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Los Angeles Employment Law Blog

What consitutes wrongful termination?

If you have recently been terminated from your job and you don't believe that your employer had a right to do so, you will likely find the following information helpful. Do you know what constitutes wrongful termination? It can encompass a number of actions, including some of these:

-- Terminated on the basis of race, religion, gender, ethnicity, pregnancy or other reason that is protected by local, state and federal anti-discrimination laws.

Employee misclassification per court: FedEx drivers are employees

The logistics industry could be turned upside down after a recent 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling. According to the panel of three judges, FedEx drivers in California and Oregon are employees -- not independent contractors. The ruling affects 2,300 drivers who have been subjected to misclassification by the global delivery service.

While FedEx has already declared that it will ask the Circuit Court for a full panel review, this ruling has the potential to cost FedEx millions of dollars in benefits and back wages. Should the ruling stand, drivers would be able to claim those benefits and back wages.

There's no place for sexual harassment in your workplace

As a worker in Los Angeles, you don't have to stand for sexual harassment. You shouldn't face discrimination for being a woman in the workplace or simply because of the way you look. California is an at-will employment state, which means that you can be fired you for any or no reason, but your rights against discrimination and sexual harassment are protected. You may choose to pursue a lawsuit against your employer if he or she was harassing you or permitting harassment of you to occur in the workplace.

In 2011 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had over 11,000 complaints about sexual harassment by colleagues and supervisors. But harassment is illegal no matter which state laws allow you to be terminated at will. If your employer made you uncomfortable due to a sexually suggestive environment, inappropriately touched you or made suggestive comments to you while you were working, you do have some legal options you can pursue.

California federal workers have whistleblower protection

Consider a situation where you want to report wrongdoing at work. If you do, will you lose your job? Could you potentially face harassment due to reporting the problems at your office or agency? Knowing your whistleblower rights can help you understand what you can do to report the problems at work without facing retaliation.

As a federal employee, you're protected from retaliation when alerting authorities about wrongdoing at your place of business. There are several ways to report improper practices that are happening at your workplace, including contacting your congressional representatives to speaking with agency supervisors. No matter how you do it, you're meant to be protected from the backlash.

Are the federal and California FMLA laws the same?

The Family and Medical Leave Act has some varying provisions at the federal level and at the state level in California. While many of the provisions are identical, such as the definition of a serious health condition, the provisions that are not similar are important to note. Here are some of the differences between the two:

Federal Provisions

Domino's Pizza not liable for sexual harassment at franchise shop

The California Supreme Court has reversed an appellate court's decision pertaining to a sexual harassment case at a Domino's Pizza franchised location. The appellate court had ruled that Domino's Pizza, the franchisor, could be held liable for the actions of a manager at a store franchised to Sui Juris LLC. The state's Supreme Court, in a 4-3 ruling, determined that the franchisor can't be held liable for the actions of that manager.

In the ruling, it was stated that Domino's didn't have the duty or the right to control the day-to-day operations of the store and couldn't be liable for issues that arise due to those operations. Those operations include supervising employees, controlling payroll, scheduling employees or training employees. Because of the lack of control afforded to the franchisor, all of which was transferred to the franchisee in the franchisor-franchisee contract, the franchisor wasn't liable for the actions of a representative of the franchisee at the store.

Is your faith a basis for discrimination at work?

When California workers hear about discrimination, they often automatically think of employment discrimination based on race or gender. The truth is, discrimination comes in many forms, and workers can be treated differently by employers or team members for any number of reasons. Discrimination may be linked to things such as age, medical issues, pregnancy and even military service.

One type of discrimination a surprising number of people deal with is discrimination based on religion. California is a diverse state with residents from all types of backgrounds, which means workplaces are likely to include individuals of varying religions. It's important for employers to understand that these individuals are afforded equal treatment under the law.

Whistleblower protections in California

In California, whistleblowers are protected from a variety of employer actions. What exactly is a whistleblower? According to the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, a whistleblower is someone who discloses information to law enforcement or a government agency about noncompliance or a violation of federal or state statutes or federal, state or local rules or regulations. In addition, a whistleblower may disclose information about unsafe conditions or practices at work.

The protections afforded to a whistleblower include:

What is 'at-will' employment?

California employees and others in many parts of the country have no doubt heard the phrase "at-will employment." What is it, though, and how does it affect employees who fall into this category?

At-will employment means that either an employee or an employer can terminate employment at any time -- for nearly any reason. While this technically may be the definition, there are some exceptions to this that have been created by public policy, statutes or the courts. Examples of a few of those exceptions include:

How is sexual harassment legally defined?

Most everyone is aware that sexual harassment is illegal in the workplace. However, many may not be aware of what the legal definition of sexual harassment actually is. Sexual harassment, according to the Fair Employment and Housing Act, is defined as "harassment based on sex or of a sexual nature; gender harassment; and harassment based on pregnancy, childbirth or related medical condition."

There are many behaviors that would constitute sexual harassment in the workplace. These include: