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Palo Alto Employment Law Blog

Employment discrimination and the California DFEH

Workers across the state of California are protected under a number and state and federal guidelines prohibiting employment discrimination. Promoting a general awareness of intolerance, as well as state laws and how they apply directly to employees, is incredibly important to combat issues like unlawful discrimination and wrongful termination in the workplace.

According to statistics provided by the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a little over 33 percent of workplace discrimination charges filed in the state of California last year were race related. Claims of disability discrimination also accounted for around 30 percent of all charges in the state, and accusations over religious discrimination against workers were on the rise from 2009. State figures did vary slightly from national statistics, and shed light on difficulties that thousands of California workers face every year.

Contract dispute results in bankruptcy

Businesses across the state of California and the entire country rely on skilled workers to maintain company profitability and expansion. However, company profit margins are undeniably impacted by employee wages and compensation packages. Therefore, employment contract disputes can arise when there is a conflict between the benefits workers feel they are entitled to and the profits employers strive to achieve.

According to the bankruptcy filings of Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc., it costs the company around $20 million a year to cover the pensions, health coverage and other benefit programs provided to union workers. As a result, the company proposed plans to limit some benefits to union employees. In addition to replacing pensions with 401(k) benefit plans, the company suggested doing away with healthcare coverage in favor to provide credits toward government subsidized plans. If the proposed changes were to go through, they would affect hundreds of resort employees.

San Diego site of flight attendant picketing

There is a definite correlation between the job performance of employees and the overall productivity and growth of the organization. As a result, California workers in the midst of contract negotiations often use figures regarding their performance levels to make their case for everything from increased benefits to pay raises. Nevertheless, the process of establishing a new employment contract can be long and complex.

Over 3,000 flight attendants employed with Alaska Airlines were working under the conditions of a five-year-old contract, and federal mediators were recently scheduled to reignite the process of negotiations to develop a new agreement. The terms of one proposed contract were reportedly rejected by the employees at the beginning of this year, prompting the continuation of talks that have apparently been going on for around two years now.

Wrongful termination allegations settled with charity donations

California workers are often bound by guidelines outlining employee conduct, since they are often viewed as representatives of their employer. As a result, some employees can be subject to strict regulations over what they say and do in public. other times, however, employers have no authority to infringe upon workers’ right to free speech.

Chris Kluwe was a punter for the Minnesota Vikings for eight seasons before being cut from the team last year. In response to his dismissal, Kluwe accused the Viking’s special teams manager of making homophobic slurs and discriminatory comments. He also claimed that he was the victim of retaliation for his outward support of same-sex marriage and gay rights. The team subsequently investigated his claims and issued a summary of their report.

Los Angeles could see new minimum wage standards

Politicians and economists alike continue to debate the pros and cons of increasing minimum wage rates for workers in cities across the country. And while people discuss the topic, California state and federal laws have already gone into effect increasing the pay of millions of workers. Now, the City of Los Angeles may soon take a stand on the issue as well.

The minimum wage rate in San Francisco is currently set at $10.74, which would be below that of Los Angeles if Mayor Eric Garcetti’s proposed plan to increase the city’s minimum wage to $13.50 goes into effect. The increase would take place over a several-year period at annual increments $1.50. And while the Mayor is said to only be considering the measure and consulting with business leaders and other organizations at this time, the prospective change is already garnering a great deal of attention and controversy.

There will be no retrial for Hollywood actress

Many people are fascinated by what goes on behind the scenes in Hollywood. And while there are countless memorable moments captured on studio sets every day, it’s important to remember that they are places employment for thousands of California workers. In fact, Hollywood actors are subject to and protected under state employment guidelines just like everyone else.

Hollywood actress Nicollette Sheridan accused the creator of the hit TV series, Desperate Housewives, of striking her on the head in the fall of 2008. The incident allegedly happened during rehearsals for the show, and Sheridan voices her complaints to the TV network. Sheridan’s character was written off the show the following spring. Consequently, she filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the TV network, show creator, and affiliated production company a year later. The lawsuit also included accusations of assault and sexual harassment, but was later amended to only cite battery and wrongful termination.

Feds hold California prison accountable for employee pay

While it is true that California employers are primarily responsible for establishing the terms of employment for their workers, they are still bound by state employment law policies. And in instances where a company is subsidized by federal funds, it must comply with an array of other guidelines as well.

Almost 80,000 people are detained in 60 prison facilities across the country operated by Corrections Corp. of America. The CCA is the largest private detention company of its kind and is among the five leading prison systems in the entire nation. The company is also known for having legal issues over its employment practices.

When wrongful termination is preferred

August is National Breast-Feeding Awareness Month, so perhaps there is no better time than now to discuss workers’ rights and obligations when it comes to pumping milk in the workplace. California mothers returning to their jobs after maternity leave can have questions and concerns over how employment law guidelines apply to them in instances where they have lactation needs, and the law itself can be difficult to decipher.

One case involving a mother who sued her employer over unlawful discrimination claims serves as an unfortunate example there are occasions when being discharged from your job inappropriately is better than quitting. Wrongful termination often provides the platform for employees to present other relevant claims, including gender discrimination over breast-feeding. That is why it is important for female employees to understand how federal guidelines regarding breast pumping apply to them.

Class-action antitrust settlement overturned by California judge

Silicon Valley is known by many for being the national capital of technology and innovation. Giant corporations like Google Inc., Yahoo! and Apple Inc. are all based in Silicon Valley and attract some of the most talented and forward-thinking developers in the world. Consequently, competition among workers, not to mention employers, is intense. Now, more information is coming forward about a major wage dispute involving allegations of antitrust conspiracies.

More than 60,000 Silicon Valley workers joined together to file a class-action antitrust lawsuit against their employers, including Google, Apple, Adobe Systems Inc. and Intel Corp. The plaintiffs in the suit accused the defendants of not allowing workers access to work for competing companies. An initial settlement was reached between the two parties, amounting to a full award of $324.5 million. That amount would have translated into plaintiffs receiving a little less than $4,000 each, while 25 percent of the total amount would have been used to cover legal expenses. It’s partially for that reason that the settlement agreement was recently rejected by a California federal court judge.

Sears settles class action after accused of misclassifying employees

Millions of hardworking Americans expect to be paid fairly according to the number of hours they work. While some companies offer their employees opportunities to work overtime for an increased amount of pay, other companies strictly prohibit the practice in order to avoid paying the increased hourly wages.

According to the California Fair Labor Standards Act, employees who work more than eight hours a day or 40 hours a week must be paid overtime, which is one and one-half times their regular hourly wage. Employees should also be paid overtime for the first eight hours that they work on the seventh straight day in a work week.

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