Articles Posted in Employment Law

When your employer has fired you, or has implicitly forced you out, based upon your disability or perceived disability, it is undeniably an incredibly difficult time for you. You may be uncertain about what to do. You may be uncertain about where to turn. If you’re in this challenging position, one of your first steps should be to protect your legal rights by contacting an experienced Oakland employment attorney.

C.R. was an employee who faced that type of circumstance in his case. C.R. was a deputy district attorney for a county in Southern California. In 2013, he began exhibiting symptoms of a serious neurological problem. The attorney asked his supervisor to transfer him to a different assignment, but the supervisor declined. He later asked not to be assigned any new cases while he was undergoing testing, but that request was also initially refused.

The attorney’s doctors concluded that he had a concussion syndrome related to his past military service and also suspected he had an autoimmune disorder. The employer asked for written documentation from the lawyer’s medical providers clinic, but the attorney didn’t provide it because the clinic he used “had a practice of not supplying such documentation.” When the paperwork did not come, the employer at first refused to engage in a good-faith interactive process.

In any civil lawsuit, you have the potential to go up against well-funded opposition with powerful attorneys. To achieve a positive end, then, you must also be well equipped and ready to take on the other side. That includes making sure you have knowledgeable Oakland employment counsel on your side. You undoubtedly are intimately familiar with the facts of your discrimination case, but your skilled attorney can employ useful legal techniques on your behalf to strengthen your position and to stop your opposition from making arguments the law says aren’t allowed.

As an example, there is the case of T.F. T.F. worked as a counselor for an entity providing services to people with mental health disabilities. After 22 years with the employer, the counselor lost his job due to involuntary termination. Allegedly, the employer fired the counselor for performance-related reasons, including his improper personal use of employer equipment, requesting vacation leave “at the last minute,” excessive use of sick time, an inappropriately large number of phone calls at work, a failure to return voice mail messages and a failure to complete documentation on time.

The counselor, who was African-American, identified a different reason for his termination: his race. He asserted that supervisors treated him differently at staff meetings and gave him disciplinary punishments for violations that were not enforced against white employees.

California is often among the leaders in establishing legal mechanisms to protect workers from various employment harms, including discrimination. The California legislature is once again considering taking an important step that would expand the protections California workers receive.

The bill, already passed by the Senate, would extend the reach of the Fair Employment and Housing Act by banning workplace policies that, on their surface, discriminate against certain hairstyles but that, in actuality, amount to a form of race discrimination. Whether yours is related to your hair or some other issue, if you think you’ve suffered discrimination on the job, be sure that you reach out promptly to an experienced Oakland employment attorney to learn more about the legal options you may have, including filing suit and collecting compensation.

Employer hairstyle policies, on their surface, might seem like simple and necessary things to ensure that all workers maintain certain standards of hygiene, cleanliness and professional appearance. However, just like many things, the reality goes deeper, and is more complicated, than what’s on the surface. An employer’s hair rules, for example, could be used to punish an employee or job candidate for having a hairdo that the employer deems improper for that person’s gender. (In other words, a woman wearing a hairstyle the employer considers too masculine or a man wearing hair the employer thinks is too feminine.)

There are lots of reasons why you can be fired from your job. Possibly fewer are more frustrating that being terminated in retaliation simply because you exercised your legal rights, such as filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Of course, when an employer fires you simply because you filed for workers’ compensation, that employer has broken the law by wrongfully terminating you. That you may have known. What you may not know is… what do I do about it? What steps must I take and how quickly must I act? To get the answers you need to question like this and similar ones, be sure you talk to a knowledgeable Oakland employment attorney about your situation.

A case that recently settled in Sacramento is an example of this type of scenario. M.C. worked as a program analyst for the City of Sacramento from 2011 to 2015. In 2015, she allegedly got hurt at work. As many people who suffer injuries on the job do, M.C. filed a claim seeking workers’ compensation benefits.

A few months after the analyst filed her workers’ compensation claim, the city placed her on a mandatory leave of absence. After that, the city fired the woman, alleging that the termination was the result of the analyst’s “misconduct” on the job. The woman sued and eventually was able to secure a settlement in which the city agreed to pay her $860,000 in exchange for her dropping her case, according to a Sacramento Bee report.

There are lots of good reasons why one might prefer to pursue litigation close to home. Having the case close by might mean lower costs and an opportunity to be more closely involved. It might mean getting a jury that’s more receptive to your arguments. It also might mean getting a judge more familiar with the legal issues you’re asserting (if the other option is to litigate out of state). Whether you’re a Californian or an out-of-stater, and whether you’re in California court because you prefer to litigate here or your employment contract forces you to, be sure your case is armed with the skill and knowledge of an experienced Oakland employment attorney.

Sometimes, litigating in a particular place is not by choice. As an example, take the case of J.N., an East Bay man working for an insurance claims services company. Although the employer was based in suburban Indianapolis, Indiana, J.N. worked in El Cerrito. The company terminated J.N.’s employment in late March, 2017. J.N. believed that he was the victim of illegal discrimination and sued in Contra Costa County, alleging wrongful termination along with several violations of the Fair Employment and Housing Act.

J.N., though, had a problem. The employment contract he signed with the company had what’s called a “forum selection clause.” That is something that says that, if there’s a dispute between you and your employer, you must litigate in one of the designated courts. J.N.’s forum selection clause stated he could only sue the employer in Hamilton County, Indiana, Marion County, Indiana or the federal court in Indianapolis.

Sometimes, even others’ unsuccessful discrimination actions can provide very helpful knowledge for those workers who follow. For example, a musician recently lost his age and disability discrimination lawsuit against his employer. However, the musician lost his case because of a very narrow free speech exception that protected his employer. The rest of his case, however, offered many of the pieces one might need in a discrimination complaint. When it comes to getting the most out of the rulings that precede your case, whether those workers won or lost, be sure you have an experience Oakland employment attorney who can provide you with up-to-date knowledge of the law.

The case involved G.S., a drummer in a rock-n-roll singer’s band. Although the singer had not scored a top-40 record or album since 1991, he and the band continued performing live concerts throughout the 2010s. Immediately after each concert, the drummer staffed a booth that sold t-shirts, CDs and other souvenirs.

In 2015, the singer laid off the drummer. The drummer was 61, had suffered a back injury and also was a cancer survivor, a condition which caused him to have incontinence. The singer sometimes referred to the drummer on stage as “Chemo the Drummer” and stated jokingly that the concert tour was sponsored by a brand of adult diapers used by people with incontinence.

Many people, when they hear the phrase “employment discrimination,” may associate those words with women, people of color, older workers, LGBTQ+ people or religious minorities. The reality is, however, that anyone can pursue a claim for discrimination in California if they can show that they suffered discrimination on the job on the basis of sex, race, national origin, religion, age, sexual orientation or gender identity. If you think you’ve been the target of illegal discrimination, act with all due speed to protect your rights. Contact a knowledgeable Oakland employment attorney right away.

A case recently filed by an employee of a major package shipping company is an illustration in point. According to Patch.com, M.M. had worked for the company for 12 years. In 2017, his job duties included assigning driving duties to the employer’s delivery drivers serving Los Angeles County. Allegedly, a driver shortage led M.M. to assign extra work to the existing drivers, which angered P.F. According to M.M., the driver responded in several ways, including speaking in an insubordinate manner and making false allegation about M.M. to the employer’s human resources department. The alleged falsehoods included M.M. physically assaulting P.F.

According to M.M., the employer knew that the driver’s accusations were false, but the employer feared that P.F., who was Latino, would escalate claims of racism and file additional grievances or sue the employer. The employer also allegedly feared upsetting other Latino drivers, leading it to terminate M.M. in an effort to “appease” P.F. and the company’s other Latino employees, Patch.com reported.

Sometimes, helpful and encouraging knowledge can come even from others’ unsuccessful cases. As an example, there’s the recent case of a Los Angeles restaurant server, who lost his race discrimination case. Even though this server lost his discrimination case, his outcome in the appeals court is an important one for anyone who is considering pursuing a discrimination action in court under the Fair Employment and Housing Act. Some people might be frightened away from pursuing their rights and seeking their day in court by the possibility of not just losing but ending up with an outcome where they are left in the position of having to pay the other side.

If you are considering taking on your employer or former employer in court, you should not let it discourage you. As this case revealed, even if your employer makes a statutory settlement offer that you refuse, and you later receiving an unfavorable verdict, you will still not be “on the hook” for any of the other side’s attorneys’ fees or costs, as long as your case wasn’t frivolous or unreasonable. In other words, fear not, and if you have any questions about pursuing your claims, talk to a knowledgeable Oakland employment attorney today.

The server, F.H. worked at a five-star luxury hotel in Los Angeles. While at work, F.H. and another server became embroiled in an altercation. According to F.H., the other employee had uttered various racist slurs toward him, including “beaner” and “[expletive] Mexican.”

No one wants to think about being wrongfully terminated from their job as a result of doing something that would otherwise be a joyous thing, such as having a baby Unfortunately, though, it does occur. When it happens, the law gives those harmed workers certain legal options. And, sometimes, depending on the facts of the case, the options available to the harmed worker may be even more extensive than one might think when it comes to the damages available. To make sure your wrongful termination case yields everything it should for you, have a knowledgeable Oakland employment attorney on your side.

K.L., a teacher whose case was reported by NBC Los Angeles, was an employee who found herself in that position. K.L., a science teacher at a Catholic school in South Los Angeles, was seven months pregnant but was not married in the summer of 2012. The parish pastor, who oversaw the school, allegedly told the teacher that the teacher’s pregnancy outside of wedlock would “morally corrupt” the impressionable teenage students at the school, according to NBC Los Angeles. The pastor also allegedly referred to the teacher’s unborn child as “it,” even after the baby’s gender had been openly revealed.

The teacher complained to the school principal but, allegedly, was merely told to “pray,” with no other action being taken. Following the end of the 2012-13 school year, the school did not renew K.L.’s contract for the 2013-14 academic year. The school claimed that it decided not to renew K.L.’s contract due to performance problems she had in the classroom; specifically, a recurring problem with tardiness and several instances of taking phone calls during class.

Many times, employers will seek to resolve Fair Employment and Housing Act discrimination disputes through arbitration as opposed to litigation. They do this because they believe that the arbitration process will be cheaper than litigation and that the resolution will be more favorable than they would receive in court. For a multitude of reasons, you, as an employee, might prefer to present your case to a jury or judge, not an arbitration panel. The key, then, is avoiding being forced into arbitration, such as by a mandatory arbitration provision in your employment contract. For options on achieving these and other goals in your discrimination case, contact an experienced Oakland employment attorney.

Sometimes, there are ways to avoid arbitration even if you signed an arbitration agreement. Take the case of C.R. C.R., who would eventually become the plaintiff in the case, was someone who had amassed an impressive resume. She had a law degree from UC-Berkeley and a Ph.D. in biophysics from the same institution. Her experiences in the law and the sciences in the Bay Area allowed her to obtain a substantial position as a patent lawyer with a prestigious law firm in 2014. The attorney’s title was described as an “income partner.”

Shortly after she started work, she signed a partnership agreement. That agreement contained an arbitration provision in it that she was required to handle disputes first by submitting them to “mandatory, but non-binding, mediation.” If the dispute remained unresolved after 60 days, then either side could submit the dispute to binding arbitration.