California employees are entitled to broad anti-discrimination protection under state law. Employers are not allowed to discriminate against employees on the basis of gender, disability, religion, sexual orientation, pregnancy, age, ethnicity or nationality. However, it often surprises people to know there are some instances in which certain California employers can legally discriminate against some employees for certain reasons. As a Los Angeles disability discrimination attorney can explain, one type of employer most commonly cited are religious organizations; more specifically, religious schools. There are more than 40 Catholic schools from pre-K through high school just in Los Angeles alone, plus 11 Catholic colleges in the state of California.  Private schools that accept federal funds (as many do) are required to abide by federal anti-discrimination laws (which, it should be noted, aren’t as stringent as state laws). What’s more, religious schools may be entitled to some exceptions. employment discrimination

Teacher Wins Bid to Sue School For Disability Discrimination in Los Angeles

Recently in Los Angeles, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled a fifth-grade teacher alleging she was fired for taking time off for breast cancer treatment may proceed with her wrongful termination lawsuit, reversing the trial court’s summary judgment last year favoring the school. Plaintiff was hired in 2013 as a full-time teacher. Prior to the school year, plaintiff signed an employment agreement. Although it didn’t require that she be Catholic, it did mandate that teachers model, teach and promote conformity in behavior to the teachings of the church, including leading the students in prayer each day and attend Mass with students once monthly (primarily acting as a babysitter). She had received one positive review, a few weeks after which she learned she’d been diagnosed with breast cancer. This information was shared the following week with the school, indicating she’d need time off starting in late May for cancer treatments. Just a week before she was scheduled to be on leave for treatments was the school’s deadline for informing teachers if their contract was being renewed for the next school year. Plaintiff’s contract was not. Reasons given: She wasn’t strict enough with students and further that it “wouldn’t be fair to the students to have two teachers during the next school year” (as she’d be off the first part of the year continuing cancer treatments). The supervisor later conceded it would not have been a burden to the school because it was done routinely for female teachers on maternity leave.

A former nurse at a hospital in Pasadena has filed a California racial discrimination lawsuit against the hospital where she worked for nearly four decades, up from a housekeeper in 1984 to a registered nurse, charge nurse and later a nursing instructor. For the first 30+ years of her employment, her work experience was positive. Until late 2017, she’d never had any written reprimands. It was around this time two new supervisors were named to oversee her department. From that point on, she alleges, nurses who were black and Latina were routinely targeted for discriminatory action, with allegations coming from a small group of white nurses.Orange County employment lawyer

As the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports, the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court alleges the hospital fired wrongfully terminated her for retaliation and intentionally inflicted emotional distress when she reported racial discrimination, which the hospital failed to prevent. Once the new supervisors started, she alleges Latina and black nurses were regularly singled out, harassed, given poor performance evaluations, stripped of advisory board roles and passed over for promotions. In fact, the very same month the supervisors took over, plaintiff was given a reprimand on the basis of a reportedly anonymous complaint by another worker, indicating misconduct. Problem was, on the date specified, plaintiff wasn’t even at work.

The following month, human resources personnel called her in for a meeting about further employee dissatisfaction. It was at that time she told HR that she was being discriminated against, pointing out a white nurse who had been the subject of another complaint months earlier had been given the chance to defend herself fairly, while she was denied that same opportunity when she asked. The very next month, she was again called to HR for another anonymous worker complaint. In the face of all this, plaintiff said she offered to go back to the registered nurse position she held previously and step down from her supervisory role. However, she was told the hospital didn’t allow employee demotions, her lawsuit states. Later that month, she was fired.  Continue reading

For far too many car wash workers, the wages are washed out. Minimum wage in California is $11, set to increase to $12 on Jan. 1, 2019. In Los Angeles, where it’s well-known the cost-of-living is much higher, any employer with 26 employees or more must pay at least $13.25 hourly. Smaller employers in L.A. can get by paying $12 hourly.However, Los Angeles wage theft attorneys know throughout California and across the U.S., car wash owners aren’t coming clean with their workers.car wash minimum wage lawsuit L.A.

One of the most recent cases of car wash wage theft took place right here in L.A., where The Drive reports employees at two Los Angeles car washes have won more than $1.6 million in back pay restitution, civil penalties and covered litigation costs/attorney’s fees. Additionally, the company’s owner will be subject to an injunction for four years, during which compliance with all California wage and hour labor laws and regulations must be assured.

The car washes, according to claims filed by the Los Angeles attorney’s office, are that the car wash operations short-changed an estimated 60 workers since 2014. Employee work hours were vastly under-reported. In some instances noted by attorneys, the company was compensating workers $45 for working a full 10-hour shift. The U.S. government currently has minimum wage is currently at $7.25. It’s higher in California (and also Los Angeles) because it’s very expensive to live/work/commute in this region. These car wash employees were being paid one-third the minimum wage they should have been earning for their hard work. Continue reading

A bill that would have expanded California sexual harassment training for janitorial companies and their uniquely vulnerable workers was vetoed by the governor, who urged sponsoring lawmakers to give the state and employers more time to fully implement the 2016 janitorial worker sexual harassment legislation, which is still getting off the ground.Los Angeles sexual harassment

Approval of AB 2079 would have meant that required janitorial firms provide sexual harassment training for supervisors and employees that would extend far beyond watching a boiler-plate video and signing a form. They’d hear from actual survivors of sexual abuse and sexual harassment in the California janitorial industry. They would also be given encouragement and more information on their legal options to hold abusers and workplaces accountable.

Although some of the most highly-publicized accounts of sexual assault and sexual harassment spurred the #metoo and #TimesUp began have been told by employers in elite industries (proving sexual harassment and abuse are pervasive everywhere), Los Angeles sexual harassment attorneys and other worker advocates know janitorial workers, agricultural employees, home health care and hospitality workers are at high risk. The primary risk factor is power disparity between victim and abuser. Women, those earning low wages, people of color, immigrants – all of these individuals start off at higher risk. Immigrants especially can face language and cultural barriers that can lead to fear of deportation, cultural barriers and a misunderstanding of their rights and what will happen if these offenses are reported. Now factor in the isolation, overnight shifts and lack of regulatory oversight that are so integral to the industry, and it’s not hard to see why these employees are at such high risk for abuse. Continue reading

California gender discrimination has long kept well-qualified women out of the upper echelon of the workforce. The so-called glass ceiling may have been shattered at some firms, but at others, it remains firmly intact. In some cases, top-level female executives and other employees have been able to prove via Los Angeles gender discrimination lawsuit that it was in fact their status as a woman that led to doors closing on key opportunities and benefits.Los Angeles gender discrimination lawyer

Now, California has become the first state to require gender diversity in the boardroom. SB 826 mandates at least one female board member for every publicly-held corporations with principle executive offices in the state by the close of next year. By 2021, companies (depending on their size) will need to have at least two or three women. For the hundreds of firms that will be affected, failure to comply will result in a $100,000 fine for the first offense and $300,000 for the second.

However, Los Angeles gender discrimination lawyers know the law is likely to face legal challenges. Gov. Jerry Brown, who signed the law in September, admitted as much. Still, it’s worth noting more than a quarter of companies that are publicly-traded do not have a female member on the board – despite copious research that firmly establishes firms that do score better in areas of productivity and profitability.  Continue reading

Workers who’ve suffered California sexual harassment will now have a number of new state-level protections in place as of next year, including:

  • An end to employer-imposed secrecy and non-disclosure agreements that silence victims and protect abusers (victims may still choose to keep their own identify protected);
  • An attempt to end the so-called “one free grope” standard confirmed by the 9th Circuit federal court 18 years ago (stemming from the “severe or pervasive” legal standard set forth in California’s sexual harassment statute);
  • Mandated sexual harassment training increased to twice annually for all California employees.Los Angeles sexual harassment attorney

Los Angeles sexual harassment attorneys have been watching these efforts move down the legislative pipeline (along with a few others, including the highly-controversial AB 3080, which would have banned mandatory arbitration agreements as a condition of employment, which failed when voted by Gov. Jerry Brown). The good news the passage of these new measures at least provide a solid foundation for harassed, abused and exploited workers to have adequate means of protection and reprisal.

Each measure goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2019. Continue reading

Riverside pregnancy discrimination attorneys at The Nassiri Law Group know that discrimination of new mothers extends even far beyond the gestation period. Breastfeeding discrimination/ caregiver discrimination – an extension of pregnancy and gender discrimination – is a serious problem in California workplaces as well as throughout the country. A report in 2016 from the Center for Worklife Law at the University of California, Hastings College of Law pointed to an 800 percent uptick in the number of breastfeeding-related discrimination lawsuits in the decade prior. Riverside pregnancy discrimination

Now, California has boosted protections for employees who are nursing, starting Jan. 1, 2019 with Assembly Bill 1976, signed by the governor in September. Existing law already requires all employers in California to provide a reasonable break time for accommodation of workers to express milk for their children. State law also mandates that companies offer a private space to do so that is somewhere other than a toilet stall that is reasonably close to one’s work area. Violations are subject to civil penalty by the state Labor Commissioner.

The new bill requires employers to make a reasonable effort to provide space to pump or breastfeed that isn’t in a bathroom – even if the space is temporary. Agricultural employers could be compliant by providing a space that is private, enclosed and shaded (including but not limited to an air-conditioned cab of truck or tractor). Employers who make a temporary space available need to show that providing a permanent space would cause undue hardship and that the temporary space is still free from intrusion, used only for lactation and meets other state specifications. Agricultural employers could be compliant by providing a space that is private, enclosed and shaded (including but not limited to an air-conditioned cab of truck or tractor). Continue reading

Only certain background information of ex-convicts will be searchable for employment now that Governor Jerry Brown has signed SB 1412, which amends Section 432.7 of the California Labor Code. As our Riverside employment attorneys can explain, the measure stipulates that employers conducting criminal background checks on job applicants may only ask about/ weigh convictions that are relevant to the job for which a prospective employee is applying.Riverside employment lawyer

The new California employment law, effective January 1, 2019, applies not just to private individuals and corporations but also public agencies. Companies won’t be barred from conducting criminal background checks on job applicants, but they will be restricted in doing so. It doesn’t stop public or private employers from conducting criminal background checks as required by local, state or federal law. It does however replace the provision that allows employers to inquire about “criminal convictions” to instead say, “particular convictions.”

Doesn’t California Law Already Protect Ex-Convict Job Seekers?

As your Riverside employment attorney can explain, California law does to an extent already protect those seeking a job from being required to reveal certain information. However, SB 1412 takes it a step further in shielding more workers from discrimination based on prior criminal history.  Continue reading

A bill that would have outlawed California mandatory workplace arbitration agreements was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown, who signed a number of #metoo -inspired laws but soundly rejected this one. Sponsored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego,  AB 3080 would have barred companies from mandating employees sign arbitration agreements – forgoing their right to judicial remedy in the event of a dispute – as a required condition of employment. Riverside sexual harassment lawyers at The Nassiri Law Group were skeptical of the bill’s chances, particularly given that Brown had vetoed a similar measure three years ago. California employer arbitration lawyer

Although supporters of the measure aren’t wrong in noting that forced workplace arbitration agreements effectively silence workers who are legitimately victimized while shielding harassers and abusers, the unfortunate reality is that both the California Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court have time and again ruled that employers can lawfully require employees to sign arbitration agreements in which they waive the right to take a claim for sexual harassment or other employee rights issue before a judge and jury.

The U.S. Supreme Court Bolstered Employer Protections Precluding AB 3080

One of the most recent of those cases weighed by the U.S. Supreme Court was Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, decided in May. The court was asked to interpret two federal laws – the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 and the Federal Arbitration Act in 1925. Specifically, the latter contains a provision stating that any contract (employment or otherwise) that contains a provision requiring arbitration instead of litigation to resolve disputes is to be considered valid and enforceable unless there are legal or equity grounds on which to deem the contract invalid. The NLRA meanwhile allows workers the right to self-organize, form, join or assist in organized labor and to engage in collective bargaining.

So the question was whether a no-group arbitration clause, in violating portions of the NLRA, provides for legal grounds to prohibit employer-imposed mandatory arbitration agreements.  Continue reading

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