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November 2014 Archives

Verbal abuse and employment disputes

California workers have the right to enjoy a safe and healthy working environment. However, some workplaces may experience verbal abuse. Although laws are not in place specifically outlawing such behavior, the employers who allow verbal abuse to continue may still be held to be liable for damages as a result.

Do employers have a legal obligation to prevent harassment?

California employers are held strictly liable for sexual harassment at the workplace when the harasser is a supervisor or the employer's agent. Even when the harasser is a non-management employee, the employer may still be liable, even in cases when the employer was unaware of the harassment.

What employers can and cannot deduct from paychecks

Employees generally have protected rights to receive the full amount of money they earned in their paychecks. However, some employers may attempt to deduct certain expenses or fees from employees' paychecks. It is illegal to do so unless the deductions fall within strictly defined legal parameters. Broadly speaking according to California wage and hour law, deductions are only allowed when state or federal law requires it, when the employee authorizes the employer in writing to cover insurance, welfare or pension costs, or when a collective bargaining agreement authorizes the employer to deduct for these costs.

Overtime law in California

According to the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement of the California Department of Industrial Relations, employees must be paid 50 percent more than their regular rate of pay for overtime work. Overtime is considered any hours in excess of eight in a single day, more than 40 hours in a week or the first eight hours on the seventh consecutive workday. Any time over eight hours on the seventh day or over 12 hours on any other day result in twice the amount of regular pay.

Pregnancy discrimination case reaches Supreme Court

California residents may be interested in a case involving a former UPS worker who says she was discriminated against for being pregnant. The alleged discrimination occurred in 2006 after her doctor said that she should lift no more than 20 pounds during the first 20 weeks of the pregnancy. After hearing this, the company put the woman on unpaid leave, which reportedly forced her to go on her husband's insurance plan.

Understanding disparate impact

California employees may benefit from learning more about what disparate impact means. Disparate impact prohibits employers from implementing practices that are discriminatory against a protected class identified in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. When an applicant or employee files a claim against an employer, they are tasked with the burden of proving that the employer has adopted a practice that has a disproportionate impact against a protected class.

Dealing with harassment at the workplace

Employees in California may benefit from learning more about workplace harassment, as defined by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC defines harassment as employment discrimination in violation of the American Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The harassment can be described as any conduct directed towards religion, color, race, disability, age, or nationality that is unwelcome. The EEOC considers this conduct to be unlawful if it meets certain criteria.

What is considered religious discrimination?

In California and around the country, religious discrimination, which is defined as any unfavorable treatment of employees or applicants due to their religion, is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This federal law may also apply to those who have sincerely held beliefs or morals even if they don't belong to an organized religion. For example, an employer who is covered by the law's provisions may not make a hiring decision or determine an employee or applicant's salary based on his or her religion.

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