The Kaufman Law Firm
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An Employee Rights Law Firm

Matthew A. Kaufman has successfully represented employees in the areas of Family Medical Leave, Disability Discrimination and Wage & Commissions disputes for more than 20 years

Los Angeles Employment Law Blog

Legal weed and the workplace

As California law has changed to allow for legal recreational marijuana for those over the age of 21, many across the state are left with questions. Can an employee be fired for legally using marijuana? The answer is not a simple yes or no.

As the Sacremento Bee reports, despite legalization, drug-free workplaces remain legal. This means that failing or refusing a drug test can still lead to termination. Not only does this apply to those who are regulated by the U.S. Transportation Department, since the federal government does not recognize the legality of recreational marijuana, this also applies to federal employees and contractors. State employees can be tested and fired depending on the outcome of their tests as well. Proposition 64, which is what legalized recreational marijuana, specifically included language that gave employers the right to determine "workplace policies pertaining to marijuana." This means that each individual workplace is able to have their own rules, which can mean no pot period or no partaking while on the clock, which is to be expected.

Are you angry about sexual harassment? You should be

Sexual harassment is one of the most disgusting experiences that anyone may have to endure. If you take a moment to think about the reality of what's going on in these cases, it's enough to make any law-abiding citizen put up a fight.

Fortunately, if you're being victimized by on-the-job sexual harassment, the law is on your side and you can put up a fight. However, you might need to allow yourself to get a little bit angry first.

Can quitting a job still be considered wrongful termination?

In most cases, if you quit your job in California, it is considered a willful move on your part, and you have no grounds to claim you were wrongfully terminated. However, the American Bar Association notes there are some situations where you can quit your job and still have grounds for wrongful termination. The grounds for such a claim are fairly limited, though.

The main idea behind a wrongful termination situation where the employee quit and was not actually fired by the employer is something called constructive discharge. This concept came about due to employers trying to get employees to quit their jobs so they did not have to fire them and be held liable under various laws, such as the Civil Rights Act or the National Labor Relations Act.

New worker regulations will protect from heat

As summer heats up so does the pressure for California business owners. As Bloomberg BNA reports, a proposed rule from California Division of Occupational Safety and Health will require employers to have a written plan in place to keep heat illnesses from occurring indoors. Cal/OSHA hopes to have the final rule in place by January 1, 2019. There are already regulations in place to protect workers outdoors in high-temperature situations, such as restaurants and warehouses.

Studies have shown that regulations for employees in high-heat areas are especially important for people who are new to the job. Out of 13 deaths caused by high temperatures, nine of the people died in the first three days on the job. Earlier versions of the proposed rule included special rules as an employee was introduced into the work. The earlier version also had a temperature trigger of 80 or 90 degrees that was reliant upon the difficulty of labor being performed. Some labor advocates are concerned that these regulations are no longer in the most recent version. They are also concerned that basing it upon temperature, rather than heat index, could have workers being exposed to unsafe conditions. Some business owners say the newer rules are less confusing for employers.

What you should know about a medical leave of absence

As an employee, you may face situations where you need to take time off of work and concentrate on an important issue. Whether you or a family member is suffering from a serious medical condition or you have just given birth to a baby, you may be required to take a break from work for a few weeks.  The Family Medical Leave Act may provide workers with the assurance that they will not lose their job while they are out taking care of these important matters. However, you must meet certain criteria before you can receive this benefit.

Your employer must be covered for FMLA by employing more than 50 workers. These workers must be within 75 miles of your worksite in order to be considered eligible. You must also be employed for at least 12 months. The 12 months does not have to be consecutive; however, there cannot be a break of more than seven years in between employment. In addition, you must have worked for more than 1250 hours within that 12-month period.

Men are objects of sexual harassment too

When people think about the subject of sexual harassment, they often picture women being harassed by men. While sexual harassment toward women is more common, men can also be the object of harassment in the workplace. An increasing number of women are accepting positions in high corporate management, giving them power over many employees and departments. In these roles, women are in a better position to make inappropriate comments and threats to people who they oversee on a regular basis.

According to the EEOC, at least 16.3 percent of sexual harassment complaints are made by men. This information does not distinguish, however, if the harassment stems from a woman or from another man. In several cases, men have filed lawsuits against women harassers and have won their settlements. In a recent case, a top executive was put on administrative leave after it was found she had been making lewd comments to her male colleagues.

A look at national origin discrimination

Sadly, employees who work in all sorts of fields continue to face discrimination on a regular basis. Sometimes, they are unlawfully discriminated against based on their age, gender or race. However, there are other forms of discrimination that may not always receive as much attention, such as national origin discrimination. In Los Angeles, and all throughout California, it is pivotal for employees who witness illegal discrimination or believe they have experienced discrimination firsthand to address the situation right away.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, discriminating against an employee based on his or her national origin is against the law. In fact, discrimination is prohibited during all aspects of the employment process, including the hiring, firing and reassigning of employees. Employers are also not allowed to discriminate against protected employees because they have associations with or are married to a person from a certain national origin.

Workplace breaks explained

If you are an employee in California, it can be difficult to know what the law says about when and how often you can take breaks from work. Some employers may give you exact guidelines, but others may not. No matter how much information you are given from your boss, it can be a good idea to double check the law and be sure you are getting what you deserve. We at The Kaufman Law Firm work hard to not only fight for employee rights in court, but also educate you on what the law says.


Is your employer discriminating against you due to a disability?

Living with a disability is difficult. Basic tasks like dressing or commuting to work can be much harder. That doesn't mean that you are any less qualified for your job than non-disabled co-workers. All too often, however, employers choose to discriminate against workers who have disabilities. This discrimination can take many forms. In some cases, an employer will simply choose not to hire someone with visible disabilities after learning about them. In other cases, an employer may intentionally pay a disabled worker less for the same job when compared with other coworkers.

Sometimes, workers acquire disabilities during the course of ongoing employment. Your disability could be the result of an accident, a degenerative medical condition or some other acquired medical issue. Your employer may refuse to offer reasonable accommodations, such as accessibility ramps, special devices for those with hearing or visual disabilities or other necessary changes that allow you to continue to perform your job. If you've experienced any of these forms of disability discrimination, you need to speak with an experienced California employment law attorney as soon as possible.

Can I be fired for refusing a drug test?

If your employer at a private company in California tells you that you must take a drug test, you may wonder if state law allows it. Unfortunately, the answer to that is not necessarily simple. According to the State of California’s Employment Development Department, there are instances where you could be terminated because of your refusal. However, some court cases have determined that wrongful termination took place after an employee was fired for refusing to take a random drug test.

The nature of your job could affect your employer's need to ensure that you are not impaired in any way. A hazardous environment is characterized by whether your job duties could cause serious injuries to you or to someone else. Even in such an environment, the employer typically still needs to have a reason to believe that you may be under the influence of drugs.

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