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Long Beach Employment Law Blog

Preparing for a claim against sexual orientation discrimination

Regardless of whether you are transgender, lesbian, gay or bisexual, you have the right to be free from discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in the workplace. The law has been slow to catch up to modern times. Not even half of states nor the federal government have protections against sexual orientation discrimination as they do against discrimination because of race, religion, disability or gender. Fortunately, California is one of the states that went the extra mile to protect your right to a workplace free from discrimination.

You do not have to tolerate such treatment. If you feel as though a co-worker, manager or supervisor is discriminating against you or harassing you because of your sexual orientation, you have rights.

Overtime pay isn't optional if the employee puts in the time

Employees who work more than 40 hours in a single work week are entitled to overtime pay. There isn't any room for negotiation or discussion on this point when it comes to people who are paid hourly. Some employers will try to claim that employees who are due overtime shouldn't be paid those wages because the overtime wasn't authorized. This simply isn't the case.

Even if an employee works overtime that isn't authorized, the employee must be paid for that time. There isn't any requirement for employees to get approval ahead of time to work those extra hours. Regardless of how the time falls in a pay period, the overtime rate stipulated by the state must apply if the worker puts in more than 40 hours in a work week.

Big differences between employees and independent contractors

Employment law is a wide open area of the law that encompasses a variety of situations. One of the commonly misunderstood areas of employment law has to do with a person's employment classification. This includes the differences between an employee and an independent contractor.

The difference between these two classifications is important because employees have many protections that independent contractors don't have. Unfortunately, this leads some employers to classify workers incorrectly to avoid having to offer the protections required for employees.

Employers might fight your unemployment claim

Unemployment benefits are a way for workers who are let go from a job or quit because of a hostile workplace to have some income until they are able to return to work. There are cases in which unemployment claims are made by employees and they get those benefits without any other work on the employee's part. In other cases, the employer contests the issuance of unemployment benefits.

There are many reasons why the employer might contest the benefits, but the common ground is that they all have to do with the employer thinking that the employee shouldn't receive benefits. In many cases, this is because they don't agree with something in the employee's claim.

California sports coach files age discrimination lawsuit

The head coach of the University of Southern California's women's volleyball team -- who has enjoyed a winning, 17-year career in the position -- will not be returning as head coach for the 2018 season. The university decided not to extend the man's contract, even though the 74-year-old coach had no plans of retiring soon.

Coach Mick Haley is convinced that he was terminated as the head volleyball coach due to age discrimination, as the termination comes following an impressive season with a 25-10 overall record. The university tied for second at the Pac-12 tournament. Last year's success in volleyball for USCA was better than expected. Furthermore, the coach ranked number 14 in the AVCA's Coach's Poll and number 11 in the NCAA RPI -- which are two vital benchmarks for determining the success of a coach.

Were you fired because you were pregnant?

After excitedly telling your family and friends that you were expecting a baby, you were looking forward to sharing your good news at work. You decided the first person you'd tell would be your boss; however, after doing so, you didn't quite get the reaction you'd expected. In fact, as you think back on it, instead of expressing joy or congratulations, he or she appeared somewhat irritated. You hoped it was just surprise because your news caught him or her off guard.

As the following days played out, however, you began to worry. It seemed your boss had grown very short-tempered and unsatisfied with your work, even though you were carrying out your duties to the best of your abilities, as always. Eventually, your boss called you into the office and told you that the company no longer needed your services. You stomach was in knots because you suspected the only reason for your firing was because you were pregnant. Others in California have experienced similar workplace discrimination.

A San Diego waiter alleges he was fired after becoming disabled

A former waiter, who worked for Cohn Restaurant Group in San Diego in August of 2015, filed a lawsuit against the company on Nov. 22, citing that they unlawfully terminated his employment with them.

In the man's lawsuit, he chronicles how, while he was working on Aug. 6, 2015, one of his fellow employees intentionally struck his head. The impact of the assault caused the man to fall backwards. As he fell, his head struck the concrete floor beneath him, causing him to become unconscious.

Am I eligible for FMLA leave in California?

If you have never heard of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) this federal provision allows employees 12 weeks unpaid leave in which to care for a family member or themselves after a serious accident or the diagnosis of a medical condition, among other things.

Under the FMLA, California workers are guaranteed their insurance benefits and job security when they return at the end of the leave. Some employees may choose to use leave during a pregnancy or after the birth or adoption of a child.

Can you get workers' compensation benefits for PTSD?

The short answer to that question is yes, but matters are hardly ever that simple, especially when insurance benefits come into play. Workers' compensation insurance covers physical, mental and psychological injuries, but obtaining benefits for what is largely an unseen and subjective psychological condition (through the eyes of insurance adjusters and employers) could be problematic.

Proving that you suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder would obviously require more evidence than proving a broken leg. Everyone can see the cast on your leg, but no one can look into your mind. Even so, it is possible to pursue workers' compensation benefits for PTSD resulting from some sort of trauma in your workplace.

The unintentional discrimination of disparate impact

Every so often, a company has a policy that may be subtly, but clearly, discriminatory -- even if there was no discriminatory intent in the first place.

A classic example is when a police department puts a physical fitness policy in place and requires everyone who applies to the department to pass it in order to get hired. That policy, by itself, isn't inherently discriminatory: It doesn't make any difference who takes the physical fitness test, the test is always the same: The applicant has to complete an obstacle course in under three minutes.

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