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California Employment Discrimination Blog

Sexual misconduct: Subtle and not-so-subtle signs

There has been a wave of coverage in the media lately regarding the sexual misconduct of many powerful people in the entertainment industry, with new allegations surfacing on what has started to seem like a daily basis. As unpleasant and shocking as some of these stories may be, when they are brought out into the light, the responsible parties are forced to be held accountable for their actions. This is surely a positive development for the victims of these acts, some of whom have been carrying these secrets for years. 

Even so, the sheer number of stories coming to light is starting to paint a disturbing picture of a problem that could be more widespread than many of us were truly aware. This begs the question: For every accusation made public by one victim, how many more victims still remain silent? As everyone knows, sexual misconduct in any form is certainly not unique to the entertainment industry. These scenarios play out all over the country - in different workplaces, in a variety of industries - every single day. By making an effort to be more aware of the misconduct in your own workplace, you may be able to spare someone else from an unwanted sexual encounter, as well as make your workplace safer in general by raising awareness about this issue.

New laws in California designed to protect women and families

Recently the problem of the gender pay gap has been brought to a forefront, especially in the tech industry. Particularly the fact that women are often times paid less than men who have similar jobs. This is a form of sex discrimination and while it has been illegal for some time, it is still a problem and it appears in more than just the tech industry. This is fundamentally unfair to women and if it is occurring the women may have legal recourse against the employer.

The Governor in California recently passed two new laws aimed at protecting women even further. Both are effective January 1, 2018. One is a direct attempt to help stop employers' practices that help them justify why they may pay a woman less than a man with similar jobs. The new law states that employers cannot ask a prospective employee what they earned at their last job. It also requires employers to provide "pay scales" for the position if the employee requests it.

Protections for employees after filing False Claims Act claim

The government in California, whether at the state, county or city level has the responsibility of making sure a variety of projects are completed each year. They are also responsible for keeping various public buildings, parks and other operations up and running. For many of these tasks the government has employees to do them, but in many instances it makes more sense to hire a private company do certain projects or aspects of a project. These contracts can be very lucrative for the private companies.

However, some private companies may feel that they could receive even more for certain projects. They may produce false reports or false invoices to the various government agencies in order to do this. This is type of activity is banned by the federal False Claims Act. It is sometimes difficult for the government to properly monitor all the projects though and may not realize that they are receiving false reports.

Joining other employees in legal action against your employer

If you're in the workforce long enough, there may come a time where you have the option to join with coworkers to take legal action against your employer who is breaking California labor laws. Figuring out the best course of action, though, can often lead to a lot of confusion and many questions that need to be answered. To help you out, we'll address some of the most important questions pertaining to joining a class action suit against your employer. 

What exactly is a class action suit?

Process after filing a wrongful termination charge with the EEOC

Most employees in California are at will employees, which mean that they can be fired pretty much at any time for pretty much any legitimate business reason. However, the employer cannot discriminate against the employee and fire them based on certain legally protected aspects of the person's life. These include race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability and others. If the employee is discriminated against because of one of these things, then they may have a claim for wrongful determination.

Most wrongful termination claims must start with first filing a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). After the employee files a charge with the EEOC, within 10 days of receiving it, the EEOC will send notice to the employer. The EEOC will then see if the employer and employee would like to participate in mediation. This is optional though and the parties do not need to reach an agreement even if they go through mediation.

Equal pay required for both men and women beyond simply salary

Men and women in California both have the required skills to do many of the same jobs. Therefore, for many companies both men and women have similar jobs. However, this was not always the case and certain employers still hire more men than women or hire men for the higher paid positions. Also, sometimes even if a woman has a similar job as a man, the woman is paid less than the man. This situation is getting better, but it still exists. It is also an illegal business practice.

The law requires employers to give both men and women equal opportunity to the same jobs and to equal pay for their work. When people think about equal pay though, they generally only think about base salary or hourly rate. However, equal pay goes well beyond simply the same base pay.

Statute of limitations for a whistleblower retaliation claims

People are fired, demoted, do not receive promotions and have many other negative things happen to them at work. Many times it is because their work performance is not good enough or there is another employee who is more qualified, but this is not always the case. Some employers discriminate against employees because of their race, sex, age, disability, religion and other factors that are protected and have nothing to do with job performance. If employers fire employees because of this, the employee may have a wrongful termination claim against the employer.

However, employees have other protections besides the ones that they cannot control like those listed above. Employees are also protected against retaliation from employers if they either refuse to participate in illegal activity, report illegal activity or participate in an investigation. Employers may be upset with employee for doing these things, but they cannot take negative actions against them. If the employer does retaliate against the employee, they may need to compensate the employee.

Former worker at Tesla files a wrongful termination claim

There are people of all different races, sex, sexual orientation, age, disabilities and religions living and working in California. All these people are capable of working and their job performance has nothing to do with the things listed above. However, certain employers and managers may have certain biases against certain individuals or feel that that they may need to incur extra expenses by employing these individuals. Therefore, they may fire these employees or make life so difficult on them that they quit.

If they do fire them though, the employee may have a wrongful termination claim against the employer. Recently a former worker at a Tesla plant filed a wrongful termination action against both Tesla and the staffing agency which hired him. The worker believes that he was fired due to complaints he made about discrimination he faced because he is gay. The worker claims his trainer taunted him about being gay. He claims he was then fired after filing a complaint about it with management.

The Aftershock of AT&T v. Concepcion on California Employment Law

It all started in California. In April 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the case of AT&T Mobility, LLC v. Concepcion, a legal dispute which had made its way up the litigation ladder from a district court in California. From the outside, this case probably seemed to be little more than a simple disagreement between a couple and their phone company. In actuality, the case led to a monumental and somewhat controversial ruling that continues to impact the legal options available to both consumers and employees who are seeking to recover damages from a larger company today. 

Basics of AT&T v. Concepcion

Requirements for employer sexual harassment prevention policy

As many people in California are aware, sexual harassment is something that has been prevalent in many different areas of society. One of these areas is in the workplace. Many employees have been subject to sexual harassment from bosses, supervisors, managers and fellow co-workers. However, no matter who initiates the sexual harassment it is not only inappropriate, but it is also illegal. The person subjected to it may be able to receive compensation as a result.

To help prevent it from occurring, employers in California are required to have a sexual harassment prevention policy. This policy must be written and provided to the employees. The policy must state what behavior and activities are prohibited and must have a complaint process, which provide a timely, confidential and impartial resolution of an employee's complaint. The employee must also be able to report the complaint to someone other than their direct supervisors.

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