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California fitness chain hit with wage disputes, labor violations

Weight wasn't the only thing allegedly being lost at Camp Bootcamp recently. Wages were being lost, too. The fitness chain recently was cited and fined after complaints of wage disputes, overtime violations and rest break violations. The California company will be on the hook for $8.3 million in alleged wage theft and labor law violations. 

Over 550 workers from several of the company's 15 locations were deemed to be owed funds for the company's faulty payment practices. The California Labor Commissioner's Office announced the details of the story in early March 2018. The violations spanned over three years from 2014 to 2017. 

Reasons that might constitute wrongful termination

Employees in any industry in California have rights. Although many are at-will workers, meaning that resignations and terminations may happen at will, employees are protected from wrongful termination. However, when is a termination wrongful or illegal? One reason for dismissal that might lead to a lawsuit is claiming just cause, typically meaning disclosing confidential business issues, willful misconduct or persistent performance failure. Such accusations must be proved.

Labor law protects workers against termination for concerted activity. This involves discussions with co-workers about wages and working conditions. Whistleblowers are also protected from being fired in retaliation, and a worker's medical history or genetic information may not serve as grounds for dismissal.

Family and Medical Leave Act may be supplemented by paid leave

Increasingly, employers recognize the importance of allowing employees time away from work to take care of an addition to the family or a sick family member. Twenty-five years ago, the federal government passed a law called the Family and Medical Leave Act. The FMLA allows workers at larger companies up to 12 weeks of unpaid family leave without endangering one's job. Now, some states like California also offer paid family leave. Experts believe that the push to expand paid family leave will continue. 

Right now, paid family leave is the law in only four states, but at least two more locations are on the way to passing similar laws within two years. Employers and employees alike feel that this type of leave is compassionate and also makes their companies more competitive in the labor market. Some smaller companies wish to provide paid or unpaid leave, but financial constraints prevent them from doing so. 

Another ex-Google employee claims wrongful termination

A now-famous memo written by a now-former staff member of tech giant Google sent waves through the news media late last year. The employee was later fired and eventually fired suit against his former employer for wrongful termination. Now another employee, on the other side of the political fence, has allegedly been fired for his responses to the memo and other statements on the California company's message boards. 

The individual was critical of the initial memo sent out by the employee and was active in his defense of diversity. He reportedly commented on message boards, calling the memo misogynistic and offering his politically liberal views. In response to the man's comments on the company message boards, an HR official met with him to discuss why the comments were not work-appropriate. His use of language was called into question, and he was told that his statements may have used generalizations about race and gender. 

Lawsuit alleges employment discrimination at Vice Media

A hugely popular news media organization is facing allegations of unfair and gender-biased pay in a recent lawsuit. The California company is again in the spotlight for its workplace issues, this time with female employees stating that they were paid significantly less than their male co-workers. The employment discrimination lawsuit follows earlier allegations of sexual misconduct by some of its employees. 

A former Vice Media employee has brought the suit against the news giant after allegedly discovering the pay gap between her and her male counterparts. She claims that male employees were paid tens of thousands of dollars more than female employees. Supposedly, a male employee whom she hired was promoted to become her supervisor because he was a good personality fit for male clients. 

California legislature releases sexual harassment records

Problems for employees exists at all levels of employment, from the lowest ranks of minimum wage workers to the highest ranks of elite lawmakers. One such problem of employment is sexual harassment. Recently, the California state legislature released records of several sexual harassment cases that have occurred at the Capitol dating back more than a decade. 

One such lawmaker, a now gubernatorial candidate, has been named in the heavily redacted document release. The investigation against this man dates back to 2013 and involved one female staff member. The staff member claimed that the then-state assemblyman would make a practice of being too close to her and that he even slid his foot over to touch hers during a meeting. 

Wage disputes being tackled by California bills

The construction industry in the state has been feeling the effects of a new labor bill that aims to make employers responsible to fairly compensate their employees. Some opponents of the new measure have been making claims that the new rules have created a labor shortage in the industry. Others say that this measure only affects employers who thrive on using sub-minimum wages and evasion of fair labor practices. The bill itself will make it easier for some California workers to settle wage disputes

Over the last seven years, the number of employees working in the construction trades has actually increased by almost 300,000 workers. Although construction employment still isn't as high as it was 10 years ago, the market is slowly recovering, and construction workers' wages have begun to climb back up. The increase in wages has some groups worried about labor shortages. 

Family and Medical Leave Act a foundational benefit

Many individuals will face a medical need or will require time to help a sick or disabled family member. A federal program known as the Family and Medical Leave Act provides the ability for most employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from their jobs without endangering their employment. California has also supplemented this program with an additional paid family leave insurance program for state residents. 

This February will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the FMLA program. Since its inception, the program has been utilized over 200 million times by workers all across the United States. Unfortunately, this program is not available to all workers, and some individuals who experience a serious medical issue are not afforded the protections of the Act. 

Employment discrimination rampant in STEM fields

Technology and science industries are rapidly advancing across much of California, but some people insist that they are being left out. Despite millions of new jobs in science, technology, engineering and math -- STEM -- minorities tend to be underrepresented in these fields. Many claim that this is not due to a lack of qualified candidates, but because of employment discrimination.

STEM positions encompass a wide range of jobs, including engineers, computer programmers and lab technicians. However, many women have a difficult time obtaining such positions even when they are well-qualified for the job. Data suggests that it is actually more difficult for women to get and maintain employment in computer science now than it was back the early 1990s. Currently, one in four computer science positions is held by a woman, whereas that number was one in three in 1990. Sexual harassment is also a rampant issue for women in STEM, with one in five reporting workplace sexual harassment.

Wrongful termination alleged in California hotel lawsuit

An ex-employee of a hotel chain claims that she was mistreated on the job and later fired unfairly. The woman was formerly employed with a California Four Seasons hotel. She claims that her employer singled her out based on her race and exposed her to unsafe working conditions. When she spoke out about the treatment, the woman says the case escalated to one of wrongful termination

Working conditions inside the hotel's greenhouse and landscaping workshop were less than ideal, with temperatures sometimes climbing over 100 degrees. The former employee said that she mentioned the excessive temperatures and was told that it was good for her skin and for a person of her age. The woman's lawsuit also alleges that the employer tried to force her to use a saw to cut a branch that she had not been trained to use. Another employee was injured using the same saw. 

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