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Los Angeles California Consumer Law Blog

Did you quit or were you constructively discharged?

California is an at-will state. Thus, your employer can fire you at any time and for any reason, just as you may leave your job at any time and for any reason, barring a contract that specifies otherwise.

However, the glaring exception to this rule occurs when a termination violates state and/or federal anti-discrimination and whistleblower protection laws. Firing an employee because of being in a protected class or because of reporting a legal or health and safety violation may be considered wrongful termination and open the employer to complaints and lawsuits.

A proactive approach to wrongful dismissal

Being let go from a job is often a devastating experience for many in the Los Angeles area. For some people, a job leads to an invaluable steady paycheck; for others, their career forms part of their identity and is part of a lifelong goal. In any case, being fired or laid off can throw a person's life into turmoil. This is especially true if the worker suspects there may have been an unlawful reason for termination.

In California and elsewhere, there are many employment laws that safeguard workers' rights with regard to wrongful termination. However, figuring out what these laws are and the extent of their protections can be daunting without the help of a legal professional. A Los Angeles wrongful termination attorney can guide a worker through the process of understanding the law and how it applies to his or her case.

Can a worker be discriminated against for being pregnant?

A pregnancy is usually a joyful event in a woman's life. However, for working women who are victims of discrimination based on their pregnancy, this time can be fraught with anxiety and extreme stress. What many in Southern California may not realize is that the topic of pregnancy discrimination is taken seriously by the law and has even been addressed at the national level.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act not only bans discrimination based on pregnancy, but does so in any element of employment. This includes hiring, income, promotions, layoffs or terminations, benefits or job assignments. What exactly is pregnancy discrimination? Discrimination against a woman due to her pregnancy could entail treating that person unfavorably due to their pregnancy, childbirth or a medical issue related to the pregnancy.

L.A. Sushi chain held accountable for unpaid overtime

Going out for sushi is an activity many Los Angeles residents enjoy on a regular basis. For those who make a living in the restaurant industry, there is often plenty of overtime to be found throughout L.A. Those who put in extra hours expect to be paid for their labor - especially in the food industry where more hours can translate into aches and pains at best and exhaustion at worst. For some workers at a local chain of sushi establishments, their extra hours are only now being compensated.

Unfortunately, an employer can commit a wage and hour violation no matter what industry it's in. An experienced wage and hour violation attorney can help a worker in any field understand their situation as well as their rights. A Southern California employer was recently held accountable for cheating various workers, including chefs, out of overtime pay. According to a federal investigation, a local chain offering its patrons ramen and sushi committed violations affecting hundreds of workers at over ten restaurants.

Busting one of the major myths about sexual harassment

Most workers in California probably have a vague idea of what constitutes sexual harassment. Fortunately, most workers have probably not encountered such workplace harassment, but for those who have, the victimization can be damaging and long-lasting. Still, California has key laws in place meant to protect employees from certain types of disruptive and often highly demeaning behavior.

As with many sets of laws, though, there is no shortage of myths regarding sexual harassment on the job. One common stereotype regarding sexual harassment is that it always involves men harassing women. In reality, sexual harassment can occur between two workers of the same gender, and women are just as capable of harassment as their male counterparts. Any worker can find himself or herself the target of lewd comments, unwanted sexual advances or even wrongful termination due to sexual harassment. Fortunately, the law acknowledges this reality and any victim of sexual harassment, regardless of that person's sex, gender identity or sexual orientation can obtain protection from the law.

Is there an overarching law prohibiting age discrimination?

With retirement a challenge for many in California, more and more workers may be remaining on the job indefinitely. Consequently, age discrimination is a serious concern in today's uncertain economy. There are key laws related to age discrimination in the modern workplace. These may be of interest to those who are unfamiliar with the topic or believe they may have been a victim of this type of damaging discrimination.

Do laws against age discrimination protect those of all ages? One critical law is the Age Discrimination Employment Act of 1967, which protects workers age 40 and older from discrimination in employment based on age. Interestingly, the act does not prohibit employers from favoring older workers based on age, even when this preference may harm another worker age 40 or older. The protection of the ADEA applies not only to employees but also job applicants. Thus, someone who believes they were a victim of either wrongful termination or refuse to hire based on age can benefit from speaking with an attorney.

California woman claims employer retaliation in new lawsuit

In the Los Angeles area, and across the country, the modern workplace tends to be extremely diverse. Most workers and employers understand the value of diversity and work to maintain a comfortable, productive and professional environment. However, there are times when certain incidents arise that can make all workers understandably apprehensive. The use of racial slurs can be deeply offensive to people from all backgrounds, and hearing them in the workplace can be jarring, at the very least, even as a bystander. Employers who fail to correct a hostile work environment can face litigation.

Recently in California, an investigative assistant at a District Attorney's office claimed she was on the receiving end of a racial slur. Moreover, she argues, her employer failed to properly address the problem and even retaliated against her for making a complaint. According to the lawsuit, which was filed against the San Francisco District Attorney's Office as well as against the city itself, the incident began when a mouse ran through the office, and the plaintiff, who is African American, let out a scream and jumped. Her co-worker allegedly used an offensive racial slur in response.

Asserting workers' rights in wage and hour disputes

When workers are paid by the hour, they expect that they will get paid for every minute that they're on the job. Most hourly employees in the Los Angeles area likely anticipate that, with the exception of taxes, their paycheck will reflect the actual number of hours worked. Moreover, there are laws and regulations in place to ensure wage and hour violations are rare. Still, not every employer follows the law and, as a result, some local workers may not get paid for all of their hard work.

What is a California worker to do when he or she suspects a wage and hour violation? The Law Offices of Allan A. Sigel, P.C. offers experienced, assertive counsel for those victimized by unscrupulous employers. From wage and hour disputes to unpaid overtime and related employment legal issues, Allan A. Sigel can provide reassuring and strategic advice. Workers may not feel as powerful as their employers, but workers still have critical rights that can be affirmed and defended inside and out of the courtroom.

Which employers are covered by California's FEHA?

With an economy that is anything but certain, many Californians - as well as those across the country - are postponing retirement and working at older ages. Consequently, it is not uncommon for age discrimination situations to appear as more and more people of various stages of life compete for scarce jobs. Fortunately, the law protects most California workers age 40 and older from employers who discriminate because of age.

Specifically, California has the Fair Employment and Housing Act, which prohibits various types of discrimination in various areas, from employment to housing. The Act forbids age discrimination in many employment-related situations, although there are some exceptions. In today's diverse working environment, where a worker may have more than one boss, it can be difficult to figure out which employer is covered by which law. What employers are covered under California's FEHA?

Former USC football coach sues for wrongful termination

This time of year, football fans in California and across the nation are gearing-up for some of the biggest games of the year. For local college football fans, the University of Southern California is often a team to watch. However, the team has recently been in the news but not always for its action on the field. Former head coach for USC Steve Sarkisian recently sued his previous employer for wrongful termination.

Sarkisian's main claim is that USC did not take the proper steps to accommodate his disability. His disability, he argues, is alcoholism. He had previously taken a leave of absence in order to seek treatment for alcoholism; his employment was terminated in October of this year. As a result, earlier this month Sarkisian filed a lawsuit in the Los Angeles Superior Court alleging wrongful termination. He is seeking not only his job back, but also damages upwards of $30 million.

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Law Offices of Allan A. Sigel, P.C.

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