Los Angeles California Employment Law Blog

Employees Are Protected From Workplace Retaliation

Something isn’t quite right at work. Guidelines are ignored, violations occur, and worker concerns are dismissed. Knowing that you are doing the right thing, you decide to speak up and report the misdeeds to management. But the results aren’t what you had expected. You’re passed over for promotions, colleagues avoid you, and your manager has given you a horrendous review.

This is workplace retaliation at its worst. The emotional damage has set in. There’s no looking back. You have some options: Maintain a brave face and march on, quit your job, or contact an experienced attorney who understands employment law.

How does medical leave in California work?

Managing your health or the well-being of your family can be unpredictable. You could be completely healthy and manage to contract a virus or you could be living with a chronic or autoimmune disease. Pregnancy, adoption and an ill parent or child might take you away from your job.

California is one of five states that has additional legislation regarding sick leave. Along with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), California has the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). Both require employers to offer certain amounts of time off to qualifying employees for various reasons. They encompass pregnancy leave, serious medical issues, and leave for taking care of a sick immediate family member.

Unpaid wages you can save

If your employer does not pay you the money that you agreed to work for, it can be both frustrating and terrifying. With how many expenses you have to worry about, a delayed or unpaid check can be detrimental to your future plans.

To resolve this, it is imperative that you keep a record of your employer’s mistake to ensure that you get the money you deserve. The state of California has different ways to deal with cases of wage theft, so you need to pay attention to the type of violation that your employer commits. Some of these violations include:

FEHA offers better harassment and discrimination protection

Those inspired by the #metoo movement often fight back using Title VII. This federal law written in 1964 addresses employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, gender or other aspects of one's identity. However, women and others in California who have been harassed or discriminated against would be wise to look at the protections of the state's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), which provides broader coverage and interpretations when it comes to equal pay, harassment or discriminatory conduct as well as retaliation in the workplace for California workers. For example, damages are unlimited under FEHA, whereas under Title VII, there is a cap at $300,000.00. FEHA also requires employers to prevent harassment, discrimination, and retaliation from occurring through effective preventative measures.  This includes having anti-harassment policies, training, and promptly investigating, in good faith and in an unbiased manner, all reports of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation in the workplace.  FEHA provides protections to employees who work for smaller employers with 5 or more employees (employers of 1 or more employees are covered for harassment claims), whereas Title VII covers employers of 15 or more employees.  In addition to protecting employees, FEHA's harassment provisions protect unpaid interns, volunteers, and independent contractors.  FEHA also protects harassment conducted by non-employees.  An example would be a customer who sexually harasses a waitress or restaurant employee.  If the employer is aware of the harassment by a non-employee like a customer, and fails to take action to protect its employees, the employer may be held liable under FEHA. ID: 2959319Primary Target URL: http://www.jaramilla.com/blogDue Date: Jun 6 2018Post Type: Client Requested: NoTitle: FEHA offers better harassment and discrimination protectionThose inspired by the #metoo movement often fight back using Title VII. This federal law written in 1964 addresses employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, gender or other aspects of one's identity. However, women and others in California who have been harassed or discriminated against would be wise to look at the protections of the state's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), which provides broader coverage and interpretations when it comes to equal pay, harassment or discriminatory conduct as well as retaliation in the workplace for California workers. For example, damages are unlimited under FEHA, whereas under Title VII, there is a cap at $300,000.00. FEHA also requires employers to prevent harassment, discrimination, and retaliation from occurring through effective preventative measures.  This includes having anti-harassment policies, training, and promptly investigating, in good faith and in an unbiased manner, all reports of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation in the workplace.  FEHA provides protections to employees who work for smaller employers with 5 or more employees (employers of 1 or more employees are covered for harassment claims), whereas Title VII covers employers of 15 or more employees.  In addition to protecting employees, FEHA's harassment provisions protect unpaid interns, volunteers, and independent contractors.  FEHA also protects harassment conducted by non-employees.  An example would be a customer who sexually harasses a waitress or restaurant employee.  If the employer is aware of the harassment by a non-employee like a customer, and fails to take action to protect its employees, the employer may be held liable under FEHA.

Signs of sexual harassment in the workplace

When it comes to whether you are being sexually harassed in the workplace, trust your instincts. If a co-worker makes you feel uncomfortable, awkward or threatened by something he or she has said or done, then you are a victim of sexual harassment.

If you are unsure about what to do, review the company employee handbook, which should provide information about what constitutes sexual harassment and how to report it. The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) is the California state agency that investigates sexual harassment and discrimination at workplaces. You can contact the DFEH or review its website for more information about what your rights are. You can also consult with an employment lawyer.

Age discrimination is illegal, but difficult to prove

For any worker, being patronized, stereotyped, maligned and mistreated can be crushing, demeaning and hurtful. Such feelings are compounded when you are an older worker. Age discrimination is alive and well in the American workplace, but not enough has been done to combat something so destructive to a person’s soul or his or her livelihood.

Age discrimination is illegal and can surface in a number of ways. You’ve been asked to vacate your office to work in an open space or cube. You now must share a computer with others, or you’ve been demoted to a position with no sick pay or benefits. Or you’re called age-related epithets.

Am I protected from workplace discrimination for being gay?

Picture this: You work as a skydiving instructor. You love your job, and you’re a good employee. You arrive on time each day, and you dedicate yourself completely to your work. One day, you’re preparing for a tandem skydive with a female student, and she seems uneasy about being strapped so closely to you—a male. You reassure her by letting her know that you’re gay. A few days later, you get fired.

While the above may seem like a clear case of employment discrimination, there is debate over whether sexual orientation is a category that’s legally protected under federal law surrounding workplace discrimination. This question has been batted around different courtrooms since 2010. Here’s why the answer hasn’t been so cut and dried:

Do you know if you've been wrongfully terminated?

Wrongful termination laws are in place for a reason: to protect workers who have been illegally fired. Most people on the job are considered "at will" employees, and can be fired for any reason as long as it is not illegal. However, employees or contractors cannot be terminated for discriminatory or retaliatory reasons.

In a recent case near Oakland, a California appeals court upheld a lower court's decision to award $1.3 million to a female self-storage employee wrongfully terminated because she was pregnant. This is a prime example of wrongful termination as it was a discriminatory and illegal for her former employer to fire her.

Reporting sexual harassment

Maybe it was a joke about your body or a comment on what you were wearing perhaps it was even a "mistaken" touch that made you realize you had been sexually harassed. The modern day working environment presents more of a struggle than ever for workers seeking help after experiencing sexual harassment on the job.

Toni Jaramilla, an attorney and partner at Toni Jaramilla, A Professional Law Corporation, recently contributed to the LA Times helping to guide victims of sexual harassment who want to report their aggressors. As former chair of the California Employment Lawyers Association, Jaramilla is well versed in supporting victims on their legal and emotional journey after suffering from harassment.

Attorney Toni Jaramilla featured in LA Times article

Our own Toni Jaramilla was featured in an LA Times article about sexual harassment in the workplace. She commented on what constitutes as harassment at work and the importance of documenting the incidents.

For most people, work is a part of daily life. You go to work and do your job so you can support yourself, but what happens when unwelcome harassment becomes part of your work environment? In some cases sexual harassment is obvious, but in more nuanced instances it can be difficult to tell if you are being harassed.

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