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Northern California Employment Law Blog

California company settles dancer's wage disputes

When employees pool together, they can defeat unfair practices by company owners. Recently, a multi-million dollar class-action lawsuit was settled against a strip club franchise based out of California. Dancers alleged unfair treatment and wage disputes in this case, according to a recent news story. 

The case was decided in federal court, since the franchise operates in several states. The lawsuit claimed that the clubs treated topless and nude dancers as independent contractors instead of regular employees. Dancers claimed that they were making less than minimum wage, were forced to share tips with other club employees and had to pay fees to work in the club.

California woman sues for wrongful termination from county jail

An employer is not allowed to fire an employee as an act of retaliation, especially when the retaliation is due to an issue that is not work-related, such as a loan. If an employee is asked to leave or is eliminated from the schedule due to this type of retaliation, it likely constitutes wrongful termination. A recent news story out of California tells the story of one woman who is suing her former employer for wrongful termination. 

The woman is suing Nevada County and the medical group that serves the Wayne Brown Correctional Facility. She made several loans to her supervisor when he complained of mortgage woes and financial issues. The loans go as far back as 2013, but she was not paid in full the nearly $9,000 she was owed until 2016. In order to get the loans repaid, she had to send a demand letter. 

Sexual harassment investigation changes major California company

While the focus of each company is different, one thing is true across all companies, the work environment is to be free from harassment and discrimination. Sexual harassment in the California workplace is not acceptable and does not provide the right environment for employees to thrive. It's also illegal. A recent new story shares the consequences of sexual harassment in the workplace at Uber, a major transportation company, resulted in firings and restructuring of leadership within the company. 

Uber has been under fire for some time after a viral blog post penned by a female former employee exposed the culture of the workplace. Her revelations sparked an internal investigation as well as a separate investigation by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Out of the 215 claims investigated, the internal investigation found 47 of those to be related to sexual harassment. Another 100 claims were found to be uncorroborated. 

Standardized tests can be a tool of employment discrimination

In the United States, workers are protected from discrimination on the job based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Some California job applicants may be familiar with testing as part of the employment process. Unfortunately, sometimes those tests can be used as a tool of employment discrimination, ruling out otherwise qualified employees with unfair tests that are not relevant to the skills required for the job they are applying for. 

Several companies have recently been cited or sued based on their hiring practices. The U.S. Department of Labor reports on these types of issues as they find them. In one example, a California cheese factory agreed to pay $550,000 and hire 13 rejected workers when its hiring tests were found to put black, Latino and Asian applicants at a disadvantage. Several others companies: an auto parts factory, a chemical plant, a lighting plant and an aluminum factory were also found to use tests that discriminate against women. 

Overtime an issue for California sheriff's deputies

The 40 hour work week was designed so that workers can have balance in their work and home lives. Overtime pay can be a blessing to some, but forced overtime can be a curse to a balanced family life. It really depends on whether the worker is willing and able to allot the extra time to the job. A recent news story shares about a California sheriff's office that is trying to balance staffing issues and overtime needs. 

The sheriff is ordering mandatory overtime for her 840 employees due to low staffing levels. Every employee is expected to work an additional shift and give up one day off to meet the needs of the agency. She is calling the measure "fair share overtime, and it will be mandatory for all employees for three months. 

California VR company sued for wrongful termination, harassment

A harmonious work environment contributes to the productivity and happiness of all employees. There are laws in place that protect employees from hostile work environments. When an employee requests reasonable accommodations, or the reversal of a hostile work environment, he or she cannot be fired for doing so; otherwise, that is wrongful termination. In recent news, a California startup faces allegations of creating a hostile, sex-focused work environment and is also charged with wrongfully terminating a female employee. 

The virtual reality company with offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles consists of co-working spaces, training courses and a media publication. In the lawsuit, plaintiffs allege that company office space was used to host parties and that male employees would often mention the number of women that they wanted to have sex with at the company parties. A room in the office was designated as a place to go to have sex, and employees were encouraged to use it. Female employees were subjected to hearing male employees talk about wanting to have sex with them. 

California study: Female docs face maternity leave discrimination

Being a doctor can be a pretty enviable vocation. It comes with the respect of your community, advanced education and higher than average incomes, but as it turns out, being a doctor can still be a challenging place for a woman. Many women still face institutional discrimination in this profession when it comes to breastfeeding, maternity leave and other women's issues, as a recent study from the University of California, San Francisco illustrates. 

A popular social media group sparked the study, published this month in JAMA Internal Medicine, reporting that four out of five physician mothers say they experience workplace discrimination. The active social media community has over 65,000 members. The group forms a support network for the female docs and, being such a large pool, attracted the attention of researchers. 

Sexual harassment issue in California gets apology

Sexual harassment in the workplace is bad enough, but when employees do not feel supported by their agency directors and supervisors, the experience becomes much worse. Recently, the director of Veterans Affairs for Northern California Health Care System has changed his tune regarding some comments he made about harassment in the workplace. Three women have made sexual harassment claims against VA supervisors, alleging that they were victims of harassment and stalking. Sexual harassment in the workplace is demeaning, demoralizing and traumatizing to employees and contributes to a toxic work environment. 

The VA director had come under fire for some comments he made about ongoing sexual harassment issues at the Department of Veterans Affairs. In an interview, he initially defended the investigation process at the VA, and encouraged women who were not satisfied with the internal investigations to vote with their feet if they did not approve of the results of internal investigations. He mentioned that employees had the option to leave the agency or to go outside of the agency to seek a remedy for their situation. 

Fresno school employee prompts employment discrimination case

A federal court has ruled that employers can pay women less than men for the same work based on their previous salaries. The ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a previous ruling by a lower court. The ruling still has its opponents who claim that this practice violates the Equal Pay Act and is employment discrimination based on sex.

In 2012, a Fresno County Public School employee discovered during talks with her co-workers that she was being paid less than her male counterparts. The school system hired the woman as a consultant for $63,000 per year. The standard for Fresno County Public schools is to add 5 percent to the new employee's old salary as an incentive to join the county school system. The employee's salary was bumped by more than 5 percent, since 5 percent did not raise her to the minimum salary requirement for her position. Even so, she was not being paid as much as her male counterparts. 

OSHA files lawsuit for popcorn worker's retaliation firing

No California employee should ever have to choose between his or her health and livelihood. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was created to enforce workplace health and safety standards, to ensure employees are protected on the job. When employees are worried about their personal well-being, it is illegal for a company to dismiss that worker in retaliation for raising health or safety concerns and communicating with OSHA.

A lawsuit in another state apparently involves just such a situation. According to an OSHA suit, a worker at a popcorn factory named Palo Foods Inc. was wrongfully terminated. It started when the employee began suffering from headaches and nosebleeds and grew concerned that her symptoms were being caused by one or more of the ingredients in a dill-pickle popcorn flavoring she frequently came into contact with as part of her work duties.

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