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Los Angeles Employment Law Blog

When California workers are cheated out of overtime

The freedom and flexibility of being an independent contractor is offset by a loss of rights and advantages afforded to Los Angeles employees. Unlike employees, contractors have no access to employer health insurance coverage, unemployment benefits, workers' compensation and company pensions.

Employers also don't have to pay independent contractors minimum wage or overtime. The lack of commitment to contract workers can be very tempting for employers. You can understand why some California companies purposely misclassify employees as contractors.

Tools to fight pregnancy discrimination in the work

Many women who are pregnant want to continue their careers, during their pregnancies. Although perfectly capable of demonstrating that they can do the work just as well as ever. They often face discrimination in their workplaces due to stereotypes and bias.

Stories of workplace discrimination against women are legion. For example, one woman who worked at a package distribution company asked her boss for a reasonable accommodation until she gave birth, a weight-life restriction of 20 pounds. Even though she had a doctor's recommendation to support her request for that accommodation, it was denied. Instead, the company put her on unpaid leave, and didn't even give her benefits.

Transgender job discrimination in Los Angeles County

The Los Angeles County Department of Health has an estimate of the number of people living in our community who identify as transgender individuals. Figures aren't exact, because there is no one definition applied to transgender people. Health officials started off by adding up everyone in the 15- to 64-year-old age group – more than 7.2 million people.

Transgender categories included anyone who identified themselves as transgender, individuals who identified with a gender other than the one they had at birth and people who claimed to have cross-gender identities or behaviors. The result was an average of 14,428 transgender people.

Ideal components of paid family and medical leave programs

Working fathers have a tough time balancing family time and the obligations of their career. That is also true for working mothers, giving men and women a shared basis for pursuing ways to secure more parenting time while successfully advancing their careers. While specific amounts of unpaid leave are assured to working dads and working moms by the Family and Medical Leave Act, many are seeking paid leave. That led to one organization detailing guidelines for paid family and medical leave that suits the needs of men and women alike.

Currently, paid family leave to take care of an ill family member, a newborn baby or an adopted child is only available through employers to about 12 percent of workers. Less than 40 percent of workers can get sufficient short-term disability insurance from their employers to take the paid personal medical leave they need. These statistics illustrate that most workers are not getting access to the paid leave they need for family and medical reasons.

Recognizing sexual harassment in a Los Angeles workplace

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You sometimes hear words or see photos that, when taken literally, seem harmless but can have a different meaning. Innuendo, whether accidental or intentional, sends an indirect message that may have sexual implications.

How do you respond to sexual innuendo in a Los Angeles workplace? It's easy to be confused, since a sender's message can be interpreted in more than one way. Are you misconstruing the message or are you a victim of sexual harassment?

Family and medical leave affects working moms

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A mother often has to balance a lot, with the family and a career both needing a substantial amount of time. This need to balance can be a source of stress, as it can seem as if there are not enough hours in the day to do it all. Of course, a key factor is how much family and medical leave is available. If there is enough, working moms can more easily balance home and career responsibilities. Sometimes, however, the amount of leave seems insufficient.

Some moms go through extensive calculations to see how much time they can accord to family responsibilities. They might look at all avenues, from leave guaranteed under the Family and Medical Leave Act to accrued sick days. Many realize that the options available may be different from what they presumed.

Where do I file a job discrimination complaint in California?

Employee discrimination and retaliation complaints are handled by a division of the California Department of Industrial Relations. It is not necessary for you to abandon a personal legal action against an employer to file a complaint with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. In fact, it may be in your best interests to speak with an employment attorney before taking any action, particularly if you are seeking whistleblower protection.

A complaint must be filed with DLSE within six months of a claimed worker discrimination or retaliation event. There are a few exceptions to the filing period, imposing both shorter and longer deadlines, which an attorney can outline.

Father takes FLMA leave to raise baby of mother in coma

Many fathers take family leave in order to spend time bonding with their newborn daughters and sons. Others may separately take medical leave in order to take care of a sick relative. In a recent case, the two rationales for taking time off from work became merged.

A father is taking time off from his job in order to be the primary caregiver of his newborn baby daughter. The daughter, whom he named Angel Noemi, was born several weeks premature. She currently weighs 6 pounds, 2 ounces and needs a lot of care, which her father is capably providing. His parents are also helping out.

Wrongful termination claim zaps AutoZone for over $185 million

A woman, demoted and then fired after telling her former California employer she was pregnant, recently received $900,000 in compensatory damages in a lawsuit against AutoZone. The company also must pay $185 million in punitive damages – an award that exceeded the plaintiff's highest expectations by $25 million.

Evidence in the AutoZone trial convinced the jury the auto parts retailer blatantly and gleefully discriminated against women. The plaintiff was employed as an AutoZone store manager in National City. She had been in the management position about a year in 2005 when she revealed to her district supervisor she was pregnant.

How companies avoid overtime pay in California

When you work overtime hours, you expect to be paid extra for your time and effort, but this is not always the case. Some employers, wanting to keep the costs of operation down, will look for ways to avoid increasing your pay just because you go over the standard 40 hours per week. However, some of the tactics that are used to do this are illegal.

For example, employers will sometimes classify their workers incorrectly. Rather than naming them as non-exempt employees, they will say that the employees are exempt, which means they can get around the overtime laws. While this could be an honest mistake, the problem is when employers intentionally and illegal misclassify their workers simply so that they do not have to pay the workers a fair wage.