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Sexual harassment victims receive new protections from the law

Each year, numerous California residents become victims in their workplaces. The #MeToo movement brought the plight of sexual harassment victims to the forefront, and the state's legislature attempted to respond last year with new legislation, but Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed it. Legislators tried again this year now that Gov. Gavin Newsom is in office, and he approved important changes to existing law.

The enhancements to California's sexual harassment laws provide some new protections for victims. One change bans employers from requiring forced arbitration for these cases. Apparently, many employers were making their workers agree to it as a condition of employment. This took away a worker's right to a trial, which may keep the matter confidential, but also allows the conditions that led to the harassment to continue.

EEOC says workplace discrimination extended to social media

Federal and California laws about how employees are treated do not just extend to those who have jobs, but also to those who are looking for one. Workplace discrimination can begin when an employer is looking to fill a position. Even an advertisement for a position either could blatantly or inadvertently discriminate against a potential employee.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently took action against several companies whose job ads on Facebook discriminated against women and older applicants. A total of 66 employers, one of which was the social media giant, came under scrutiny when complaints were filed against them for employment opportunity advertisements that could allegedly only be viewed by younger people and men. The EEOC's recent decision addressed complaints against seven of the companies involved, which suggests that the remaining complaints will also be successful. 

Sheriff accused of sexual harassment

Employees typically trust that when they go to work, they will be treated fairly and respectfully. While that is true in the majority of workplaces, there are some instances where that is not the case. Some workers have superiors or other co-workers who may be unfairly discriminatory or create a work environment where not every employee feels safe and welcome. Fortunately, there are laws here in California and around the country meant to give employees recourse when they encounter these situations. One out-of-state law enforcement oversight committee made the recent choice to revoke the certification of one of its sheriffs who was accused of sexual harassment.

Local reports state that late last year, the sheriff confessed to seven different incidents of sexual harassment at his place of work. He was accused of putting sexually-explicit items on display where employees could see them and also commenting inappropriately on employees' personal lives. Commissioners on the oversight board heard the sheriff's statements and made the choice to take away his certification.

Assembly Bill 5: How could it impact gig workers and employers?

On September 10, the California State Senate passed Assembly Bill 5. It now awaits Governor Gavin Newsom's signature, who has already expressed support for the bill. He believes continuing to classify gig workers as independent contractors could lead to greater income inequalities.

Assembly Bill 5 has the potential to seriously impact companies and workers in the gig economy. BBC News reports the governor signing the bill into place would affect the one million gig workers in California. According to Capital Public Radio, 222,000 of these workers drive for Uber and Lyft. The bill stems from a 2018 California Supreme court ruling stating workers essential to the company are employees. The decision also states employees work under the company's control and lack personal agency and freedom.

If someone quits, is it still wrongful termination? Maybe

Not every employer-employee relationship works. At times, that relationship can degrade to the point where the employee decides to quit. The problem is that if the behavior of those representing the employer -- such as supervisors, managers and even co-workers -- becomes egregious, it often creates a hostile work environment. Under those circumstances, a Long Beach resident may decide to quit, which may constitute a constructive dismissal, or wrongful termination.

Where an employer may argue that the worker quit voluntarily, allowing the workplace to become so hostile that it caused him or her to quit could negate that assertion. If the evidence shows that the employer failed to live up to an implied or express employment contract or engaged in unlawful conduct, then there could be a case for wrongful termination. However, it will take more than a statement from the employee to make the case.

Wage and hour disputes surrounding payday issues

Unless California residents do volunteer work, they expect payment for the work they do. In fact, they expect to be paid on a regular basis, and they expect payment for all of the time they put into their jobs. Wage and hour disputes often include payday issues such as those below.

Under California law, most employers must establish set paydays at least twice a month. Workers can be paid twice a month, every two weeks or each week. If a worker is owed overtime wages, they must be paid no later than the next payday following the period in which the wages were earned.

Sexual harassment could still force a woman out of her job

California fans of "The Rookie" will not see one of its stars, Afton Williamson, return for the second season. She claims she was forced to endure racial discrimination and sexual harassment during the first season, and simply cannot return to the show. Feeling forced to leave a job due to these types of hostilities continues to be a common theme for women across the country.

According to Williamson, the head of the hair department was unabashedly racist and routinely bullied her and used racially charged language. According to her, additional bullying came from the highest levels of the production. She claims her complaints about this behavior were not investigated and reported as she was promised. The harassment allegedly reached the point where this individual sexually assaulted Williamson at a wrap party. She says that only after this incident was the individual's employment terminated.

Gender discrimination goes up as sexual harassment claims drop

Working women here in California may feel as though their struggle for equality is paying off. Sexual harassment claims are down thanks to initiatives such as the #MeToo movement. Sadly, some women now face another problem in the workplace -- gender discrimination and harassment.

It appears that in some work environments, supervisors, co-workers and others take offense at being called out on their inappropriate behavior. They have begun campaigns of harassment, retaliation and discrimination against women they work with who complain about being sexually harassed. In these situations, women here in California and across the country traded in unwanted sexual attention for the display of sexist material and sexist remarks.

Even women in sports face workplace discrimination

Long Beach soccer fans may know that the U.S. women's soccer team recently competed in the World Cup, but defending their title as champions could prove easier than the battle they face in the courts. Several of the women allege in a lawsuit that they face workplace discrimination because they do not receive the same compensation as their male counterparts. Court documents assert violations of the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

According to the women, the U.S. Soccer Federation does not pay them what they pay members of the men's soccer team, but this is not the only allegation of gender inequality cited. The 28 women say they do not receive the same training, promotion of their games, travel conditions as the men's team does. They say they work just as hard, and seem to outperform, the men's team, so they should receive at least the same compensation.

3 common wage and hour violations

As an employee, wages and hours are arguably the most important part of the job. Your paycheck pays the bills, and if there’s a mistake in how you’re compensated, it can affect your financial well-being significantly.

What you might not be aware of are common wage and hour violations that employers make. Sometimes it’s a mistake. Other times employers may try to purposefully skirt an employee to save money. Whatever the case, wage and hour violations can have serious consequences for the employer, and you as an employee have the right to pursue legal action.

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