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San Diego Employment Law Attorney Blog

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.

Know your rights as an employee

As an employee, you hold many rights that you are probably not even aware of. These rights are enacted and protected by various state and federal legislation. It is important to know your rights so that you can be sure that these rights are being protected in your workplace.

While employment law can often be very nuanced and complex, and may also vary state to state there are certain basic rights that all employees have in their workplace. These basic rights include things like, the right to privacy, fair compensation, and the right to be free from discrimination. Even prior to being hired, an applicant for a job has the right to be free from discrimination based on age, gender, race or religion; making it improper for employers to even ask questions certain questions during the hiring process.

Sexual harassment in the workplace often goes unreported

Workplace sexual harassment has been gaining significant attention recently amidst the #MeToo movement and the media coverage of high-profile perpetrators. With this movement aimed at raising awareness and addressing workplace sexual harassment many employees have become emboldened to come forward and report incidents of harassment. However, despite this positive shift, it appears that often many instances of workplace sexual harassment continue to go unreported.

A recent article written for CNBC looked at the number of victims who reported being subject to sexual harassment versus the percentage of those victims who reported this harassment, and discussed some common reasons why these instances of harassment continue to be so underreported. The poll found that roughly twelve percent of employees reported experiencing sexual harassment at work, but of these, more then 70 percent failed to report the harassment, and more then half did not even confront the perpetrator.

What are the issues covered in employment contracts?

Although not every San Diego employee is going to be offered an employment contract when making his or her next career move, many professionals with a specialized line of work and many executives would ordinarily expect to get a contract when taking a job offer.

There are several topics which employees should expect to see when reviewing a contract. The most important of these issues are how much the employee will get paid and what his or her responsibilities will be.

I filed a complaint and lost my job

Employees have certain rights and protections that are provided by both State and Federal laws. Some of these rights include fair wage laws, rights to be protected from discrimination and harassment and rights to a safe work environment, just to name a few. If an employer violates any of these rights the employee may have a variety of remedies, which could include filing a formal complaint or even bringing a lawsuit.

The law is designed to protect employees who stand up for their rights and file complaints of any nature against the unsafe or unlawful practices of an employer. These laws are called whistleblower laws. So, if you filed a complaint against your employer and lost your job, or maybe you were passed over for a promotion or a raise, or taken off of a big project, you may be protected by these whistleblower laws. It is illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee who files a complaint and whistleblower laws are designed to protect employees from such retaliation.