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Woodland Hills California Employment Law Blog

Berkeley professor suspended after sexual harassment allegations

The University of California, Berkeley has suspended a well-known professor over credible allegations of sexual harassment. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, a former doctoral student accused the professor of describing his sexual preferences and fantasies to her.

 

Understanding what may be wrongful termination

Anyone in California who has ever lost a job knows that this experience can be highly upsetting, stressful and even traumatic. The experience can be made all the worse if the employee believes the reason for their job loss was inappropriate and even illegal. For many, it can be hard to identify the often thin and blurry line between a legal termination and an illegal one but the distinction is very important to make.

The Muse indicates that there are many red flags that may signal a termination was wrongful. These include terminations after an employee had reported an ethical violation, filed a claim for workers' compensation benefits or was identified as having a serious medical condition. If an employee is involved in an effort within the company to improve conditions for other workers, the company may not legally fire the person for this. Such retaliation is expressly illegal based on the National Labor Relations Act.

When sexual harassment is denied

For sexual harassment victims, life can be difficult for various reasons. As if returning to work on a daily basis is not hard enough, some workers who have been subjected to this mistreatment face additional pressures. For example, some people may struggle with the denial of wrongdoing. An employee who has been sexually harassed may speak to a manager about the incident or file a complaint, only to find that the allegations are denied. This can be incredibly upsetting and it is pivotal for victims to firmly stand up for their rights. Filing a lawsuit may be necessary in some instances.

Unfortunately, many victims have remained silent because they are afraid about what may happen if they choose to stand up for themselves. Our law office believes this is completely unacceptable and anyone who is wondering whether or not they should stand up for their rights should feel empowered to take action. Moreover, it is important to realize that employers cannot legally retaliate against an employee for filing a complaint over sexual harassment. If you believe that you have experienced retaliation after coming forward, this may be another issue to look into closer.

Be on the lookout for wage delays and tricks

You deserve to have your compensation for the work you put in paid on time. While many people in the state of California receive their wages without trouble, some workplaces, whether because of error or because an employer believes it will be more convenient for them, will delay paying their workers. There are any number of wage tricks an employer may try to pull off.

Paycor warns that employers can be pursued legally for delayed wage payments. For instance, your employer might come to you and ask to defer your overtime pay to the next paycheck. You might also be offered off time at a future date in exchange for you to work overtime in the current period. However, asking you to accept off time in exchange for performing overtime violates the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) even if you are fine with it.

Documents that should not be in your personnel file

If you find yourself unexpectedly fired from your job or the victim of an unfair demotion for engaging in protected activity, you have the right to view your personnel file under California law to look for documented reasons for your firing. Once you have the file, be on the lookout for documents that do not belong in there. You may find your employer has violated state or federal law by keeping the wrong documents in your personnel file.

For instance, Ieci.org explains that your employer may be breaking any number of federal laws if your medical records are mixed into your personnel file. Your medical information is meant to be confidential and should be kept in a separate file. Depending on the medical documents kept in your file, the employer could be in violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), among other laws.

You have the right to see your personnel file

It can be shocking and humiliating to one day be told that your services are no longer needed at your workplace. If you have conducted yourself properly and performed to the company standards, why have your superiors decided to let you go? While an employee firing may be justified, in the event it is not, you have a right to know it and to pursue legal action in California. One way to find out is to look at your personnel file.

Employers keep important information about your employment in your personnel file. FitSmallBusiness explains that personnel files contain documents such as your IRS withholding forms, your payroll information, any workers compensation claims, a contract with the employer if you signed one, and worker benefit documentation. Perhaps the most important document for a wrongful termination case, however, is any termination document the file contains. It should explain why, in the view of the employer, you were fired.

Understanding the right to refuse dangerous work

When you go to work in the state of California, the last thing you should ever worry about is your safety. Unfortunately, there are instances where employees encounter work situations that are so perilous that their health or life could be at risk. Should you encounter such a situation, remember that your employer cannot compel you to endanger your life by taking on an unsafe task.

According to OSHA, you can exercise your right to refuse dangerous work if certain conditions have been met. First, an employee should have informed their employer about the problem. However, the employer has not taken corrective steps to handle the issue. The worker, by refusing to do the work, must believe that imminent danger is present and that under a reasonable standard danger to the worker’s health and safety existed. Finally, the danger must be so urgent that you cannot wait for the relevant enforcement agencies to arrive and correct the issue.

Sexual harassment a pervasive problem in health care

As someone who makes your living in a California hospital, medical office or similar health care setting, you may have seen for yourself just how common sexual harassment can be in your industry. You may, too, have been a victim of this type of behavior yourself, whether in medical school or at some point on the job. At Jay S. Rothman & Associates, we understand that many health care settings are hotbeds for harassing behavior, and we have helped many victims of this type of treatment gain the courage to speak out against their aggressors.

Per the Harvard Business Review, sexual harassment is a pervasive issue not only in health care work settings, but also in medical school classrooms. The problem has become so widespread, in fact, that as many as 50 percent of female medical students reported being victims of sexual harassment. Another 30 to 70 percent of female health care workers, meanwhile, said they, too, suffered such treatment at some point or another.

Signs you may be facing age discrimination at work

If you are like many other older Americans in the work force, you may be facing a type of discrimination that will have snuck right up on you, being discriminated against because of your age. It may be hard to deal with because in your own head you may feel and think like someone in their mid-20’s, but to a boss or a hiring manager, your gray hair and wrinkles are the only thing they see.

Age discrimination is illegal, and it is rampant. The Age Discrimination Act spells out that it is illegal for an employer to discriminate due to your age if you are 40 or older. This type of discrimination can yield a toxic work environment and turn an otherwise exceptional employee into one that feels defeated and lacks self-esteem.

Limits on California overtime work hours

The prospect of working overtime is not always welcomed by California workers. Some are pleased to take some overtime to help pay for extra expenses, while others dread it and wonder if they can legally stop their employer from requiring them to put in the overtime. State law does lay down some restrictions on overtime, though employers retain broad discretion in requiring it.

According to the California Department of Industrial Relations, an employer can require a worker to put in overtime hours. Under state law, an employer has the authority to dictate the work schedule of an employee plus the hours that the employee must put in. So if you blatantly refuse to work overtime, you would be subject to discipline and even firing by your superior.

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