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Los Angeles Employment Law Blog

Mothers still face discrimination on the job

Many California working mothers continue to face discrimination on the job, and their pay, hours and promotions have been repeatedly shown to take a hit after having children. This is true in comparison to fathers as well as people without kids. According to research conducted in 2005, women earn less money after every child, and this still appears to be the case. The issues that women face at work have continued to make headlines, as the Google walkout and resulting statement from the tech giant's CEO about sexual harassment made clear.

The Cornell study assessed workplace discrimination against parents by sending out resumes to hundreds of employers. The content of each resume indicated whether the purported applicant was a mother, father or non-parent. While mothers were called in for an interview only half as much as women without children, fathers were called for interviews more than non-parent men. Newer studies have attempted to assess the continuing effects of discrimination on the basis of parenthood is illegal, but it continues to happen in a number of ways.

Independent contractors do not enjoy workplace legal protections

Workers in California and around the country are protected against discrimination and harassment by federal laws like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, but those who work as independent contractors or for temp agencies are not covered by such statutes. This is a serious issue because the American workplace is evolving and most of the people who work in what is known as the gig economy are considered independent contractors.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 21 million Americans consider themselves to be independent contractors of one sort or another. This represents about 14 percent of the nation's workforce. However, experts say that this figure is far too low and point to studies that put the true number of independent contractors at about 44 million. This is an area of the economy that is monitored closely by the Internal Revenue Service as companies sometimes misclassify employees as independent contractors so that they do not have to pay payroll taxes or provide benefits.

Working to end workplace disability discrimination

Nearly one-fifth of all American adults, including many in Los Angeles County, deal with mental health issues in a given year. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, 43.8 million Americans are diagnosed with mental illnesses. There are a number of conditions that people frequently confront, including depression, anxiety or PTSD. There are also a number of mood disorders and other concerns that may arise. Some mental illnesses arise organically while others are impacted by environmental stresses like the loss of a job, a divorce or the death of a loved one.

In any case, people with mental health concerns can face a real threat of discrimination while on the job. In many cases, psychiatric disabilities are stigmatized or dismissed. People with mental illness may also be subjected to bullying or workplace harassment. However, people with disabilities -- including those related to mental health -- have rights in the workplace. The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits employers from discriminating against people due to their disabling conditions. Disability discrimination is prohibited in hiring, firing, promotion, compensation, job training and other employment-related matters.

3 reasons why disability discrimination is still a problem

Disability discrimination is, unfortunately, prevalent in the modern workplace. Thankfully, there are laws that protect the rights of employees with disabilities, including the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, discriminatory practices and behaviors still persist despite these legal protections. 

Why is discrimination against disabled workers still a common problem? Here are three reasons why disability discrimination occurs in so many workplaces. 

EEOC complaint alleges gender discrimination

Job seekers in California and throughout the country may use Facebook to search for jobs. However, according to a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, ads are being hidden from women who are looking for work. The complaint claims that Facebook and nine other companies engaged in gender discrimination by doing so. According to Facebook, the company does not engage in discriminatory practices and says that it will defend its actions.

Facebook also says that it is not responsible for the type of advertising that other companies purchase. The company says that it is protected by the Communications Decency Act. The complaint says that Facebook is not protected by federal law because it created the technology that allowed the advertisements to be created and shown. It is generally acceptable for companies to target ads to certain demographics. However, it is generally illegal to exclude based on race or age when advertisements pertain to job opportunities.

FMLA prohibits job loss or retaliation when taking medical leave

The Family Medical Leave Act requires certain employers in California to accommodate requests for time off when workers have bad health problems, need to care for ailing family members, give birth or adopt a child. Employees who use leave for legitimate reasons have a right to return to their jobs and not be subject to discipline or poor job reviews because they took time off.

FMLA protections apply to people whose employers have 50 or more employees within 75 miles of their work sites. Before people can request a leave, they need to work at the organization for at least 12 months. Their job status must be full time, which requires working a minimum of 1,250 hours during the 12-month period preceding the request.

EEOC files pregnancy discrimination lawsuit against Walmart

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission holds employers in California and throughout the country responsible when federal laws protecting the civil rights of workers are violated. On Sept. 21, the agency filed a lawsuit against Walmart Inc. in federal court. The EEOC says that the nation's largest private employer violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act by treating pregnant women more harshly than other workers. Similar lawsuits have been filed against the retailer in New York and Illinois.

Walmart is accused in the lawsuit of denying requests to accommodate medical restrictions filed by pregnant women while granting requests made by workers with physical disabilities. Requests for the payment of unpaid leave submitted by pregnant workers were also routinely denied according to the EEOC. The Arkansas-based company denied the allegations in a press release and heralded Walmart as a great place for women to work.

Older women and reporting workplace discrimination

Older women in California who have been discriminated against in the workplace due to their age may have legal recourse. However, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, just 3 percent of older workers in general who have seen or been a victim of workplace age discrimination have filed a complaint.

There are multiple reasons older women may not file a complaint, either internally or through a government agency. They may fear that they will be retaliated against or that reporting the discrimination may not yield any real results.

California agency requires equal pay for female surfers

Historically, women make less than men when doing the same work. This has been true across the board in a number of industries. It is a type of workplace discrimination, and luckily, California has taken steps to ensure women make the same amount of money, including when it comes to less traditional jobs. 

California recently passed a law that would require female surfers to make the same amount of money in competitions as their male counterparts. From now on when surfing competitions take place on the California shoreline, men and women will make the same for coming in 1st place. This has been a problem in the surfing world for a while now and continues to occur in other parts of the world. 

EEOC taking aggressive stance on workplace age discrimination

It's been a little over 50 years since Congress passed the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which is supposed to protect employees in California and elsewhere from age-related discrimination in the workplace. However, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, many employers still show bias against older workers. As a result, the agency has started aggressively combating the issue.

One of the cases the EEOC pursued involved Texas Roadhouse, which allegedly had a history of denying front-of-the-house positions to applicants ages 40 years and older. The agency filed an age discrimination lawsuit against the restaurant chain in 2011, and the company recently settled the case for $12 million. It also agreed to change its hiring and recruitment practices to include older workers.

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