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California Employment Law Blog

5 FAQs on Family Leave in California

If you struggle to balance work and family caregiving responsibilities, you are not alone. From new parents with infants to older workers with aging parents, caregiving issues are huge for many workers.

What are the options, in California, for helping to manage both your paid employment and caregiving duties?

How do I know if I was wrongfully terminated from a job?

Being let go from a job is a difficult experience, especially when the termination comes as a surprise. You might wonder if you have a case for wrongful termination. This is a question that can be complex to answer.

Before you decide that you are going to take legal action, you should take the time to familiarize with some basic points related to wrongful termination.

Former head of Yosemite cited as disparaging females

A report released by the Department of the Interior on Monday, April 10, 2017, accuses Yosemite National Park's former superintendent of having created both a hostile and discriminatory work environment for the park's female employees. The department's Inspector General cites having interviewed at least 71 park employees that were able to corroborate the allegations.

In the department's report, many of the park's employees interviewed cited that they overheard the 37-year veteran of the park service making condescending comments about his employees and their abilities. During his seven years in one of the top leadership roles at the park, employees reported having overheard him refer to their peers as "lazy," "bozo," or "stupid". Of all of the comments he is alleged to have made, most were directed at his female employees.

Missed worker breaks costs CA company $2.9 million

Fighting for your rights takes courage. Just because federal and California state laws lay out some basic standards for proper and fair compensation for workers, holding employers accountable to those standards can be a challenge. Employers may vary under the different jurisdictional levels. While that might explain when violations occur, it does not excuse them.

Infringements can occur in many ways. Failure to pay minimum wage is one. State law requires overtime to be paid for any time worked beyond eight hours in one day. If you are on call, the law says you deserve to be paid for that time. But how many workers know these or their other rights? It highlights the value of consulting an experienced attorney.

Is there any flexibility in negotiating severance agreements?

Finding that dream job with a California company can be a challenge. Holding on to it can be difficult, as well. With the cost of living being what it is, no worker wants to be suddenly released from a position and left high and dry, but it can happen under California's "at-will" system of employment. One way to protect yourself is by a solid severance contract.

Considering the education required to be a player in the high-tech industry that prevails in our region, it's likely that most readers know the value of severance deals. What some might not be aware of is that you don't have to be a high-level executive to seek such a benefit. Workers on the corporate ladder well below the top rung may do well to speak with an experienced attorney to understand their legal rights and options.

5 tips for whistleblowers before they act

Are you really ready to blow the whistle on your employer's illegal activities?

It's time to have a good, hard look at what you're about to do and make sure that you've taken all the steps you can to secure your own future before you take action:

Could an arbitration clause block your sexual harassment claim?

What do employment arbitration agreements have to do with sexual harassment?

Typically, an arbitration clause is an agreement to not pursue any legal action against your employer in court. Instead, it forces you to take your dispute into private arbitration, where a binding decision is made by a supposedly neutral third party. That means that you can't sue even for something as awful as sexual harassment. When combined with a confidentiality clause, it's a great shield for your employer but not so great for you.

Unionizing activity is often met with employer retaliation

Employees have a legal right, granted under the National Labor Relations Act, to join together to try to improve their wages or working conditions. Frequently, that results in the attempt to unionize or the decision to join an existing union that already applies to their trade.

However, that doesn't mean that their employers are going to like it. Put into that situation, it isn't uncommon for employers to engage in activity that's generally considered to be "union busting." One tactic that large employers sometimes use is simply closing down the entire department or store where the unionizing activity is taking place and dispersing the pro-union employees elsewhere (or letting them go).

Religious discrimination in the California workplace

A California worker has the right to a workplace that is free from harassment, discrimination and any type of mistreatment related to his or her religion. Despite the laws shielding individuals from unfair treatment, religious discrimination is still a very real, very serious problem.

Whistleblowers are often portrayed as mentally ill in retaliation

Whistleblowers have to have a lot of courage to step forward and expose the ugly underside of their employing institutions—and most do so knowing that they're likely to be called everything from a turncoat to a tattletale.

However, it tends to take even the most emotionally prepared whistleblower by surprise when they're suddenly labelled "mentally unstable" by their employer—the same employer that's always treated them as valued employees before that point.

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