It’s always unfortunate when the trust between an employer and employee is broken. We see it every day in our line of wrongful terminationwork, defending employees whose rights have been violated on the job. It’s doubly hard when an employer chooses to lash out against those who take legal action to protect their rights. The good news is this kind of retaliation is not legal and you are not without options to fight back.

We saw this recently, in Orange County, where the executive assistant of county supervisor Todd Spitzer is suing him for a second time, alleging defamation that followed a wrongful termination in 2016. According to The Orange County Register, the wrongful termination lawsuit was settled last year. Now, plaintiff says her former boss told reporters and other third parties her firing was the result of incompetence, rather than a wage and hour dispute. He further allegedly told these others she refused to take necessary computer classes and implied she could not complete basic computer tasks.

Plaintiff said not only were those statements false, but they are now hurting her ability to find new employment. This spurred the second filing in Superior Court of California, County of Orange. At the time these alleged statements were made, plaintiff says she had already completed several computer classes on her own accord. The lawsuit alleges she even requested an additional computer class, a request which Spitzer rejected shortly before letting her go. It’s worth noting plaintiff worked for the county supervisor for three years by the time of her firing. It would seem one would not survive long in that role absent basic computer knowledge.

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While the #metoo movement is shining a spotlight on sexual harassment and the dark corners of Hollywood, sexual harassmentan increasing number of civil sexual assault cases are being filed, some against former supervisors, co-workers and the institutions that protected them when they owed a duty of care to the victim.

Here in California, one former agent is battling a civil lawsuit filed by a former client alleging sexual battery and sexual harassment. The agent has asked the Los Angeles Superior Court to stay the civil case until the statute of limitations expires on the criminal case, arguing that to proceed and participate in the civil case could result in self-incrimination leading to serious felony charges, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Defendant (through his attorney) vehemently denied the allegations. Of the request to stay, his attorney explained the civil complaint read like criminal charges and  discovery requests made additional claims of criminal behavior, causing concern that testimony during the lawsuit could bring about formal charges.

This underscores the fact that many civil lawsuits may coincide with criminal charges, and while these are two totally separate processes operating independently of another (and sometimes with very different outcomes), there are times when one may have an impact on the other. A good employment law attorney will do everything possible to keep your case moving when that is in your best interests.

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While the Army is preparing dedicated men and women to be brave and strong and defend our country, it does not prepare them for one terrible challenge no one wantsmilitary status discrimination to face: losing their job. Even worse is when military status discrimination is suspected to be the cause of the dismissal.

This brings us to Austin, Texas, home of a nonprofit technology company currently being sued on allegations it wrongfully fired an Army Reservist in 2016 shortly after he returned from fulfilling military obligations as a result of him completing those duties. The U.S. Justice Department, who filed the lawsuit jointly with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas, says this is in direct violation of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. This act, U.S. Code, Chapter 43, Part III, Title 38, states that “a person who … has an obligation to perform service in a uniformed service shall not be denied initial employment, reemployment, retention in employment, promotion, or any benefit of employment by an employer on the basis of that membership, application for membership, performance of service, application for service, or obligation.”

The employee was a lieutenant colonel who had served in the Armed Forces for 22 years. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas, Austin Division, is seeking an amount equal to lost wages and benefits for plaintiff.

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In a climate where claims of sexual harassment are continually coming to the surface and stories of police wrongdoing are constantly in the news, it is refreshing to seesexual harassment people honored who have fought to protect their rights and maintain their values.

The Asbury Park-Neptune Chapter of NAACP in New Jersey recently honored two female members of the local police officers who twice filed lawsuits as a result of sexual harassment and race discrimination they allege was taking place in their police department, according to App. Long before the New York Times‘ Harvey Weinsten expose or the popularity of #MeToo on social media, these two women were standing up when it would have been so much easier to buckle under the pressure.

Their story begins in 2013 when the two reported repeated sexual harassment and discrimination. One of the plaintiffs claim a lewd magnet was stuck to her car and in a separate instance a crass message was place on her car, a vehicle she used to visit the local high school. She also alleges that she was repeatedly not given the resources she needed to properly serve the high school, such as active shooter training and access to a tactical vehicle, both of which were given to a male resource officer for the school. Plaintiffs allege in the lawsuit instances of inappropriate conversations about pornography and personal sex lives, and crude gestures.

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In a surprise move, the National Labor Relations Board reversed its own recent stance on the “joint employer rule” that determines the standard for unions and workers to hold companies accountable for the actions of contractors and franchisees. The Obama-era joint employer rule made it easier for workers and unions. A December 2017 decision by the labor board under Trump reversed that. But late last month, the board has ruled that a conflict of interest nullifies the December ruling – meaning workers will once again have an easier time holding employers accountable (for now). labor law attorney

The board determined one of the members had a conflict of interest. The December ruling had indicated franchisors could only be considered a “joint employer” to a franchisee when there is evidence the franchisor exercised direct control over workers. It was an about-face from the 2015 ruling that empowered workers to pursue claim against or seek collective bargaining with major corporations that may not actually sign their paychecks. It’s not necessary to show direct control under this standard.

Major franchise owners, like McDonald’s, have a lot at stake in this decision. These companies prefer to insulate themselves from responsibility once a franchisee takes over by limiting their own liability for a franchisee’s alleged labor law violations. 

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The intent of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to protect workers from employer discrimination, is alive and well as courts continue to use this more than 50-sexual orientation discriminationyear-old statute to defend citizens who are unjustly targeted by their employer for their sex, national origin, race, color, or religion. And thanks to a skydiving instructor and a ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, sexual orientation is becoming more recognized as a status that falls under these protections.

Sexual orientation discrimination is a form of sex discrimination, the court recently determined in its 10-3 opinion, which mirrors a previous ruling by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals last year, according to CNN. The opinion affirms the conclusion of the 7th Circuit as well as EEOC Decision No. 0120133080  that the employee’s sex is being taken into consideration in relation to the person they are attracted to. In other words, if a male employee was attracted to a man and a female employee is attracted to that same man, punishing the male employee would be discrimination based on his sex, all other considerations remaining the same. The ruling further outlines “associational discrimination,” as a form of sex discrimination because the “employer took his or her sex into account by treating him or her differently for associating with a person of the same sex.”

This flings opens the door for others in those circuits to file lawsuits for sexual orientation discrimination. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals covers Connecticut, New York and Vermont, while the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals includes areas of Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin. Continue reading

sexual harassmentFor months, Hollywood has been shaken by accusations of widespread harassment and sexual misconduct in the film industry. Those claims inspired people all over the country to come forward with their own stories. Now all eyes are shifting to the music industry, starting with Tennessee.

There, lawmakers have introduced a bill in hopes of closing up a loophole that has left contract workers vulnerable to harassment, according to NPR. Contract workers are left without the same protections employees receive. And since many entertainers and music professionals fall under this category, it has left the music industry particularly exposed.

HB 1984 defines an independent contractor and extends employee harassment protections, making it landmark for workers’ rights if it passes. “It is a discriminatory practice for an employer to harass an employee, an applicant, or a person providing services pursuant to a contract because of the employee’s, applicant’s, or person’s sex,” according to the bill. Continue reading

After allegations of misconduct against Harvey Weinstein revealed a culture of widespread sexual harassment and assault, the film producer is finally facing concrete sexual harassmentramifications. New York Attorney General’s Office recently filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court, New York County against Weinstein Co., Harvey Weinstein, and Robert Weinstein to “remedy a years-long gender-based hostile work environment.”

The lawsuit (The People of the State of New York v. The Weinstein Company LLC, et al) comes after months of mostly symbolic punishments against the producer. He was fired from Weinstein Co. and resigned from the board in October (while continuing to profit off his 23 percent share in the company) and is said to have received sex addiction rehabilitation treatment since then.

N.Y. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman began building the case after New York Times broke the story last year detailing reports of harassment, assault, and rape allegedly taking place inside Weinstein Co. as well as payouts meant to silence accusers. In addition to claims made against Harvey Weinstein, the lawsuit targets senior managers, who stand accused of ignoring complaints and enabling continued abuse. The attorney general’s investigation included an in-depth examination of e-mails and company records, which allegedly reveal gender discrimination, hostile work environment, harassment, quid pro quo arrangements, and discrimination, according to a report from Variety. Continue reading

Even within organizations whose mission is to protect the rights of others, it is possible for questionable practices that infringe on rights to taint the reputation and wrongful terminationculture of the group. San Diego Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride has been caught up in accusations and internal tensions since the dismissal of its executive director in August 2016. Now the former employee is suing the group for wrongful termination as well as age discrimination and defamation of character.

The former executive director recently filed the lawsuit in Superior Court of California, County of San Diego claiming his firing by the group’s board was personal and not based on performance or any sort of wrongdoing, according to a report from San Diego Reader. In fact, other group members and staffers were so incensed by the dismissal they demanded plaintiff be reinstated, protesting the decision at one of the organization’s monthly meetings shortly after the firing.

Particularly noteworthy to those who defended plaintiff at the time of the dismissal was the booming success of San Diego Pride under his leadership. Many credit him for the record-breaking year the group had in 2016, according to NBC San Diego, including an influx of grants and popular events. He was seen as a rising star in the organization since he joined in 2013, first as an independent contractor, quickly escalating to general manager and then executive director the next year. The board remained vague on the sudden dismissal, citing a desire to “go in a different direction,” causing more unrest among group members upset over the lack of transparency. Continue reading

With the fast-paced growth of the gig economy, the line between independent contractors and employees has become more and more blurred. This has led to employee misclassification lawsuits employment misclassificationfiled by workers, claiming employers have taken advantage of their independent contractor status.

Those lawsuits could have a more clear outcome after U.S. District Court for the California Northern District filed a decision in a lawsuit against GrubHub Inc., according to Los Angeles  Times. U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley Judge ruled GrubHub’s drivers are independent contractors and should not be classified as employees, and therefore will not receive the perks that come with that identifier.

Maintaining a workforce primarily made up of independent contractors is at the heart of the gig economy. Services like Uber, Lyft, Grub, Postmates, and others will often identify their companies as services that connect customers with contractors, rather than the providers of those services. That way they can work around supporting a staff of employees, and reap the benefits of massive cost reductions. Meanwhile, drivers and delivery people are beholden to the companies they contract for while being burdened with costs associated with the work they do without reimbursement. Continue reading