An employee of One America News Network was awarded $1.1 million in his California retaliation claim. Of that, $810,000 was in punitive damages, awarded for egregious conduct. He alleged the company had harassed and discriminated against him for his race. But while the San Diego jury did not find merit with this claim, they did hold that the producer was retaliated against for filing the complaint. workplace retaliation

Los Angeles employment attorneys highlight this case because it underscores the fact that retaliation can stand on its own in claims of wrongful termination.

California Workplace Retaliation Laws

California has numerous workplace retaliation laws that protect workers from wrongful termination and other adverse employment actions when they engage in certain protected activity. Protected actions could include: Continue reading

When an award-winning news producer was fired from his job at CNN, the company claimed it was due to plagiarism. The former employee filed a lawsuit saying that reason was pretextual and he was a victim of racial discrimination and retaliation. CNN fired back that the case should be dropped because to decide otherwise would be a violation of the company’s First Amendment rights under anti-SLAPP laws. That motion was initially granted. The case was appealed up to the California Supreme Court, which ruled last year the claim might be subject to dismissal under the state’s anti-SLAPP law – specifically the company’s right to exercise editorial control over its news content. However, the case was remanded to determine if plaintiff’s underlying claim had merit enough to proceed in spite of that concern. racial discrimination lawyer

Now, a California appellate court has ruled in Wilson v. CNN that plaintiff’s claim has the minimal amount of merit to proceed. The case now proceeds to trial.

As our Los Angeles racial discrimination attorneys can explain, anti-SLAPP laws are intended to dismiss early on lawsuits without merit when they are filed against persons or organizations for the exercise of First Amendment rights (freedom of speech, the press, religion, peaceable assembly and to petition the government for redress of grievances). SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. Anti-SLAPP laws were passed in response to a trend of lawsuits filed in retaliation to intimidate or silence critics and opponents who speak out publicly. In a lot of those cases, the underlying legal theories (tortious interference, defamation, etc.) were actually secondary to the true intent, which was to silence public opposition. Continue reading

Even though marriage equality has become the law of the land, there are still 30 states that lack explicit employment discrimination protections for LGBTQ workers. California, thankfully, isn’t one of them. The U.S. Supreme Court is slated to render a decision in two cases wherein plaintiffs argue that Title VII protections against gender discrimination should extend to LGBTQ workers. (Justice Neil Gorsuch remarked during oral arguments that the case was “really close.”)LGBTQ teacher discrimination

That decision will have a huge impact for LGBTQ public school teachers and employees.

History of LGBTQ Discrimination in Schools

Schools have a long history of discrimination against gay and lesbian teachers – from public elementary schools to prestigious universities. In the 1950s and 1960s, Florida lawmakers created a committee designed to identify and fire educators who were gay and lesbian. Some 200 LGBTQ teachers lost their jobs. Continue reading

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has just released detailed breakdowns of the top employment discrimination claims of fiscal year 2019, which ended in September.workplace retaliation lawyer

In total, there were nearly 72,700 claims of workplace discrimination filed with the federal agency. That’s down slightly from the nearly 76,500 claims filed with the agency in FY 2018 and more than 84,000 filed in FY 2017.

The top claims were as follows:

  1. Retaliation
  2. Disability Discrimination
  3. Racial Discrimination
  4. Gender Discrimination
  5. Age Discrimination

These were followed by claims of discrimination on the basis of national origin, color, religion, equal pay and genetic information. Continue reading

A recently-released Starbucks advertisement in the UK has been hailed for its progressive take on gender identity acceptance. A barista asks for the name of a customer for use on a coffee cup. He gives her the name with which he identifies – not his “deadname,” the one he was given at birth. The commercial has won an award for helping to address the transgender community’s lack of representation in advertising. LGBT discrimination

However, employees with the company say they have faced transgender discrimination at multiple locations across the country. Employees say they have been outed, misgendered, confronted by their deadnames in company software and had difficulty accessing gender-affirming medical treatment under the company’s medical insurance plans.

Some employees say they had to be transferred to new locations due to these issues and harassment – only to experience the same type of treatment at the new location. One former employee told BuzzFeed he complained about the situation to corporate, but didn’t hear any response until he took his complaint to Twitter. It was only then a spokesperson for the company apologized and promised to investigate. The worker said that while the company appears to be trying to make changes at the corporate level, addressing it at individual stores has proven challenging. Continue reading

Employment discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation and wrongful termination aren’t solely the problem of large corporations. It’s true that the federal discrimination lawsuits against Fortune 500 companies tend to make splashier headlines, especially when they conclude in multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. But small businesses can be just as susceptible to these issues. employment lawsuit

Many small business owners are unprepared when these lawsuits are filed. The fact is that the bulk of litigation filed against businesses of all sizes involves employment disputes. About 40 percent of those are filed against smaller employers, with somewhere between 15 and 100 employees.

Employment lawsuits can more deeply affect a smaller employer, so it’s important for them not only to be insured, but also to be proactive in preventing disputes in the first place. That means knowing the law (including all the new employment laws that were passed in California recently), being sure there are clear policies and procedures in place to address problems and making certain those avenues for resolution are communicated to staff and supervisors. Continue reading

Employers in California have a fair amount of discretion when it comes to whether to hire or fire someone for use of illegal substances. But what of legal substances? Orange County employment lawyer

Our Orange County employment lawyers know the question has gotten thornier as more states have legalized marijuana and since hemp-dervived CBD (the non-intoxicating cannabis compound) was legalized at the federal level with the 2018 Farm Bill.

As long as marijuana remains illegal under federal law, employers will likely retain the right to fire employees who test positive for the drug in routine screenings (so long as the screening process isn’t applied in a way that is discriminatory to any protected group). That’s not to say employers are wise to continue with such a policy, given the growing public acceptance for recreational and medicinal use of the drug. Strict no tolerance policies could result in companies losing valuable talent for no good reason. But they’d still technically be within their right to do it. They are also within their rights to prohibit marijuana on their premises, even if an employee uses the drug for medicinal purposes.

The rights of employees who use CBD (cannabidiol) products is a bit murkier. We’re just now beginning to see courts weigh in on worker rights where CBD is concerned. Continue reading

As of this month, all state departments in California are required to track all claims of sexual harassment. Now, they will be able to do so using a single streamlined system managed by the California Department of Human Resources.Los Angeles employment lawyer

The system was proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2018 following an investigation by The Sacramento Bee revealing the state spent $25 million over the course of three years to settle sexual harassment lawsuits against state employees. In many cases, offenders kept their jobs, despite repeated complaints and even as victims were forced to resign and be subject to no rehire clauses if they settled their civil cases. (No rehire clauses are now outlawed thanks to the passage of AB 749 last fall.)

The data tracker went live on Jan. 1, 2020 and cost $1.5 million to launch. Before this, the state had no uniform way of tracking allegations of sexual harassment across its 150+ departments. Continue reading

It’s being touted as one of the most consequential bills that would bolster employees’ ability to organize that the U.S. has seen in 80 years. The Protecting the Right to Organize Act, H.R. 2474, is slated to go before the U.S. House of Representatives next week, where it’s likely to pass. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely to gain much traction in the Senate, but it does signal an increasing push toward progressive labor legislation.Orange County labor lawyers

If enacted, the PRO Act would alter decades-old federal labor laws to shift more power to workers. This would extend to situations involving:

  • Employer-employee disputes;
  • Penalties for companies proven to have broken labor laws (including retaliation against workers attempting to unionize);
  • Collective bargaining rights for hundreds of thousands of workers who currently don’t have them.

Right-to-work laws, which is exist in 27 states, would also be weakened under the PRO Act. Continue reading

For 20 years, a Bay Area officer for the California Highway Patrol said he was harassed and even endangered by his co-workers because of his homosexuality. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that as if enduring constant taunts and vandalism at numerous substations wasn’t enough, the openly gay officer reported that on a daily basis, he was denied backup from his colleagues while handling dangerous calls. He was the only officer consistently denied backup. When he won offer of the year, the picture of the previous year’s winner remained prominently in the lobby, until the following year when someone else won. No one else had been denied that honor. He began to suffer anxiety, stress, headaches and stomach issues. He became suicidal. He filed for workers’ compensation, and was eventually granted disability retirement, effectively ending his employment with the agency. LGBT discrimination attorneys

In 2016, he filed his second administrative complaint with the Department of Fair Housing and Employment, alleging sexual orientation discrimination, harassment, failure to prevent harassment, retaliation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. A request for summary judgment in favor of the defense was granted on the basis of a missed filing deadline.

Now, a California appellate court has reinstated his case, finding merit with plaintiff’s claim for exception under the doctrines of equitable tolling, continuing violation and constructive discharge.

Our Los Angeles LGBT discrimination attorneys are committed to helping those who have faced workplace harassment, hostility and discrimination due to their sexuality obtain justice.  Continue reading