Articles Posted in Employment Law

LA Police DepartmentThe Fair Employment and Housing Act requires employers to take certain steps to reasonably accommodate employees with disabilities. In some cases, one such possible accommodation is job reassignment. The law does not require employers to offer reassignment as an accommodation to job applicants. So how does the law classify certain employees at the very beginning of their employment, such as police academy recruits? According to a recent California Court of Appeal decision, probationary and trainee employees are akin to at-will employees who, unlike job applicants, are entitled to reassignment when it is a reasonable accommodation for their disabilities.

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job interviewCalifornia law has significant legal protections to safeguard employees from workplace discrimination. You may wonder, however, what happens if you believe that you’re being targeted because of discrimination, even though you’re not a member of a historically disadvantaged group. For example, what if you believe your employer is discriminating against you because you’re heterosexual? In the case of one Southern California drug counselor, the Second District Court of Appeal concluded that the arguments she made were enough to support an actionable claim that her employer treated heterosexual women more poorly than similarly situated heterosexual men and homosexual employees.

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CNNAs an employee, pursuing your wrongful termination case may mean clearing many hurdles. In one recent case that the Second District Court of Appeal decided in favor of the employee, the employee faced an extra leap: overcoming his employer’s anti-SLAPP defense. The appeals court concluded that the employer’s acts of discrimination and retaliation could not qualify as acts in furtherance of its free speech rights, thereby granting an important victory to employees of media employers.

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Supreme CourtSometimes, a court’s decision not to act can be enormously important in affecting the law. This was the case recently when the California Supreme Court refused to accept an employer’s appeal in a truck driver’s Fair Employment and Housing Act case. The high court’s refusal to issue an opinion in the case leaves intact a Court of Appeal ruling that offers hope to employees that the FEHA’s anti-discrimination provisions may extend not only to persons with disabilities but also to persons without disabilities who are victims of workplace discrimination due to being closely associated with a person with disabilities.

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DeejayA recent case involving a radio DJ and her former employer is very useful in some of the lessons it imparts. Not the least of these are that you should not give up on your case at the first sign of a setback, and there can be more than one way to prove necessary elements of Fair Employment and Housing Act disability discrimination cases. In the case, the California Court of Appeal threw out a summary judgment in favor of the employer because, even if the employee’s disability did not affect her on-air performance, it could still qualify as impairing the major life activity of working if it forced her to miss work frequently.

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SF city parkCalifornia’s prohibitions against employment discrimination, including those contained in the Fair Employment and Housing Act, provide significant protection to employees, guarding them against mistreatment in the form of improper discrimination. In addition to protecting certain groups like women, people of color, and religious minorities, the FEHA also protects some employees who engage in certain protected activities from retaliation by their employers. Unfortunately for one San Francisco parks and recreation worker, the California Court of Appeal determined that the law did not protect him, since the activities that he claimed got him fired were not protected activities under the law.

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Employee HandbookWhen you are pursuing your employer for employment discrimination, there are paths you can choose and sometimes some hurdles to clear in choosing a course that will give you a good chance of obtaining the successful outcome you need and deserve. Sometimes, one of these hurdles is avoiding having your case sidetracked into binding arbitration. In a recent case from Southern California, the California Court of Appeal concluded that an employer couldn’t use a signed employee handbook to force the employee into arbitration because the employer had written into the handbook express language stating that it did not create a binding contract.

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cannabis leafA recent federal court ruling issued an important reminder about how far the Fair Employment and Housing Act’s protections against disability discrimination do, and do not, go. The federal district court in the Eastern District of California explained that the FEHA clearly does not prohibit employers from terminating employees for using medical marijuana. However, if the employer creates personnel policies promising not to punish medical marijuana-using employees in states where the practice is legal, the employer may face a breach of employment contract claim for firing an employee for no reason other than his medical marijuana use.

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cardboard boxesA recent federal court ruling in a disability discrimination case filed under the Fair Employment and Housing Act can offer important knowledge to employers regarding the interactive process when it comes to employees with disabilities. In this ruling, the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California refused to award a summary judgment to an employer, even though the employee did not satisfy the employer’s request for a doctor’s note. The information the employer already had on hand, even without the requested note, was enough to put it on notice that the employee had certain disabilities and therefore placed the employer under the obligation to engage in an interactive process.

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PsychotherapyA recent ruling by a federal District Court in San Francisco provides a useful reminder to both employees and employers of the narrow circumstances in which the employers may demand psychological fitness-for-work examinations without violating the Fair Employment and Housing Act, due in part to the potentially powerful negative impacts of requiring employees to undergo such exams. In the recent case, since the exam in question never actually took place, the court concluded that neither side was entitled to summary judgment, and the issue of the exam demand’s compliance with the FEHA should proceed to trial.

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