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Articles Posted in Sexual Orientation Discrimination

About four years ago, a Fresno-area employment attorney wrote a blog post about a workplace discrimination case in which he gave employers the free advice of “don’t be a jerk.” OK, he didn’t use the work “jerk,” but you can still absorb the author’s main idea. Employers being jerks can do themselves quite a bit of damage. They may cause good employees to leave, good candidates to stay away and, sometimes, they may run afoul of discrimination law, particularly when it comes to creating hostile work environments. When you’ve faced that kind of harm on the job, it is important to reach out to an experienced Oakland employment attorney promptly.

Some employees may face bigger hurdles than others. For example, if you work for an employer that’s a church or church-related entity (such as, for example, a Catholic school,) then you may find that the discrimination you suffered at work may not be something upon which you can sue. That’s because of something called the “ministerial exception.” In fact, a U.S. Supreme Court case that recently ruled against two Catholic school teachers (one fired due to age and one fired due to disability,) made it clear just how broad the ministerial exception is.

Even when the hurdles are high, such as working for a religious employer, it is important to seek out capable legal advice before you decide to abandon your case. Sometimes, the totality of the facts in your case may still provide you with some legal avenue for compensation. For example, a religious employer may be able to demote or fire you because of your disability, age or sex, under the protection of the ministerial exception but, as one recent case illustrates, may be liable if it so humiliated, harassed and belittled you as to create a hostile work environment.

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The law in California requires a worker to file an administrative complaint for discrimination with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) within one year of the discriminatory actions. The good news for workers, though, is that there are circumstances where the law may give you extra time to file a complaint with DFEH or file a lawsuit with the court. One way this can happen is through something that the law calls “equitable tolling.” Another legal concept that may help your case is something called a “continuing violation” of the Fair Employment and Housing Act. These tools can help you present to the court a fuller and more persuasive case and potentially entitle you to a larger sum of compensation. The key thing is to make absolutely sure that you don’t wait too long, as that could cost you your case entirely. Contact a knowledgeable Oakland employment attorney to learn more about your options and deadlines.

J.B. was a Northern California worker whose discrimination case focused heavily on those deadlines. J.B. was an openly gay man who worked for the California Highway Patrol from 1996 to 2016. During those two decades, J.B. allegedly suffered through many injustices, including “derogatory, homophobic comments,” being “singled him out for pranks” and having his mailbox “repeatedly defaced.” On top of those things, other officers also allegedly “refused to provide him with backup assistance during enforcement stops in the field.”

Eventually, the discrimination and harassment took their toll, according to J.B. He filed a workers’ compensation claim in January 2015. In that action, he stated that he had begun having “headaches, muscle pain, stomach issues, anxiety and stress.” He was also allegedly suicidal due to problems at work. J.B. won his workers’ comp case. That ruling came down in October 2015 and, four months later, he left his job. Several months after leaving, J.B. filed a claim with the DFEH and filed a discrimination lawsuit the next day.

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