State CapitolIn the wake of the sexual harassment scandal that rocked several prominent figures in Hollywood and the media, and the #metoo movement that followed, many various institutions began taking a fresh look at making changes when it comes to sexual harassment. Legislative bodies are among these groups. Some states, like New Jersey and California, have considered bills that would ban the use of non-disclosure agreements in sexual harassment or discrimination cases. Also here in California, the state legislature is weighing additional actions to afford greater protection to employees who are victims of harassment. If you think you’ve been a victim of harassment at work, you should reach out to a knowledgeable California sexual harassment attorney to ensure that your rights and your entitlement to compensation are properly represented and protected.

The new bill currently under consideration in the state Assembly is one that would create a dramatic shift in the way certain cases are allowed to proceed in court. Currently, employees who want to pursue harassment claims under the Fair Employment and Housing Act have only one year after the last act of harassment. If passed as proposed, AB1870, the Stopping Harassment and Reporting Extension Act, would extend that limitations period from one year to three years, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

One of the bill’s co-sponsors told the Mercury News that the longer statute of limitations is needed to address some of the unique problems facing victims of workplace harassment. “We have found that many of the victims fear retaliation. There’s also this shame that they feel,” Assemblywoman Eloise Gómez Reyes stated. All of these things can cause a victim to delay pursuing her or his rights and initiating a legal case.

gavelSometimes, in sports, one may hear a coach state that it is sometimes possible for players to learn more from a loss than a victory. Something similar is sometimes true in legal actions. Sometimes, another person’s unsuccessful case may offer more useful information for others than some plaintiffs’ successful lawsuits. As one recent California sexual orientation discrimination case served to remind workers, there are certain things you need in order to achieve a successful result, and, without them, your case cannot win. To make sure that your discrimination case is supported by the right amount and right type of proof necessary to prevail, make sure that you work with an experienced employment discrimination attorney.

The plaintiff in this sexual orientation discrimination case, Shawn, was a “program business leader” analyst for the County of Santa Barbara. In the wake of a budget shortfall, the county laid off 35 employees, including Shawn. After her layoff, Shawn sued her former employer. Her lawsuit alleged sexual orientation discrimination. Shawn disclosed publicly that she was a lesbian in 2003, and her employer regarded her as a lesbian when it decided to end her employment in 2009, she argued.

This employee ultimately lost her case, with both the trial court and the Court of Appeal ruling against her. Despite this woman’s defeat, there is much that other employees can learn from her case and use as guidelines when pursuing a discrimination case or, alternatively, pursuing a case based upon a supervisor or co-worker’s use of offensive slurs or epithets.

obesityThere are many different forms of workplace discrimination that violate the Fair Employment and Housing Act. Sex discrimination, race discrimination, national origin discrimination, religious discrimination, and disability discrimination are just a few. When it comes to disability discrimination, there are a variety of conditions that qualify. Many illnesses, whether physical or mental, may entitle a worker to the anti-discrimination protections of the law. If you think you’ve suffered from disability discrimination at work, you should contact a knowledgeable California disability discrimination attorney promptly.

While conditions ranging from diabetes to bipolar disorder, and MS to PTSD, are covered, what about obesity? A recent case from the Bay Area addressed that exact question. The employee, Ketryn, had worked at a tennis club since 1997. She had also struggled with her weight since childhood. By 2012, she weighed 350 pounds and had a body-mass index in excess of 55, placing her in the category of Class III, or extreme, obesity.

The woman’s employment with the club was successful, with positive performance evaluations, merit bonuses, and raises for roughly a decade and a half. Then, in 2012, the club hired a new general manager. According to Ketryn, the new manager mocked her size, asked her “out of the blue” about whether she’d considered weight-loss surgery, did not consider her for extra hours of work, refused to consider her for promotions, and also paid her less than a newly hired (and petite) college student, even though Ketryn had more than a decade of experience with the club.

signatureWhen you start a new employment position, it is often an exciting time filled with a sense of accomplishment (at landing the job) and anticipation (of potential future career growth and advancement). You’re probably not thinking about all of the “fine print” in the employment agreement paperwork you’re signing. That fine print, however, can be very important, especially if it includes a mandatory arbitration clause. Sometimes, though, you may be able to sue in court and avoid arbitration in your wrongful termination case, even if your contract had an arbitration provision. If you’re been a victim of a wrongful termination, it is important to contact a skilled California employment attorney right away, especially if an arbitration clause is involved.

A recently decided case demonstrates how you can get past an arbitration clause in your wrongful termination case. The case involved Khrysta, who worked for a rent-a-car agency. In September 2015, the employer terminated Khrysta after nearly four years on the job. The employee sued for wrongful termination. Based upon the arbitration policy the employer had instituted (and that the employee had acknowledged by signing a copy of it), the agency asked the court to order the parties to arbitration.

Arbitration, of course, can be a very useful alternative means of resolving a dispute. The key, of course, is to use arbitration only if you think it will be helpful. There are many reasons why you might prefer a court trial to an arbitration hearing. If you and your legal counsel believe court is the best place to resolve your dispute, you should make sure you don’t get improperly forced into arbitration.

car accidentAny time a vehicle crash takes the life of a loved one, the loss is tragic and devastating. When that life lost is your infant child, and the accident happened due to another driver’s alleged distracted driving, the pain can seem unbearable. This is a time when a skilled California wrongful death attorney can help. While you are focusing on your family and your own healing, your attorney can be focusing upon upholding your rights under the law.

A recent case from Placer County shows how a strong case can result in a substantial settlement. The case involved Steve, a father who, according to court documents, was driving along Interstate 80 northeast of Sacramento, stuck in stop-and-go traffic in the freeway’s lane furthest to the right. The traffic in the other lanes was flowing freely. Greg, who was driving his kids in the Ford Explorer provided to him by his employer, was in the right lane behind Steve. Steve slowed to a stop, but Greg never slowed down. Greg’s SUV slammed into the rear of Steve’s vehicle at roughly 60 mph. The impact pushed Steve’s vehicle into the path of a semi truck traveling at full speed in the second lane from the right. The semi hit Steve’s vehicle, and that impact killed Steve’s baby son, who was riding in the back seat in a rear-facing car seat, the Sacramento Bee reported.

Steve and his wife sued for the wrongful death of their son. The parents’ lawsuit alleged that this was a case of distracted driving. While news reports of the case did not specifically identify Greg’s misconduct as texting while driving, the parents’ lawyer did indicate after the case’s resolution that part of the settlement money the parents received would go “to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving and cell phone use behind the wheel,” according to the Bee.

police carA Sacramento man, who was driving through Lake County on his way home, suffered serious injuries after a local sheriff’s deputy lost control of his police vehicle and crashed head-on into the man. The man and the county recently ended their case, with the jury ruling for the plaintiff and awarding more than $2 million in damages. If you’ve been injured in an auto accident, you need to make sure that you have a skilled California car accident lawyer on your side to ensure that you get everything you should, whether through a judgment or a settlement.

Marc, from Sacramento, was driving his Honda Accord eastbound on Highway 20 on a rainy September morning in Lake County. While traveling across Highway 20 as he headed home from a wedding, Marc found himself facing a situation no driver wants to see:  a westbound vehicle had spun out of control on the wet road, had crossed the double-yellow line, and was headed directly for him. The two vehicles collided in a head-on crash, reported.

Marc suffered serious injuries in the accident. He had a shattered left wrist and shattered ankle joint, and he experienced pain in his hip and chest. Since the driver who hit Marc was an on-duty sheriff’s deputy, the injured man sued Lake County. The case went to trial. At trial, there are generally two major hurdles:  liability and damages. Clearly, each of these hurdles involves obtaining and submitting sufficient evidence to support your contentions and refute those of the other side.

signatureEmployers may engage in many techniques to prevent employees from suing and winning in cases of discrimination in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act. One way of doing that is by stopping employees from suing at all, through the use of mandatory arbitration agreements. While these agreements are generally allowable, California law imposes some restrictions on them. If your employer has demanded that you sign one, it must not impose certain restrictions on you, or it is unenforceable. An experienced California employment attorney can help you analyze your case if an arbitration agreement is involved.

One Bay Area action in which the employee got to pursue her lawsuit despite such an agreement was the case of Maya. Five years after Maya began her employment with an asset investment services company, another entity bought Maya’s employer, and she became an employee of that company. The new employer demanded that all of its employees sign a form that, among other things, included an agreement to resolve employment disputes through a process laid out by the employer. Employees had to sign the form or else lose their jobs. Not wanting to lose the job into which she’d invested half a decade, Maya signed.

By 2011, Maya had risen to a supervisory position. At that point, she objected to certain employee evaluation forms that included age, race, and gender coding, believing that such a practice was discriminatory. Two years later, while she was out on approved medical leave, the employer terminated Maya, who was African-American, and according to her complaint, gave her job to a white male colleague.

pregnancyIn California, there are several bases upon which your employer is not allowed to discriminate. Two areas in which an employee may potentially suffer from illegal discrimination under the Fair Employment and Housing Act are pregnancy discrimination and disability discrimination. Sometimes, as happened to one woman in San Mateo County recently, you may suffer from discrimination on multiple grounds, and your employer’s liability may spring from multiple missteps. When that happens, you need skilled California discrimination counsel on your side to help you make the most of your case.

The woman who was the plaintiff in the San Mateo County case (San Mateo Superior Court case no. CIV538881), Keri, had worked for a Northern California supermarket chain for almost a decade and a half when she became pregnant in 2013. At that time, she served as the bakery/deli manager of her store. While she was pregnant, Keri learned that she had lupus, which complicated her pregnancy. After giving birth, Keri developed post-partum depression. The combination of these conditions meant that Keri took an extended leave of absence from work, both before and after the birth of her child. The employee did, however, remain in regular contact with her store manager and with the company that served as the vendor that managed the supermarket’s Family and Medical Leave Act cases.

Eventually, with the leave still ongoing, the supermarket sent Keri a letter. The letter claimed that she had not provided the proper documentation to support the medical need for her continued absence from work. The letter demanded that she provide a response within 72 hours or face termination. The letter, however, never made it to Keri and was returned as undeliverable. The employer subsequently terminated Keri, claiming as grounds “job abandonment.”

general cleaningSometimes, very terrible events can led to important court rulings that hopefully will lead to better outcomes in the future. The rape of a hotel housekeeping worker led the California Court of Appeal to consider whether the victimized employee could sue her employer for violating the Fair Employment and Housing Act. The court ruled that, due to the actions taken and not taken in this circumstance, the woman could proceed with her claim of employer liability for non-employee sexual harassment. The case is a reminder that the potential for a recovery in civil court may potentially exist in a wide array of employment situations, so it is wise to consult with knowledgeable California sexual harassment counsel about your case.

The employee who sued her employer in this case, called “M.F.” by the courts, was a housekeeping worker at a hotel in San Diego. According to the housekeeper, the events that led to her injury and legal action began early one morning when a drunk man, who was not a guest of the hotel, was spotted wandering around the hotel property by the hotel’s engineering manager, who, despite seeing the man multiple times, reported nothing about the trespasser.

After that, the drunk man allegedly began approaching various housekeeping workers, offering them cash for sexual favors. One worker reported her encounter to a housekeeping manager. Although housekeeping management made efforts to check on the safety of the workers, they missed the second floor of one building, which happened to be where M.F. was working, according to the lawsuit. The drunk man encountered M.F. cleaning a room, blocked her exit, and, when she tried to leave, knocked her unconscious. He then spent the next two hours raping her.

crosswalkYour injuries suffered as a pedestrian involved in a collision with a vehicle can be severe and sometimes life-altering. That was the case for one Southern California man whose Hollywood crosswalk collision resulted in a months-long coma and permanent brain damage. When that happens, it pays to have a skilled California injury attorney on your side to help you determine who is responsible and help you get the compensation from them that you deserve. For the Hollywood pedestrian, his case offered evidence of an intersection that wasn’t properly maintained and traffic laws that weren’t enforced. Ultimately, the injured man secured a settlement of $15 million, according to a Los Angeles Times report.

The pedestrian, John, was walking on the streets of Hollywood, just a few blocks from the “Walk of Fame.” At one point during his walk, he attempted to cross the street. He was inside the marked crosswalk and was hit by a westbound vehicle. The effects of the accident were severe for John. The collision put him in a coma for months and left him with permanent brain damage. As his lawyer told the Times, “He’s a young child in an adult’s body — and always will be.”

When you’re injured as a pedestrian in an accident with a vehicle, there may be many different options available to you for seeking the damages you need. You may have a case against the driver who hit you. If the owner of the vehicle was someone other than the driver, you may have a case against the owner. If the driver who hit you was on the job and “in the course and scope of his employment” when he hit you, the law may give you the opportunity to pursue a claim against the driver’s employer. These are just a few of the avenues that may be available to you in your case, depending on the specific facts.