Articles Posted in Employment Law

Chances are reasonably high that, if you are an employee in California, you know that you can take legal action if you’ve been the victim of discrimination, harassment or retaliation. However, what do you do if you’ve been harmed in one or more of those ways but you’re just a temporary worker? Does that “temp” status change what rights you have or whom you can sue? For customized answers to these and other questions based on your specific circumstance, be sure to consult an experienced Oakland employment attorney.

E.J. was a temporary worker caught in a circumstance like that. She worked at a shoe care goods manufacturer’s facility, but she did not work for the manufacturer. E.J.’s employer was a temporary staffing firm. The temp agency hired E.J., paid her, tracked her time and paid her any benefits to which she was entitled. After five years of working at the facility, E.J. was fired. Following that termination, she sued the shoe care goods manufacturer for FEHA violations, including sex/gender discrimination, harassment and retaliation.

The manufacturer’s defense was fairly straightforward. It argued that a worker can only recover FEHA damages from a person or entity who is the harmed worker’s employer, that it was not E.J.’s employer and, therefore, it couldn’t possibly be liable to E.J. for any harm she suffered as a result of any FEHA violations.

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The #metoo movement exposed many of the humiliating, hurtful, disrespectful and damaging things women often face in the workplace when it comes to discrimination and sexual harassment.

While it occurs less often, bias and discrimination that harms male workers is a real thing, too. California lawmakers have sought to maintain gender fairness in many statutes, including things like parental leave laws. Sometimes, employers or supervisors may be less enlightened. When that happens and you are the victim of discrimination, you may have options within the legal system. Contact an experienced Oakland employment law attorney to find out what’s available to you.

As an example, there’s the case of J.V., an employee of a property management company and also a first-time expectant father. J.V. put in a request for 12 weeks of parental leave, as allowed by California law. Reportedly, J.V.’s female supervisor expressed her disapproval. The employee received such biased questions as “Why can’t your wife stay home and take care of the child?” and “Will you be doing anything … or just sitting and watching T.V. all day?”

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In any kind of situation where you’ve suffered a legal wrong, you only have limited time to act. Wait too long and you may have your options for achieving success and much-needed compensation narrowed substantially – or you may lose all your options entirely. If you’ve been the victim of discrimination at work or in applying for a job, don’t wait! Reach out to an experienced Oakland employment law attorney today.

W.W. was someone who, on the surface, seemed to have pretty strong case of discrimination. He was a caterer who, for 15 months, catered meals to both the visiting and home team players at the home field of the Sacramento minor league baseball team. W.W. eventually applied for the job of assistant clubhouse manager. At the time, W.W. was already performing some of the functions of an assistant clubhouse manager.

Additionally, the manager of the visitors’ clubhouse, who was also the man who hired W.W., recommended him for the job. Despite those credentials, the employer hired a teenager who was still in high school and who reportedly “did not meet any of the qualifications for the job.” W.W. was African American; the teen was white.

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In California, there are several ways that an employer can fire an employee that is against the law. One of those ways is if the employer terminates the employee based on the employee’s disability without first engaging in a good faith effort to make a reasonable accommodation for that worker’s disability.

The Fair Employment and Housing Act demands that employers provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities. The law requires many employers, in crafting the employee’s accommodation, to engage that employee in an “interactive process” in a good faith way. If you were fired because of your disability, and you were not afforded a reasonable accommodation or a good-faith interactive process, then you may be entitled to compensation and you should consult a knowledgeable Oakland employment law attorney promptly.

The case of paint store employee E.C. (Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BC620114 / JAMS Arbitration Case No. 1210033499) is a good example. E.C.’s position required workers to lift heavy loads up to 72 pounds. The worker’s job application stated that she had a disability and could lift no more than 20 pounds.

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When you are called upon by an investigator who has appeared at your workplace to investigate one or more of your co-workers, it can be a stressful time, even though you’re not the person under investigation. Being sought to answer questions or give testimony can be scary, especially if the knowledge you hold (and the investigators are asking for) is potentially harmful to your employer and/or your supervisor. Even if that’s true, you should be entitled to speak freely, openly and honestly, without fear of reprisals that could damage or end your employment just because you spoke the truth.

If you suffer a loss of your job simply because you cooperated with investigators’ investigation into your supervisor, then you may have a claim for wrongful termination in California. If that situation describes you, you should act without delay to reach out and retain an experienced Oakland employment law attorney to represent you.

The type of scenario described above actually happened to one state government worker recently. As reported by the Sacramento Bee, S.T. was a fraud investigator for a department within the state government when the State Auditor’s office opened an investigation into the department’s director. The director was suspected of engaging in improper hiring practices; specifically, nepotism in hiring her daughter and a friend.

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Sometimes, the key evidence in your employment discrimination case focuses a spotlight on what the employer wrongfully did or did not do. Other times, though, your disability discrimination case may turn on the acts you did or did not undertake prior to litigation. That’s because, while your employer is obligated to provide a reasonable accommodation for your disability, both your employer and you are required to engage in an interactive process in good faith for determining what that accommodation should look like.

An interactive process is when employer and employee exchange essential information directly with each other to work toward an appropriate accommodation. One of the ways in which you can succeed in a disability discrimination case is by demonstrating that you engaged in the interactive process in good faith, while your employer did not. For the assistance you need in clearing this and other evidentiary hurdles, be sure that you have the legal advice and advocacy you need from a knowledgeable Oakland employment attorney.

The issue of good faith participation in the interactive process was a key to the outcome of the disability discrimination case of M.M., a civil transportation engineer for the California Department of Transportation. The engineer suffered from both physiological and psychological disabilities, including a heart anomaly, anxiety and depression. The engineer’s disabilities allegedly impaired his ability to sleep properly and, as a result, limited his ability to concentrate and to deal with stress.

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In any employment discrimination lawsuit in California, there are certain things that you absolutely must have in order to have a successful case. For example, one thing you must show is that you were harmed in some way at your job. This is something that the law calls an “adverse employment action.” With evidence of it, you could be well on your way to a successful outcome. Without it, you may be vulnerable to having your case thrown out of court before you ever get to trial. To be sure your case has this and other vital pieces for a positive result, be sure to obtain legal representation from an experienced Oakland employment attorney.

There are many different things that you can point to as the adverse action you suffered at your job. They include, among other things, being fired, being demoted, losing pay or benefits, having your hours reduced or being threatened with being reported to immigration authorities.

Notice that the first item on that list was “getting fired.” The fact that you resigned does not necessarily mean that you cannot pursue a discrimination case based upon your improper termination, however; it just means that you need additional proof in order to succeed. Specifically, as one case recently showed, you have to demonstrate that your resignation met the legal standards for something called a “constructive discharge.” A constructive discharge occurs when your employer makes the conditions of your job so objectively intolerable that a reasonable person would believe that she had no choice but to resign and leave. When that happens, your resignation is treated the same as if your employer fired you.

If you’ve been the victim of discrimination at work or have otherwise been wrongfully terminated from your job, you obviously face many challenges and numerous stresses in your life. One of them may be an employer who seeks to prevent you from getting your day in court by instead forcing your dispute into arbitration. Don’t let that happen without a fair legal fight, and don’t try to handle that stressful challenge on your own. Be sure you have an experienced Oakland employment attorney on your side advocating for you.

Recently, the case of a San Francisco law partner who alleged that she was the victim of sex discrimination was again in the news, as mid-June 2019 brought the filing of a flurry of amicus briefs supporting the employer in this case. To recap, the California Court of Appeal ruled in favor the employee last year, concluding that the employer was not entitled to demand that the two sides resolve their Fair Employment and Housing Act dispute through arbitration, even though the partner’s agreement with the firm called for arbitration of disputes like FEHA discrimination claims. (In this circumstance, the partner had alleged that the firm had effectively forced her out of her job due to her being a woman.)

The reason that the partner won in the appeals court was a legal concept that is known as “unconscionability.” In contract law, a contract or contract provision is unconscionable if it is so one-sided as to be unreasonable. The partner’s arbitration agreement was not enforceable because it contained unconscionable terms related to payment of arbitration costs and attorneys’ fees. It also contained an unconscionable confidentiality term that could impair the lawyer’s ability to interview witnesses.

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.