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Palo Alto Employment Law Blog

Employees, independent contractors and employment agreements

When it comes to employment agreements, there are a myriad of factors that people must understand prior to signing. For example, a worker should understand the differences between independent contractors and employees and ensure that they are not taken advantage of. In Palo Alto, and the rest of California, employees enjoy certain protections that independent contractors do not have.

According to the Employment Development Department, a worker's right to control is the main way courts differentiate between employees and independent contractors. In a past case, there were a number of key areas the California Supreme Court took into consideration when deciding whether or not an employer-employee relationship was present, such as the worker possessing a unique skill, performing unsupervised work or providing their own work supplies. The Supreme Court also looked at the occupation of the worker in question, whether they were paid hourly wages or salaries and whether each party viewed the worker as a contractor or employee.

Which questions can I be asked during an interview?

Whether you are applying for a job or currently hold a position, it is imperative that your rights as an employee are not trampled on. In Santa Clara, Palo Alto and other cities, California employment laws protect workers in a number of ways. When it comes to interviews, you should make sure that you are not asked any inappropriate questions.

According to the State Bar of California, employers are not legally allowed to ask prospective employees certain questions during a job interview. For example, you can't be asked about your religious beliefs, your disability status or if you have previously suffered from a particular disability. Typically, an employer is also not able to ask you if you have been arrested in the past if you were not found guilty. However, employers are allowed to ask questions about an arrest if you are currently on trial and can also ask if you have any criminal convictions on your record (not including marijuana convictions from over two years in the past and cases in which your records were sealed). Those conducting a job interview are also forbidden from asking applicants about their sexual orientation or age.

Teachers face employment agreement revisions due to funding cuts

When an employment contract is modified, an employee's life may change in various ways. Whether their work schedule changes or they see a drop in the income they depend on, contract revisions can be very difficult for workers. In Santa Clara, and other cities around southern California, employees who have found themselves in this position should focus on ensuring that their rights are not violated.

For over 25 years, a school district in Arkansas had been receiving desegregation funding. However, a 2014 ruling by a federal judge spelled the end of the funding. Although it was unclear when the funding would be cut, teachers recently received mailers informing them that cuts were on the way. As a result, changes wll be made to the employment agreements of almost 4,000 teachers, while other teachers will lose their job.

Acknowledging the prevalence of sexual harassment

Employees encounter all sorts of problems at work, from wrongful termination to denied overtime. However, daily life may be especially difficult for you if you have been subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace. In Palo Alto, California, and throughout the United States, it is important to acknowledge how widespread this serious problem truly is. At the law office of Kastner Kim LLP, we realize the various hardships that employees who are victims of sexual harassment may experience.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, there were more than 11,000 sexual harassment receipts over the course of fiscal year 2011. Furthermore, over 16 percent were filed by men, which goes to show that both genders experience sexual harassment. Unfortunately, these figures may not take into account some victims of sexual harassment who chose to remain silent. After all, some employees are worried about retaliation or other consequences if they speak out against unlawful harassment or any other violation of employment law. If you are in this position, you must understand your rights as an employee and address any wrongdoing immediately.

Taking a look at disability discrimination

According to the United States Department of Labor, there are a number of federal laws which protect those with a disability, such as the Workforce Investment Act, Americans with Disabilities Act and Rehabilitation Act, among others. In Palo Alto, and throughout California, an unacceptable number of workers have been discriminated against because of their disability. As a result, it is crucial for employees and employers alike to understand which types of behavior are prohibited and eliminate disability discrimination from the workplace.

On the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's website, various examples of disability discrimination are provided. It is against the law for an employer to treat a covered individual (such as someone applying for a job or a current employee) adversely because of his or her disability. For example, an employer cannot refuse to provide a disabled employee with reasonable accommodations (except in cases where such accommodations would result in undue hardship for the employer). Unlawful disability discrimination may also include showing hostility toward employees who have a temporary impairment or employees who previously suffered from a disability, such as those who were diagnosed with cancer years ago.

Firefighters association involved in contract standoff

When a contract dispute takes place, each side may disagree on a number of issues. Sometimes, a company violates the terms of an employment agreement and refuses to admit any wrongdoing, which can be incredibly difficult for employees who are affected by the violation. In Santa Clara, California, and the rest of the country, it is critical for employees to carefully review their contract and immediately address any violations if they believe their rights have been violated.

A firefighters association in San Antonio is involved in a standoff with leaders of the city over contract negotiations. At issue is the labor contract's evergreen clause, which will keep the terms of the contract intact until 2024. In 2014, the contract expired. However, San Antonio leaders claim the clause is not constitutional and the city doesn't have the funds.

Woman claims she was wrongfully fired

From financial hardships to career challenges, losing a job can be very difficult. However, when someone is wrongfully fired, the experience can be even more troubling. In California cities such as Santa Clara and Palo Alto, those who have experienced wrongful termination may have depression and anger and be unsure of which steps to take next. Sometimes, people who are let go cannot find another job in their line of work, which may lead to lasting financial problems and other hurdles.

A woman claims that her former South Carolina employer wrongfully fired her because she blew the whistle on the company's unlawful practices. In addition to retaliation, the woman also says that she was discriminated against over her age and gender, according to her lawsuit. Her former employer denied the accusations in a statement that was distributed.

Am I entitled to meal periods in California?

Whether an employer discriminates against a worker on the basis of his or her race or denies overtime, employee rights violations appear in the workplace quite often. However, you should be aware of all your rights as an employee in California, whether you live in Palo Alto, Santa Clara, or elsewhere in the state. According to the Department of Industrial Relations, employees are entitled to meal periods if they work a certain number of hours in one day.

For example, if you work more than five hours in a single day, your employer has to allow you to take a 30 minute break. However, if you work six hours or less, you can waive your right to a meal period. If you work for over 10 hours in a single day, your employer is also required to provide you with a second meal period. Furthermore, it is against the law for employers to interfere with an employee's right to a meal period they are entitled to and try to dissuade them from taking a break.

Executives and stock option matters

From job-related stress to a dispute over an employment agreement, executives often face a number of challenges. However, problems related to stock options can be especially complicated. If you are an executive who works in Santa Clara, Palo Alto, or elsewhere in the state of California, it is imperative to understand your rights and handle any stock option dilemmas appropriately. At the law office of Kastner Kim LLP, we know how difficult dealing with these issues can be and believe that executives should address any stock option matters at once.

When it comes to stock options, executives may encounter a variety of hurdles. For example, you may find yourself in the middle of a lawsuit due to options backdating, or the altering of dates that stock options were granted. Also, you may find yourself going through a dispute regarding stock option rights or losing stock options that have not been exercised due to job loss. Understanding the terms of your stock options may be incredibly difficult if you are not very familiar in dealing with these circumstances. However, tackling these predicaments properly is vital, especially if your stock options have a value that is well into seven figures.

Company sued for allegedly discriminating against workers

When it comes to discrimination, many people recognize the prevalence of employees being discriminated against as a result of their gender or ethnicity. However, it is also important to keep in mind how widespread and unacceptable age discrimination is in Palo Alto, Santa Clara, and elsewhere in the state of California. When employees are unfairly discriminated against because they are over a certain age, they should firmly stand up for themselves.

General Mills is facing a second lawsuit after allegedly discriminating against ex-workers, 29 of whom recently decided to take legal action. The former workers, who are between the ages of 42 and 63, claim that they were fired because of their age and not as a result of their performance.

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