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Los Angeles Employment Law Blog

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.

Job hiring discrimination case ends with California settlement

Some Los Angeles residents may not be aware employers are restricted from asking certain questions during job interviews. Ignorance is not bliss. Some employers ignore the law and ask questions to learn things they have no right to know.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a California discrimination case for job applicants asked to provide information employers lawfully could not ask. All Star Seed Inc., Abatti and La Valle Sabbia in Southern California were named as defendants in the lawsuit, which was resolved with a recent $187,500 settlement.

Tech companies begin to offer more family leave

Upon the birth of a baby daughter or son, working fathers and mothers want and deserve time to bond with their newborn infant. The early months after birth are a critical time to establish emotional connections between parents and babies, and parents shouldn't have to sacrifice that time in order to protect their jobs. However, many parents aren't getting the family leave they need.

Eligible parents do get the leave that is available to them under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. Unfortunately, 40 percent of workers are treated as ineligible for it because they don't meet the requirements spelled out in the FMLA.

What employment laws protect breastfeeding moms in California?

Among other stipulations, the Family and Medical Leave Act provides for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, without penalties, for Los Angeles working parents following a child's birth or adoption. California and federal laws also protect the rights of breastfeeding mothers when they return to work after family leave ends.

In 2010, the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act was amended to ensure new mothers received breaks and had adequate accommodations to express breast milk while on the job. Federal rules define the minimum standards for employers. California's lactation law is an expansion of the FLSA.

Pregnancy discrimination case going to Supreme Court

Women who are pregnant often want to continue their careers, and most people fully support their right to do so. The rights of those women to continue working should be respected, but sometimes they aren't. When that happens, legal action may follow. This is the case with a working mother who plans to take her pregnancy discrimination case all the way to the United States Supreme Court.

When the woman became pregnant she was working for a package delivery company. She talked to the company's occupational health manager. That person advised her to see her doctor. She did, and her doctor gave her a note recommending a work restriction for the first 20 months of her pregnancy. That restriction was simply that she not lift more than 20 pounds in that time period.

Study: Employer discrimination rampant against obese women

Most California communities don't have specific laws to protect citizens from bullies who target overweight people, but San Francisco does. San Francisco enacted a so-called fat ordinance in 2000 barring discrimination against a person's size, according to a New York Times report. Obesity is not a protected class in the workplace, under most employment laws.

A Vanderbilt University study found many overweight workers are relegated to jobs with lower pay and more physical demands than workers of average size. However, some obese employees are not subject to these unfavorable conditions. Researchers said employers don't place obese women in jobs that require dealing with the public, but do not hesitate to give those jobs to overweight men.

Method of notice important in FMLA cases

Fathers and mothers across the country want to spend time with their families and have a right to focus on home obligations as well as work. They also have a right to deal with medical needs as those occur. Fortunately, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act support fathers and mothers having all of these rights. However, proper procedures need to be followed. These include notification about taking leave being communicated in a way that avoids lawsuits.

For one part, this entails employees notifying employers about their intention to take leave: when, why and how much. For employees to protect themselves, they should do this in a verifiable way, such as by certified mail. That way, they have a record of having made the communication in the right way.

Wrongful termination claim alleges city broke California law

California workers may be dismissed without reason under at-will employment laws. However, a lack of explanations cannot disguise a hidden agenda. An employer may not discriminate against workers in protected classes or retaliate against employees who file complaints about workplace policy violations or misconduct.

Colton city officials are disputing charges a former employee was terminated unfairly. The ex-city manager filed an employment claim stating he was fired to silence an internal investigation into possible wrongdoing among public officials. The complaint says the way the manager was fired violated open meeting laws.

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.