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California Employment Law Blog

You deserve to work in an environment free from discrimination

Whether you apply for a job or already have one, your employer must provide you with an application process and work environment free from discrimination. Here in California, the Fair Employment and Housing Act enforces those protections.

FEHA applies to employment agencies, private and public employers with more than five employees, and labor organizations. If you suspect your employer, or a prospective employer, of discrimination, you may benefit from understanding your rights and legal options.

Retaliatory termination is never an acceptable action at work

While California is an at will employment state, there are specific limitations in place for what employers are allowed to do when it comes to terminating an employee. For example, they aren't allowed to fire an employee as a retaliatory measure. There are some specific points that employees should remember about retaliatory dismissal.

First, the dismissal can't be because of lax performance at work. You have to keep up the same work ethic and meet the same standards after you file complaints about sexual harassment or any other unethical behavior. There aren't any protections from termination based on substandard work, even if the termination comes after you file a complaint about something.

Sexual harassment awareness is heightened due to #MeToo movement

The #MeToo movement has brought sexual harassment and inappropriate sexual behavior into the limelight. Even though some people might be watching what is going on and thinking that the only place this happens is in Hollywood or with wealthy people, this isn't the case. There is a chance that sexual harassment will occur in any setting. We don't think that any person should have to work in a place where he or she is being sexually harassed.

We know that you never went to work with the intent of being sexually harassed. When you do go through this at work, you might be in disbelief at first. There is a chance that the harassment starts with just some seemingly innocent mistakes, but then it might progress to even more serious and frequent events.

Know what constitutes sexual harassment

No employee should have to deal with sexual harassment of any sort. What many people don't realize is that not all sexual harassment involves actually touching. In fact, there might not be any physical contact present at all.

In all situations of sexual harassment, the key point is that the gestures aren't welcomed. This means that you can't ask a co-worker for a kiss and then scream sexual harassment when you get that kiss. It usually helps if you make a clear statement that lets everyone know that the behavior isn't acceptable. Simply telling the person to quit might be sufficient.

Can I contest non-compete clauses in a severance package?

If your employer terminates you, you may receive a severance package as a part of the process. On the one hand, this is better than the alternative, which is no severance package at all. Depending on the nature of your employment, you may or may not have the right to receive a severance package. On the other hand, you should never accept your severance package at face value without carefully scrutinizing it. This is particularly true when it comes to non-compete clauses, which may seriously affect the type of employment you can obtain subsequent to your termination.

In most cases, the non-compete clause included in your severance agreement merely restates the terms of non-competition that you agreed to as a part of joining the employer in the first place. It is wise to check the terms of your severance against the terms of your employment contract to determine if there exist any inconsistencies you can use to negotiate better terms.

Know your rights for mandated leave laws

In a recent blog post, we discussed some of the ways that the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) applies in specific circumstances. All employees should make sure that they understand how this law might impact their right to leave when they are impacted by a medical crisis or a family situation that falls under the umbrella of the act.

Some employers might not know exactly how these laws apply to their employees. This can make it difficult for the employees to get the leave they need. They might find that they need to take action to get that leave.

Does your employer make you work off the clock?

You may be one of those fortunate people in California who has found a job that is fulfilling and enjoyable. Perhaps you work with a group of people who are fun and uplifting. You consider your co-workers your friends, and you even spend time with them after work and on weekends.

No matter how much you love your job or your co-workers, the main purpose of work is to earn money. If you spend time off the clock doing tasks exclusive to your employment, your employer is likely breaking the laws governed by the Fair Labor Standards Act, and you have the right to demand fair compensation for your time.

How does family and medical leave apply to special groups?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides much needed time off without having to worry about losing your job if you have medical needs to tend to or if you have to care for someone who has a medical issue.

While many people are familiar with the basics of this act, there are some special situations that they might be worried about.

Some termination reasons might be against the law

While employers have a right to end your employment without having to give you a reason, there are some reasons why they can't let you go. These are reasons that are forbidden by law. You can choose to take legal action if you are terminated for one of these reasons.

You can't be fired for any form of discrimination. This means due to your gender, sexual preference, age, disability status, marital status, race or religion. All of these are protected statuses, which means that employers can't consider these for any type of job-related actions, including promotions and demotions.

Filing a complaint about sexual harassment might be difficult

Filing a complaint regarding sexual harassment can be difficult for a victim. People who haven't ever been through this type of situation might not realize the emotional toll that it takes on the victim. This is one of the reasons why some victims of sexual harassment might not make complaints right away.

We understand that you might be traumatized by what happened. In fact, you might need to seek out medical and mental health care so that you can start to heal from the incident. We are here to lend an open ear when you can discuss what happened. Once we have that information, we can let you know what options you have to proceed with your case.

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