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Los Angeles Employment Law Blog

Key aspects of the Family and Medical Leave Act

Many workers want to be able to take leave from their jobs when needed. This may be for medical reasons, and it may be for family reasons. Either way, they should learn about the Family and Medical Leave Act, so they can know their rights and responsibilities when it comes time to put in for leave.

Knowledge is power, and the more workers know, the more they can confidently pursue what they're entitled to under the law. They can also know their obligations, so they don't do anything that can imperil their employment. There are some important specific things to know.

How California workers handle on-the-job sexual harassment

Los Angeles workers and employers are keenly aware of laws forbidding workplace sexual misconduct. Employment policies and public awareness have not eliminated sexual harassment problems. Out-and-out demands for sexual favors, to prevent termination or ensure a promotion, occur less frequently now than in the past, but harassment can take subtle forms.

The prevalence of offensive sexual comments and unwelcome advances may be much more widespread than believed. Workers might not know whether a single off-handed sexual remark constitutes harassment. Plus, there are always nagging concerns about whether a complaint will be taken seriously and the long-term effects on the victim's job.

Family leave advocates seeking more paid time

One of the most profound challenges for working fathers and working mothers is balancing the time they need to spend working with the time they need to spend taking care of their children. To address this, Congress passed the Family and Medical Leave Act to help dads and moms balance their work and family needs. However, many say that the leave that legislation has provided for is insufficient. For that reason, they are seeking to institutionalize paid leave with a new law called the Family and Medical Leave Act, referred to by many as simply the FAMILY Act.

That legislation was introduced last December by a U.S. Senator and a U.S. Representative. If it passed, it would establish a national insurance to cover paid leave. Workers taking leave for family or medical reasons would be entitled to a percentage of their wages for a period of up to 12 weeks. This would allow many workers who could not afford to take unpaid leave to finally attend to medical and family needs properly.

Wrongful termination, law-breaking alleged by ex-healthcare head

Whistleblowers are protected by California and federal laws from being punished for reporting workplace misconduct or illegal activities. In the medical community, that might include seeing evidence of fraud or other actions in conflict with laws.

A man who served as the interim head of Prima Medical Foundation has filed an employment lawsuit against his former employer. The ex-chief executive officer said he was fired for questioning policies that pressured Prima physicians to refer patients to Marin General Hospital and its affiliate ancillary service companies. A member of the foundation's board is the chief executive officer of Marin General.

Fast food new frontier of wrongful termination

Across all socioeconomic strata, workers have one thing in common: they want to protect their jobs. A part of that protection includes making sure that they will be justly compensated in the event of wrongful termination. Another part is making sure that if they are terminated justly, the standard for doing so is fair and clear. Franchisees want that standard in place so the corporate chains can't end the franchisees' contracts and deprive them of their livelihood.

These aspirations are front and center in the fast food industry, with the world's most popular hamburger restaurants affected by them. In California, a bill could give franchisees protections regarding when their contracts with corporate restaurant chains can be terminated by those chains. If it passes, the bill will have a very significant impact on local business owners who have found the franchise model to be a profitable approach to business.

Do male workers file California sexual harassment claims?

Let's dispel some widely-held myths. Despite employment laws barring it, sexual harassment remains a common, disturbing problem in Los Angeles workplaces. Women traditionally have been targets of this gender-based discrimination, but you might be surprised to know how often males are victims.

California and federal employment laws forbid unwanted sexual comments or actions at work. Laws weren't designed to favor one gender. Male workers' complaints made up more than 16 percent of the 11,364 sexual harassment claims, filed with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission in 2011.

Obama administration pushes for paid maternity leave

Being a working parent is always challenging. There might be a newborn baby who needs bonding time with his or her father and mother or a sick child who needs to be tended too. However, many parents can't afford to take care of their children if they only use the unpaid leave in the Family and Medical Leave Act.

For that reason, fathers and mothers really need paid leave. The Obama administration is addressing the mothers pushing for paid maternity leave. The administration says that the United States remains the only developed country that still does not provide paid maternity leave.

Workers seek paid family and medical leave

One of the most challenging things for working fathers and mothers is to balance in their family responsibilities. This can include having enough family time to avoid getting burnt out from just working all the time. It can also include taking care of ill daughters and sons, and having paternity and maternity leave at the birth of a baby. For some, unpaid leave is enough. In those cases, the time off provided by the Family and Medical Leave Act suffices. Others are fortunate enough to have generous amounts of paid leave accorded to them by their employer.

Others, however, need more paid leave than is currently available to them. To help those folks, some legislators in the United States Congress are proposing a fund to help. It would pay a worker approximately two-thirds of their regular wages for a period of up to 12 weeks. This time could be taken to care for a child, such as a newborn, or to take care of an elderly family member.

California women firefighters claim abuse, discrimination

It wasn't unusual decades ago for workers to tolerate harassment or abuse to preserve their paychecks. Sometimes seeking a solution was worse than putting up with the torment. Responses to complaints frequently included a retaliatory demotion, transfer or termination rather than support for the harmed worker.

Employment laws are in place today that weren't around to protect past generations. However, the problems experienced by workers have not disappeared entirely due to legislation. Los Angeles workers continue to suffer from employer and co-worker mistreatment, but many no longer remain silent.

California governor signs intern sexual harassment bill

Last year, a New York federal district court ruled that a Syracuse University student was not covered under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights law because she was an unpaid intern. The student had alleged that her supervisor at the company where she had her internship had sexually harassed her, including kissing and groping her. She also alleged that she suffered retaliatory actions from the supervisor after she rebuffed his advances.

As a result of the ruling, California Assemblymember Nancy Skinner introduced a bill that would protect volunteers and unpaid interns from sexual harassment even if they weren't getting paid for their volunteer hours or internships. That bill was recently signed by Governor Jerry Brown. The signing of the bill makes California the third state to specifically ban discrimination and sexual harassment against unpaid interns.