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Woodland Hills California Employment Law Blog

Sexual harassment affects men, too

While, in the media and in movies, women are frequently the targets of sexual harassment, in actuality, men across California and the nation are also common victims of such behavior in the workplace. When men accuse others of sexual harassment, however, higher-ups do not always take their allegations as seriously as those made by women, indicating that a serious double standard exists in today’s working world. At Jay S. Rothman & Associates, we recognize that men, too, often fall victim to workplace sexual harassment, and we have helped many clients, both male and female, pursue appropriate recourse in the aftermath of harassment.

According to Psychology Today, men are reporting instances of workplace sexual harassment at increasing rates, with nearly 18 percent of all sexual harassment reports received by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2013 filed by men. Just what types of sexual harassment are men experiencing in today’s work environment?

What is a living wage?

There is a lot of talk these days about employers not paying employees enough. Many feel that employers in California are not paying enough for their employees to live on. This has brought up the idea of a living wage. According to CNBC, a living wage is how much you need to make to afford your basic living expenses.

Basic expenses include your housing costs, utilities, child care, insurance, food and other living expenses. The idea of a living wage is that you do not need to seek help to pay for your needs. It also means you are above the poverty line.

Can an independent contractor sue for wrongful termination?

If you are an independent contractor in California, it means that you are not an employee of a company but rather a consultant providing services to one or more companies on a contract basis by written or verbal agreement. As an independent contractor, you usually have a lot more freedom to work from home or create your own schedule. As a trade-off, however, you are not afforded many of the benefits that employees may enjoy, such as health insurance coverage or paid time off.

According to FindLaw, as an independent contractor you do not have exactly the same rights to contest a wrongful termination that an employee of the company has, but that does not mean that you have no rights whatsoever. If you lost your consultant position by refusing to do something illegal for the company, exercising your rights or reporting someone else's illegal conduct, you have the right to bring a suit for wrongful termination in violation of public policy. Bear in mind, however, that while you have the right to bring the case, the court may dismiss it without hearing it due to your independent contractor status. Therefore, if the company terminated your business relationship on a wrongful or malicious basis, your case may be more successful if you make a claim for something other than wrongful termination.

Across California, McDonald's workers stage harassment strike

Another high-profile strike recently joined the growing number of major demonstrations in the #metoo movement. People are standing up against a work culture that encourages or tolerates inappropriate touching, sexual propositions and other forms of offensive behavior. McDonald's workers in California — and all across the country — recently walked out in protest of sexual harassment in the workplace. 

The McDonald's walkout could be taken as evidence of a growing consensus that everyone has the right to a civil, safe and professional work environment, regardless of income level, gender or any other demographic attribute. 

Your rights to reasonable accommodation for your disability

According to federal law, if you suffer from a disability, you deserve reasonable accommodation in your workplace. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 ensures that your employer must offer ways to modify your daily position to provide the best workplace environment if you face disability.

If your employer does not meet the required accommodations that the ADA outlines, your employer could face serious allegations and convictions. If you believe you require reasonable changes in your day-to-day job experience to perform your duties but your employer does not offer these changes, you may wish to speak with a knowledgeable employment law attorney to help you receive your accommodations and rightful compensation if necessary.

Can employers retaliate by assigning you a bad parking spot?

Some California workplaces, in the interests of organization and efficiency, assign parking spots to their employees. You might work for a company that has assigned you a parking space that is reasonably close to the company's entrance. Then one day you are suddenly reassigned a spot all the way at the end of the lot. Your parking space seems more appropriate for a recent hire or for people who are being punished for violating company policy. But if you are neither of those, you might feel you are being retaliated against unfairly.

Reporting on discriminatory or illegal behavior in the workplace is a legally protected act. Any workplace that degrades the standing of an employee who blows the whistle on illegal acts by employees or supervisors is guilty of illegal workplace retaliation. An abrupt change in your parking assignment could constitute a retaliatory act if it is without apparent cause.

What should I do after I get fired?

Nobody likes to be on the wrong side of the table when jobs start getting cut. The trauma of getting fired could stir up many emotions — it can be difficult to know what to do next.

The job market in California is relatively healthy at the moment, and, if you were to lose your job, it could be easier than you think to get a new one. However, there also could be legal issues involved. It would be prudent to investigate your options before you make a decision — whether to look for a new job or pursue legal action against your former employer, for example.

How workplaces should handle inappropriate workplace attire

Some California workplaces have dress codes that dictate employees maintain a certain level of professionalism in their style of dress. However, sometimes a worker might wear clothing that management considers too revealing or otherwise unprofessional. If you are someone who has been addressed by superiors on the question of your clothing, be aware that they have the obligation to treat your professionally as they discuss the matter and should not make you uncomfortable.

If you are called to a meeting to address the appropriateness of your work attire, your superior should make the meeting comfortable and not seek to embarrass you. As the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission points out, the law forbids a workplace from exposing a worker to unwelcome verbal sexual content. Thus a supervisor should not go into uncomfortable details about how you look in your clothing or otherwise create an intimidating environment.

The process of determining back pay amounts

Sometimes, employers in California refuse to pay their workers. The reasons for this range from the personal to the financial, but the law rarely accepts a company's decision to withhold pay without a very convincing argument in favor of the action. However, since employers are seldom willing to distribute money they have decided to keep, one should expect to expend some resources in the pursuit of compensation.

It is very often in an employee's favor to make an attempt to reclaim unpaid wages. In addition to the principal sum, the state mandates that companies pay interest on the money they have withheld. This is equitable, but interest is rarely a large amount, as the statute of limitations on wage and hour actions is relatively short — four years, to be exact.

What to look for in proving workplace retaliation

No California worker should be punished for blowing the whistle on discriminatory or harassment practices in the workplace. However, some supervisors and managers resent when an employee calls out bad behavior and will retaliate against that worker. You might find yourself in such a situation where you feel your workplace has retaliated against you, but you fear you case might not be easily proven. Your employer might come up with a cause to justify the demotion, firing, or whatever retalitory act you have suffered.

Still, even with a supposed justification by your employer, it is possible to show that a company has treated you unfairly by examining their policies and their past treatment of other employees in a similar situation as yourself. According to Findlaw, here are some areas you should look for:

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