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Los Angeles Employment Law Blog

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.

Subtle discrimination in the workplace

One struggle people in California might encounter in the workplace is the issue of subtle discrimination or harassment. While it may be easy to identify overt speech and action, this can be much more difficult when the discrimination is harder to pinpoint.

Examples might include someone who keeps staring at a pregnant woman's belly, a man who refuses to make eye contact with a female colleague or someone who looks at a minority employee whenever race is mentioned. It can be difficult for both an employee and a human resources department to determine whether discrimination has occurred when the issue is how one person looks at another. Unfortunately, this can still create a situation in which a person feels uncomfortable in the workplace.

Title VII ruling that supports transgender rights under attack

Transgender people in California live in an uncertain environment about their federal level legal protections from workplace discrimination. Some legal rulings, like the unanimous decision this year from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit that interpreted Title VII of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 in favor of a transgender employee, have shown judicial willingness to view Title VII prohibitions on sex discrimination as inclusive of people mistreated because of their gender identity. However, opposing views remain active as illustrated by the request from 13 Republican attorneys general and three Republican governors representing 16 states asking the Supreme Court of the United States to overturn the 6th Circuit ruling.

Their amicus brief supported a strict interpretation of Title VII that defined sex as biologically determined. They considered the appellate court decision that protected a transgender person as a judicial rewriting of the law that violated the right of Congress to make laws.

Lawsuit alleges gender discrimination at Nike

Despite the rising publicity and awareness about sexual harassment, some of the most prominent companies in California may still be guilty of gender discrimination. One group of female former employees at Nike, the athletic wear company, have filed a lawsuit alleging that the corporation systematically discriminated against women on the job through a hostile work environment. The suit, filed in August 2018, argues that the company discriminated against women in terms of employment conditions, promotions and pay, among other issues.

The women are seeking class-action status for their case and argue that female employees at Nike were passed over for promotions. They also say that performance reviews were tougher on women than men, leading to lower bonuses and salaries. Furthermore, the plaintiffs charge that when women raised their concern to the company's human resources department, their complaints were dismissed, neglected or ignored. Allegations of workplace discrimination at the company came into the spotlight when a group of women presented Nike's CEO with the results of a survey on discrimination.

Why workplace discrimination still happens despite training

With so much awareness into the fair treatment of women and other minority groups, many employers are taking action to reduce problems in the workplace. While this is a positive step, it is not enough unless it entails the right kind of changes. Otherwise, the program can backfire.

Harvard Business Review reports on how diversity training is not only ineffective but also harmful. This may explain why you are still facing discrimination at your job, or even more than before, despite your employer’s efforts to eliminate the problem.

Job seekers say recruiting younger workers is discrimination

Some older job seekers in California and throughout the country may not be recruited for certain jobs, and several related lawsuits are in progress. One 45-year-old woman found that her daughter was seeing job ads on Facebook that she was not. In December, the Communication Workers of America filed a lawsuit on her behalf and that of other workers against Facebook, T-Mobile and a number of other companies alleging age discrimination.

Employers are prohibited from discriminating against workers who are 40 and over, but the legal issue hinges on whether the recruitment methods constitute age discrimination. For example, one case is challenging the practices of employers who only recruit on college campuses. Another common practice is limiting the amount of experience a company will accept for a position. One attorney sued a company that would not accept more than seven years of experience, pointing out that most attorneys 40 and older would have over seven years of experience. A three-judge court of appeals overturned the decision of a lower court and ruled in his favor, but the company is appealing.

AARP study finds workplace age discrimination is rampant

Most older workers in California and across the U.S. face age discrimination according to a new survey by AARP. The discrimination occurs both during job searches and in the workplace.

AARP polled 3,900 job applicants ages 45 and up and found that age discrimination is rampant. More than 90 percent of the survey's participants said they believed age-related bias is common, and 61 percent said they had personally experienced it or witnessed it happening to others. Minority workers were more likely to report experiencing or seeing age discrimination than white workers. For example, over 75 percent of African-American workers and 60 percent of Latino workers reported seeing or experiencing age-related bias compared to 59 percent of white workers. Women were more likely than men to have seen or experienced it.

EEOC targets leave policies that discriminate against disability

As part of its efforts to crack down on leave policy violations, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has settled a case against Mueller Industries Inc. The agency accused the manufacturer of discriminating against disabled employees with its leave policy. The settlement that emerged from the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California applies to Mueller Industries' nationwide operations. This case illustrated the commission's ongoing effort to address discriminatory practices derived from strict limits on the length of leaves or requirements that employees must be completely healthy to resume work.

Mueller Industries will pay damages of $1 million and update its leave policies so that workers can use leave as a reasonable accommodation for their disabilities. The EEOC has made clear in past cases that leaves qualify as reasonable accommodations as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Mueller Industries violated this law by firing people who used leaves to deal with disabilities or exceeded the maximum number of days off allowed.

Pregnancy discrimination at work: an open secret

It is a simple fact: pregnancy discrimination still runs rampant in the workplace. In over 20 years of practicing employment litigation in California, my pregnancy discrimination caseload has not let up.

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