Whether you actively follow California employment law news or simply enjoy having an easy way to schedule a ride somewhere, you've probably heard about a recent case involving the online ride-sharing company Uber. On Tuesday, the California Labor Commission ruled on an appeal by an Uber driver who had been seeking reimbursement from the company for job-related expenses. The trouble was, companies only have to reimburse employees -- not independent contractors.
Does California law mandate that businesses keep their workplaces drug-free? This controversial question can be tough to answer. A recent example demonstrated that the potential for workplace discrimination can occur in a variety of contexts. One situation at a California nonprofit company involved the hiring of an employee for a maintenance position. A middle manager had instructions to test the applicant repeatedly until he was able to pass a drug-screening test that qualified him for employment. These directions stood in direct conflict with written procedures that said to reject someone who failed a drug test. In this situation, the applicant had used medical marijuana for many years and stood a high risk of testing positive for drugs.
A woman is claiming she was fired from her position with a California college after she became pregnant. Up until last October, the woman was employed as a financial aid specialist by San Diego Christian College. After stories began circulating campus that the then-unmarried woman was pregnant, her supervisor asked her if the rumors were true. When she said yes, she was given a choice between resigning or being fired. The woman is now suing her former employer for wrongful discharge. College officials say the woman was not fired because she was pregnant but because she violated the terms of a "community covenant" that all employees and students of the school are required to sign. The covenant prohibits use of drugs, alcohol and cigarettes and other behavior viewed as immoral, including premarital sex. The human resources director for the college told the woman she was being fired for engaging in premarital sex.
A judge has ordered Bloom Energy Corp. to pay 14 Mexican workers nearly $64,000 for wage and hour violations. The green energy company, which manufactures solid oxide fuel cells, brought workers from Chihuahua, Mexico, to its Sunnyvale, Calif., plant to refurbish power generators. The workers came into the country on visitors' visas and were not authorized to work in the United States, but lack of proper work authorization was not the only issue. Under both California and federal wage and hour laws, employers must pay workers at least the minimum wage for all hours worked. In California, the minimum wage is $8.00 per hour, higher than the $7.25 hourly rate required under federal law. Bloom did not pay either rate; instead, it paid the workers the equivalent of $2.66 an hour in pesos. The violations were deemed intentional, meaning the company was required to pay employees the $31,922 it owed in back wages plus the same amount for liquidated damages.
A former swimming coach and employee of a California swim club recently sued the club and its head coach for wrongful termination. The employee claims that she was fired because she repeatedly reported instances of inappropriate behavior on the part of a volunteer assistant coach to the head coach. The employee was concerned about the assistant coach's behavior toward children. She says that she discussed her concerns with the head coach on many occasions, and his response was to terminate her employment.
Sexual harassment on the job is never acceptable, but sometimes it takes a lot of bravery for someone to report it. People who are victims of sexual harassment may worry about the impact that coming forward can have not only on themselves but on their coworkers. A school principal in Sacramento, California, is now catching some heat for his actions against a woman who filed a complaint and that woman's direct supervisor.
A seven-year employee of Zionist Organization of America accuses the organization of workplace discrimination and wrongful termination after she took maternity leave. The organization's president took the stand as the final witness in the bench trial last week. The employee was the California-based national director for the group's campus activities department. The group advocates on issues regarding Israel and has an estimated $4 million budget.
The former Fire Chief for the city of Stockton, California, is claiming he was the victim of religious discrimination and was wrongfully terminated. The wrongful termination suit was filed against the Stockton City Manager and Deputy City Manager as well as the city. As many in California may have heard, the city of Stockton is heading towards bankruptcy, which could put the final outcome of the case well into the future.
An out of court settlement was reached last month in an employment discrimination lawsuit filed by a former community relations director for the Golden State Warriors NBA basketball team. The suit accused former guard, Monta Ellis of sexual harassment, claiming the player sent the plaintiff unsolicited text messages that included explicit photos.
The non-profit advocacy organization, National Partnership for Women & Families issued a new report titled "Expecting Better," which graded every state, including D.C., on how well the state and its programs and laws support new parents. California was one of only two states to receive the top score of an A-. No states received an A or A+ grade in the report. According to the non-profit, there are gaps in the Family and Medical Leave Act, which is the only federal employment law that allows new parents to take unpaid time off when a new child arrives.