Calabasas Employment Law Blog

Examples of when an employer cannot retaliate against a worker

Workers have the right to feel safe in their workplaces and not suffer retaliation from their employers. Workplace retaliation can occur in a variety of circumstances which are prohibited and workers should be familiar with examples of prohibited activity for their own protection. Workers are protected in a variety of circumstances.

Unfortunately, employer retaliation is the most commonly alleged basis of discrimination in the federal sector. Laws prohibit punishing employees or applicants for jobs because they assert their rights to be free of employment discrimination and harassment. The bottom line is that it is unlawful to retaliate against employees and job applicants in certain circumstances which both employees and job applicants should be aware of so they can better understand their protections.

What are the different types of workplace discrimination?

Workplace discrimination is prohibited in the workplace making it important for workers to understand what the different types of workplace discrimination are. Workers need to be able to enforce their rights against workplace discrimination and need to know what it refers to in order to do that.

Workplace discrimination based on race, national origin, gender, pregnancy or religion are all prohibited. Workplace discrimination based on age is also barred, as well as workplace discrimination based on disability. Workers also have other equal pay protections to be aware of. Workers are also protected from unlawful retaliation in the workplace and unlawful termination. A variety of federal laws protect workers from workplace discrimination in their jobs and state laws may also apply as well. Employment laws work to protect workers on-the-job.

Sexual harassment charges brought against fast food giant

Sexual harassment protections are in place to ensure that workers can go to work each day confident they can feel safe and free from sexual harassment in their workplaces. Both lawsuits against America's fast food giant and complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have been filed by a little over 2 dozen women asserting they were sexually harassed while working in the fast food restaurants. The allegations span 20 U.S. cities, including restaurants and the corporate office, and include assertions of harassing behaviors such as lewd comments by supervisors, propositions for sex, indecent exposure and groping.

The current charges against McDonald's are part of an overall effort to address harassment and other workplace concerns including wages. Some of the sexual harassment claims were made in California. In total, greater than 50 charges and lawsuits have been filed by McDonald's employees over the last 3 years. McDonald's is the second largest employer in the U.S.

Fighting back against wage and hour violations

Wage and hour violations refer to monies that a worker has earned and should have received following a hard day's work. When an employer in California has violated the wage and hour laws and protections afforded to workers in the state, there can be consequences.

Wage and hour violations can go back 4 years and, at the minimum, ensure that California workers earn and are paid at least the minimum wage for their work in the state. Wage and hour violations can occur when the worker was paid by the job but not paid for their time between jobs; when the worker was not paid overtime pay they earned; when the worker was paid on commission but not for time the employee spent working when they could not earn a commission; if the worker is told to wait to clock in after beginning work; if the worker was sent home from their scheduled shift; if the worker is not allowed meal or rest breaks; and if the employee was terminated or resigned and had to wait any period of time for their final paycheck.

Special unit investigates retaliation complaints

California is a state that takes labor violations very seriously — far more than many other states. It provides protections for workers that just don't exist in other areas of the country.

The Department of Fair Employment and Housing is where to file complaints of workplace discrimination based on:

  • Color
  • Marital status
  • Race
  • Ancestry
  • Age (40+)
  • Religion
  • National origin
  • Sexual orientation
  • Sex
  • Pregnancy

Protections against wrongful termination

Employers can legally discriminate against workers for some reasons, but not others. An employer may have a legitimate business reason for giving a raise to one worker and not another, or for firing one worker and not another. But certain types of discrimination are illegal under federal and state laws. For example, it is illegal for an employer to fire a worker on the basis of the worker's race or religion.

When an employee has been fired for an unlawful reason, they may have legal recourse through a wrongful termination claim. Monetary damages and severance may be available to workers who have been wrongfully terminated, so it is essential for workers who think they might have been wrongful terminated to be familiar with the legal protections available to them.

State laws protect workers from sexual harassment

Sexual harassment in the workplace does not have to be tolerated. Recent legislation in California lowered the minimum number of employees required for an employer to provide sexual harassment prevention training. Sexual harassment training is now required when employers have at least five employees rather than the previous number of fifty. Participant requirements were also extended to all employees and not just supervisory employees. In addition, sexual harassment awareness training is required every two years. There are also some criticisms including that in-person trainings are not required.

Sexual harassment is something workers in California do not have to tolerate. It is important for California workers to be familiar with what sexual harassment is and the legal protections available to them. Sexual harassment can take different forms. Sexual harassment generally includes quid pro quo sexual harassment and hostile work environment sexual harassment.

Workers should be fairly compensated

It is important for workers to receive all the pay they have earned, so they can support their families. It is important for them to know how to stand up against wage and hour violations and to be familiar with the legal options and protections available to them to ensure they receive what they are owed.

Workers generally must, at a minimum, receive minimum wage for the work they performed. In addition, workers may be owed compensation if they were paid by the job but not paid separately for time between jobs; if they were paid for sales commissions but not time spent at work when they were unable to earn a commission; if the worker was not paid for all of their overtime worked or at the overtime rate of pay; if the worker was told to wait to clock in after arriving at work; if the worker was told to go home after arriving at work; if the worker was not provided meal and rest breaks; or if the worker was terminated or resigned before receiving their final paycheck.

Protections from sexual harassment for Californians

Sexual harassment is a form of workplace discrimination that violates both federal and state laws in California. It is essential for workers in California to be familiar with legal protections from sexual harassment in their workplaces.

Sexual harassment refers to both unwelcome sexual advances and conduct and actions that are sexual in nature that create a hostile, intimidating and offensive work environment. Unwelcome sexual advances can include visual, verbal or physical conduct that is sexual in nature. Workers in California have a right to a workplace free from sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is usually activity based on sex, however, the harasser and the victim need not be of the same sex for protections from sexual harassment

All hourly workers in California should receive overtime pay

Hourly workers deserve to receive fair pay for every minute they work. Unfortunately, there are many ways that companies can attempt to take advantage of their hourly workers. There are a range of schemes that businesses can employ to minimize how much they pay their workers.

One common tactic is to avoid paying overtime to staff at all costs. Overtime wages are a right of hourly workers under U.S. federal law. For almost any professional, working past the 40th hour in any given pay period should entitle them to at least one and a half times their standard hourly rate of pay.

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