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Articles Posted in Race Discrimination

The COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting lives and, more importantly, has cost the lives of more than 1,000 Americans. While the pandemic has led to the institution of many extraordinary measures, there are some things that remained unchanged. For example, California employers’ obligations to avoid illegal discrimination and harassment remain in place and are as strong as ever. In fact, given the racial/ethnic component of the virus’s presumed origin, employers should be even more vigilant than ever to avoid improper practices. If, in this era of COVID-19 pandemic, you’ve been harmed at work because of your race, ethnicity or national origin, you may have legal options under the Fair Employment and Housing Act. Reach out to a knowledgeable Oakland employment attorney to find out more.

The Department of Fair Employment and Housing recently released an “Information” document about COVID-19 and employers’ FEHA obligations. The very first topic that the document addressed was the harmful practice of discrimination or harassment “because of race or national origin.” This kind of discrimination or harassment can take many forms. In the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the victims of illegal discrimination or harassment may be targeted because of actual or perceived Chinese ancestry.

Note that you don’t actually have to be of Chinese origin or ancestry. Illegal discrimination or harassment can stem from one’s actual national origin or the perpetrator’s perception of your national origin. So if, for example, your facial appearance, your manner of speaking or your name makes your supervisor think you’re of Chinese origin – and your supervisor harasses or discriminates against you because of it – it doesn’t matter if your heritage is Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese or something else entirely. The fact that your supervisor believed you were of Chinese origin and took adverse action against you because of that belief is enough.

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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 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.

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.)

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.

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