Law Offices of Lauren Abrams blog

Los Angeles Employment Law Blog

Cancer and workplace disability discrimination

According to a recent study, the occurrences of workplace discrimination against employees that have cancer have not been eliminated despite the changes made to the Americans with Disability Act in 2009. However, oncologists can provide valuable advice to workers and employers in California so that reasonable accommodations can be made.

The ADA law, which was established in 1990 and provided a legal remedy for individuals experiencing workplace discrimination due to their disabilities, could not be applied to employees whose cancer went into remission. As a result, workers who were discriminated against because of the long-term effects of their earlier cancers were unable to file ADA complaints. The law was modified in 2009 so that employees who had disabilities that were in remission or being managed well could file complaints under the ADA if their active impairments significantly limited a major life activity.

Supreme Court to rule on hospital pensions

People in California who work for church-affiliated hospitals might be interested to learn that the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments about whether those hospitals can be considered religious nonprofits. If so, their pension plans will continue to be exempt from Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 rules.

Hospital employees say that the ERISA exemption has led to the underfunding of their pension plans while the hospitals involved in the case maintain they should be exempt. A lower court has already ruled that the plans are not exempt. If the hospitals are not successful, they could owe billions of dollars to about one million employees.

Employers may be engaging in age discrimination

A study led by a professor of economics at the University of California, Irvine, indicates that older individuals may have a hard time getting hired. The researchers determined that individuals who were older were far less likely to be contacted by employers than younger applicants. Further, the issue seemed to worsen the older an applicant is.

To figure out if older individuals are facing discrimination, the researchers sent out 40,000 resumes. Resumes sent for the same type of job, of which there were thousands, were the same except for the age of the applicant. It was found that employers were less likely to reach out to individuals who were older.

5 CFRA policies your boss may have skipped over

The California Family Rights Act applies to companies with 50 or more full- or part-time employees. It allows those employees to take extended leave of up to 12 weeks under certain conditions and with certain benefits. Basically, those who have been employed for 12 months and worked at least 1,250 hours during that time would be eligible for CFRA leave. While away from the workplace, they would still be entitled to coverage under the company's health insurance plan and would be able to return to the jobs they had or, if unavailable, to comparable positions. Updates to the act were made in 2015, but some companies may not have made all the adjustments. Here are five changes employers should implement:

9th Circuit rules on Dodd-Frank whistleblower protection

On March 9, it was reported that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit affirmed a decision made by a California court involving a person who was terminated after reporting another employee's misconduct to the company. The company had argued that the person was not protected against retaliation as he had not made a report to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The plaintiff was employed by Digital Realty Trust, Inc. as a vice president for a four-year period. He stated that he reported a senior vice president to the company after he believed that the other employee had committed numerous acts that involved serious misconduct. He did not make a report to the SEC before he was terminated. The plaintiff then filed a whistleblower retaliation claim under Dodd-Frank, though the company requested that the case be dismissed as the former employee had not filed a report with the SEC.

Pregnancy discrimination and reasonable accommodation

People in California who are pregnant may not be aware of their workplace rights and what constitutes discrimination. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act makes pregnancy discrimination illegal even though in South Dakota, lawmakers voted that employers did not have to make certain accommodations for pregnant employees. However, an employer is not supposed to fire, penalize or deny a job or promotion to a woman because she is pregnant.

Employers are also supposed to provide reasonable accommodation. This means that an employee might perform a different function for a time if her normal position might cause problems for her pregnancy. Furthermore, a worker cannot be harassed based on her pregnancy. Harassment that takes place over email provides proof of its occurrence, but if the offense is verbal and not so easily verifiable, documenting any incidents in writing may help build a record. Victims can also ask coworkers who witnessed the harassment if they will corroborate their account.

Is HR really looking out for you?

As an employee, you depend upon your HR department to protect you in the event that you encounter challenges in the workplace. When you reach out to them for assistance, you trust that they will take action to address the problems and ensure that they do not happen again. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

A recent blog posting by a former Uber engineer has raised new concerns about the role that HR plays in some organizations. In the post, the author discusses many adverse incidents that happened to her while she was working for the company. On her first day as part of a new team, her manager made sexual advances toward her, which she reported to her HR department.

California law is strict on religious discrimination

The law may view an employee who is exposed to harassment or a disagreeable working situation because of his or her religious beliefs as a victim of religious discrimination. While offhand comments or incidents involving simple teasing are not considered unlawful, repeated offensive remarks about religious beliefs might be, especially when they create a hostile work environment. Claims for religious discrimination are normally filed in Federal Court, but in California, state law provides better protection for harassed workers due to its strong, clear language.

Most EEOC discrimination complaints are for retaliation

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission helps California residents to seek appropriate compensation after they have been unlawfully discriminated against at work. While most employment discrimination cases are resolved with out-of-court mediation and settlements, some cases go to trial. In fiscal 2016, the EEOC has a 76 percent success rate for mediated cases and a 90.6 percent success rate for litigated cases.

According to the EEOC, the agency resolved 97,443 employment discrimination charges during fiscal year 2016. The resolutions resulted in over $482 million in compensation for victims of employment discrimination. In 2016, 86 new discrimination lawsuits were filed by the EEOC, and 139 discrimination lawsuits were resolved by the EEOC. Many of the lawsuits that were filed by the EEOC in 2016 involved multiple victims or discriminatory workplace policies.

Uncertainty around LGBTQ rights in the workplace

California LGBTQ employees who are currently protected from workplace discrimination may wonder if that will change under the Trump administration. In 2014, an executive order signed by Barack Obama prohibited discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation by federal contractors. It extended protections put in place by Lyndon Johnson in 1965 that made discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, religion, sex and color illegal. However, conflicting information has come from the Trump administration as to whether it will continue to protect these rights.

Many companies already had anti-discrimination policies in place. However, there are none at the federal level for LGBTQ workers in private industry, and fewer than half of all states offer protection, although California is one of them. Under the executive order, about 11 million workers who did not have protections within their company or state gained them.

Privacy Policy | Business Development Solutions by FindLaw, a Thomson Reuters business.