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San Diego Employment Law Attorney Blog

Ford ordered to pay out in ex-employee's discrimination lawsuit

Workplace discrimination remains more common then many people may think, but it is possible and important to hold employers accountable for these unlawful actions. Discrimination can take many forms and can include things like make racist or derogatory comments, treating employees of a certain class differently then other employees, to more outright discrimination such as passing someone over for a promotion or failing to give someone a raise because of their race, gender, age or other protected classification.

In a recent case out of Michigan, a former engineer for Ford brought, and won, a lawsuit based on workplace discrimination. This engineer claimed that the automaker, and particularly two supervisors, created a hostile work environment through discrimination based on the engineer's Arab background. After an eleven day trial, a jury found in favor of the engineer, determining that he was discriminated against based on his background and accent and that he was retaliated against and ultimately fired after he reported this discrimination.

The importance of whistleblower protections

"Whistleblowers" are employees who report violations of the law by their employers. The nature of the legal violations reported could be violations directed against the employee, such as if the employee has been the victim of sexual harassment, as discussed recently on this blog, or a violation of other laws, such as environmental regulations that apply to the activities of the company the employee works for.

Both federal and many state laws, as well as common law, provide whistleblower protections when the employee is reporting a violation of the law or filing a claim. Whistleblower protections prevent the employee from being retaliated against. Employees who believe they have been retaliated against must bring a complaint to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and have 30 days to do so from the time of the retaliatory action.

What are the different types of sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment can be detrimental to the victim's work and livelihood, which is why victims of sexual harassment may wonder what types of sexually harassment are legally recognized. Sexual harassment can include unwelcome sexual harassment; requests to perform sexual favors; and physical and verbal harassment that is sexual in nature.

Harassment can be aimed at both men and women and does not have to be sexual in nature; sexual harassment can also occur when comments are made, for instance, about a woman's sex, such as offensive comments about women generally. Sexual harassment that requires something in exchange from the employee, or provides that the supervisor will refrain from some activity in exchange for sexual favors, is prohibited, as is persistent sexual harassment that creates a hostile work environment.

What is "wrongful termination"?

The ability to provide for your family and earn a livelihood is important to everyone, which is why if you have been fired it can understandably cause considerable concern and uncertainty. Those who have been "wrongfully terminated" may wonder what legal resources are available to them. Wrongful termination laws can apply in a variety of circumstances and protect workers who have been fired in certain circumstances that may be illegal.

In general, employers have discretion concerning hiring and firing decisions of their employees. However, in certain circumstances, it may be illegal to do so and create a claim against the employer for wrongful termination. If the termination is in violation of federal law or an employment agreement, for instance, it may be considered wrongful termination. In addition, employers cannot fire an employee in retaliation for the employee reporting illegal activity, reporting harassment or discrimination and in some other circumstances, which is referred to as retaliatory termination and is prohibited.

How do I know if I've been the victim of workplace harassment?

Imagine a scenario where you are at the office working late one night and your boss enters your office and closes the door behind him. He then proceeds to make sexual references and inappropriately touches your leg. It's pretty clear that you have just been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace.

Imagine another scenario where a supervisor who is known to be the office clown sends out a mass email to the entire office, men and women, which contains an inappropriate joke with sexual innuendos. In this scenario, it may be a little less clear if you've been the victim of workplace sexual harassment.

How does the Fair Labor Standards Act protect you?

If you're an employee working in the U.S., you may have heard of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The FSLA is a federal law that protects all employees, no matter what state you work in, although certain states may also provide their own laws and regulations to protect employees in addition to the FSLA. You may have heard mention of the FSLA around your workplace but didn't know too much about it. So, what is the FSLA and how can it protect you?

In short, the FSLA provides employee rights and protections, particularly in areas such as minimum wage, hours and overtime, child labor standards and recordkeeping. The Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor are responsible for administering and enforcing this law, and can order payment of back wages, file lawsuits for back wages and issue injunctions for FSLA violations.

An overview of wrongful termination claims

If you've been fired from a job there are some important things to think about in determining whether or not you may have been wrongfully terminated. Not every firing is a wrongful termination. However, if you feel you may have been the victim of a wrongful discharge, there are several ways to determine if you might have a claim against your employer.

A wrongful termination is any firing that is in violation of state or federal law, in violation of an employment agreement or contract or goes against public policy. Most commonly, people know that they cannot be fired for discriminatory reasons. State and federal laws protect employees from discrimination. If there is direct or circumstantial evidence of discrimination, including verbal or written statements by your employer, or actions by your employer that tend to implicate discriminatory motives, then you may have a wrongful termination claim. For example, if only women employees were let go during a recent round of layoffs, this may be evidence of a discriminatory action by the employer.

Employment protections for disabled Americans

Discrimination in the workplace is illegal in California and the rest of the country. There are a number of bases on which a discrimination claim may be made, such as race, religion and age. Employment discrimination based on an individual's mental or physical disability can also be grounds for legal action under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The ADA applies to employers who have at least 15 employees. These employers may not base employment decisions, such as hiring, termination and promotion, on the actual or perceived disabilities that their employees and applicants experience. Employers may not inquire about their employees' disabilities and generally must offer their employees reasonable accommodations to enable their disabled workers to successfully perform their jobs.

Alleged wrongful termination of pregnant woman sparks lawsuit

Employees in San Diego and throughout California are shielded from the prospect of employers mistreating them, subjecting them to retaliation and any other violation of employment law. While treatment of workers is prominent in the news today and steps are taken to ensure they do not face such issues as wrongful termination based on their age, race, gender, national origin, sexual orientation or because of a medical issue or condition and more, it still takes place. If an employer commits a legal violation, the employee has the right to seek compensation in a lawsuit.

A woman who alleges that she was fired because she was pregnant has filed a lawsuit against her former employer. While working as a waitress at an Italian restaurant, the woman found out that she was pregnant. When she informed the owner, she states that she faced workplace discrimination due to that pregnancy and was given fewer hours on the job. As a result, she earned less money. After she had the baby, she was not returned to her previous position as a waitress. She was later fired.

What is workplace discrimination?

Most people know that it is illegal for employers to discriminate against employees or job applicants, but what exactly is workplace discrimination? Workplace discrimination happens when an employer treats an employee or job applicant unfairly based on their race, gender, religion, national origin, disability or age. This discrimination extends beyond just the process of hiring and firing, and includes behavior targeted at people who are currently employed.

Discrimination can take many forms and harassment may also be a form of discrimination. Discrimination may take less obvious forms such as being treated unfairly due to a disability, genetic information, pregnancy or personal relationships.