Freelance journalists may soon be exempted from the controversial Assembly Bill 5, which went into effect Jan. 1st. The new law codified the California Supreme Court’s ruling in the Dynamex case, which established an “ABC test” for ascertaining whether workers are misclassified as independent contractors when in fact they should be receiving all the benefits of employment.employee misclassification

The law, introduced by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, has been the target of gig industry behemoths like Postmates, Lyft and Instacart. Freelance journalists, though, are another group that has been embroiled in a fight over AB5. Specifically, the law stipulates that a journalist who produces more than 35 submissions to a single entity should be considered an employee. But that, freelancers say, would effectively kill their career. Media companies, who increasingly can hire reporters and photographers who live and work anywhere, would be less inclined to hire writers from California – or cut them off at the 35-submissions mark.

Gonzalez said she had received extensive feedback from writers, photographers and journalists about how this would impact their ability to make a living, and said changes would be made to accommodate them, while still offering protection against employee misclassification. She indicated that amendments to the law would be introduced that would remove the submission cap. However, contractors still cannot replace employees. Contracts with freelance journalists would also need to expressly indicate the pay rate, payment deadline, individual’s copyrights to the work. Companies also won’t have the right to restrict freelancers from working for more than one outlet, and they can’t mainly perform their work on the business’s premises. Continue Reading ›

The 1963 Equal Pay Act mandates that employers must provide equal pay for equal work. The express purpose was to eliminate the practice of paying women less simply because of their gender. The law does allow employers to offer an affirmative defense to the law if they can show that some factor other than one’s gender played a role in lower pay. The question recently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Rizo v. Yovino was whether a California math teacher/consultant’s past salary qualified as a “factor other than sex” that allowed the school district to legally pay her less than her male counterparts. On remand from the U.S. Supreme Court, the appellate court ruled that it is not. California Equal Pay violation

In other words, the school district can’t use one’s prior salary as an excuse to pay them less. The court ruled that to allow employers to pay workers less solely based on the pay of a previous employer would essentially defeat the purpose of the federal Equal Pay law and perpetuate gender inequities in pay. As our Los Angeles equal pay lawyers can explain, fact that women have been paid less ion the past isn’t justification to continue paying them less.

Several other federal appellate courts have held that if defendants in an equal pay case present a “factor other than sex” defense, that factor has to be job-related. Only one court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, has held that the defense can involve any number of essentially limitless other factors, so long as none of them involves the employee’s gender. Continue Reading ›

A number of civil rights and employment lawsuits filed over the last handful of years have accused fashion industry powerhouses of discriminating against workers on the basis of race. Among them, two employees at high-end retail shops in California say they were treated poorly by management because of their race, and that black shoppers who weren’t celebrities were identified by code so that employees could monitor them more closely than other shoppers. Those cases, against Versace and Moschino, were later settled out-of-court.racial discrimination lawyer

There have also been numerous recent incidents of reported racial insensitivity within the industry, including:

  • Backlash following the release of several Gucci products, including an “Indy full turban,” a blackface jumper and a hoodie with strings tied like a noose.
  • An H&M “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” advertisement featuring a black child.
  • Prada’s release of key chain figurines that resembled the offensive “Little Sambo” children’s book character of the late 19th Century. The New York City Commission on Human Rights sided with a civil rights attorney in a complaint over the figures, and the company reached a settlement and plans to begin diversity training.

Many think pieces have been published regarding rampant racism within the fashion industry. Although some companies are making an effort to diversify the models, people who work in the industry say the effort has to go beyond that to really mean something and address the racial undercurrents that are reflected in from the runway to the retailers. Continue Reading ›

A recently-filed California workplace discrimination lawsuit alleges a former supervisor at Amazon ordered an employee to scour the social media platforms of job applicants, looking for information on their gender, ethnicity and race. When the employee raised concern about this (as well as the fact that she reportedly earned significantly less than male colleagues doing similar work). She was fired two months later. employment discrimination

Amazon has been criticized in the past for its lack of diversity. This was partially why the worker ascertained that what she was being asked to do was illegal, in violation of California’s anti-discrimination laws. Her lawsuit states that when she was fired, it was communicated to her that her direct supervisor had admitted to accessing job applicant social media accounts for the purpose of gleaning details about candidates’ ethnicity and race. The director who fired her also reportedly conceded that the claimant made less than male colleagues by that this simply “happens all the time” at the company. She was allegedly fired for failure to meet expectations (even though she’d been promoted within five months of joining the team).

Although the incident made headlines because it involved Amazon, the fact is incidents like this happen a lot more than one might think. Social media can prove incredibly useful for job recruiters in publicizing job openings, etc. LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter can be valuable in gathering information on prospective employees, and many companies use these outlets to conduct background checks on workers to ensure they are qualified for a certain position. However, it’s a fine line that has to be walked in terms of how those jobs are publicized and what type of information is being sought when recruiters access applicants’ social media pages. Continue Reading ›

Discrimination in the hiring process has long been problematic in California workplaces. Allowing personal biases of employers and supervisors to play a role in who gets the job and who doesn’t is extremely problematic when the effect is systematic discrimination against applicants on the basis of their race, religion, age, gender, disability or other protected status. Yet it happens far too often. discrimination in hiring

Now, a new California bill seeks to address this with technology.

SB1241, formally the Talent for Competitive Hiring (TECH) Act would establish a new legal bar – a high one – to address discrimination in hiring with transparent written guidelines for companies to follow in their recruiting process. The ultimate goal is to create fairer hiring processes and more diverse work forces with the aid of technological tools. It was co-authored by Democrats from Los Angeles, Long Beach, Gardena and Carson.

Rather than leaning on one of a myriad of unregulated pre-screening software programs or even a hiring manager, the TECH Act would require adoption of a smart computer program equipped with agnostic filtering that would be routinely monitored. As our Los Angeles employment discrimination lawyers understand it, SB1241 is a “rules of the road” so-to-speak for hiring practices. The bill sponsors say the measure is necessary to tackle the widening opportunity gap that leads to ongoing socioeconomic inequality throughout the state. Continue Reading ›

Former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg recently vowed to release former female employees from the non-disclosure agreements they signed in connection with their sexual harassment lawsuit settlements at his namesake company. The announcement came just days after Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren slammed Bloomberg over the agreements during the Democratic presidential debates in Las Vegas. Bloomberg said in a statement he had identified three non-disclosure agreements that were signed in resolution of complaints against statements he personally had made to his female employees. Those settlements were reached over 30 years ago. sexual harassment lawyer

Debate moderators had raised the question of Bloomberg’s past remarks about women, to which the billionaire responded that he would not tolerate the kind of behavior that #MeToo exposed. That’s when Warren made a point to underscore the non-disclosure agreements. Bloomberg downplayed both the number of non-disclosure agreements in which he was involved and the nature of what was alleged, characterizing the allegations as “maybe they didn’t like a joke I told.”

Bloomberg is far from the only person to come under fire for non-disclosure agreements in sexual harassment cases. Numerous women reportedly harassed and/or assaulted by Harvey Weinstein were compelled to sign non-disclosure agreements in order to settle their cases against him. The same was reportedly done in cases involving USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar. Continue Reading ›

As fears of the highly-contagious and potentially fatal coronavirus continue to spread, authorities have imposed numerous drastic measures and quarantine actions, from keeping passengers for weeks on a cruise ship to canceling classes for Japanese school children for the rest of the year. Some factories in Vietnam were forced to shut down operations when mangers on holiday in China were barred from traveling. workplace discrimination coronavirus

So what happens if you miss work due to illness or quarantine? What sort of job protections exist for workers under federal law?

First, let’s start by explaining what a quarantine is. A quarantine is the confinement of individuals who either have been or could have been exposed to a certain communicable illness or disease. Someone can be quarantined even if they don’t have the illness. This is different from isolation, which occurs when individuals who are sick are kept somewhere separate from those who are sick. Both state and federal governments in the U.S. have the legal authority to quarantine, though governments typically work together to determine if it’s necessary. A quarantine can last anywhere from a few hours to several weeks. If it stretches on past a few days, it could easily affect one’s ability to make a living. Continue Reading ›

A for-profit nursing home chain operating dozens of facilities in several states (including California) has agreed to pay $2 million and implement other corrective measures after being sued for disability discrimination.Los Angeles disability discrimination

Local media report that at the heart of the case were strict hiring and leave policies that unfairly affected those suffering a disability. Like far too many employers, the company seemed to be under the impression that applicants and workers had to be 100 percent capable of performing every job function as-is (without accommodation or restriction), and that employees need not be extended further consideration if they had run out of FMLA and sick leave time. This is not true.

As our Los Angeles disability discrimination lawyers can explain, such policies violate federal law – specifically the Americans with Disabilities Act. Continue Reading ›

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has launched an investigation into an alleged case of pregnancy discrimination stemming from a former employee’s memo that went viral last year. pregnancy discrimination

The memo, titled, “I’m Not Returning to Google After Maternity Leave, and Here is Why, My Story of Retaliation and Discrimination at Google,” was penned by a former manager. She had worked for the company for five years, receiving stellar reviews during that time. According to her letter, treatment by her supervisors abruptly changed once she spoke up to human resources on behalf of a worker who was pregnant. Her supervisor had begun making inappropriate comments about the pregnant worker to other managers, lamenting that she was pregnant again, saying the employee was overly-emotional and difficult to work with while pregnant and expressing regret that adverse action could not be taken against her because, “you can’t touch employees after they disclose such things.” Once HR spoke to the offending supervisor, her attitude toward the claimant suddenly changed.

Claimant, who herself was pregnant, says the company retaliated against by unfairly denying her a leadership position and suddenly giving her poor performance reviews. She was transferred to another team at her request, but was told she couldn’t be a manager until after she returned from maternity leave because her being gone for three months would “rock the boat.” She later told media outlets that it wasn’t until she hired an employment attorney that the company’s HR department finally launched an investigation into her numerous complaints of discrimination and retaliation. Continue Reading ›

A survey of foreign H-1B visa holders working at tech industry employers like Apple, Lyft and Samsung say they’ve been subjected to a significant degree of workplace discrimination ever since the Trump administration made it tougher to qualify for the visas. citizenship discrimination

Visa holders say they are assigned to working conditions that dangerous, degrading and often very stressful. Nearly half of visa holders surveyed said they believe they earn less than their co-workers because of their visa status – despite the fact that the U.S. Department of Labor specifically says H-1B visa holders are not to make any less than the prevailing wage set for their role in the area where they work. Technically though, federal law does still authorize employers to misclassify H-1B visa holders as “entry level employees,” so they can earn less. A computer programmer, for example, might earn $40,000 less as an entry-level worker compared to one with experience. Still, that classification defies logic because by definition, H-1B visa holders re supposed to be highly-skilled.

The H-1B visa program allows foreign skilled workers to be brought to the U.S. to work for a limited amount of time. It’s the main way that U.S. companies hire skilled foreign workers. The program, which is already capped at 85,000 employees (less than 1 percent of the U.S. total workforce) has slowed substantially under the current administration’s policy of buying and hiring American. Priority has been given to foreign workers who hold a U.S. higher education degree. This has led to H-1B visa holder workers feeling discriminated against and treated as second-class. Yet workers feel as if they cannot speak up because the H-1B spots are so coveted and their eligibility for the program is specifically tied to employer sponsorship. Continue Reading ›