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California Employment Discrimination Blog

Whistleblower receives over $1 million after retaliation

There are many charitable organizations in California who provide very important services for people with few resources. These organizations provide food, shelter, medical help and many other services as well. While these organizations are generally not in the business of simply making money like many for profit companies, there are still many rules that they must follow. The most important is that they need to ensure that the people they serve are not harmed and that the people running it do not take advantage of them.

Unfortunately, this is what was happening in a boys' home in California. Multiple boys at the home were making complaints about being abused. A clinical director at the boys' home became concerned about these complaints and raised his concerns with the CEO. On multiple occasions he was told be quiet, he was suspended at one point in time and finally fired for making these complaints to the CEO. He sued the boys home after his termination for whistleblower retaliation and a jury recently awarded him $1.1 million for back pay and future pay as well as his pain and suffering.

Can an independent contractor ever sue for wrongful termination?

People in California work many different types of jobs and also work in many different capacities. Some are the owners of their companies or are self-employed in some way. Others are formal employees for a company and others are somewhat in between self-employed and being an employee and work as independent contractors. When someone is an independent contractor, they are not employees and therefore generally do not have the same protections as employees.

One of these protections is that generally an independent contractor is not protected by discrimination laws. This means that as independent contractors, they would not be able to sue a company if they felt that they were the victims of a wrongful termination. However, there are some situations where an independent contractor is actually considered an employee under the law despite the fact that their contract may state they are an independent contractor.

Time limits for filing retaliation claims for OSHA violations

There are many different industries and companies in California. These industries produce different products or provide various services and each is governed by various laws and regulations. Generally these laws and regulations are designed to ensure the safety of the employees who work for the companies and also to ensure the safety of the general public. Many of the regulations designed to protect the general public are in place to ensure that harmful chemicals and toxic material is not be put into the environments that people live in.

Companies who violate these laws and regulations could face severe penalties so they may go through efforts to conceal the violations. This includes taking adverse actions against employees who report the violations or participate in investigations. However, OSHA, the agency that regulates these laws, relies on these employees to find out about the violations. So, there are also laws that prohibit employers from retaliating against their employees who either cooperate with OSHA.

What are employers allowed to ask regarding gender identity?

Most employers know that they are not allowed to discriminate against their employees for many different characteristics. These include their race, age, sex, national origin, disability and for many other reasons. However, recently there has new guidance on transgender discrimination against transgender employees and those with different gender identification. Many employers may also have certain biases against them or simply not understand. Therefore, many employers may discriminate against these employees.

One way in which this can occur is in the interview process. Generally employers are trying to learn about potential employees in these interviews to determine if they have the qualifications to do the job requirements. However, they are also sometimes trying to figure out if they are going to be a good fit. Through the process though, they still cannot discriminate.

When does an at-will employee have an implied contract?

California is an at-will employment state. That means that most employees can quit for any reason at any time and the employer cannot do anything about it. This also means that the employer can fire an employee for almost any reason at any time as well. However, there are some restrictions on employers and they cannot fire employees for discriminatory reasons or as retaliation for reporting illegal activity or participating in investigations.

There is one basic exception to the at-will employee status. This is in situations where the employee has a specific employment contract which states that they are hired for a specific period of time. Usually these contracts also outline the process for firing an employee prior to that time period expiring.

Uber sued by former employee for sexual harassment

There have been many companies who have recently been sued for sexual harassment as the #metoo movement has grown. This movement not only seeks to punish those who have allowed sexual harassment in the workplace in the past, but also change the culture in the workplace where that type of behavior was common. However, in order to force change one usually has to hold the company accountable through lawsuits.

Uber, despite being a relatively new company, is apparently not immune from this type of behavior. A former employee recently sued Uber after it had recently lifted the mandatory arbitration requirement for its employees. She states that she was subjected to various forms of sexual harassment and initially nothing was done, but after a second complaint a co-worker was fired. That did not end her troubles though. After the man was fired she states that she was isolated by the other male managers. Other employees also shared sexually explicit material at work.

Unpaid interns are protected from workplace discrimination

Internships are no longer perceived as an opportunity to grow your skills over the summer; they are a necessity for college students and graduates who want to stay competitive when entering the workforce. Most college students are not concerned about the disadvantages that come with internships, being paid or unpaid. 

Many employees question the protections interns or unpaid volunteers have in the office. Currently, not all states offer protections for unpaid employees, and it puts interns and volunteers at higher risk for discrimination and harassment. But some states are addressing these concerns through new modifications to existing legislation.

California legislation addresses sexual harassment in new bills

The #MeToo movement may have slowed, but it is not gone.

The movement lives on in new forms of sexual harassment prevention legislation on the state and federal level. In California alone, several new bills hope to address the policies and practices of employers to help create a safer work environment for men and women.

What are the potential damages in a whistleblower lawsuit?

There are many different types of companies in California and each must follow various regulations. Some of these regulations are specific to certain industries and some must be followed by every type of company regardless of the industry they are in. Many of these include violating the various laws that protect certain classes of individuals. These protected classes include sex and sexual orientation, age, race, disabilities and other classes.

To help ensure that these laws are followed and that employees are not being discriminated against, employees within the company are encouraged to report these practices and participate in investigations. However, this can clearly be damaging to the company though and they may retaliate against the employees who do those things. This known as whistleblower retaliation and it is also prohibited just like the original discrimination. Employers who do retaliate may be required to compensate the employee they retaliated against.

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