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Northern California Employment Law Blog

Can I practice my faith while I am at work?

People in Fresno practice a variety of religions, and some may hold strong moral beliefs but practice no religion in particular. Both federal laws and California laws prohibit employers in this state from discriminating against people, including current employees and job applicants, because of their religious beliefs and practices. This means that an employer cannot fire, discipline, or otherwise take an adverse action against an employee because of their religion.

However, the rules are slightly different when it comes to actually allowing a person to practice their faith in the workplace. This is because the law recognizes that while individuals should be allowed to practice their faith and hold a job, businesses cannot accommodate all religious practices without sacrificing important interests, such as health and safety, or even the right of the business to make an honest profit.

California employers must take steps to help pregnant moms

A previous post on this blog discussed a sad case in which a pregnant mom, who was a California prison guard, lost her baby after she had to break up a fight involving inmates. The woman is now suing her employer on account of its medical leave policy, a policy which she claims served to discriminate against pregnant employees.

The woman's story illustrates that California employers have to do more than just not fire or discipline a woman just because she is pregnant.

Top California judge vows to clean up the courts

fter more than $500,000 in payouts, California’s top judge has ordered a review of harassment, discrimination and inappropriate conduct in the state judicial branch.

State Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye ordered the review after it was revealed earlier this year that the court system has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to settle five sexual harassment complaints.

What is retaliation and what can be done about it?

Employees in Fresno enjoy protection from discrimination under both federal law and California law. As this blog has discussed previously, these laws protect employees with certain characteristics from employment discrimination in hiring, firing and just about every personnel matter in between.

However, getting protection from discrimination necessarily implies that an employee is free to complain about it to their managers, and, if they don't get help from their employers, then they can take the issue to the state or federal authorities. An employer, therefore, cannot prevent an employee from exercising their legal rights by disciplining or firing the employee or otherwise treating the employee adversely.

Prison guard suing after losing her baby while on the job

A prison guard who had a history of struggling to conceive is suing her employer, one of California's state prisons, after she lost her baby. The woman said that the loss occurred while she was trying to break up a fight between two prisoners. The woman was seven months along at the time of her accident, and, although the initial conclusion was that she had not injured the baby, she continued to have pain in the area where she fell.

Her diagnosis was a ruptured placenta that had just been too small to notice at the time of the accident. The baby died in connection with the rupture, and the woman had to deliver the child stillborn.

There is no bad joke defense to sexual harassment

To put matters bluntly, the fact that a statement, email or gesture was just a bad joke or one that was misunderstood is simply no excuse for sexual harassment.

Although previous posts have explained that there is no bright line rule for when inappropriate jokes cross the line in to sexual harassment, there are some forms of humor that are always out of place in the office. Unless promptly corrected, they are also yellow flags that signal that the office management tolerates a culture of discrimination.

Discrimination in the course of layoffs

Unfortunately, many residents of Fresno, California, know all too well that layoffs are a part of the economic cycle. From time to time, even the healthiest companies must adjust to market conditions by letting workers go.

This is not wrong per se, as employers have the freedom to control the number of employees they keep on staff. However, a layoff can run afoul of state and federal discrimination laws. If a Fresno employee believes that they were terminated in an unlawfully biased or discriminatory layoff, then they have some legal options available.

Some people with Down’s syndrome struggle to find work

As a parent with an adult child diagnosed with down syndrome, it is concerning when he or she struggles to find adequate work. You may see other parents with children who have graduated and gone into the workforce. They may be advancing quickly while your child is struggling to get their foot in the door at a starter job.

It is never easy to see your loved-one struggle, especially when you suspect injustice on behalf of an irreversible condition. So, what can you do about it? You can research employment laws when it comes to employment discrimination against people with Down’s syndrome. Unfortunately, this type of discrimination occurs often

What exactly is a hostile work environment?

Although the concept can apply to any type of discrimination, the phrase hostile work environment is often used in reference to claims of sexual harassment. To review, there are two basic types of illegal sexual harassment. One is called quid pro quo, in which an employee is expected to do something of a sexual or romantic nature to get a professional advantage, like a raise or a promotion.

The other type of sexual harassment claim is one based on a hostile work environment. While it is hard to give a precise definition of what is or is not a hostile work environment, it is basically a workplace atmosphere that an ordinary employee would consider to be a hotbed for abuse and intimidation.

IBM slapped with another age discrimination suit

Another lawsuit, this one involving a group of employees, has been filed against International Business Machines, a technology company at one time known as "Big Blue" on the stock market. There have been allegations swirling around the Company since some internet news outlets determined that, at least since 2010, IBM had let about 20,000 employees over the age of 40 go. These cuts represented about half of the company's workforce reduction. The plan, say the accusers, was to open some empty desks at the company for younger workers.

The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is independently investigating IBM and the company's hiring and firing practices. For its part, IBM denied the allegations, saying the reality is that the issue is about job skills. The company has committed to re-training and developing the job skills of all of its employees. The company also noted that the average age of its employees has not changed over the last eight years. It is interesting to note, however, that over the last eight years, workers over 55 constituted a growing share of the American labor force.

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