Articles Posted in Employment Law

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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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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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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