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California Employment Law Blog

The spotlight is on sexual harassment in all varieties

Anyone who watches the news these days is well aware of the surge of sexual harassment complaints that is hitting Hollywood and politics right now. It seems as though people you never thought would do those sorts of things have been doing them. As tragic as this is, there is a silver lining of sorts to the situation. There is an increased awareness about the various forms of sexual harassment.

TIME magazine has named The Silence Breakers, or women who have filed sexual harassment and assault complaints, as the Person of the Year. This highlights the severity of the issue. It is also a stark reminder that no employees should have to deal with sexual harassment of any sort.

Employers should answer sexual harassment complaints seriously

One of the last things that you want to deal with when you make a complaint about sexual harassment is having to deal with an employer who isn't taking you seriously. There are several things that employers might do that let you know they aren't taking your complaint in the manner they should.

A big clue that something is amiss is that the employer makes jokes about the situation. Responding to sexual harassment claims isn't ever something that should be done in a lighthearted manner. If your employer tries to make light of the situation with you or if you find out that they are doing this behind your back, you might need to step things up a notch with your complaint.

Understand your rights when your position is eliminated

Leaving a job when you don't really want to is difficult. This is exactly what usually happens when positions are phased out and workers are let go because of that. One of the biggest things that individuals who are in this position worry about is how they will make ends meet when their income stops.

Some employees are fortunate enough to have a severance agreement in their contract for work. When this is the case, you can check your contract to find out what you will receive when your position is eliminated. In the absence of this, you might have to work to negotiate a severance package.

Making ends meet when you take off work for family health crisis

You never know when a serious health crisis will arise in your family. Perhaps you are one of many California workers currently helping a family member in his or her fight against cancer. Maybe your spouse is suffering a debilitating illness related to Lyme disease or some other chronic illness. Caring for a loved one who is extremely ill can be quite stressful. In addition to the strain it may place on your personal physical and mental well-being, it can also cause major problems at work.

California, like most other states, has laws regarding family leave and benefits to which you may be entitled if you have to take an extended absence from your job in order to care for an ailing loved one. Such laws may vary, depending on which region of the state in which you happen to work.

Know what type of severance package you are entitled to

When you find out that you are losing your job, you need to find out what type of severance package you will get. This is something that you should have negotiated at the time you were hired or promoted. It is imperative that you understand the terms of your contract so you can find out what provisions are there.

If you don't have a severance agreement in place, your employer might offer you a package. In all cases, even if you have the severance covered in your contract, you have the right to review the proposal by the employer. Typically, you have up to 21 days to review it.

Terminations can't be retaliatory or discriminatory

Employers often think very carefully before they terminate an employee. Unfortunately, there are also employers who fire people just because they aren't happy with a complaint the employee made against the company or another worker. Even though California is an at-will employment state, employers can't fire employees for discriminatory or retaliatory purposes.

We understand that your primary focus right now might be getting a job so you can pay your bills. But, do you really want to let your former employer get away with firing you for one of those illegal reasons? If you don't want your employer to do that, you do have the option of taking legal action against the employer.

Things to do after you lose your job

Job loss can come as a shock to you, especially in the case of wrongful termination. If you find yourself in this situation, you need to decide where you are going to go from here. In the case of wrongful termination, you might opt to take legal action against the employer, but this is only one component of your plan.

One of the first things that you can do is to start the job search right away. You need to clean up your resume and get it ready to give to places where you plan to seek employment. At first, you might have to find something to make ends meet until you can get the job you really want. This might be a part-time job or an opportunity in another field. Keep your options open so you can pay the bills in the interim.

Your pregnancy shouldn't land you in an unemployment line

Are you one of many California mothers-to-be who feels as though she has waited a lifetime to conceive a child? No wonder when you learned of your expected bundle of joy, you wanted to rush right out and share your good news with all your friends, families and coworkers. Since you work in an office, you weren't worried in the least that your pregnancy might somehow impede your ability to do your job.

You simply figured you'd get up and stretch your legs as needed as the months wore on and you neared your due date. In fact, you and your spouse already agreed you would work right up until your baby arrived. You had it all planned and were excited and eagerly anticipating the months ahead, that is, until  you told your boss you were pregnant and lost your job a couple weeks later.

You have a right to the pay you work hard for

Most people find a job because they need to have an income to pay for the things that they need. Almost nobody works just because they think it is fun. With this in mind, you can see why it is important for employers to pay employees for the time they work.

California has specific laws in place to protect employees who need to get paid. They are very specific and don't provide employers with loopholes to get around paying employees. Still, some employers will try to get away with anything they can to save a few dollars.

Familiarize yourself with California's wage and hour laws

When you accept a job offer, you are counting on the employer to pay you and do things in accordance with the applicable laws. The employer is expecting you to perform the job duties for which you are hired.

There are some employers who might try to skirt the wage and hour laws of this state. This is one of the reasons why it is imperative that all workers know these laws.

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