Articles Tagged with Orange County employment lawyer

Partisan tensions across the U.S. have gone from a long-simmer to near-boiling in recent months. Although most Americans define their politics as somewhere in the middle, an increasing number feel compelled to draw hard lines in the sand and publicly denounce or support certain candidates, policies or ideals. However, doing so could put you at odds with your employer. California employment attorneys have been fielding an uptick in queries on wrongful termination and just how far First Amendment free speech protections shield workers and their right to independent political views and expression.San Bernardino wrongful termination attorney blog

In an out-of-state case making headlines, a former city government employee has filed a discrimination lawsuit alleging he was fired because of his vocal support of the Republican president, which he expressed by wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat to work and in discussions with co-workers. He is asserting violation of his First Amendment free speech and Fourteenth Amendment equal protection rights, as well as discrimination based on age (59) and race (white).

The short of it is that while employment retaliation for a worker’s political activity is not covered under federal anti-discrimination laws, California statute is more stringent. The Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution protects citizens from free speech infringement by the government. It does not extend this protection to the workforce. What’s more, the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. FEC means companies can freely endorse and campaign for political candidates and even try to influence a worker’s vote. They cannot, however, demand that you choose a certain candidate. Continue reading

Employment lawsuits have been on the rise for the last several years, with complaints ranging from sexual harassment to wage-and-hour disputes. Some of these cases have involved massive settlement agreements. It’s likely this trend will continue, though the success could be curbed if the new U.S. Supreme Court justice swings the court toward decisions that tend to favor arbitration agreements and the prohibition of class action employment lawsuits.workers2

As The Associated Press recently reported, the SCOTUS recently accepted review of three cases that center on the viability of arbitration agreements in workplace disputes. Such agreements require workers to use a private arbitrator to resolve grievances, rather than avail themselves of the courts.

The question is whether this deprives workers of due process. Private arbitrators tend to come down on the side of the business, and even those cases decided in favor of the worker tend to result in modest awards in comparison to what they might receive if they had prevailed in court. Plus, arbitrators don’t have to follow the law and proceedings aren’t public, which can strip the employer of any real incentive to change the underlying offensive action in the future. Continue reading

A California technology company is facing down claims of racial discrimination against employees, who are the subject of a lawsuit alleging white men were given preference over minorities with similar qualifications.computer

USA Today reports the U.S. Department of Labor is suing Oracle America, a technology systems company that is accused of paying its white, male workers more than others and discriminating against non-white applicants in the course of its hiring and recruiting efforts. The DOL asserted the company is barred from engaging in discriminatory practices, especially because it receives hundreds of millions of dollars as a contractor for the federal government.

The company vehemently denies the allegations, arguing they are wholly without merit and motivated by politics. The firm is responsible for manufacturing much of the hardware and software utilized by federal government agencies. Continue reading

Four Sikh truckers in California have settled an anti-discrimination lawsuit against their employers who fired them for refusing to cut their hair to undergo a drug test.trucking

In Sikhism, it’s part of a practice called Kesh that allows one’s hair to grow naturally as a matter of respect for the perfection of God’s creation. The idea is to live the way God made you. It is a tightly-held tenant, one of the five articles of faith of the Sikh religion. When refused to have have it clipped for the drug test, his employer fired him. One plaintiff called the incident, which occurred five years ago, “One of the hardest times of my life.”

Now, he and four other trucker applicants will split a $260,000 damage award to resolve allegations of religious discrimination in employment.  Continue reading

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to give qualified persons with disabilities reasonable accommodation for work – unless doing so would create some type of undue hardship. Generally speaking, a reasonable accommodation is an alteration of the work environment or in the way things are usually done that enables someone with a disability to have employment opportunities that are equal. doctor

This could mean:

  • An adjustment or modification to the job application process;
  • An adjustment or modification to the manner in which the job is typically performed or the work environment that gives the applicant/ worker a chance to perform the essential functions of the job;
  • Adjustments or changes that allow the worker with a disability the chance to enjoy equal privileges and benefits of employment, the same as other similarly-situated workers who don’t have a disability.

In order to trigger these rights, workers need to be able to perform the essential functions of the job and they need to request reasonable accommodation. In the recent case of Kowitz v. Trinity Health, the question was whether plaintiff made a request for accommodation that was adequate enough to trigger the interactive process of identifying a reasonable accommodation.  Continue reading

A new report on Caregivers in the Workplace, published by the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California’s Hastings College of Law, explores the ways in which family responsibilities have long been a source of workplace discrimination, and how the legal landscape is changing. father1

The report refers to this type of illegal action as “family responsibilities discrimination,” and it stems from an employer’s unwillingness to allow workers to tend to caregiving duties – i.e., pregnancy, motherhood, fatherhood care for family members who are sick or have disabilities and caring for aging or ill parents. The report was based on information from 4,400 family responsibilities discrimination cases.

What researchers are finding in many of theses instances is that employers still don’t seem to understand what their obligations are. They don’t get workers’ rights, they don’t understand what family responsibility discrimination is and they aren’t taking the time to learn how they might be liable for it.  Continue reading

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has a reputation for leaning pro-employer in work-related disputes. So the recent decision in Ortiz v. Werner Enterprises came as a bit of a surprise – and its effects could be far-reaching. gavel7

The case upends the standard that the circuit has followed the last 20 years for determining discrimination in the workplace. Prior to this case, the court had held an employee plaintiff could prove discrimination in just one of two ways:

  • Direct. That means providing the court with some type of direct evidence of discrimination.
  • Indirect. This is providing the court with circumstantial evidence of discrimination, such as a pattern of actions (or as it sometimes called, a “convincing mosaic”).

Each method requires a series of tests, and the Seventh Circuit noted frustration with the legal wrangling that had to be done just to properly navigate these tests. This “convincing mosaic” as a legal standard was so confusing, the court wrote, that justices vowed any ruling based on that phrase is going to be subject to summary reversal.  Continue reading

A one-time manager of a national truck manufacturing firm has been awarded $1.2 million by a jury in an age discrimination case. officeworkers

But his was just one of nearly a dozen employment lawsuits brought against Daimler Trucks North America over the last few years. Last September, two $1 million lawsuits filed were brought by two different African American woman who alleged they were subjected to racially hostile work conditions. They asserted they have been targeted by co-workers since the 1990s with racially insulting graffiti, language and even threats of violence. Chicken bones would be stuffed in their lockers and nooses displayed in work areas. On top of that, supervisors reportedly constantly questioned their work and made rude comments and filed groundless complaints.

Earlier in 2015, the company agreed to pay $2.4 million to settle complaints from six former workers who alleged they were the subject of homophobic and racist slurs, threats and Nazi graffiti. The following month, four current and former African American employees filed a $9.5 million lawsuits against the firm, alleging they were greeted with “Heil Hitler” salutes, nooses and general harassment at work. Then in April 2015, an engineer, 75 and born in Egypt, filed an employment lawsuit for $2 million, saying his supervisor often made fun of him and called him “bin Laden” in front of clients and co-workers. In July 2015, an Asian American data center manager, 40, filed a $250,000 lawsuit alleging he was mistreated due to both his age and race and that promotions were given to less qualified, younger white workers while he was passed over.  Continue reading

The U.S. Supreme Court recently handed down an important decision that will almost certainly aid victims of workplace discrimination in their efforts to attain restitution. postalservice

In Green v. Brennan, what was alleged was a case of severe and long-running racial discrimination against a black mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service.

Plaintiff was a 35-year- veteran of the Postal Service when the trouble first started. A job for postmaster opened in Colorado. Plaintiff applied, but his bosses passed him over – for someone far less qualified. It was later revealed the person who landed the job hadn’t even turned in an application.

A woman who practices Catholicism says she was wrongfully terminated from her job at a bottled water company in Nevada because she refused to convert to Scientology.holybible

The employment lawsuit asserting religious discrimination alleges the worker was under pressure to watch pro-Scientology videos and was turned down for a pay raise when she did not show interest in switching faiths.

Based in Las Vegas, the company, Real Alkalized Water (also known as AffinityLifestyles.com) is owned by Nevada state Assemblyman Brent Jones, a Republican. His son, who is vying for an open state Assembly seat in the November election, is the executive vice president of the firm.  Continue reading