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Orange County Employment Law Blog

Workplace harrasment and discrimination

Employees in California may benefit from reviewing the laws enforced by the state's Department of Fair Employment and Housing. The laws are designed to protect workers from illegal harassment and discrimination based on several factors such as race, a disability, marital status, ancestry, age, religion, sex and sexual orientation, among others. California law places a number of requirements on employers to help minimize the likelihood of these adverse events from occurring at the workplace.

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits the harassment of employees and prohibits employers from limiting the use of any language at workplace, unless essential for sustaining business. Still, employers are required to inform employees of any language restriction and the penalties for any infractions. The laws also require employers to take reasonable measures to prevent harassment or discrimination from occurring at the workplace. State law requires employers to inform workers on the nature of sexual harassment, its illegality and any legal remedies available.

The steps to take when filing a complaint against an employer

Employees in California who feel as if they have been discriminated against may file a complaint against their employer with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. The process begins by filing DLSE Form RC1, which may be downloaded from the Internet and is available in multiple languages. When filling out the form, it is important to provide all of the information that it asks for.

Failure to fill out the form in its entirety may delay the process of filing the claim and potentially resolving the problem. If there are any documents that the complainant wishes to attach to the form, only copies should be sent. This is because there is a risk that a document could be lost during the claim process. Forms should be signed and dated by the person making the complaint and mailed to the correct address.

The EEOC outlines disability discrimination

People in California may benefit from learning more about how the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines disability discrimination in the workplace. This type of discrimination occurs when an employer or other organization that is subject to the terms of the Americans with Disabilities Act or Rehabilitation Act treats someone unfavorably due to a disability. According to the EEOC, mistreating someone for having history of a disability or a temporary disability is considered to be discrimination.

Federal law requires employers provide reasonable accommodation to people with disabilities unless it creates an undue hardship. The acts also prohibit employers from discriminating against disabilities in any aspect of employment, making it unlawful to harass an employee or a job applicant for having any past, permanent or temporary disability.

Coca-Cola Bottling Company accused of labor law violations

In a complaint filed on Aug. 24, BCI Coca-Cola Bottling Company is accused of intentionally misclassifying employees' status under the Fair Labor Standards Act to avoid paying overtime wages. The lead plaintiff claims he and other employees were misleadingly given managerial job titles though their primary duties were non-managerial in nature. The lawsuit also alleges that the company fails to provide meal and rest breaks to employees.

The lawsuit against the Los Angeles-based bottling company alleges violations of California labor laws, specifically the hour laws that mandate employees be paid a rate one-and-a-half times their regularly hourly wage for time worked in excess of eight hours in a day or 40 hours in a week. Overtime was not paid to the plaintiffs because they were classified as exempt employees. This classification was an inaccurate one, the complaint alleges, since the employees had little or no supervisory tasks. Plaintiffs are seeking an injunction against the company. They are also seeking damages, penalties and costs.

LinkedIn to pay employees for damages and overtime

Workers in California and three other states will receive unpaid wages plus damages from LinkedIn after the company failed to pay its workers for hours worked and overtime. A company representative attributes the error to some managers and employees lacking the proper tools to track their time. LinkedIn will pay the 359 affected employees a total of $3.35 million in wages and $2.51 million in damages. In addition, the company is making sure its employees receive a copy of its overtime policy and conducting compliance training.

The company says that it was already taking steps to address its error when the U.S. Department of Labor stepped in. A representative from the Department of Labor said that this situation is too common in the American workforce and that companies must be committed to complying with labor laws. Furthermore, employees should be informed about their rights.

Target sued for alleged workplace discrimination

People in California who shop at Target might be interested to learn that an employee is suing the company, alleging racial discrimination as well as disability discrimination. According to the lawsuit, the employee has worked for Target since 1993. Although he has dyslexia, autism and two rods in his back that limit mobility, he is still able to do his job. However, the workplace discrimination suit alleges that his mostly black co-workers have made work difficult for the plaintiff, who is white, by changing his schedule around and assigning him inferior tasks.

In 2011, the worker complained about how he was being treated and subsequently had his hours cut from between 35 to 40 hours per week to only five, according to the plaintiff. He said this reduction made him lose his benefits. The court filing states that mistreatment began in 2009, but when the plaintiff reported the incidents that allegedly involved co-workers and his supervisor to human resources, the abuse worsened. He stated that he was harassed and taunted more than before.

Yahoo executive faces sexual harassment suit

According to a recent report, a former female employee of Yahoo has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against a female executive at the company, which has headquarters in Sunnyvale, California. The woman, who worked as a software engineer, alleges that a executive harassed her and that the executive's behavior eventually lead to her termination.

This lawsuit follows a number of accusations of sexual harassment by employees at various tech companies. In one case, a former Tinder executive also filed a lawsuit after being sexually harassed. Recently, the CEO of Urban Airship was accused of sexual assault and took a leave of absence from his post.

Women in farmworking could be safer if bill passes

About 18 percent of farmworkers in California and nationwide are women, and they deal with additional risks besides the hard work and exposure to chemicals that all laborers face; they could be exposed to sexual violations on the job. A 2010 report indicated that almost 40 percent of 150 women who were surveyed had suffered some type of on-the-job sexual harassment that ranged from unwanted comments to sexual assault.

The California State Senate is considering new laws to protect women in the agricultural industry. During a 2013 television special on PBS, a union cofounder explained the ramifications of a physical assault for a woman. She needs to juggle the benefit of contacting authorities with the risk of possibility of losing her job. In addition, her friends and family could suffer, especially if they are also workers. Families often work together in the industry, so her complaint could negatively affect them all. The union cofounder elaborated that labor contractors usually have no human relations experience, so many of them use threats to control their workers.

President to sign federal LGBT workplace discrimination order

Across the nation, laws protecting workers against discrimination based upon gender identity or sexual orientation have been spotty in recent years. Court rulings applying existing laws have received a variety of different treatments in different jurisdictions. In California, claims concerning harassment or discrimination based upon sexual orientation are taken seriously.

In light of the myriad of state laws and local ordinances providing different levels of protections for the LGBT community, there have been calls for more direct legislation to address sexual orientation and gender identity issues in public discourse.

White House officials now say that the president plans to sign an executive order addressing workplace discrimination on the basis of gender identity. The executive order will apply to federal contractors. Roughly one quarter of workers in the country work for the federal government, according to NBC News.

Woman sues Donald Sterling in California for harassment

Many people may be following the recent issues surrounding Donald Sterling and his former association with professional basketball in Los Angeles. While those issues continue to make news, new allegations are arising in an employment law dispute involving Sterling.

The new allegations are being leveled by a woman who acknowledges being intimately involved with Sterling from 2005 to 2011, according to Reuters. However, she says that she was fired in May after she complained of sexual and racial harassment at the hands of Mr. Sterling.

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