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Rest breaks can spark wage and hour disputes

Hardworking California residents often treasure those times when they can take a break. Even their days off are usually filled with household and family obligations that take up their time. So when employers fail to provide the paid rest breaks required by law, it can quickly spark wage and hour disputes.

Of course, there are instances where employers are not required to provide the 10 consecutive minute breaks for every four hours worked, but even then, they are required to either compensate employees or let them have the breaks at a later time. Workers can take that rest break as long as they have worked a "major fraction" of the four hours, which could be as little as two hours. Even though the rule says that employees only need to be around two hours into a four hour period to get their break, if the shift is only 3.5 hours, no rest break is required.

The LGBTQ community contines to fight workplace discrimination

California offers individuals numerous protections in their chosen profession. However, that does not mean that they stop experiencing workplace discrimination. For instance, the LGBTQ community continues to battle it all over the country, even where laws protect against it.

Even as society's acceptance of the community continues to grow, the atmosphere in many workplaces still prevents people from being who they are. In fact, one of the most difficult choices many in the LGBTQ community face is whether to "come out" at work. In their personal lives, they may feel free to tell the people in their lives who they really are, but not at work. This situation creates its own kind of stress and anxiety.

Women experience more sexual harassment as they climb the ladder

Women across the country rise through the ranks of the companies they work for, including many here in Long Beach. Their employers recognize them for their hard work, skills and diligence. At least some of those women believe that their days of becoming victims of sexual harassment may end at this point since they hold positions that reduce the number of people above them who may try to take advantage of their positions. However, new information indicates that may not be the case.

Once a women reaches middle management, her risk of being subjected to sexual harassment may actually rise. The theory is that the contact a woman has with people both below and above her puts her more at risk. The increase in this risk for women in supervisory positions is anywhere from 30% to 100%, according to a recent study.

A wrongful termination must meet legal standards to file a claim

Losing a job is often a devastating blow to a California resident, especially when it appears not to be for any particular reason. Under these circumstances, an individual may believe that he or she was the victim of a wrongful termination, but that may not necessarily be the case. A claim based on being wrongfully fired from a job must meet certain legal requirements in order to move forward.

Like many other states, California is an "employment at will" state, which means that either the employee or the employer can terminate the working relationship without cause, except under certain circumstances, such as when an employment contract exists. The fact that a termination was unfair does not necessarily make it illegal, which is a requirement for a wrongful termination claim. Unless a legal reason exists, an employer may terminate a worker at any time.

Sexual harassment probe into Uber ends in settlement

It would seem that certain policies and procedures that should have been in place at California-based Uber were not worth the paper they were written on. After a blog regarding the proliferation of sexual harassment within the company went viral, an investigation was launched back in 2017. As it turns out, there was merit to the claims of harassment and to allegations of retaliation against those who dared to complain.

Now, around two years later, the federal investigation into sexual harassment at the ride-sharing company ends in a settlement. The company agreed to pay approximately $4.4 million to victims. Women who worked for the company between Jan. 1, 2014 and June 30, 2019 may be entitled to a portion of the settlement. Notices will go out to soon, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will determine which women are eligible for payments, along with how much each will receive.

Did your employer violate your maternity leave rights?

Coming back from maternity leave after having a baby can be tough. The separation between you and your newborn can be jarring and may make it hard for you to acclimate to your work environment once again. But it can be even more difficult when you return to work, only to discover that your employer has violated your rights to a proper maternity leave.


Vape company Juul at center of sexual harassment suit

There are several laws in place that exist to protect employees in various aspects while at work. For example, employees shouldn't have to face sexual harassment while on the job. Despite these protections, each year employees across California still have to file complaints of sexual harassment with the Department of Fair Housing and Employment. One woman recently filed such a complaint saying that she experienced sexual harassment at her job with the well-known vaping company, Juul.

The woman alleges that three different male employees made suggestive comments to her, touched her without permission and made unwanted sexual advances. She also claims that when she brought her concerns to management, they didn't follow up with any sort of investigation. She alleges that executives retaliated against her by creating untrue rumors that she was having an inappropriate relationship with a company vendor and that she shared confidential company information with a former employee of Juul.

Who does federal law protect from workplace discrimination?

An employer should treat no one differently based on a trait a person cannot control or change. The goal of anti-workplace discrimination laws is to provide everyone with the same opportunities in obtaining and maintaining gainful employment. While many California workers may know this, they may not understand what groups federal law protects as it pertains to workplace discrimination.

Anyone could allege discrimination, but federal law outlines specific groups against whom it is prohibited. For instance, employers cannot discriminate against pregnant women, people over a certain age or because of a person's skin color. They also cannot inappropriately treat people who follow certain religions, or who belong to certain ethnic groups or national origins.

USDOL Wage and Hour Division assesses fines on California growers

Agriculture is big business in California. Many of the individuals who work in the industry come to the state under the H-2A visa program. Unfortunately, not all of the growers who employ them follow the federal wage and hour laws. In fact, the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor recently conducted an investigation into allegations of violations of federal laws and ended up assessing fines against certain growers, recovering hundreds of thousands of dollars in pay owed to workers.

Specifically, 443 workers will receive their share of approximately $422,152 in back wages recovered by the agency. In addition, the growers found in violation of the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act were assessed fines of approximately $85,168 worth of civil penalties. Unpaid wages were not the only violations found, however.

Some doctors face workplace discrimination in part of California

There seems to be a lack of qualified doctors in an agricultural and rural part of California. The problem appears to center around workplace discrimination suffered by minority doctors who attempt to work in the area. In contrast, doctors who do not fit into a state and federally protected group did not have the same experiences.

For those minority doctors who did experience discrimination due to race, LGBTQ+, gender, ethnicity or some other protected status, some commonalities became apparent through a survey conducted by the UC Davis Department of Public Health Sciences. Some of the respondents were forced to deal with vandalism of personal property, loss of professional privileges and negative comments. The problem is so pervasive that some minority doctors decided to leave the area entirely.

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