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

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.

Wage transparency: Know your rights

Although women have made many strides in business in decades past, NBC News reports that in California, women on average make 89 cents for every dollar a man earns in the same job. This discrepancy is the lowest in the nation, but that does not make it fair to pay a woman less than a man for the same work. Fighting against the gender pay gap is no simple task, and discrimination can be hard to prove, so it is essential to know the rights afforded in the Golden State.

In 2016, California took several measures to make wage discrimination more difficult for employers. Since women are typically paid less than men, basing incoming salary on an employee’s previous salary could perpetuate a pay disparity throughout an entire career, stunting one’s earning potential. With this in mind, California followed Massachusetts and enacted a law that makes it illegal for an employer to ask for a potential hire’s salary history. The state also strengthened laws protecting employees who choose to disclose their earnings with colleagues.

When are sexual remarks against the law?

Each day, hard-working people endure various forms of abuse in the workplace. While some are subjected to wage violations or wrongful termination, others experience sexual harassment that leaves them devastated. Whether you work in Los Angeles, California, or another part of the country, it is essential to recognize your rights and address any occurrences of illegal behavior at once. Unfortunately, some victims of sexual harassment choose to remain silent, whether they are scared about the consequences or do not know that any laws were broken.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a one-off remark or minor teasing that is not particularly serious does not constitute sexual harassment. However, it is very important for those who are mistreated in the workplace to pinpoint illegal actions and address them right away. The EEOC states that when harassment leads to negative employment decisions, such as the loss of a job, or is so serious that it creates hostile work environments, it is against the law.

Sexual harassment in California universities

Many California residents may associate sexual harassment with the workplace. However, college campuses are not immune from this unwanted attention. The University of California system highlights how extensive this problem can be inside academia.

The University of California system recently released 113 sexual harassment cases to the public. The accusations include sexual assault and innuendos. These cases reflect 3 year’s worth of sexual harassment claims. A university spokeswoman has suggested that the number of incidents is likely similar to those of other large organizations. However, attorneys who have worked on these cases argue that the rates of sexual harassment are likely much higher, and that many incidents may not be reported. The cases which have been released are from concluded investigations.

Is your employer violating your breastfeeding rights?

Most women in California understand that pregnancy is a covered condition under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which ensures that their job will be waiting for them after maternity leave. Not as many women realize that their lactation and right to breastfeed or pump for their new baby is also protected. Under state law, California employers must provide lactating women with a private space not in the bathroom and breaks for pumping breast milk or nursing a new infant. Unfortunately, it isn't uncommon for companies to ignore or willfully violate the law when it comes to new mothers.

Pumping milk for your infant or nursing them can provide a stronger start to life. Babies that receive breast milk instead of formula tend to have better health. The mothers also receive health benefits, from faster loss of the baby weight to slightly reduced risk of breast cancer. Being unable to express or pump breast milk can reduce a mother's production. It can also be physically painful. New mothers who choose to return to work deserve to be accommodated by their employers. If your employer has refused to comply with the law, you should speak with an experienced California employment law attorney.

What are the child labor laws for the entertainment industry?

California is known for being the film capital of the United States. As such, there is a special need for laws and regulations for the entertainment industry, specifically those pertaining to child labor. It is up to the state to create laws that will ensure the safety and well-being of children who are working in film, television and other areas of the entertainment industry.

According to the Department of Industrial Relations, hour and wage laws for children in this industry are a little different than the standard laws for child labor. The hour laws are based on the age of the child and include stipulations for how many hours they are allowed to be on set. In addition, these hours also relate to when school is in session and when it is not.

Contract employees and termination

Termination for any or no reason is often acceptable under the at-will doctrine for those who do not have a written or implied contract. However, when an employee in California has an employment agreement, the employer has less discretion in the matter. Chron.com explains that the contract typically spells out the process that must be undertaken, or the activities that may be grounds for ending the contract before its completion date. These include the following:

  •          Elimination of the job or reduction in workforce
  •          Misrepresentation
  •          Extreme immoral conduct or offensive behavior
  •          Unmet contract terms or failure to perform job duties

According to the State of California Department of Industrial Relations, there are many laws that address specific situations where an employer may not legally terminate an employee. For example, a worker has the right to serve jury duty, and is generally protected when he or she needs to appear in court for other reasons, as well.

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