The increase of the presence of the marijuana industry in California and states around the country has boosted economies and bolstered tax revenues. The potential for big profits has caused dispensaries and other marijuana-related businesses to pop up everywhere it has become legal.sexual harassment

This surge of new businesses has some potentially negative ramifications, though, mostly in regards to proper employee relations and the potential for more sexual harassment incidents.

According to a survey by New Frontier Data, 27 percent of people surveyed said they have witnessed sexual harassment in some way in the cannabis industry. And 18% said they had personally experienced harassment. Further, a third of respondents said that they knew someone who had been sexually harassed in the industry. Continue reading

California is an at-will employment state, which means employees can be fired for any reason and with no warning. There are however some exceptions to the rule that would categorize such dismissals as a wrongful termination.wrongful termination

Some examples include if there was an agreement that required good cause for termination or if there was discrimination against a protected class. According to the California Labor Code Section 1102.5, an employer is also forbidden from firing an employee for refusing to commit an illegal act. Likewise, it is illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee by terminating them for reporting such illegal activities. Such exceptions are essential to maintain laws and to protect whistleblowers who risk their livelihoods to come forward.

Whistleblower retaliation can be difficult to prove without proper guidance. If this sounds like something you have experienced on the job, it is important to seek assistance from a knowledgeable employment attorney who can counsel you on your rights and if there is a case for a lawsuit. Continue reading

A janitorial company in Anaheim is being sued by the state of California for allegedly paying some 150 works just $400 monthly in wages over the past four years. As the Orange County Register reports, that is far below the minimum wage, which is why California Attorney General Xavier Becerra reports the firm has become a top priority for his office.wage and hour theft

The janitorial firm reportedly serves an estimated 80 major retailers throughout Southern California, including Toys R Us, Burlington Coat Factory and JoAnne’s Fabrics. These retailers, however, are not accused of any wrongdoing because they contract the work to a Pennsylvania-based firm that specializes in subcontracting such services. As our employment law attorneys can explain, this kind of subcontracting arrangement is typical in the retail sector as well as others, as it shields them from wage-and-hour lawsuits. Wage theft and other claims are common in these industries, and affected workers range from janitors (as in this case) to garment workers.

But while the retailers did not directly employ the workers, Becerra was quoted by the Register as saying he hopes the lawsuit puts large retailers and other firms on notice about such practices. Even if workers aren’t getting a paycheck from the retailer, they are still working within their facilities and in furtherance of their business, and that may be grounds to establish some level of responsibility. Continue reading

Pregnancy discrimination has always been, somewhat unavoidably, an issue strictly affecting women, as the only gender able to become pregnant. However, a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit out of San Luis Obispo is challenging that notion. pregnancy discrimination lawyer

SanLuisObispo.com reports plaintiff is a former high school counselor whose contract was not renewed – despite initially very positive evaluations of his work – after his wife gave birth to twins. The former counselor and new father said shortly after word of his wife’s pregnancy became common knowledge, his supervisor began making negative remarks about the news.

He’d been hired in the summer of 2015 for what was to be a one-year contract, with a shot at a permanent position if it went well. A month after landing the job, he learned his wife was pregnant, and two months after that, he told a co-worker. His supervisor allegedly made statements to the effect plaintiff would not be able to afford to care for his family and inquired about his wife’s stay-at-home lifestyle. At an evaluation meeting a couple of months later, he received positive reviews. Continue reading

A jury in Los Angeles awarded a former police officer in South Pasedena $4.8 million following a two-week trial involving allegations of wrongful termination and disability discrimination.disability discrimination

The Los Angeles Times reported the 18-year veteran on the force was fired for alleged dishonesty, but jurors agreed with him that the true reason was his diagnosis of attention-deficit/ hyperactive disorder (ADHD). The former chief of police (who retired prior to plaintiff’s termination) described plaintiff not only as a good man, but as the “best” on the force when it came to community policing.  However, the chief said the city refused to allow plaintiff reasonable accommodations when it came to the challenges he faced when writing reports due to his condition. The former top cop also testified his replacement in that role was supportive of the recommendation made by a captain on the force who had been campaigning to have plaintiff fired.

The California Department of Fair Housing and Employment states in 2CCR Section 11065 that the term “disability” as it relates to employees is intended to be broadly construed, and can mean mental disabilities (including conditions like autism spectrum disorders, bipolar disorders and PTSD), physical disabilities that limit major life activities or impact one or more major body systems. It can also mean conditions like blindness, deafness, partially or wholly missing limbs, mobility impairments, HIV/AIDS, epilepsy, diabetes and other conditions. The list isn’t meant to be exhaustive, but but it does exclude conditions like substance abuse disorders, gambling, sexual behavior disorders or mild conditions like sprains, strains, the flue, etc. One can also be protected from having “perceived disability,” meaning the worker is regarded or treated as having a mental or physical condition or adverse genetic information.

As our disability discrimination attorneys know, state law requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to workers or applicants who have a disability, unless doing so would result in an “undue hardship” – either expense or significant difficulty – for the employer. Continue reading

A number of lobbyists, lawyers and staffers of the California Capitol urged state legislators to make changes in the way the state Assembly keeps track of and handles claims of sexual harassment. At the present time, it’s alleged the procedures are confusing, arbitrarily enforced and often result in worse outcomes for victims as opposed to those are carrying out the abuse.sexual harassment lawyer

Calls for this action were heard during a five-hour committee meeting, which was the first in either of the state’s legislative bodies to weigh the existing internal policies for sexual harassment misconduct. Although the decisions won’t necessarily have a direct impact on private sector workers, policies and procedures with the Capitol are often viewed as a model and a standard. Other companies will carefully look at how the legislators govern themselves when drafting their own sexual harassment policies.

Although our sexual harassment lawyers in Riverside have been on the forefront of this issue for years, it’s one that has gained enormous traction this year, one that has brought decades-old allegations to light and brought down extremely powerful men, from media moguls to Hollywood producers to politicians. Although it’s been a shock to our collective conscious to see the many millions of people (women in particular) in California, the U.S. and throughout the world joint the #MeToo movement, many women and those who have been fighting for their rights know the prevalence wasn’t all that shocking. It seems almost every woman, if not at some point personally a victim of sexual harassment, has seen it happen or knows someone who was targeted.  Continue reading

In a disappointing move for supporters of LGBT civil rights, the U.S. Supreme Court turned down the opportunity to weigh an appeal by a security guard in Georgia who alleged she was harassed at work and ultimately forced to resign due to her sexuality. This refusal to hear the case means the court means there will be no review of federal law and interpretation as to whether laws against gender-based bias also protect lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender individuals for their sexual orientation. LGBT discrimination lawyer

It also means that the ruling issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit earlier this year. Had the highest court in the land chosen to review it, such a ruling might have settled the question that has been divided several lower courts: Does Title VII, banning gender discrimination, also protect people on the basis of their sexual orientation. Title VII does bar discrimination against workers based on religion, race, color and national origin, but makes no specific mention of sexual orientation. A number of states (including California) have enacted laws that protect LGBT workers, but at the federal level, there is no such guaranteed protection.

Five years ago, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which enforces Title VII, began arguing that discrimination against LGBT employees is a violation of federal law. But that was a position taken under the Obama administration. This last summer, Trump administration officials argued the very opposite in the case of a skydiving instructor who lost his job after revealing to a customer he was gay. A ruling on that case is still pending.  Continue reading

Yet another California age discrimination lawsuit has been filed against tech company Hewlett Packard, which has been the subject of ongoing allegations of favoritism toward younger employees.age discrimination attorney

The 55-year-old plaintiff in the latest case worked for the firm for more almost 40 years, most recently as a research and development buyer. He asserts the company targeted older workers – including himself – in a 2012 layoff. After filing a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, the government gave him permission to sue (which is a mandated step in the process). He is now seeking class action status.

The San Diego Tribune reports the DFEH has been in receipt of nearly three dozen age discrimination complaints made against this same company since mid-2012. Two dozen of those complainants were given the green light to file an employment lawsuit. More than half a dozen were dismissed or withdrawn and one was deemed outside the department’s jurisdiction. In a USA Today in-depth analysis on age discrimination complaints the DFEH in California, Hewlett Packard ranked No. 1 among Silicon Valley firms. Others included Cisco Systems, Apple, Google, Oracle and Genetech. Other companies like Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Intel and Tesla Motors also made the list. The majority of those complaints alleged wrongful termination, while some did allege age discrimination in the course of hiring and promotion. Continue reading

Employee misclassification is a major issue faced by workers in Orange County and in the Greater Los Angeles area.   This is an issue taken very seriously by the state as the legislature passed Senate Bill 459 in 2011 to provide penalties to employers for willfully misclassifying employees.  This law is enforced by the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR), and there are fines of no less than $5,000 and no more than $25,000 per offense.

California employment lawyersEmployee misclassification involves the act of willfully treating an employee as an independent contractor for the purpose of avoiding the payment of overtime wages, workers’ compensation, and employment benefits afforded to full-time employees.  This is a serious violation that occurs frequently in many industries including farming, and the newer so-called “on demand” or “gig” economy.  Continue reading

Wage and hour disputes in Los Angeles are an increasingly common complaint. Employers sometimes cut corners to avoid paying workers the full amount. In some instances, workers are mis-classified as independent contractors rather than employees, depriving them of receipt of important benefits, such as workers’ compensation and overtime pay.

This is increasingly becoming problematic in this digital age, as a recent case out of Northern California highlights. The San Francisco Chronicle reports an employee of a major online retailer is claiming the employer is not giving breaks and not paying overtime at his employment location.

employment discrimination lawyersOf course, it is possible for employers to make an honest clerical error and short a paycheck merely by accident. However, even then, the employee should be able to point out the mistake and get the issue resolved fairly quickly.  If the employer is not willing to promptly correct the payroll issue, this is a good sign there may be bigger problems at hand. Continue reading