Civil rights in the workplace
The #MeToo movement has put workplace sexual harassment in the spotlight, with numerous high-profile sexual harassment and assault allegations against powerful leaders in multiple industries. #Metoo has helped shed light on, and create a public conversation surrounding workplace issues that often go unreported. As more and more people step forward to share their stories, and... read more.
Confidentiality clauses of one sort or another have been ubiquitous in the workplace for years. They are found in employment contracts, severance agreements, proprietary information agreements, and stand-alone non-disclosure agreements. Some require the employee to keep the terms of any settlement confidential. Others are limited to the protection of trade secret information or purport to... read more.
First, you should know that you’re not alone. Unfortunately, as the #metoo movement has demonstrated, sexual harassment in the workplace is all too common. In 2015, almost one-third of the charges received by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)—the federal agency that administers and enforces federal civil rights laws against discrimination—were harassment claims. And a... read more.
The reports of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct set off a cascade of sexual harassment and assault allegations against well-known men in politics, the arts, academia, and Hollywood. Women posted their personal accounts of #metoo on social media. Spurred by solidarity and accountability, women who long remained silent about harassment and abuse they experienced stepped forward... read more.
San Francisco’s Parity in Pay Ordinance Yesterday, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee signed the Parity in Pay Ordinance, which prohibits employers from inquiring about or relying upon a job applicant’s salary history. Specifically, the Ordinance prevents employers who are required to do business in the City, including City contractors and subcontractors, from considering a job... read more.
The first “National Women’s Day” was observed in the United States in 1909, to recognize the 1908 garment workers’ strike in New York. A year later, Women’s Day was recognized internationally at a conference in Copenhagen, where over 100 women from 17 countries created a worldwide day of celebration to advocate for women’s rights. In... read more.
From Robin Wright making news for demanding the same pay as her ‘House of Cards’ co-star Kevin Spacey to the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team filing an EEOC charge for pay discrimination, equal pay is having a moment–and California’s equal pay laws are no exception. On January 1, 2016, California’s Fair Pay Act took effect to strengthen the... read more.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently announced that it would review the Tenth Circuit’s decision in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch. 731 F.3d 1106 (10th Cir. 2013). In that case, the Tenth Circuit held that an employer is not liable under Title VII for failing to accommodate an applicant’s religious dress unless the applicant explicitly notifies... read more.
Many people often ask me, “Is it harassment if my coworker makes racist remarks?” The answer: maybe. Not every mean or rude comment qualifies as harassment. On the other hand, many employees suffer long periods of unlawful harassment or sexual harassment from their fellow employees but are unaware of what they can do about it.... read more.
Two days ago, the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear the appeal of a former United Parcel Service employee’s claim that the company violated the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) when it refused to provide accommodations for her lifting restrictions during her pregnancy, despite the fact that it provides accommodations to non-pregnant employees with... read more.
Yesterday, the California Supreme Court decided Salas v. Sierra Chemical Co., affirming that the protections of California employment law are available to undocumented immigrants. In 2002, the California Legislature enacted Senate Bill 1818 in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. v. NLRB limiting the ability of undocumented employees fired... read more.
California PFL In 2004, California’s Paid Family Leave (PFL) law took effect. This law provides wage replacement benefits from the state disability insurance program for employees who take a leave of absence to care for a seriously ill child, spouse, parent, or domestic partner, or to bond with a minor child within one year of... read more.
This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the bestselling pregnancy manual What to Expect When You’re Expecting. The most recent edition of What to Expect includes some general information about the legal rights of pregnant employees under federal law alongside practical advice about how to tell your boss you are pregnant and tips for staying safe and healthy on... read more.
In its first published ruling on the subject, a California appeals court has rejected as unreasonable and as against public policy an employer’s attempt to contractually shorten the amount of time an employee has to sue under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Pursuant to the FEHA’s statutory requirements, codified at Cal. Gov. Code... read more.
California’s Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act (the “PAGA”) permits employees to step into the shoes of the state and sue their employers for civil penalties for Labor Code violations when the Labor and Workforce Development Agency declines to investigate the violations or issue citations. Under the PAGA, employees may bring suit on behalf of... read more.
American society today is engaged in an ongoing cultural conversation about work-life balance and how anyone – and particularly women – can “have it all.” In an effort to address the rapidly changing demographics of the nation’s workforce, San Francisco recently became the first American city to pass a “right to request” law, joining Vermont,... read more.
Christmas time raises the question for many employers: what is the role of religion in the workplace? Although questions such as whether a Christmas tree in the hall is appropriate or whether it should be a “holiday” or “Christmas” party can be challenging, there’s one question that the California legislature has recently made easier for... read more.
In Rivera v. Peri & Sons Farms, Inc., No. 11-17365, 2013 WL 5992255 (Nov. 13, 2013), the Ninth Circuit ruled that employers of agricultural guest workers participating in the H-2A visa program must reimburse most travel, recruitment, and immigration-related expenses to H-2A workers in their first week on the job, deepening a circuit split on the... read more.
According to a recent report prepared by the National Women’s Law Center, pregnant workers around the country are very often refused requests for temporary, reasonable modifications to their job duties so they can continue working during pregnancy – for example, the ability to sit for certain periods, to avoid heavy lifting, and to take more frequent bathroom breaks,... read more.
PAGA Overview California’s Private Attorney General Act of 2004-or PAGA-gives private citizens the ability to pursue penalties against employers for violations of the California Labor Code. In cases in which plaintiffs successfully bring PAGA claims, 75% of these penalties go to the state entities (specifically, to the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency or LWDA).... read more.
Employers are not under any obligation to provide employment references for former employees. Providing employment references may leave former employers open to legal liability from the former employee and the prospective employer. For example, if the employer makes disparaging comments about a former employee and as a result, the employee is not hired for the... read more.
Generally, employers are under no obligation to determine whether or not an employee’s substandard performance may be caused by a disability. However, if the employer has received notice that the employee has a disability protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the employer may have an obligation to work with the employee to find... read more.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled employees who need them to complete their job duties. An employee who needs a reasonable accommodation should notify the employer. The notification does not need to be in writing, and the employee can request a reasonable accommodation at any... read more.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes discrimination based on certain characteristics in employment decisions illegal, including an employee’s or job applicant’s religious practices. Thus, employers may not choose whether or not to hire an applicant based on his or her religion, nor may they make other employment decisions, such as raises... read more.
The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires covered employers to provide qualified employees with 12 unpaid days of leave from work during a 12 month period for certain purposes, such as the birth or adoption of a child or caring for an immediate family member with a serious health condition. Who Does the... read more.
What is OSHA? The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a federal body in charge of overseeing employer compliance with workplace health and safety regulations under the OSH Act. To ensure compliance with these regulations, OSHA sends out compliance officers to inspect job sites and investigate claims of dangerous and hazardous working conditions. OSHA... read more.
In some instances, employers may be held liable for the injuries and damages caused by those they employ. Generally, it will have to be proven that the employer knew or should have known that employee’s conduct could result in injury to a third party before an employer can be held liable for an employee’s acts.... read more.
What is the Family and Medical Leave Act? Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), a private employer with at least 50 employees is required to give qualified employees 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year for certain medical and family reasons, such as the adoption or birth of a child or to care... read more.
Although second-hand tobacco smoke is considered by many to be a health hazard, federal law generally does not require employers to provide smoke-free workplaces. However, local city or county laws can choose to regulate smoking laws in the workplace. A Smoke-Free Workplace Only in certain situations must an employer eliminate smoking from its facilities. For... read more.
All employers should have a written anti-harassment policy and a corresponding complaint and investigation procedure. Employers who do not have such a policy may open themselves up to liability in instances when a supervisor is charged with harassing an employee. Additionally, employees who have been the subject of harassment have a duty to report it... read more.