

Bringing a new life into the world and into your family is an amazing experience. Many women like to have it all, including a family and a career. Thanks to laws that prevent employer discrimination, more women than ever before can enjoy professional success while also embracing motherhood. Sadly, despite legal protections at the federal and California state level, many women workers still deal with discrimination and harassment related to motherhood.

Strategies to minimize potential age discrimination at work

As a California worker ages, he or she faces the risk of being pushed out by an employer. As a general rule, women are more likely to experience age discrimination than men. This is partially because of cultural perceptions that men get better with age while women become less valuable. While the law forbids age discrimination, proving it can be difficult.

Employers cannot insist employees be 100% healed before returning to work

Say you had a medical issue or injury, work-related or not. At some point, you may have reached out to your employer about working with some restrictions. Your supervisor might believe that certain restrictions will prevent you from performing the job as needed, emails HR and indicates an inability to accommodate the restrictions. It is then communicated to you that the you cannot work until you are fully recoverd, or 100% healed. This position by the employer would be a failure to engage in the interactive process to determine reasonable accommodations for your disability.

Have You Been Misclassified as an Independent Contractor?

Wrongfully classifying employees as independent contractors just got a lot riskier in California. Earlier this month, the California Supreme Court issued its decision in Dynamex Operations West, Inc., v. Superior Court, adopting a broad view of workers deemed "employees" as opposed to "independent contractors" for purposes of claims alleging violations of California's Wage Orders, established to regulate wages, hours and working conditions for California employees.

Major Biomedical Research Institute Accused of Sex Discrimination

Sex and gender discrimination have recently been in the spotlight as prominent individuals, companies and politicians have come under fire. More and more employers are being accused as well. But we might all ask, why now? How come everyone is speaking out against these individuals and companies now? Simply put, because when one person speaks up, two people speak up, and so on.

Are You Entitled to Disability Leave During Your Pregnancy?

Every person is unique and so is their pregnancy. Some pregancies are more difficult than others. While pregnant, many women are diagnosed with a pregnancy-related disability, such as pregnancy-induced hypertension, morning sickness, or gestational diabetes. Women who are suffering from these conditions will often need to take time off from work to avoid further complications.

Hiring the first lawyer in a Google search could cost you millions

An employee is injured on the job or needs medical care for a serious illness. He takes time away from work. The employer is not happy about this. Employers are never happy when a disabled employee needs an accommodation. Reasonable accommodations, though guaranteed by law -- things like time off from work, modified job duties or an ergonomic work station -- cost employers money. What does the employer do? Oftentimes, they force employees on leaves of absence, harass or retaliate against employees who frequent the doctor, and begin "documenting" so-called "performance issues." Ultimately, employees are terminated because of their disability or injury.

Should I sign my employer's release form in exchange for severance pay?

Employers in California are not required by law to provide severance pay to anyone who is laid off or terminated (some exceptions apply). However, if your employer has provided you with a severance package, you should consider negotiating your severance and release terms, especially if you believe that you have been wrongfully terminated. Remember, it is unlawful for California employers to fire employees because of disability, gender, race national origin, disability, religion, sexual orientation, pregnancy or age. Whistleblowers reporting unsafe working conditions or illegal conduct are also protected.

Can an employer consider prior salaries in setting pay rates?

The Ninth Circuit court in Rizo v. Yovino held recently that an employer cannot pay a female employee less than a male employee for the same work simply because the female employee made less money in a prior position. This holding changed the court's prior ruling and changed the law in a way that is designed to  eliminate gender-based pay gaps.

Why sexual harassment at work still happens

We may not have a definite answer as to why sexual harassment continues to occur at work, but we do know that both state and federal laws are on your side and protect employees from sexual harassment at work. Workplace sexual harassment can be defined as an unwelcome sexual advance or conduct of a sexual nature which unreasonably interferes with an employee's performance of his or her job duties, creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

California Overtime Compensation Laws

First, know the basic rule: All work performed in excess of 40 hours in one week is considered overtime and must be paid at one and a half times (1.5x) your regular rate or pay. Let's say your pay is $15 an hour and you work 50 hours in one week, you should be paid $22.50 for any work performed over 40 hours in a week. Thus, you would be owed $600 in regular pay (40 hours x 15) and $225 in overtime pay (10 hours x $22.5).

Should workplace discrimination complaints be filed with the DFEH or EEOC?

In California, if an employee wishes to file a discrimination lawsuit against an employer, he or she must file charges with the California Department of Fair Employment & Housing (DFEH) and/or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and obtain what's called a "right to sue" letter. This process is also known as "administrative exhaustion". Charges can be filed online at the DFEH's website and, as of November 1, 2017, on the EEOC's website. Charges can also be mailed using the DFEH's form. The EEOC permits mailed letters containing the following information:

Whistleblowers promote public safety and a lawful working environment

The word "whistleblowers" is often perceived with a negative connotation. Sometimes the stigma surrounding being a whistleblower prevents employees from disclosing an employer's violation of a state or federal statute. But whistleblowers shed light to wrongs and even fraudulent actions of an employer, in turn protecting individuals who are harmed. Take for example, a recent case filed by The deRubertis Law Firm that caused the tumbling of Wal-Mart's stocks after a whistleblower's accusations. Huynh v Wal-Mart Stores Inc et al., U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 18-016310.

How to recognize sexual orientation based discrimination at work

Like many other forms of discrimination, discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is illegal under California and federal law. The first step to preventing discrimination at work is understanding your rights.

Study examines impact of caste discrimination at work

Whether working in Silicon Valley or at a California restaurant, South Asian Americans may face various types of workplace discrimination. They may face discrimination from members of the majority or other groups on the basis of national origin, religion or race, and these types of workplace discrimination issues are likely to be the most common. On the other hand, another experience that South Asians may have on the job in the United States is often little-recognized: caste discrimination.

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