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Los Angeles Wrongful Termination Law Blog

Flailing overtime rules under further review

As a previous post here noted, the former presidential administration finalized a rule that would have expanded overtime benefits to an additional 4 or 5 million workers, both in California and around the rest of the country. Now, these rules are under reconsideration by the Trump Administration, and the Department of Labor is inviting additional comments from the public on the rules.

To review, the rules increased the salary threshold for "exempt" employees who work under a salary. In many cases, employees who earn a salary for professional or management positions do not get overtime for working over 40 hours a week, presumably because they are getting paid more. However, under the current rules, a person can be "exempt" even if they make under $24,000 a year. The new rules, which were originally stalled by litigation, would have set the minimum salary for an exempt employee at above $47,000 a year.

Helping victims of sexual harassment get the justice they deserve

Sexual harassment cases are particularly troublesome because they are no doubt very embarrassing and frightening to Los Angeles-area victims, so much so that many victims may decide not to even report the issue to their human resources office.

Moreover, these cases are also extremely difficult to prove in many situations, as they often involve one person's word against that of another. In other cases, proving sexual harassment may mean having to describe specific instances in detail which may, standing alone, seem innocent enough but, taken as a pattern of behavior, show sexual harassment.

Rights for people over 40 years of age who are facing a layoff

A Los Angeles resident who is over 40-years-old probably gets even more stressed out about the possibility of a layoff or other termination than would a younger employee simply because, despite the laws preventing age discrimination, it can be harder for an older worker to find another job after being let go. Nevertheless, when faced with a pink slip and handed a severance agreement, many employees over 40 years of age will wind up signing the document, even it means giving up their right to sue their former employers.

Perhaps because of the possibility that people over 40 years of age might feel pressured into signing a severance agreement that is not in their best interests, California employers, like other employers nationwide, have to give some additional information and satisfy some additional requirements when laying off an older employee and trying to entice them into signing an agreement.

Discrimination alleged at California oil refinery

A former worker at an oil refinery in California owned by Shell, a major oil company, has sued her former employers alleging sexual harassment and discrimination based on sex, as well as wrongful termination based on employer retaliation.

The woman says in her lawsuit that she worked in a department that was heavily staffed by men, and management allowed a hostile environment to thrive in that department. The woman said that male employees would make rude remarks about women and would also suggest that women did not really belong in that work environment.

Can an employee handbook help my wrongful discharge case?

Like several other states, the courts in California are willing to enforce the terms of an employee handbook, as long as the employer distributes the handbook to its employees and as long as the obligations and promises it contains are sufficiently specific to enforce. California courts do so under the theory that an employer would not issue a handbook if it did not expect to follow the policies in it, and employees would, on the other hand, consult the handbook in order to know what the employer expected.

However, like many other states, employers in California have the option of expressly disclaiming the idea that an employee handbook is actually a type of contract or legal promise. All the employer needs to do is clearly and specifically state as much in the handbook with language like "this handbook is not a contract."

Warning signs of age discrimination

A previous post on this blog mentioned briefly that age discrimination claims can be hard to prove. After all, an employer rarely come out an say up front that a Los Angeles resident is getting fired or laid off because of his or her age, especially since most employers know that doing so is illegal and can lead to having to pay damages, including back pay and attorney's fees.

An employer who is dead set on getting around the law and terminating older, "more expensive" workers is going to rely on the element of surprise to do so. It is best for them when the first time a worker over 40 realizes something is up is when they are handed the pink slip. Employees who are older therefore should be aware of some subtle warning signs that might signal age discrimination.

Ousted after years of service; we may have options

A Los Angeles resident can put in years or even decades of service to a company only to one morning get called in the management's office and be told that their services are simply no longer needed. Some get a severance agreement and package, but others may not be so lucky. These unexpected and abrupt changes in life clearly carry an enormous amount of stress. But it's important to try to keep a level head and approach the situation with a clear mind; there may be legal recourse.

Aside from the emotional shock, when one is laid-off without warning, it raises important legal questions. Perhaps, it was a matter of economic circumstances, but other times, the termination of a senior worker is a form of age discrimination, an illegal business practice.

Three victims bring sexual harassment lawsuit in California

Sexual harassment in the workplace is prohibited and victims are protected. In a nearby California community west of Los Angeles three women recently filed a claim that they were sexually harassed at the grocery store where they worked and that their supervisor allowed the sexual harassment to continue. One of the women worked for the company for 11 years and had a dream of moving up in the company. She wanted to learn from her supervisor but asserts he instead made sexually harassing comments to her and touched her inappropriately.

The victim reported the sexual harassment to a supervisor at the grocery store and received a response back that everyone knew that was how her immediate supervisor was and nothing was done. Another victim asserts that she was invited to the supervisor's home and told if she did not go to his home, she would be demoted at work. The second victim thought others would be at the immediate supervisor's home, however, it was just the two of them and he forced himself physically on her. He then mentioned raping her but she was able to escape.

Workers should be familiar with racial discrimination protections

In general, race discrimination in the employment process is not permitted but it can sometimes be difficult to detect. The employee or job applicant, however, may know it is going on. It may outwardly seem more subtle when an employer fails to hire or promote an employee because of their race when the employer is unlikely to state racial discrimination as the reason. Racial discrimination in the workplace is strictly prohibited by both federal and state laws.

Ways to establish racial discrimination in employment, hiring and promotion practices, for instance, include if the employer inquires about the applicant's race but then refuses to hire them. Additionally, it may be possible to establish patterns of racial discrimination in hiring decisions or if an individual who is less qualified is promoted instead of the individual that is suffering racial discrimination.

Older workers are protected from age discrimination

Employees over the age of 40 are protected from employment discrimination on the basis of age. Workers are protected under The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA). The ADEA protects employees and job applicants. Generally, it is unlawful to discriminate against an employee or job applicant in regards to any term, condition or privilege of employment. Employees and job applicants cannot be discriminated against based on age related to hiring, firing, promotions, layoffs, compensation benefits, job assignments and training.

The ADEA applies to employers with 20 or greater employees and state and federal governments. Except in rare circumstances, it is unlawful to include in job notices or advertisements age preferences, limitations or specifications. Additionally, requests for an applicant's age or date of birth are closely scrutinized. Also, in general, apprenticeship programs are not permitted to discriminate on the basis of age and benefits, except in limited circumstances when they may be reduced, cannot be denied to older workers.

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

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