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Los Angeles Employment Law Blog

Was your termination legally justifiable?

There is a point at which relationships might break down between you and your employer. It is a simple fact of doing business: People sometimes lose their jobs. However, if you have a feeling that something was not quite right about your termination, you may find an ally in the California court system.

There are some situations in which termination could be a violation of your rights. When things become personal and a very specific way, your former employer could be liable in an unlawful termination suit. Here are some of the examples of situations that could mean you have a case.

EEOC complaint alleges religious discrimination at Amazon site

The workers in Amazon's facilities throughout North America are largely invisible to online shoppers in California. A new complaint received by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reveals that some workers allegedly face a hostile atmosphere on the job. The workers' rights group Muslim Advocates filed the complaint on behalf of three Muslim Somali women who claim to have suffered religious discrimination and retaliation.

According to the complaint, Amazon management at the facility disapproved of the three women taking time for prayers. The women said that praying would result in write-ups that could eventually lead to their termination. The women also alleged that management favored white workers with promotions and easier work duties while discriminating against Somali employees. When the women approached human resources with their complaints about unfair disciplinary write-ups, the company's investigation allegedly failed to identify any evidence to support their claims. One woman said that management retaliated against her for complaining with an additional write-up.

Genetic information claims may be pursued by the EEOC

It is generally not possible for an employer to use a person's genetic information to make an employment decision. This is true whether the company is in California or any other state. Employment decisions could include choosing whether to hire someone, terminate an individual or promote someone. If an individual believes that his or her genetic information has been misused, he or she can file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The organization will pursue claims based on Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, or GINA. However, few people have actually made genetic information claims, and they made up only 0.3% of all charges filed in 2018. Workers should know that they cannot be retaliated against at work or otherwise subject to a hostile workplace based on genetic information. Genetic information includes a worker's own medical history as well as the medical history of family members.

PayPal employee alleges gender discrimination

Generally speaking, companies around the country are not allowed to make employment decisions based on an employee's gender. A woman has filed a lawsuit against Northern California-based PayPal Holdings, Inc., claiming that she was passed over for a job because of travel requirements and the fact that she had a young child. However, she claims that she had previously lived in Europe and traveled internationally many times in the past.

The lawsuit states that she did not receive an interview for the position and that it was ultimately given to a male colleague who also had a child. That person had been under the plaintiff's supervision from 2012 to 2015, and the complaint says that he was not as qualified as she was. Furthermore, the complaint alleges that the woman's supervisor was not comfortable around women, which may have resulted in a man getting the promotion.

California moves to end hair discrimination in the workplace

The definition of professional varies significantly in the working world. Some companies require employees to wear a suit or a skirt at all times. Others might allow their employees to wear blue jeans seven days a week. 

Regardless of the definition of professional in the workplace, most people think it refers to a dress code. However, people of color across the nation might disagree. 

LGBT discrimination cases head to high court

For LGBT workers in California, workplace discrimination continues to be a major concern. The U.S. Supreme Court will be taking up a case to assess once more whether or not federal civil rights law provides nationwide protection against discrimination on the job on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The high court said that it will hear some cases alleging that the plaintiffs were fired due to their sexual orientation as well as the case of a funeral home worker who was fired after announcing she was transitioning to living as a woman.

Decisions are likely to come down by June 2020, while the presidential election campaign will be in full swing. The cases hinges on whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also provides protection to LGBT people under its framework prohibiting sex discrimination. The law does not explicitly mention sexual orientation or gender identity, but several federal appeals courts have affirmed a reading of the law that situates protection for LGBT workers within the law's prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sex. Courts in Chicago and New York applied the framework to protect lesbian and gay workers, while a Cincinnati court did the same for transgender people.

Age discrimination often a barrier for older workers

These days, turning a profit is a top priority for many American business owners. Unfortunately, some employers try to cut costs and boost their bottom lines by discriminating against older people. As you can probably imagine, older workers tend to have more experience, and as a result, they often expect and deserve higher salaries. Some employers avoid having to pay those higher salaries by only hiring younger workers.

Age discrimination, per AARP, occurs when someone has a bias against another because of that person’s age. While the Age Discrimination Employment Act makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees aged 40 or older, the problem remains a pervasive one in many American work environments. The age discrimination issue has become so widespread, in fact, that two out of every three American employees between the ages of 45 and 74 say they have been a victim of it.

California women face many challenges at work

Female workers throughout the country made $900 billion less than their male counterparts in 2018. Research suggests that lower wages aren't the only issue that California women face in the workplace. In addition for being paid less for equal work, they are also more likely to be punished for minor transgressions while on the job. A study asked 159 people to read scenarios about infractions committed on the job.

The names in the people in the scenarios were chosen to make them sound as if they were either white or black. For instance, a person named Jamal was likely to be identified as black while someone named Greg would be seen as white. The white males who took part in reading the scenarios for the study were more likely to go easy on other white males. However, they tended to be heavy handed on those who were black or female.

How ageism impacts American workers

California workers who are 40 or older have legal protection against ageism in the workplace. From a legal standpoint, age discrimination is viewed as seriously as discrimination based on race, gender or other protected attributes. However, it is not uncommon for workers to be terminated or otherwise passed over for younger workers within an organization. This happens at companies of all sizes and regardless of a person's salary.

Companies such as Ikea, Facebook and Citibank have been in the news for being named defendants in civil lawsuits. Other major corporations to face legal action include Google and Marriott. Generally speaking, age discrimination tends to impact minorities who work for low wages. This can have serious implications on their ability to provide for themselves financially. In an article published in The Atlantic, it was revealed that 10 million Americans aged 50 and older live on $11,800 or less per year.

The pay gap continues

According to data from the Pew Research Center, women in California and the rest of the country brought home 85 percent of what men earned in 2018. The statistic is based on an analysis of the average hourly earnings for part-time and full-time workers in America. Using this estimate, women would have to work an additional 39 days to earn what men earned in 2018.

The wage gap in 2018 for adults aged 25 to 34 was slightly smaller than for workers who were at least 16 years old. For women whose ages ranged from 25 to 34 years, they earned 89 cents per each dollar that men within the same age ranged earned.

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