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Northern California Employment Law Blog

Woman claims wrongful termination against California employer

A recent news story has reported that one woman has filed a lawsuit against her former employer. The woman alleges that she was sexually harassed, retaliated against, and finally fired because she resisted the sexual demands of her employer. She has charged the California employer with harassment and wrongful termination.

The woman was en employee of Raj Properties where she was employed as a janitor. She alleges that her boss would grope her and fondle himself while requesting sexual favors. The woman has claimed that the incidents of harassment happened several times. Other employees allegedly were aware of the man's behavior, and the woman supposedly was urged by other employees to just ignore it. As she rebuffed the advances, the man became irritated and supposedly gave her a heavier and heavier workload. 

Most Americans support reasonable accommodations for leave

Most people will admit that there are times when a person simply needs to be at home to take care of the family. Whether that leave is used to introduce a new child, to care for a family member or to address one's own health concerns, there are times when a person will require significant time off from work in order to tend the home fires. The Family and Medical Leave Act allows certain employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, and employers must allow for reasonable accommodations for disabled employees in California and across the country. Some individuals also feel that it is time to give paid medical leave to individuals who have medical or caregiving needs at home.

Recent polling shows that Americans on both sides of the political fence support a paid leave option for working mothers and individuals with family caregiving needs. Right now, only a low percent of individuals have access to paid family or short-term disability leave. A few states, including California, have passed or implemented legislation to give paid leave to employees, but there is no national policy yet. 

New California bill would aid wage disputes

Construction workers may soon have increased abilities to reclaim back pay if they were stiffed by a contractor. The California bill, which has passed the Senate and the Assembly, is now on the Governor's desk. It would allow construction workers to seek lost wages and benefits from the general contractor, even if they did not directly work for the contractor. Many wage disputes occur when the subcontractor skips town or declares bankruptcy to avoid paying workers. 

The bill was heavily lobbied and passed with a wide margin. Unions have said that the bill gives low-level workers a new legal option when subcontractors renege on their agreements to pay them. Industry experts say the measure could dramatically increase the cost of building. 

Former California Goodwill employee sues for wrongful termination

An employee of a company would like to think that, if a safety issue is reported in good faith, the company will take steps to address and ameliorate the issue. This was not the case for one California man, who has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against his former employer. The chain of Goodwill stores is currently facing another lawsuit and a series of safety violations, as well as the lawsuit from the fired employee. 

The Northern California chain of stores has been issued more citations than any other chain of Goodwill stores in the state. The incident to which the man's lawsuit is related resulted in safety violations and a record-breaking fine from the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration. A man's head was crushed during his shift when it became trapped in a dangerous area near a compactor. 

Ex-Google women share employment discrimination woes

It is hard for a company to buck long-standing gender norms and stereotypes, but in the United States, it isn't an option. Since gender and racial equality are written into law, businesses must find a way to overcome any lingering cultural negativity and embrace fair workplaces for all. Employment discrimination has negative impacts on the well-being of employees, and the company will also suffer as a result. California technology giant Google is currently grappling with these issues as more ex-employees speak out about their experience of bias on the job. 

In a recent Glamour article, three women came forward to share what it was like for them while they were employed at Google. One woman reported that she did not see many women in the top ranks of the company. She also noted that persons of color were underrepresented as well. One report of the gender and ethnic makeup of Google employees indicates that she may be right. Fifty six percent of employees there are Caucasian, and 69 percent of employees are male. 

Sexual harassment issues in California startups spark bill

Legislation has come a long way in protecting vulnerable classes of employees from abuse and mistreatment. If an employee finds herself being harassed by another employee or supervisor within her company, she can take the issue to HR and to court if need be, since sexual harassment is prohibited in the workplace. The relationship between investors and startup founders isn't as clear when it comes to harassment, however, and this gray area has led to the development of a new California bill. 

Since a founder is not technically an employee of the venture capitalist investor, when she experiences harassment on the job, she isn't able to report the violation to human resources. This leaves many founders without recourse when facing inappropriate behavior at work. But one lawmaker wants to change this.

Reasons for wrongful termination in California

Jobs come and jobs go. Sometimes an employee decides to leave a job, and sometimes the employer gives an employee the boot. In an at-will employment state like California, both the employer and the employee can terminate the employment at any time. The at-will designation may make it seem like there can be no case for wrongful termination, since an employer can let a person go at any time. However, there are some protected statuses, and it is true that an employer cannot end the employment for just any reason. 

Certain federal laws protect employees. There is Title VII or the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and a state law, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. Together, these laws protect an employee from being fired due to race, sex, national origin, disability, pregnancy, age, gender, sexual orientation and religion. If an employee was let go from his or her job for any of the above reasons, that employee may have a case for wrongful termination.

Apple workers file wage disputes in California

Should an employee be paid for time spent undergoing a security check? This is the question asked in a recent class action lawsuit filed by California Apple employees. The wage disputes are a result of the significant amount of time that some employees spend waiting for security checks off the clock. The courts have not yet come to a consensus on the issue. 

An Apple employee must undergo a security check every time he or she leaves work if they choose to bring any type of bag with them. If an employee chooses not to bring a purse or briefcase, they are exempt from the post-work security searches. Apple claims that the check is not a mandatory policy, since employees can choose not to bring bags, and the company does not compensate employees for their time spent waiting for and undergoing the security checks. 

Is California Google case one of employment discrimination?

Recently, tech giant Google released an employee who wrote a memo about gender differences as a way to describe the gap in representation in technology jobs. The memo sought to demonstrate biological differences between men and women and was written from a conservative perspective. Upon its release, the California company fired the employee, citing that the man was perpetuating harmful stereotypes in the workplace. The man is considering his legal options as he believes his firing was a result of employment discrimination. 

The man could choose to make his legal claim in one of three main ways. He could claim that his employer violated national labor laws that protect his right to certain activities. The National Labor Relations Act, in Section 7, protects activities aimed at improving the conditions in a workplace. Another option for a potential lawsuit is to claim that his employer violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, although he would have to prove that he was released from his position due to his race or gender. 

California pastor's inappropriate behavior pushes co-worker out

One pastor's antics has caused an uproar with one co-worker, an associate youth pastor, who has filed a claim. The woman alleges inappropriate behavior coming from the pastor and claims that the church did not do enough to stop it. This California congregation is learning about sexual harassment policies the hard way. More details are given in a recent news story. 

The woman, who had worked for the church since 2008, is suing the church and its new pastor. She claims that she was fired after she complained to church authorities about the man's behavior. The accused man recently took a position with the church in March, and the woman claims that the harassment started almost immediately. 

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