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Los Angeles Employment Law Blog

Wrongful termination claim made in stem cell case

Stem cell companies are often in the headlines, with many aspects of the work debated publicly. With this spotlight consistently on their business, managers must take care that all rules governing their processes are strictly adhered to. If they aren't, there could be a public backlash that would affect the business and its clients. An employee of a stem cell company said that he brought such problems to bosses and was fired. In response, he filed a wrongful termination claim.

The stem cell company gets millions of dollars of funding from the government. That amount includes grant money paid by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. The money comes with the condition that the company will follow strict manufacturing processes. Indeed, according to the complaint filed in the case, the company contends that its processes are what they need to be to produce stem cells that are safe for transplantation.

California whistleblower accuses stem cell maker of retaliation

Los Angeles employers sometimes "shoot the messenger" when a worker reports unsafe, unethical or criminal internal business practices. It's easier for some workers to remain silent and employed than risk getting demoted, transferred, harassed or fired for speaking up. Business misconduct is hard to ignore when an employer is defrauding the government or endangering the public.

A California man was fired from his position as a senior manufacturing executive for StemCells Inc., after working at the firm just a few months. Soon after the Santa Clara man was hired in December, he noticed unsterile conditions in the handling of stem cells cultures used in human clinical trials. The worker said his internal complaints about dangerous product defects and substandard processing practices created a backlash that ended with his firing in May.

California nanny tells her side of the story

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The adage goes, "There's three sides to everything, your side, their side and the truth." The California woman who earned the moniker the "nightmare nanny" has now offered her version of events that led up to her employment crisis with the family from Upland. The 64-year-old woman said during interview with Los Angeles media stations KNX 1070 and KTLA that she was being exploited by her employers, forced to work extended days without a break and that the family attempted to feed her dog food. She told one interviewer, "They were the ones that were trying to exploit me as if I was some poor migrant worker from a foreign country that they could just exploit and work 24/7."

Yahoo director named in California sexual harassment claim

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Laws protect Los Angeles employees from unwelcome sexual conduct in the workplace. Sexual harassment does not have to include physical contact. However, when quid pro quo harassment -- sexual favors in exchange for advancing in or keeping a job -- does occur, an employee's job status is dependent on giving in to unwanted advances.

A former software engineer has filed a California employment lawsuit against Yahoo Inc. and the company's senior engineering director. The plaintiff alleges the female boss pressured the worker, also female, to have sex with her on several occasions. As a "reward" for the favors, the employee was promised a "bright future" with Yahoo.

Communication proves critical in FMLA matters

When individuals need leave from their job, there are invariably a multiplicity of dynamics play. Those include the needs of the employee, the needs of the employer, and governing law including the Family and Medical Leave Act, commonly referred to as the FMLA. In order to make sure that the interaction of those dynamics is successful, there has to be excellent communication between all involved parties.

A recent example involved a woman who worked at a residential care facility. She contacted her manager to ask for time off in order to spend time with her daughter, who needed treatment for thyroid cancer. When the woman submitted an FMLA form seeking the leave, she left a question about how long she expected the covered leave to go blank.

Truckers strike Long Beach, Los Angeles, ports over mistreatment

Los Angeles independent contractors are self-employed. Benefits regular employees receive, like health insurance and workers’ compensation, aren’t available through employers for contractors, who are supposed to control when and how they work. Some employers try to save money by treating contract workers like regular employees, without providing contractors with the same benefits.

Employee misclassification is one complaint striking California commercial truck drivers have made against three West Coast transportation companies. The truckers conducted three earlier strikes, none lasting longer than two days. The current strike, supported by the Teamsters union, is open-ended – drivers don’t plan to stop striking until the firms make changes.

Ex-Tinder worker sues Los Angeles company she helped found

A Los Angeles workplace can become uncomfortable and eventually unbearable when an employee is subjected to abuse. Victims of sexual harassment are men or women forced to work in environments where unwelcome sexual advances, gestures, images and verbal or written conversations occur. Employers can be liable for failing to prevent or act to stop harassment.

A woman is suing the company she helped start. The ex-marketing vice president at widely-liked mobile dating app Tinder named her former department chief, the company and parent companies and IAC in a sexual discrimination and harassment lawsuit. The executive claimed she was the target of disparaging comments and messages by the head of Tinder marketing.

California employer addresses employee's fitness for duty

Employees often need help to understand what their rights and responsibilities are when taking a leave of absence from work or returning from that leave. Those rights and responsibilities are governed by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act and its counterpart in California, the California Family Rights Act. Although many employee questions center on when they can take leave and for how long, it is also important to know what can happen when returning to work.

The California Court of Appeals recently gave clarification in that regard. The court ruled that even though the laws require employers to accept certifications from employee health care providers about the employee's fitness for duty, employers may take another step. That additional step is requiring employees to be evaluated for fitness for duty after the employees return from FMLA leave.

California Catholic school sued over firing gay teacher

Workers under protected classes designated by state and federal employment laws may not be discriminated against by Los Angeles employers. In California, it is illegal for employers to mistreat workers due to sexual orientation. Provisions within the Constitution permit religious groups to bypass the rules that apply to secular employers.

A ministerial exception doctrine has been used successfully by religious organizations to justify worker discrimination. First Amendment religious freedom clauses have been interpreted to mean that the government cannot dictate the hiring and firing choices of non-secular employers. The New York Times reported a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that supported the firing of a Lutheran schoolteacher with narcolepsy, because a small portion of her work included "ministerial" duties.

Allegations of retaliation against whistleblowers investigated

Employees who communicate legitimate complaints about things they claim are improper at their workplace are supposed to be legally protected from any kind of retaliation. However, sometimes that retaliation is alleged to occur in spite of legal protections, resulting in whistleblower protection cases. One such case is currently being investigated by U.S. Office of the Special Counsel.

The case involves 37 whistleblowers, all at the Department of Veterans Affairs. It includes VA employees in 19 states including California. The OSC declined to identify specific VA facilities within those states that are involved in the case. However, an OSC spokesperson did say that the VA has a particularly high reprisal rate within the federal government. He expressed concern about the volume of retaliation complaints.