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Los Angeles Employment Law Blog

Salary history and offers of employment

Job hunting in California and throughout the country is often a nerve-racking experience. In addition to having to sell oneself to an employer, job hunters are frequently asked a number of personal questions, including queries about previous salaries.

Workers and government officials may question the wisdom of allowing employers to ask about salary history. Some employers use this information in deciding what they plan to pay a candidate, despite the candidate's qualifications and previous job performance. In some cases, this tactic could harm a candidate who might have worked for a company in the nonprofit sector or in an economically depressed area where salaries were lower than industry averages.

New law makes gender wage information public

In California, companies will soon be required to file information about gender wage differences. Starting on July 1, 2019, this information will be submitted biennially, and it will be published online for public viewing once proper protocols have been established.

Specifically, employers required to comply with this requirement must show the difference between mean and median wages between male and female exempt employees. Exempt is defined as someone who is not subject to overtime requirements. This information must be provided for every job title or classification for workers in the state. Furthermore, employers must provide the difference in mean and median wages between male and female board members.

The Fair Pay Act and gender-based wage discrimination

Wage discrimination based on the gender of employees is illegal in California. People whose jobs require similar work must be paid equal amounts as those of the opposite gender unless an exception applies.

Under the Fair Pay Act, both private and public employers are prohibited from discriminating against workers in their pay on the basis of their genders. The law mandates that workers who perform substantially similar work must be paid the same regardless of their genders. Substantially similar work is measured according to the requisite skill, responsibility and effort of the job, and it doesn't matter if the job titles are different if the work is the same.

Ageism and age discrimination

Most older employees in California work hard to further their careers. Yet, despite putting forth their best efforts while on the job, these workers aren't able to secure promotions, raises, or other opportunities. While there are many reasons that a career may stall, age discrimination is sometimes a factor.

Unfortunately, some companies have developed a youth-oriented culture that can translate into an ageist workplace. As a result, older employees may find it difficult to advance within the company, particularly if they feel that they are undervalued by management and their colleagues.

Will equal pay for equal work ever become a reality?

A couple of years ago, a new law went into effect that was meant to ensure that women were being paid equally compared to their male counterparts. But is it working, and what exactly is the pay differential between men and women?

A recent article in the Los Angeles Times shows that, despite advances, female employees with the state of California have salaries that trail their male colleagues by just over 20 percent. If, after nearly two years since the law was passed, the state of California cannot balance male and female salaries, can private sector employees expect the same indifference? A recent case decided in the spring of this year offers little hope.

Race and wage discrimination very prevalent

Some Californians believe that racial discrimination in the U.S. has declined. However, a meta-study indicates that racism is alive and well in America, and discrimination against blacks and Latinos has continued unabated for decades.

According to researchers at Harvard, Northwestern University and the Institute of Social Research in Oslo, Norway, discrimination against blacks in hiring has not changed in the last 25 years. Latinos have only experienced a small decline in hiring discrimination during the same quarter-century. The researchers found that whites receive an average of 36 percent more call-backs when they submit applications than blacks. Whites also are called back 24 percent more often than Latinos. This means that minorities have fewer opportunities and must work even harder to get an interview.

DACA dreamers with valid work permits still have rights

For generations, many immigrants have made homes in California, and in recent years the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program protected young people brought to the country without documentation. Although many of these people, known as dreamers, obtained work permits under the program, a decision from the Trump administration has endangered the future legality of their employment. Despite the shifting political landscape, dreamers with valid work permits continue to have legal protection from discrimination at work.

According to the Center for American Progress, about 700,000 dreamers hold jobs. Although their employers will violate the law by employing them once their work permits expire, immigration and employment attorneys caution employers against terminating the positions of these people while their documentation remains valid. Federal law prohibits employers from firing someone because of nationality or immigration status.

Are dads entitled to equal parental leave benefits?

Typically, people think of new mothers when they consider a company’s parental leave benefits. However, fathers are also affected by the event of a new child, and are entitled to parental leave.

Fathers do not require the physical rest that new mothers do, but they have a right to bonding time with their baby. In fact, the same is true for new adopted children or children born through surrogate mothers. Any new child changes family dynamics and requires a period of adjustment. What are companies required to provide their employees?

Employee rights remain the same during disasters

From wildfire evacuations in California to hurricane devastation in coastal regions, natural disasters and other crises impact employees and employers in many ways. Serious disruptions like these, however, do not exempt employers from following wage and hour laws or honoring employees' rights to take leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Disasters can interfere with a company's ability to keep records of employees' work. Workers might not have the ability to properly record their time at work or records might get destroyed. Even when such problems occur, the Fair Labor Standards Act mandates that all workers receive fair compensation, including overtime pay. Very few circumstances would allow an employer to successfully claim a worker volunteered for duty.

New online whistleblower complaint form available for workers

California workers may be interested to learn that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration released a revised whistleblower complaint form online. According to the announcement made by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, the online form allows whistleblowers to file their complaints quickly and safely.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are required to ensure that their workplaces are as safe and healthful as possible. However, some employers attempt to retaliate against employees who report dangerous, unsafe or unhealthy workplaces. Because employees are protected under OSHA's whistleblower statutes, a worker who experiences an adverse action after reporting the workplace condition can file a complaint. These adverse actions can range from denying overtime, blacklisting, laying off, denying benefits, reducing pay or hours and failing to hire or rehire a worker.

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