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Los Angeles Employment Law Blog

Filing a California job retaliation or discrimination complaint

Federal and state labor laws protect Los Angeles workers, but many employees still hesitate to file complaints or take actions. No one wants to make trouble at work. Losing a paycheck is too risky for many workers.

However, employers who get away with harassment and discrimination aren't going to stop as long as employees accept the status quo. Employers are aware of employment laws they're expected to follow, but some companies ignore them. Failing to report misconduct and illegal activities is like giving employers permission abuse workers as they please.

Details come out at wrongful termination hearing.

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When an employee is fired, he or she may agree that it was merited. More often, employees believe that the firing was unjustified and convey that view in no uncertain terms to their former bosses. In some cases, they may decide to make a formal claim that they were fired without justification, going the legal route and filing a wrongful termination lawsuit. However, those suits are not one-sided. Typically, the employer who did the firing has his or her own contentions to make about the situation, resulting in a heated battle in court.

That is proving to be the case in a recent wrongful termination suit, in which dramatic details are being revealed each day of the courtroom proceedings. The case centers on a woman who had worked as a supervisor at a county jail. She was terminated from that position by the sheriff because of what was called "gross misconduct."

Do California laws provide whistleblower protection?

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How would you respond, if you found out your employer was breaking a law? Truthfully, your answer might depend upon how the illegal activity affected you. Some Los Angeles employees are concerned that filing a work complaint, through internal or external channels, creates more trouble than good.

Certainly, it can be tempting for workers not involved directly in a company's wrongdoing, to turn a blind eye to an employer's behavior. Despite whistleblower protections, an employee will often do everything possible to hold onto a job and preserve valuable income. However, hesitant workers may not realize that California law shields whistleblowers from employers' negative responses to justified work complaints.

Return dates can affect family and medical leave

Employees need to take family and medical leave for a variety of reasons. A father may need time to bond with a newborn baby daughter, or a mother may need time to take care of a sick son. Everyone who feels that they may need to take leave for some reason should become familiar with the laws and rules that govern the taking of leave. That way, they can make sure that they don't make mistakes that can jeopardize their time off.

One of the important things to know is that employees need to communicate their expected return date to their employer. That is necessary so the employer can know how long he or she needs to get the work covered by other people, and so that the employee's job will be there when he or she gets back. If there is ambiguity about the return date, the employer may find him- or herself facing more costs than expected, or the employee may find that his or her job is gone.

Identifying sexual harassment in the California workplace

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Maybe you've carefully dodged an unwelcome advance from a Los Angeles co-worker, perhaps even a supervisor. Many workers wonder how many times they have to put up with this kind of treatment before it becomes a reportable offense. One episode of sexual harassment can be enough to act, but there are things to consider.

You may hear a derogatory joke while eating at a workplace cafeteria or hear offensive sexual comments in an elevator. It's difficult to decide what to do next, especially if the joke or comment isn't directed toward you. Do you confront the offender, report it to a supervisor or let it pass?

Mediator assigned in Family and Medical Leave Act lawsuit

Employees and employers may disagree about a whole range of issues that affect them in different ways. One of those issues is about taking leave. In some cases, employees may want to take leave, and their employers might deny them the right to or give them less than they should get. In other cases, employers might make their employees go on leave when the employees doesn't want to go or not keep their job for them. The latter is what allegedly happened to a school district employee.

An employee, a woman who worked for the district for 13 years, has filed a lawsuit against the school district. It alleges that her rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act were violated. The case has now had a mediator assigned to it by mutual agreement between the woman and the school district. The initial mediation session will take place in March.

Is California an at-will employment state?

Many employers tell workers why they are being let go, just as many employees still include reasons for leaving in resignation letters. Labor laws in California and many other states permit employment "at-will," which means reasons aren't mandatory when a worker quits or an employer ends the relationship.

The at-will employment rule is similar to a no-fault divorce -- no one has to bring grounds for a separation. This can be a relief for workers who want to avoid burning bridges that might affect future employment. Unfortunately, some employers may use the rule to hide true reasons for a firing.

Family leave case results in police officer filing claim

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Pregnant and parenting workers have rights and when those rights are violated, they can file a suit against their employer. This happened recently when a police officer made a complaint about unfair discrimination. That complaint, filed with the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, has now resulted in a lawsuit against the town of Madison, Connecticut.

The woman says that she has been pregnant twice in her work as a town police officer. During the first pregnancy, she was assigned to desk duty while awaiting the birth of the baby. However, during her second pregnancy, she says that she was made to take Family and Medical Leave even though her doctor had recommended desk duty.

Taking action against wrongful termination

Los Angeles employers don't need a reason to fire you. Sounds like companies can just do what they want, doesn't it? California employers certainly have a lot of hiring and firing freedom, but there are instances when companies go too far.

How do you know whether you've been the victim of a wrongful termination? So many employment laws overlap, it can be difficult to figure out whether one or more of them apply to you. Federal laws cover discrimination and harassment against protected classes, but you'll have to dig deeper – talk with an attorney – to find out whether additional state protections apply.

Leave for parents is a wise investmemt for cities

Across the country, many municipalities including cities of all sizes are facing tough economic times. Despite recent improvements in some local economies, city government officials are still trying to rebound from the tough times and revenue loss of recent years. Because of that, some may presume that they need to cut benefits for staff members in order to save cash. However, there are some benefits for staff members that actually serve as a wise investment for city governments. One of the most key benefits in that category is parental leave, giving both fathers and mothers parenting time to bond and take care of their children.

Fathers and mothers can use that leave to connect with a newborn baby daughter or son who has just come home from the hospital. Decades of research affirm that this early bonding establishes the foundation for good lifelong father-baby and mother-baby relationships. Leave can also be used for family time with an adopted child, regardless of whether that child is an infant or an older child. Another use for the leave is taking care of a sick son or daughter, making sure that their medical needs are fully addressed.