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Los Angeles Employment Law Blog

How must California employers prevent sexual harassment?

Los Angeles employers who turn a blind eye to reports about on-the-job misconduct are breaking California employment laws. You may know employers are not allowed to discriminate against or sexually harass workers. Some employees don't realize employers are also obligated to take preventive measures to discourage these illegal activities.

Workers have a right to know about the employment laws that protect them. Businesses must share this legal information with employees. Your employer is not in compliance if you failed to receive information about sexual harassment laws.

Can you be terminated for a failed drug test?

Although there have been challenges in court as to whether workplace drug testing policies violate an employee's right to privacy, these challenges have not exactly been successful. In most cases, the employer has the law on their side and an employee can be terminated for drug use. In some instances, however, the way the test results are utilized or the way the test was conducted may give an employee a valid reason to challenge his or her termination.

As an example, an employee could challenge his or her termination due to a positive drug test if an employer divulges the results indiscriminately or if the employee was forced to take the test in a manner that disrespected his or her privacy rights. An employee may also have a case to question his or her termination if he or she is tested for drugs excessively or in an inappropriate manner.

Facebook named in California gender discrimination suit

The biggest, most powerful companies in California must follow the same federal and state employment laws as smaller businesses. Discrimination against protected classes of workers is prohibited. Employees who've been discriminated against or harassed may pursue civil claims for damages.

A lawsuit alleging racial and gender discrimination was filed recently by a former technology partner at Facebook. The woman, who worked at the social media giant between 2010 and 2013, is seeking compensation for what the lawsuit described as an "outrageous" termination in retaliation for complaints.

What you should know about pregnancy discrimination in California

medmalpregnantwoman.jpgPregnancy discrimination is typically considered the act of treating a female employee or applicant differently or unfavorably due to the fact that she is pregnant. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act was added as an amendment to the Civil Rights Act which was established in 1964 and was created to provide protection to women in the workplace who are pregnant, have given birth, or have a medical condition related to their pregnancy.

While some cases of pregnancy discrimination may be intentional, such as not promoting an employee because the employer believes motherhood will affect the employee's ability to do her job, other types of discrimination may occur because the employer has made assumptions about how the pregnancy may affect the employee and misguidedly tries to help. As an example, the employer transfers the employee to another department because he or she believes that she is unable to perform the duties of her job because she is pregnant.

Do California whistleblowers risk losing their jobs?

Los Angeles workers who know or suspect an employer is violating a law have the right to step forward and speak up without fear of jeopardizing their jobs. Retaliation against employees who file these complaints is forbidden by the California Whistleblower Protection Act. Revisions to the Act, which became effective in 2014, added strength to the legislation.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the provisions of the law were expanded to include protection for workers who made reports directly to employers about wrongdoing. In the past, employees had legal protection only when workers reported misconduct to an outside authority.

Woman seeks $13 million in California wrongful termination suit

A 31-year-old woman has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit for the amount of $13 million against her former boss, a Hollywood investor, after he allegedly fired her for incompetence. The woman, who was pregnant, was reportedly just six weeks away from her due date when she was let go from her job.

In a case of "she said, he said," the woman claims in court documents that although she was initially hired as an assistant to oversee the 41-year-old man's Los Angeles residence, she was allegedly used instead as a form of bait to help the man attract other women who were as attractive as she was. According to court documents, the 31-year-old stated that she was so scared of losing her job that paid $90,000 a year, she even went so far as to allow her employer to snort cocaine from her exposed breasts while in the presence of others just so that she could keep her job.

Medical leave rights expanded for California gay spouses

California workers are protected by some of the strongest employment laws in the nation. State laws, like Paid Family Leave and the California Family Rights Act, mirror the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. State laws generously expand the contents and protections of the federal law, but the FMLA is catching up rapidly.

The U.S. Department of Labor recently announced that a federal medical leave policy will apply to spouses of the same sex beginning March 27, even in states where same-sex marriages are not permitted. Among other provisions, the FMLA allows spouses to take off 12 weeks of unpaid time to care for a sick spouse.

What you should know about sexual harassment in the workplace

Sexual harassment is generally defined as a type of conduct in the workplace that is sexual in nature and interferes with the performance of an employee's job. It can include unwelcome sexual advances, lewd comments or even obscene jokes.

Although you may think that an off-color joke or occasional flirtatious teasing by a co-worker is not appropriate for the workplace, it is important to realize that this does not necessarily qualify as a form of sexual harassment. Instead, the United States Equal Opportunity Employment Commission recognizes two different types of sexual harassment: quid pro quo and hostile work environment.

Protection from job discrimination under California law

Los Angeles workers who've been treated unjustly by employers often don't know where to turn. You have to know your employment rights before you exercise them. An attorney can be a good place to start, since the nature of a complaint determines the next step.

Questions and complaints involving workplace discrimination or harassment can be directed to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. You may be aware of the classes of workers shielded by federal discrimination laws. Protected classes are expanded under the state Fair Employment and Housing Act.

California Supreme Court rules employees entitled to on call pay

Should you be paid for sleeping on the job? According to the California Supreme Court, the answer is a resounding yes -- unless, that is, your employer has an applicable wage order that expressly authorizes them to exclude compensable hours from your pay.

This decision comes after a group of security guards filed a class action lawsuit against their employer alleging that they were owed minimum wage and overtime pay for being forced to remain on the job site in company trailers while they were on call. The security guards could reportedly use the time they were on call for personal activities; however, they were not allowed to have their children or pets in the trailers during this time, nor have any adult visitors unless the security company received approval from their client. The guards were also required to notify the dispatcher if they wanted to leave the job site while on call and were told to remain within a 30-minute radius.