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Los Angeles Employment Law Blog

Pregnant worker receives $45,000 from employer

As a general rule, employers in California and elsewhere in the United States cannot discriminate against an employee because of a pregnancy. According to the EEOC, a company called Peninsula Packaging will pay $45,000 to an employee for discriminating against her because she was pregnant. The employee reportedly needed accommodations after becoming pregnant that the company would not provide to her. This was a violation of Title VII in the opinion of the EEOC.

It was a violation because the company was treating the pregnant worker differently than it would have treated others who needed accommodations. In a statement, a representative of the EEOC in Fresno said that it commended the company for working with the organization to resolve the matter. In addition to the $45,000, the company will hire a consultant to create equal opportunity training programs.

Police officers file race discrimination lawsuit against employer

On Nov. 27, it was reported that a lawsuit was filed in California alleging that the San Gabriel Police Department frequently used racial slurs in order to disparage those of Asian descent. This included making disparaging remarks about colleagues.

According to the complaint, five police officers of Asian descent were subjected to a hostile work environment as they frequently experienced harassment that was based on race or national origin. They also claimed that they were denied assignments and promotions, all of which went to non-Asian officers who had less law enforcement experience and training. Further, the defendants claimed that they faced harsher discipline and scrutiny than their non-Asian colleagues.

How do you know if you are being sexually harassed at work?

You and a co-worker might have started off sharing some innocent-seeming banter, the occasional joke that made you blush and even some light-hearted flirting. Now, however, your co-worker’s behavior seems to be gradually escalating, and you are starting to get uncomfortable with the jokes and flirtatious touching. You might have told your co-worker to back off, only to have him or her ignore your requests or continue the behavior after a few days or weeks. Like many other Californians who are going through the same thing, you might wonder if you are a victim of sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment is easily defined, but it can be difficult to recognize. Those who do it are adept at being subtle enough to make you think it is all in your head or making you afraid to speak out. Sexual harassment is unwanted verbal or physical behavior of a sexual nature, and it is unlawful at work, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Native American workers share experiences of discrimination

Employees in California and throughout the country generally have a right to a workplace that is free from harassment. Yet roughly one-third of Native Americans say that they have been subject to harassment while on the job. The harassment comes in many forms, such as hearing slurs or other offensive comments or being threatened with violence. The survey was conducted for National Public Radio as well as other parties such as the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

In addition to personally being harassed at work, 23 percent of respondents said that they or a family member was sexually harassed. Another 38 percent said that they or a family member had a violent encounter because of their Native American heritage. Real or perceived discrimination may play a role when it comes to applying for jobs or being promoted by an employer. Of those who responded to the survey, 54 percent of those living in areas where Native Americans are a minority reported discrimination when applying for jobs.

With the #metoo campaign, what about workplace harassment?

Many Californians have been the victims of sexual harassment, and some may have participated in the online #metoo campaign. As stories abound in the media about powerful figures being accused of sexually harassing and assaulting women, some victims might wonder what they can do if they are being harassed at their jobs.

Workplace sexual harassment is a prohibited form of sex discrimination under both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. These laws provide a way for the victims of workplace sexual harassment and sex discrimination to file charges of discrimination against their employers. Before these charges can be filed, however, victims must first file complaints within their companies according to their companies' outlined grievance procedures, assuming they exist.

Handling sexual harassment at work: What to do

Workplace sexual harassment is a prohibited form of sex discrimination under both California and federal law. Despite the prohibitions against it, sexual harassment remains as a pervasive problem. People who are the victims may also not know what they can do when they are being harassed.

Before people file charges of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, they should first file complaints within their companies according to the stated processes. Victims might want to review the procedures for filing sex discrimination complaints and then follow them. They should document all of the instances of the harassment, including saving emails and text messages. They should write down what happened, the date when it occurred and the names of all of the people who were present.

Older tech workers worried about age discrimination

In California and elsewhere, the tech industry has skewed towards Millenials. While older engineers are often highly-qualified, many are concerned that they could lose their jobs. According to a study that surveyed 1011 U.S. tech workers who are currently employed, those over the age of 40 were worried about age discrimination because so many tech workers are significantly younger.

At work, 29 percent of the respondents who were over the age of 55 said that they felt that they were not taken seriously in the workplace at times due to their age. Further, 19 percent of those who were between the ages of 45 and 54 also felt that they were not taken seriously due to their age. On the flip side, 58 percent of those younger than 34 felt discounted due to their young age. Finally, 41 percent of those between 35 and 44 were concerned about how they were viewed in the workplace.

Some part time or new workers may not be eligible for FMLA leave

Not every worker has rights to protections under the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Rather, the benefit derives as such a right after a worker puts in some work time for a particular employer. Whether they are for medical issues that need healing time or the birth of a child or adoption where bonding time could be a grounds for FMLA leave, planning for meeting the time-worked requirement is key. The same is true of the California Family Rights Act.

Minimum 1,250 hours of work in prior year

How disability discrimination affects California workers

Thirty percent of all college-educated employees who work in white-collar jobs have a disability that is listed under the federal definition. According to a study conducted by the Center for Talent Innovation, only 21 percent of workers who have disabilities actually report them to the human resources department at their place of employment.

Of those who have a disability, about 33 percent reported that they have experienced discrimination. In some cases, it was assumed that workers with disabilities lacked the skills need to complete a certain assignment. In other cases, it was assumed that it would take the disabled workers too long to complete a task.

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.

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