Google logoThe Fair Employment and Housing Act offers considerable protections to a variety of groups of employees. Of course, employees cannot be subjected to discrimination based upon gender, race, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity. However, the law doesn’t stop there. It also protects employees from discrimination based upon political activity. That protection can potentially include a variety of types of activities and employees, including, as noted in a recent article on TheStreet.com, the now-famous former Google software engineer who was terminated after publishing a memo criticizing the corporation’s diversity policies.

James Damore had been a Google employee for 3 1/2 years when he wrote “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber.” The memo critiqued the way in which Google set out to achieve diversity, including criticism of the way in which those employment practices affected the genders. After the engineer published the memo, the employer terminated him, allegedly for violating Google’s employee “code of conduct.”

Some observers have theorized that Google’s abrupt and immediate termination of the engineer’s employment may provide the engineer with a cause of action under the FEHA. Section 1102 of the code bars employers from coercing or influencing employees “to adopt or follow or refrain from adopting or following any particular course or line of political action or political activity.” This includes coercion or influence in the forms of loss of employment or threat of loss of employment.

Barnes & NobleCalifornia is one of many states that recognizes “at-will” employment. At-will employment generally means that either the employer or the employee can end the employment relationship at any time for any reason or no reason (subject to limitations like those barring illegal discrimination). If you think you’ve been improperly fired, though, you should contact a California employment attorney right away. Even if your employment began as an at-will arrangement, the specific facts surrounding your employment experience may mean that your employer’s actions created an implied contract, and that may help you in your wrongful termination action, as was the case for one Northern California book store manager.

Christine was a manager at a major book store chain and had been since 1989. From 2002 until her termination in 2010, she managed the store at West Valley College outside San Jose. After the employer fired her abruptly and unexpectedly in June 2010, she filed a lawsuit over the termination. In her action, she asserted a claim for wrongful termination.

The employer argued, successfully in the trial court, that it was not liable because the manager was an “at-will” employee and that the termination was done for legitimate business reasons. Specifically, among other things, the college president had contacted Christine’s supervisor in the spring of 2010 and requested that the book store replace her. The trial court sided with the employer because, in its opinion, the employee had failed to rebut the employer’s arguments related to its legitimate business reasons for firing her.

Transgender flagOn July 1 of this year, several new regulations went into effect here in California. One group of new Fair Employment and Housing Act regulations provides importance guidance and obligations for employers when it comes to transgender employees and anti-discrimination protections afforded to them under the law and regulations.

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LGBT flagThere are many types of discrimination in the workplace, and there are many varieties of such discrimination that the Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits. In some cases, the discrimination may stem from an employee’s sexual orientation. In other cases, though, the discrimination is less about the employee’s orientation and more about his outward appearance relative to gender and sexuality. That type of case was what a Southern California management employee asserted:  that his employer fired him because, based upon his outward presentation, he was “too gay.”

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golferAny injury case will have its challenges that can get in the way of your success. This can be especially true if the defendant in your case is a public entity. However, with a strong enough case, you can still go after public entities in some situations. In one recent case from Southern California, a mother and her son were allowed to continue their pursuit of their premises liability case against a city after an errant golf ball from an adjoining golf course struck the boy as he rode along a pedestrian walkway.

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FedEx driverAs a plaintiff, it is important to avoid doing unnecessary things that will strengthen the defendants’ position and essentially amount to your helping to make their case for them. This is particularly true when it comes to discovery in a personal injury case. One must disclose and divulge what the rules demand, but there may also be many good reasons to reject a defendant’s request when the law says that you are not obligated to acquiesce. In the recent case of an injured truck driver, the California Court of Appeal decided that the plaintiff did not have to participate in an examination that the defense wanted to conduct, since that type of discovery wasn’t covered by the discovery statute.

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gavel and moneyA drugstore employee got a renewed chance to make her case for damages after the California Court of Appeal threw out the damages award in her discrimination and wrongful termination case. According to the appeals court, the verdict that awarded the employee $0 in damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress was ”inconsistent” and required reversal.

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Sexual HarassmentA female county sheriff’s department employee, who allegedly endured 100 or more unwelcome hugs and at least one unwanted kiss on the cheek, got some good news recently when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s decision throwing out her case. The appeals court’s ruling cleared the way for the employee to continue pursuing her Fair Employment and Housing Act claim, based upon the hostile work environment created by her supervisor’s unwanted physical contact.

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Doctor and patientYour employment litigation case will contain many important decisions your legal team and you will have to make. In some cases, you will need to decide whether or not to demand a jury trial. In a recent ruling, the California Supreme Court announced that an employee asserting a common law wrongful termination claim could demand a jury trial for that claim.

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employee handbookIn a disability discrimination case, there are several things that can possibly help the employee win her claim. These may include an employer’s non-neutral manner of applying company policies or a failure to engage properly in the interactive process. For one pharmaceutical company sales representative, her employer did none of these improper things, leading the federal courts to conclude that the employer had not violated the Fair Employment and Housing Act.

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