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Northern California Employment Law Blog

8 California workers sue for sexual harassment

A workplace that was supposed to be a training ground for new and disabled workers was the target of a recent lawsuit. Eight workers won a settlement against a California Goodwill franchise and its affiliate after claiming sexual harassment. The workers said that they were repeatedly harassed by their direct supervisor.

The women were employed by Goodwill Industries of the East Bay and Calidad Industries, Inc. They were in a janitorial job program. Many of the employees are disabled and new to the workforce. Unfortunately, instead of additional support, the women were sexually harassed, and two managers who advocated for the women were retaliated against. 

California police officer claims employment discrimination

A worker has the right to be free from bigotry while at work. Recently, a California police officer filed a claim alleging that he had been a victim of employment discrimination. He says that his religion played a role in his mistreatment. The department maintains that his claims were taken seriously and some sources say that the man was also guilty of using racially-charged terms. 

The officer, a Muslim man from Lebanon, has had a lengthy career with the police force. After 9/11, he said he began to hear racial slurs that associated him with terrorists. Both he and his wife say that religious and racial discrimination is pervasive in the force. When the problems started, the man said that he reported the issues to his supervisor, but no actions were taken. 

Former insurance employee wins wrongful termination suit

A man who says he was wrongfully let go from his job was recently vindicated in court. A California jury heard the case and decided that the man's arrest record was wrongfully used against him. He was awarded $18 million by the jury in the wrongful termination case. 

The 55-year-old worked for the insurer Allstate. He was let go from his position in 2016 following a 2015 arrest after an argument with a girlfriend during which he was charged for an unspecified crime. All charges against the man were later dismissed and no conviction was secured. 

Sexual harassment claims emerge from Salk Institute

A respected California science institute is under fire again for the behavior of one of its top scientists. The Salk Institute, based out of La Jolla, was recently featured in the news when eight female employees spoke out to the journal Science to say that they had experienced sexual harassment from a renowned biologist over several years. The scientists denies the allegations and the Salk Institute has launched an investigation. 

The women claimed that the biologist engaged in habitual sexual harassment while they worked at the institute. The oldest incident dated back more than 30 years. His alleged behavior included forced kisses, pinching and unwanted grabbing. At least one of the women claim that she was assaulted at a party. Another said that she always tried to avoid him. 

More individuals support paid maternity leave

In an unusual measure of united support, studies show that most Americans believe that some type of family leave should be an option for workers. In California, in addition to federal Family and Medical Leave Act benefits, workers are offered up to six weeks of paid family leave. Other states are looking to California and others like it as they begin to develop their own programs, and perhaps that momentum will build to a national protocol for maternity leave

One study shows that over 75 percent of Americans support some form of family leave, although they may have differing opinions of how to accomplish this goal. California led the pack of states by including paid family leave beginning in 2004. Almost 15 years of lessons from the state and others have helped new states begin to adopt and develop policies of their own. 

Former marble employee claims wrongful termination in lawsuit

A former employee of a marble company claims that he was let go from his employment without cause. The man worked for the California company for a number of years. His lawsuit claims wrongful termination as well as violations of his employee rights. 

The man's complaint was filed in April and cited violations of state Labor Code and wrongful termination. Over the 15 years of his employment, the man claims that he worked over 40 hours per week and was not compensated for overtime pay. He also says that he was forced to work through rest and lunch breaks. 

California bill seeks to end wage disputes for port truckers

The state hopes to stamp out misclassified truck drivers at state ports. California bill SB 1402 will hold companies accountable if they choose to hire trucking companies who have been found to break the law regarding wage theft. Truckers have long protested the wage disputes and some report happiness at seeing the tide finally turn at the port. 

Many truck companies have been found guilty of misclassifying their drivers as independent contractors instead of employees. This leads to issues with workers' compensation, wage theft, imposing unlawful expenses on employees and more. The trucking companies have been accused of cheating their employees to cut costs. 

California lawmaker faces lawsuit amidst sexual harassment claims

Another lawmaker has been accused of inappropriate behavior by a former employee. The assemblyman is being sued by his former chief of staff for wrongful termination because, says the former chief, he reported that the assemblyman was harassing his staff. The sexual harassment claims continue to fly in California, and the accused lawmaker says that the man he fired was guilty of exactly the behaviors he reported. 

Late last year, the assemblyman faced allegations of sexual assault, although those claims could not be substantiated and were eventually dropped. Now, the man's former chief of staff has filed a lawsuit alleging a hostile work environment in which he was retaliated against for reporting inappropriate behavior to the supervising committee. The plaintiff alleges that the lawmaker created environments in which he was able to sexually harass staff; in turn, staff members complained to the chief of staff.

California company faces charges of employment discrimination

An employee of a large investment company has stepped forward to claim that she wasn't treated fairly at her job. Her lawsuit charges the California firm with employment discrimination based on her sex and age. The company denies the allegations, and the case is pending in court. 

A female executive said that she was repeatedly passed over for promotions at work in favor of other male employees. She also claims that, when she complained about the issue to her supervisors, her compensation plan suffered soon afterward. A series of complaints was then lodged against her, which she says were fabricated in an attempt to get her demoted. 

Nurse claims employer did not provide reasonable accommodations

Some types of leave are offered to employees as a federal benefit. The Family and Medical Leave Act is one such program that is offered in all 50 states. It allows employees to take unpaid time away from work without jeopardizing their jobs. Recently, one woman filed a lawsuit, claiming that her employers fired her in violation of FMLA and failed to provide reasonable accommodations. California residents facing similar issues with employers may be able to learn something from the woman's case.  

The woman worked as a nurse in a hospital where she was injured in the line of duty. She filed a workers' compensation claim after the injury and continued to work with weight restrictions. Later, she took FMLA leave to care for her sick father. Following her two-week FMLA leave, she experienced a flare-up of her original workers' comp injury, leaving her unable to lift more than 10 pounds. 

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