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Employment Law & Workplace Discrimination: Know Your Rights

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Under California employment law, employees have the right to discrimination-free work environments. In short, discrimination occurs when a person is treated unfairly because of his or her race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, religion, or nationality. But identifying employment discrimination isn’t always easy, as it can take many forms. If you are an employee and have been treated unfairly in the workplace, knowing your rights is the first step toward seeking justice.

Legally speaking, there are two basic types of workplace discrimination: disparate treatment and disparate impact. Disparate treatment happens when an employer acts in a way that is directly unfair to the employee. This might include demotion or termination based on the employee's nationality, for example. In some cases, the employer might fail to give a promotion or raise to a qualified employee because of his or her sexual orientation or religion, which also qualifies as discrimination under California employment law. 

Disparate impact, on the other hand, is a more general term that refers to an action (usually a company policy) that is unfairly biased against an entire group of employees. If a company policy discriminates against pregnant women, for instance, it falls into this category. Other situations might include policies that prohibit clothing associated with a specific religion or policies that discriminate against a gender minority.

If you suffered discrimination in the workplace, now is the time to speak with a legal representative about your claim. At The Spencer Law Firm, you can work with an Orange County employment lawyer to seek compensation for your damages. Contact us for more information about employment law and your rights. 



What to Do When You Face Workplace Harassment

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

California laws give employees protection against discrimination or harassment in the workplace. However, to file a claim, you need evidence of the incident that occurred. That's why it helps if you can record incidents of harassment, and take other steps to document it.

When you record the harassment, be as descriptive as possible, and record the incidents, the people involved, and the exact manner and form of discrimination or harassment. If the harassment involved obscene e-mails, or text messages, retain copies of those.

Once you have a record of the incident of harassment, report the issue. Go to human resources, and file a complaint about the harassment. The longer you delay, the less likely it is that your complaint will seem credible. Management will want to know why you didn’t report the harassment earlier.

File a complaint in a very methodical manner. Provide all of the information that you have including evidence, records, text messages, e-mails, and other documentation, in support of your complaint.

Prepare yourself emotionally before you file the complaint. Don’t lose your temper, make wild allegations, and behave like you are having a meltdown. Instead, come across as very sure of yourself, methodical, and clear that you want human resources to handle the issue appropriately.

After you file the complaint, go about work as usual. Don't avoid coming into office, and under no circumstances, quit your job. If you find that human resources takes no action against the harassment, and that you are, in fact, being wrongfully retaliated against for your complaint, speak to a California workplace discrimination lawyer about what to do next.



California Prohibits Discrimination against LGBT Employees

Saturday, November 01, 2014

California is one among several states that expressly prohibits workplace discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees. The state prohibits discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation and gender identity.

Employers in the state must respect the fact that their workplaces are now very sexually diverse. California employers are responsible for providing employees with a workplace, that protects them from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Although there is no full-fledged federal law that prohibits discrimination against lesbians, gays, and transgender employees in private employment, there is an Executive Order that specifically prohibits the federal government from discriminating against employees based on sexual orientation. However, if private employers in California must follow the state law that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, in spite of the fact that there is no federal law yet that bans such discrimination.

California's law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and if a plaintiff files a discrimination lawsuit based on LGBT discrimination and the case goes to a jury, it is likely that plaintiffs will find a jury that is in their favor. According to recent survey, Americans across the board now seem to be in favor of a inclusive workplaces, and zero discrimination against homosexuals, lesbians and transgender persons.

According to the survey, as many as 55% of the more than 2,500 people who were surveyed believed that no employer should be granted exemption from protecting employees against discrimination based on sexual orientation. Only a minority believed that such exemptions should be granted, and even among them, the majority believed that the exemption should only be applicable to churches and places of worship.



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.



HIV-Positive Workers Continue to Face Workplace Discrimination

Saturday, May 03, 2014

More than 1 million people currently live with HIV in the United States. These are people who are living normal lives, and as the drugs that are being developed to treat the disease improve, HIV-positive people are expected to live longer, more productive and satisfying lives,. However, there's one thing that has changed little since the word ”AIDS” entered our lexicon. Workplace discrimination is something that many persons with HIV continue to face on a daily basis.

The laws have become progressively tougher on any kind of harassment or discrimination against persons with HIV. Recently, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against a company on behalf of an HIV-positive man. According to the complaint, the company refused to hire the man because of his HIV status. Over the past ten years, in fact, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed at least 25 cases involving alleged discrimination based on HIV status. Between 1997 and 2013, the federal agency received more than 3,900 complaints that alleged that people were being discriminated against based on their HIV status.

In most of these cases, these persons were simply terminated from their jobs after employers learned about their HIV-positive status. In fact, most lawsuits filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have to do with this kind of discrimination. In other cases, the company simply refused to hire persons due to their HIV-positive status.

It isn’t just small companies that are guilty of such discrimination. Some of the defendants in HIV-positive discrimination lawsuits include the likes of Popeye’s Chicken, a Mac Donald's franchise and even Kaiser Permanente. People have been fired from jobs as dental technicians, chefs, or even taking care of the produce section in their supermarket, after employers learned about their HIV status.



CFPB Considers Initiatives to Eliminate Workplace Biases

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

After concerns over discriminatory practices at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the agency has announced that it will soon implement strategies that are aimed at reducing biases in the workplace.

There have been a number of recent concerns about workplace discrimination at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which is the premier consumer financial regulatory agency. A number of reports recently revealed that there were disparities in employees’ performance ratings that seemed to be based on racial distinctions. There have also been a number of other complaints of unfair treatment at the agency that made their way into the media.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created as part of the provisions of the Dodd Frank Act. At the time, the agency worked quickly to hire employees, and diversification of the workforce was not prioritized. Now, the agency says that it wants to attract a diverse pool of job applicants, and focus on creating an inclusive workplace culture.

Recently, a report that was filed by the American Banker newspaper analyzed internal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau data, showing clearly that the agency’s white employees were approximately twice as likely to be given a top performance rating, compared to African-American or Hispanic employees. At least one attorney who worked for the agency has told a Congressional committee that she was the victim of gender discrimination at the agency. When she filed a formal complaint, she alleges that she was retaliated against.

Agency officials clearly admit that there is room for greater inclusionary practices at the agency. That is definitely a step in the right direction. The agency now has a solid opportunity in which to rectify past mistakes, and promote a more inclusive culture that bans discrimination against women and minorities.




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