As 2018 nears to a close, Orange County employment attorneys are looking ahead to California labor law changes in 2019. Also, it’s not a bad idea to review for employers to review recent case law precedents and best practices and for employees to educated themselves on key facts regarding their rights and the most common types of employment lawsuits. California labor law 2019

If you have questions regarding a specific California employment law issue, our dedicated legal team at The Nassiri Law Group is available to meet for free initial consultations. Our Labor and Employment Practice Areas range from wrongful termination to sexual harassment to Family Medical Leave Act violations and a host of discriminatory practices.

2019 Wage Law Changes in California

Let’s start with changes in wage laws. A new law passed in 2016 requires incremental minimum wage increases annually in the Golden State. Last year, per the California Department of Industrial Relations, companies with 25 or fewer employees were required to pay a minimum hourly wage of $10 while those with 26 or more employees were mandated to pay $10.50. This year, both increased by $0.50 hourly. Next year, it raises to $11 hourly for smaller employers and $12 hourly for bigger companies. By 2023, the minimum wage in California will be $15 hourly. Be aware that where federal, state or local wage laws apply, the employer is required to abide the stricter standard that is most beneficial to the employee. Minimum wage is the same for minors as adults and for full-time as well as part-time employees. If you rely on tips, companies cannot use your tip credit toward your minimum hourly wage, and unlike federal law set by the Fair Labor Standards Act, California law requires employers pay the full state minimum wage before tips.  Continue reading

Gender discrimination and sexual harassment attorneys in California know women who work in federal prisons housing male inmates tend to go into the job expecting they will be targeted for unwanted attention from the resident populace. This isn’t to say such behavior is tolerable, but it’s the reason these workers wear over-sized uniforms, slick their hair into tight buns, do almost everything possible to hide any trace of femininity. But worse than abuse they face from the inmates, they told The New York Times and detailed in gender discrimination lawsuit depositions, is the fact their male colleagues encourage this behavior – and even participate in it. On more than one occasion, this has resulted not only in a hostile workplace, but an extremely dangerous one. Further, they allege that when these incidents are reported, they face retaliation, including blackballing and termination, the male colleagues who harass them reportedly rise in their field.sexual harassment attorney

Our Los Angeles sexual harassment attorneys are aware of cases wherein female prison workers have been groped, taunted daily, subjected to incessant inmate masturbation and threatened with rape. Anytime they reported this, the women say, their supervisors downplayed it, encouraged them to “let it go.” Once when a female worker refused, she said her supervisors required her to undergo an unwanted medical exam that required her to expose her breasts in front of a colleague. In another case, a case manager was reportedly raped by an inmate. When the 24-year employee reported it, she was criminally charged with raping her attacker. She was later acquitted by a jury, but her retirement savings was depleted for her defense fund and her daughter had to drop out of college because she couldn’t afford it.

This isn’t the first time abuses of female prison employees have come to light. In 2010, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released a stunning report, indicating sexual harassment and retaliation claims were not only unusually high within the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, but also that they were routinely mishandled. And this is not a small problem, given that more than 10,000 women work within the federal prison system. Women who have lodged complaints say they have been essentially blocked from any future in the corrections system – even when their claims prevail. This is evidenced by the fact that a Congressional oversight committee last year learned that prisons were continuing to grant high-level administrators huge bonuses, even though the complaints regarding sexual harassment were pervasive, the handling of them clearly unlawful. Continue reading

If you are a transgender person living in America today, chances are you have some grave concerns about the current political climate – specifically with regard to transgender discrimination in the workplace. As longtime Los Angeles gender discrimination attorneys, it’s been difficult to see certain federal-level protections wane or threatened, especially because they weren’t all that solid to start. What you need to know as a transgender person in California is that this state does have protections, even if federal authorities ultimately decide to narrow the definition of gender for Title IX purposes, which bans discrimination in education, and Title VII federal civil rights employment discrimination. As L.A. employment attorneys can explain, these protections are based on five different categories – which includes gender.transgender discrimination lawyer Los Angeles

Federal Government May Limit Transgender Employee Protections

A number of recent reports indicate that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is getting ready to formally present a proposal to the Justice Department before the close of this year that would more strictly define gender as binary – a biological, immutable condition defined by the genitalia with which one is born. Of course, almost every transgender person will tell you that they did not “choose” to their gender identity, but rather it chose them. This is very similar to sexual orientation, though this is a wholly separate issue from gender identity.

Despite the fact that the American Medical Association has debunked any notion that trans people aren’t fit to serve in the U.S. military or that gender dysphoria (distress arising from a perceived mismatch of the gender with which one was born versus the one with which one identifies) is a problem that can’t be alleviated with care. Some political groups have gone so far as to disguise junk science from an anti-LGBTQ group (American College of Pediatricians) as the longstanding, respected and gender-affirming American Academy of Pediatrics. Continue reading

Wage theft from California workers isn’t always about paying less than minimum wage. Sometimes, it’s failing to pay wages for expected duties the company doesn’t consider “work.” We saw this with factory workers required to spend upwards of 20 minutes daily donning and doffing their uniforms on site. More recently, we saw it with Starbucks in the six-year battle, ending in the California Supreme Court, over failure to pay for unpaid tasks like locking up after closing – something that only takes an extra 5-to-10 minutes daily, but multiplied across days, weeks, months and years and many thousands of workers adds up to significant skimming off the top.Los Angeles wage theft attorney

Other recent California wage theft cases focused on so-called “call-in shifts” or “on-call work.” This is when workers are required to clear their schedules in the anticipation they might be needed if it’s a hectic night. However, in some cases, workers weren’t being paid despite re-arranging their schedules to adjust for the possibility.

California labor law separates this time into two different categories: Standby/ waiting time and response/ reporting time. The case law that established all this started with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1944 case of Armour & Co. v. Wantock, though California has adopted several provisions and tests of applicability on its own.

Standby/ waiting time is time the employee is required to remain at an employer’s place of business and respond to emergency calls. Workers are required to be paid for all of this time, though the rate can change, particularly if the standby time is “uncontrolled” by the employer and is otherwise free time. Response and reporting time is that wherein employee is required to respond to a call or text – that has to be paid also, with the worker responsible for keeping track. As Los Angeles wage theft attorneys can explain, only de minimus work (literally one or two minutes) isn’t compensable. For every day the worker is required to report to work and does report to work but isn’t paid, employees are paid half the usual wage for that shift – but in no event for less than two hours or more than four hours. If a worker is required to report back to work on any given day and only works for two hours are less, they are to be paid at their regular pay rate (not less than minimum wage) for those two hours.  Continue reading

Los Angeles pregnancy discrimination is nothing new, it is nonetheless unsettling to learn of its continued occurrence. A recent case that has garnered attention from Forbes Magazine involves The Wonderful Company, owned by a 75-year-old self-made billionaire who also happens to be a woman. According to Forbes’ exclusive report, the company – built from the ground up by a woman who started as a single mother struggling to launch her own advertising company in the 1970s – is now a thriving business with products like bottled water, juice, oranges and nuts, valued at more than $4.2 million. Now, the company is reportedly facing a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit, currently in the process of arbitration. The California wrongful termination claim comes just a few years after the same company settled a similar lawsuit five years ago. The company denies the claim. Four other employees who have not sued told Forbes the company fostered a culture hostile to employees who were pregnant and/ or parents. Los Angeles pregnancy discrimination lawyer

Plaintiff, a former marketing director who spoke to the media outlet prior to the start of arbitration, alleged she was fired two years ago while she was on maternity leave with her newborn. She had intended to take 16 weeks off from work, as allowable under the California Family Rights Act. Federal law – specifically, the Family Medical Leave Act – allows for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave (16 if a physician confirms a mother is temporarily disabled), though state law grants more. However, she alleges she was terminated 12 weeks to the day she began her pregnancy leave.

Claimant says despite excellent prior performance reviews, her bosses began to heavily scrutinize her past work while she was on leave. She also indicated that when she was up for a promotion the year before, her supervisor flat-out asked if she was pregnant – a question that is unlawful per both state and federal statutes. She said she began to fear for her future at the company as her leave date approached, saying she’d seen it occur to other employees. The company denies the claims, but the outcome of arbitration (required by the worker’s employment contract) likely will not be disclosed either way. Employment attorneys say the case appears to involve the kind of open pregnancy discrimination women faced in the 1990s, before such legal protections were firmly in place.

Los Angeles wrongful termination lawyers know there are many reasons employers seek to shed workers they view as problematic. California is an at-will state when it comes to employment, meaning barring an employment contract stating otherwise, an employee can quite or be fired for almost any reason. However, when employers take adverse employment action against workers for prejudice despite protected status or for engaging in certain protected activity, this can be legally actionable in an employment lawsuit. Los Angeles wrongful termination lawyer

One of those protected activities is filing a claim for workers’ compensation. If you are hurt or become sick because of an incident or some condition at work, you don’t have the option of suing your employer. Instead, the exclusive remedy to which you have access is workers’ compensation, which allows for no-fault benefits, such as coverage of medical expenses, lost wages and work training. If an employer retaliates against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim by firing you, this is a form of wrongful termination.

This is what allegedly happened to a worker in Fresno. The case, as reported by The Fresno Bee, is somewhat unique for the steps allegedly taken by the employer in order to justify the reportedly unlawful action of California wrongful termination. It is for this reason jurors justified an $8 million damage award after siding with plaintiff in this case.

Plaintiff Wrongly Accused, Wrongly Terminated in California, Fights Back Continue reading

New laws effective in 2019 will impact how courts in California weigh claims of sexual harassment, and how employers in the state address and take action. A Los Angeles sexual harassment attorney will be able to help you gain a better handle on the changes to these processes and what it might mean for new claims against individuals and employers. Los Angeles sexual harassment lawyer

Five new advisory principles are now included in the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), effectively meaning employers are going to face more possibility of liability for discrimination. It’s not that the laws were intended to drum up more possibility of litigation, but rather that they would improve working conditions for women and others vulnerable to sexual harassment on the job or at school.

The specific effect will be that if these five principles are applied by California courts, there will be less likelihood that those claiming to be victims of sexual harassment will have their claims dismissed prior to trial. As Los Angeles sexual harassment attorneys can explain, they will still have the responsibility to prove the harassment was severe or pervasive. However, these new rules will also lessen that burden.  Continue reading

One of the biggest challenges as a California religious discrimination attorney is to determine whether adverse employment action occurred in fact as a result of prejudice stemming from negative views of the employee’s faith or whether some other reason justified the firing. Orange County religious discrimination lawyer

Recently, the San Bernardino Superior Court determined after a six-week rial that a 44-year-old hospital warehouse employee had been harassed and ultimately fired by his supervisors specifically because of religious beliefs. Plaintiff was awarded $3.2 million in damages following a six-week long trial.

Defendant hospital still insists the reason for the worker’s termination had nothing to do with his religious beliefs, but rather because of alleged threatening conduct. The hospital still has the option of appealing the California religious discrimination lawsuit verdict, thought it’s not clear if they will.  Continue reading

California FMLA protections (short for Family Medical Leave Act, which is in fact a federal program) are in place as soon as you request that leave. Los Angeles FMLA lawyers point this out because some companies have been ensnared in litigation in employment lawsuits filed by employees who say their bosses tried to dissuade them from taking this leave. This is an extremely unwise move from the company’s perspective because once those FMLA protections kick in, it’s possible the company will be vulnerable to liability if they try to talk an employee out of taking leave to which they are entitled. California FMLA protections attorney

This is allegedly what happened at a well-known grocery store where an employee was reportedly told to “suck it up” after she requested FMLA leave. In Bartman v. Wegmens Food Markets Inc., plaintiff says she sought leave for anxiety and chronic depression. Yet when she did so, her manager allegedly told her to “suck it up” and berated her for “being a burden” to the rest of the staff in the kitchen.

Our Los Angeles FMLA attorneys understand beyond that, plaintiff was reportedly singled out and harassed by her boss at work, leading to her condition worsening, a greater need for leave and then further harassment. Ultimately, she says she was wrongfully terminated for chronic lateness, tardiness and failure to follow the call-in procedures for calling in sick. Had she not first requested FMLA before all this, termination may well have been justified. But the fact that she requested this leave for her own health and was told by her boss she should not take it means she has a stronger case for employer FMLA violations.  Continue reading

California has long been an economic powerhouse. And while layoffs have been consistently declining since the end of the Great Recession, the reality is some workers are still facing the possibility of being let go. As our Orange County employment attorneys can explain, companies in the Golden State that fall under the California Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act have specific responsibilities – in addition to those offered employees under federal law – to give proper notice to workers and their families in the event of an impending layoff.Orange county employment lawyers

Specifically, affected employees, as well as state and local representatives, are entitled to at least two months (60 days) of advance notice of a plant is closing, relocation or mass layoff. Corporations obligated under this provision are those that employ 75 or more employees – full or part-time. The federal rule for WARN only includes workers who have been with the company at least 6 of the 12 months prior to the date of required notice. If a plant closing or relocation involves 50 or more employees in a 30-day span – regardless of the percentage of that workforce – they need to give notice. (Relocation is defined as any move that is 100 miles away or more). Continue reading