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How to Enforce Your Employment Law Rights

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reports that they received and investigated over 91,000 complaints in 2016. It is an unfortunate fact that many employers engage in unscrupulous and discriminatory practices against employees and potential hires. However, the EEOC, other government agencies and private law firms are the ones who proactively protect your employment rights.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

The EEOC’s primary task is to enforce federal laws that prevent workplace discrimination. For example, the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, ethnicity, religion and national origin. The EEOC deals with HR personnel who engage in inappropriate screening, interviewing and recruiting practices. Employers are forbidden from asking any questions that may violate the civil rights of protected minorities. The Civil Rights Act prohibits retaliation against employees who file complaints or exercise their legal rights. The EEOC conducts investigations, mediates settlements, interpret laws, issues warnings and process discrimination claims.

The Department of Labor

The Department of Labor (DOL) promotes and protects the employed, the unemployed and potential hires. Their main job is to enforce laws related to wages, safety, workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance. This includes approximately 180 federal laws that protects office, except, agricultural, underage and migratory workers. To illustrate, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) contains the laws for weekly hours and overtime pay. The most important member of the DOL is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). They focus on unsafe and unhealthy policies, working conditions and employment environments.

The National Labor Relations Board

The NLRB works with the Department of Labor's Office of Labor-Management Standards to deal with union reporting, disclosure and administration requirements. The federal NLRB is an independent agency that was created through the passing of the National Labor Relation Act (NLRA). The NLRB is tasked with protecting the rights of collective employees who are legally empowered to form a union and select their bargaining representative. The NLRB prevents unfair labor practices, investigate potential violations and facilitate settlements between parties. This sometimes requires class action lawsuits and professional employment lawyers.

Other federal agencies that protect employee’s rights include the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA). Anyone whose rights are being violated by their employer, such as unpaid overtime and unlawful termination, are encouraged to contact an employment lawyer today.



Employment Laws That Protect Your Rights

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigated 91,000 complaints in 2016. Over 65,000 of these complaints were closed because of a lack of reasonable cause. The EEOC does an excellent job protecting the rights of workers across the country, but budget and resource limitations mean that it’s sometimes necessary to retain an employment lawyer to defend your rights. Below introduces federal employment rights that some employers openly ignore and violate.

Anti-discrimination

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination against specific demographic groups. These include age, race, gender, religion, disability and national origin. Screening, hiring and employment decisions cannot be influenced by any of these protected statuses.  Some companies and HR managers hide their discriminatory actions through exaggerating problems, ignoring objective facts and unfairly treating certain people.

Harassment

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits harassment, but almost every state has its own laws regarding stalking and sexual harassment. For example, California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing covers workplace harassment, but this state’s anti-harassment laws provide preferential treatment to employees. This is why victims of workplace bullying and harassment often have to seek the help of employment lawyers to deal with offensive and improper behavior.

Wage and Hour Laws

The Department of Labor oversees the Fair Labor Standards Act that guarantees the basic economic rights of workers. The federal minimum wage only applies if the state’s minimum wage is lower.  While the federal law does not require employers to pay staff for any time off, Californian state law requires that they are paid overtime regardless of whether their work was authorized or not.  This state actually entitles tipped employees to also earn the full minimum wage.

Termination

Almost all states define employment as being an at-will arrangement. This means that employees may be terminated for any reason at any time. Many unscrupulous employees illegally terminate employees for the wrong reasons, such as when a military or pregnant employee uses their FMLA leave rights. Construction and production companies sometimes terminate employees who are injured on the job performing dangerous tasks or working in unsafe conditions.

There also lesser known laws like the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). Contact us today for legal assistance if your employment rights have been or are being violated by your employer.



4 Things to Know About Unlawful Termination

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Were you suddenly terminated from your job? Depending on your circumstances, you may be the victim of unlawful termination. Here are some tips and advice.

At-Will Employees

Most employees will not have a claim for wrongful termination against their former employer. This is because most workers are at-will employees. This means that their employer can hire and fire them at will. However, there are common exceptions to this, as you'll see in the following paragraphs.

Breach of Contract

If there was a contract that guaranteed employment to you for a certain amount of time, then your termination would be illegal. This contract doesn't have to be a written one. If you can prove that there was an implied or verbal contract, the courts may also deem the termination unlawful.

Breach of Good Faith

Sometimes, the courts will consider a termination wrongful if there was a breach of good faith. This is harder to prove, but it applies to certain situations. For example, if you were fired so that you can't collect sales commissions, or you were fired a few days before retiring even though you've been a model employee for many years so that your employer wouldn't have to pay for your retirement, that would likely be called wrongful termination.

Breach of Public Policy

There are certain reasons for which even at-will employees cannot be fired. This varies from state to state, but there are some that are universal. For example, if you were fired based on your sex, race, age, religion, etc (and in some places, your sexual orientation), that is illegal. Other breaches of public policy would be stuff such as being fired for taking off time to vote or in retaliation for reporting illegal activities.

For help with fighting an unlawful termination, contact us today!



$51 Million Awarded in Age Discrimination Case

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Never fear that you are not big enough to stand up to a large corporation. Everyone is equal in the eyes of the law. A recent jury verdict of $51.5 million in favor of an employee and against one of New Jersey's largest employers demonstrates this principle in action.

Robert Braden was 66 years old when Lockheed Martin laid him off from his position as a project engineer in 2012. He was a mid-level manager who'd been employed at the company for 29 years when a reduction in force resulted in the lay offs of 308 workers company-wide.

Braden was the only person in his six-member team to be let go, and he was also the oldest. When they let him go, Lockheed provided no reasons to Braden for choosing him over two younger employees with the same title as Braden. The two younger employees retained their positions. To add insult to injury, the company hired a new, younger employee for Braden's position a year later.

In fact, Braden claimed Lockheed Martin regularly hired young employees to fill positions for which he was qualified even while the company continued laying off other workers.

The discrimination lawsuit Braden filed claimed age was a motivating factor in his termination. He also claimed he'd been paid less than younger workers with similar jobs and said he'd heard remarks by company executives that it was okay to give older workers lower reviews and lower pay because older workers have nowhere else to go.

But Braden did have somewhere else to go. He went to court.

Age discrimination is the act of a person treating someone less fairly because of his or her age. The Age Discrimination Act in Employment Act was enacted in 1967 to protect people who are over 40 years old from becoming disadvantaged at work because of their age. Older employees must be treated fairly by employers when it comes to hiring, firing, pay, promotions, layoffs and all other employment conditions.

Our laws are designed to protect people like Braden. For all of Lockheed's great size, impressive wealth and smart lawyers, it couldn't change the facts of the case, which the jury said showed he'd been a victim of age discrimination.

Lockheed Martin denied the allegations, of course. Its lawyers said Braden was let go for legitimate reasons. They cited poor reviews and lack of skills as reasons. But, when Lockheed employees were asked in court to explain why Braden was let go, their stories varied, making their argument a hard sell. Lockheed Martin also tried to point out differences in the responsibilities and job duties between Braden's position and those of his younger co-workers.

The 8-person jury was unconvinced. The jury voted to grant Braden:

  • $520,000 in economic losses
  • $520,000 in liquidated damages (per the Age Discrimination Act)
  • $50,000,000 in punitive damages

This case clearly shows employers can't get away with discriminating against older employees. Employers must be able to demonstrate objective reasons for terminating an older employee. If you are concerned about age discrimination in the workplace, contact us for consultation.



Discriminated in the Workplace? – Some Forms you Might Not be Aware of

Thursday, February 16, 2017

When the term discrimination comes up in employment law, most of us immediately think of racial biased practices. However, the federal government has been clear in the scope that workplace discrimination is covered.

There are several areas of discrimination such as race, sex, color, creed and religion that most people are familiar with. There are also a few lesser known areas that aren’t in the news every day. These are the areas that you might be affected by and not realize it.

Age discrimination – designed to protect workers over the age of 40. These laws are intended for the group of workers who are slightly older than their peers in the workplace. The standards for equal pay and assignment of duties must be met by that employer who has older workers on the staff. This includes the language used in the workplace. While the law doesn’t pertain to teasing or even slightly disparaging remarks, it does go to that extent when the workplace becomes a hostile environment because of it.

Disability – the laws regarding disabilities are such that the employer should make certain, but limited, accommodations for the employee to fulfill his work duties. When this isn’t done, the employer has failed in their obligation to disabled employees. Disability discrimination also goes a step further in that it covers people who are discriminated against because of their association with a disabled person.

Disabled employees have the same rights as everyone else in the workplace. They are sometimes subject to lower pay or the relegation to less desirable positions and are even the subject of disparaging language

Sexual harassment – can be taken in many forms, some of which are subtle and some that are overt. From unwanted touching and advances to inappropriate language and pictures, all can be found to be a form of sexual discrimination that is unlawful in the workplace. Harassment covers the actions of males and females alike.

Retaliation – the EEO laws prohibit punishment of an employee for exercising their rights under the law regarding the filing of a discrimination lawsuit. Retaliation covers any changes in the employee’s job duties, any confrontational language used against the employee, and spreading false rumors or intense scrutiny of the employee.

Every worker has the invaluable right to work in an environment that is free of discrimination and harassments of any type.

If you think that you have been discriminated on in any of these areas, contact us for a free discrete consultation. Trust your case to the most-trusted discrimination advocates.



Former Disney Employees File Class Action Claiming Racial Discrimination in H-1B Case

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that 30 laid-off Disney workers are filing a class-action suit against their former employer, alleging racial discrimination surrounding their termination of employment. The premise is that the primarily white male employees were replaced by H-1B work visa holders from India who were willing to work the same jobs for lower wages and benefits. The theory behind the lawsuit is unique, to say the least.

The incident took place a couple of years ago, when 250 employees of Disney’s IT department were informed that they would be laid off and replaced by the H-1B visa holders. To add insult to injury, the laid-off workers were told to train their replacements and that their severance packages would depend on their maintaining a “positive attitude.” Disney claimed that a number of other job opportunities were opened for the laid-off employees, something that is under dispute, even though some have been rehired.

A similar class action, alleging a RICO violation to violate immigration laws, was thrown out by the courts earlier. While the H-1B program is meant to find foreign workers to fill jobs for whom domestic workers are unavailable and not replace domestic workers, Disney and the outsourcing firm it used seems to have found a loophole allowing them to do what they did.

Disney is denying that racial discrimination took place but rather their decision to terminate the 250 employees was solely based on cost-cutting concerns. The question may revolve around whether the plaintiffs can prove intent or, failing that, the effect is sufficient to prove racial discrimination. The employees are demanding back pay and benefits with interest and reinstatement at a similar job.

For more information contact us.




What counts as discrimination under employment law?

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Employment discrimination -- what is it?

It's helpful to first clarify what employment discrimination is and isn't. Employment discrimination law deals with matters affecting protected categories, such as people of a particular race or religion. It seems equally important to note that discrimination based off of non-categorical factors, such as personality, have no relevance from a legal standpoint. Therefore, it is imperative that you understand the legal limits of employment discrimination.

According to find law, legal discrimination can occur due to someone's "race, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability or age." Discrimination can also happen at various stages of employment, including hiring, promotion and termination. It's also important to note there are other aspects of discrimination covered under the umbrella of the law that might slip your notice, such as disability leave or even retirement plans. Other lesser known types of discrimination include hiring decisions based on an individual's genetic history, preferred language, or the fact that their spouse is a type of person protected under the employment discrimination law that the employer has chosen to discriminate against.

Specialization is important

Employment law is incredibly broad. Discrimination law is a distinct branch of the law from, say, workers' compensation issues. So you would want to find a lawyer whose focus is on employment discrimination, and who specializes in the type of discrimination that is relevant to your legal dispute.

Time limits and proper procedures

If you've been discriminated against, you should consult an attorney as soon as possible. You must file charges with the EEOC as a preliminary step to private lawsuits, and this must be completed within 180 days of the alleged event.

If you have any questions, please contact us.



Feds Ally with Transgender Advocacy Group To Enhance Workplace Protection

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is working together with a leading transgender advocacy group to increase workplace health and safety protections for transgender workers.

There are specific concerns that transgender employees have, and the new alliance between the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Center for Transgender Equality is specifically aimed at helping create a healthy workplace for transgender workers.

For instance, transgender workers do have a complaint about managers refusing to refer to them with their changed name after the transition, and also complain about the lack of access to separate restrooms that are appropriate for transgender workers. These are the some of the issues that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Transgender Equality will keep in mind, as they move forward and develop recommended best practices for employers. The aim is to encourage companies across the United States to implement the recommendations in order to create a more inclusive and safe environment for transgender workers.

The federal administration has been working to ease restrictions on transgender workers. For instance, last month, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that transgender workers face several restrictions including their supervisor’s failure to consider name changes, and that these are a violation of anti-discrimination laws. That decision came in a case involving a civilian employee in the Army, who was working at the Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center in Alabama. When she tried to use the women's restroom after her transition in 2010, she was confronted by a supervisor, who insisted on using her male name. This is the kind of situation that the new alliance aims to eliminate.



Poll Finds Americans Opposed to Discrimination against LGBT Persons

Friday, October 03, 2014

According to a new survey, Americans are opposed to discrimination against persons with other sexual preferences or sexual orientation.

The poll focused on more than 2, 500 Americans, and out of these, more than 200 indicated that they were homosexual, and 354 identify themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender. Approximately 55% of these persons believed that no employer should be given any exemption from providing employees protection against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation, or preference. A minority of them believe that certain businesses or organizations have the right to discriminate against these persons, including places of worship. They also believed that private businesses could have exemption from anti-discrimination laws, based on religious beliefs.

At least two- thirds of the respondents admitted that they believed that there should be an expansion of the federal law to expand protection against workplace discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. Two- thirds of the respondents admitted that they were strongly in favor of the expansion of federal law to provide protections against employment discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. About 54 % were strongly in favor of equal treatment of transgender workers.

This rising tide in favor of acceptance of persons of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons in the workplace comes as several states around the country, continue to relax their laws and accept same sex marriages or unions. Even though so many Americans are strongly in favor of protections against workplace discrimination, in matters of gender identity and sexual orientation, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act continues to be debated by lawmakers in Congress. In several American states, it continues to be legal for employers to fire employees if they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. In 32 states, a person can be fired from his employment if he identifies as transgender.



Feds Update Pregnancy Discrimination Guidelines

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

For the first time in three decades, the federal administration has updated its guidelines to prevent workplace pregnancy discrimination. The new guidelines will go a long way in helping protect pregnant workers from discrimination.

The rules were adopted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and now hold that workplace discrimination or harassment against pregnant employees is a form of illegal sex harassment. The guidelines clearly establish that such harassment is illegal, and that there has been an increase in overt pregnancy discrimination, as well as more subtle discrimination against pregnant employees over the past few years. For the first time, the guidelines clearly establish how the Americans with Disabilities Act will apply to pregnant employees. The guidelines also establish that discrimination against female employees, based on past pregnancies or potential future pregnancies is also illegal under the law.

The last time the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission updated its guidelines related to pregnancy discrimination was back in 1983. These new guidelines are sorely needed. There has been an upswing in the number of employees who have been fired, denied jobs, and promotion opportunities all because they were pregnant, or could possibly get pregnant in the future.

Those kinds of discriminatory practices are now clearly illegal under the law, and this will have a major impact on employment lawsuits that are based on pregnancy discrimination in California. Under the new guidelines, employers are specifically prohibited from forcing pregnant employees to take leave, and are also guided to provide light work for pregnant workers. Lactation is now covered as a pregnancy-related medical condition after childbirth. The guidelines also include paternal leave under the same umbrella, and say that when it comes to matters involving parental leave, males and females must be treated similarly.




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