Common Reasons for Wrongful Termination

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If you feel you may have been the victim of unlawful termination , you should seek legal counsel as soon as possible. A civil rights attorney in San Jose, CA, can review your case to determine if you might have been fired for unlawful reasons. Some of the most common triggers for unlawful termination include age, pregnancy, and military status. With these factors, some employers might begin to worry that the employee will no longer be able to work as efficiently or for as long. Military families, for example, can expect to move frequently. However, these are unlawful grounds for termination.

Other common grounds for unlawful termination claims include being fired on the basis of race, gender, gender identification, and political views. It is not legal to fire an employee for taking leave to which he or she is entitled under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, nor is it lawful to fire someone because of his or her physical or mental health disabilities.

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Answering Questions About Whistleblower Protections

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A qui tam lawsuit may be brought under the False Claims Act with the assistance of information provided by a whistleblower. Whistleblowers are individuals who expose acts of wrongdoing. For example, a chemist working for a pharmaceutical company might reveal evidence that the company concealed the unfavorable results from a clinical trial. Whistleblowers are afforded certain legal protections. If you have become aware of acts of wrongdoing, it’s in your best interests to speak with a civil rights attorney in San Jose, CA. You will need plenty of employment law advice to navigate the legal process and protect your rights. civil - rights - attorney

What are protected disclosures?

Whistleblower protections are intended to encourage individuals to come forward with their knowledge of acts of wrongdoing or misconduct that are illegal. Protected disclosures also include actions that violate certain public policies.

How can employees make protected disclosures?

It’s strongly recommended that employees or other individuals consult a civil rights attorney before taking any actions. The lawyer will review the specifics of the situation to determine if the whistleblower should report the misconduct internally or to an appropriate government agency. Federal employees, for instance, may make a protected disclosure to their agency’s Office of Inspector General or to a member of Congress. They also have the option of having an employment law attorney file a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC). It is possible to make an anonymous protected disclosure; talk to your labor rights lawyer about protecting your identity.

What are prohibited retaliatory actions?

One common reason why potential whistleblowers hesitate to step forward is that they fear the possibility of retaliation. Retaliatory acts can indeed occur, but they are unlawful. If you believe you have experienced a retaliatory act after revealing misconduct, see your lawyer immediately. Deadlines do apply to filing complaints regarding retaliatory actions. Whistleblowers are protected from being demoted, fired, blacklisted, and denied benefits because of their actions. They are protected from retaliatory discipline, reductions in pay or hours, threats, acts of intimidation, and reassignments that affect promotions.

How Employers Can Prevent Ageism in the Workplace

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Compliance is a critical and ever-evolving issue for employers. To stay on the right side of the law, it’s in your company’s best interests to work with an employment lawyer in San Jose, CA. He or she can provide you with the employment law advice your company needs to prevent age discrimination in the workplace . age - discrimination

Working with Your Lawyer

One of the first topics your employment lawyer should cover is the law. Federal anti-discrimination laws protect employees from discrimination based on specific classes, such as one’s age. However, there are also state laws that you should be aware of. Your lawyer will discuss how they apply to your company. He or she will review your current policies, if any, and examine any problems that you may have encountered in the past.

Hiring New Employees

Pay particular attention to your company’s hiring practices. Your employment law attorney will inform you that it is not unlawful to request an applicant’s date of birth. However, doing so may set the stage for an age discrimination complaint. Consider removing this question from the job application.

Structuring Advancement

Age discrimination complaints can arise when younger employees are promoted ahead of older employees. Your employment lawyer can help you develop written policies that guide the distribution of promotions and raises based solely on merit. Similarly, employees should have access to educational and training opportunities regardless of age, although you may choose to limit certain training opportunities to certain positions in the company based on the type of work these employees perform. For example, your sales sector may have access to a marketing seminar that wouldn’t be of value to your tech support sector.

Reducing the Workforce

Unlawful termination is a common basis for claims against employers. If your company must initiate layoffs, talk to your employment lawyer ahead of time. You can protect your company from legal liability by conducting layoffs based on the number of years employees have worked for the company, rather than their age.

What Protections Do Women Have Against Gender Discrimination at Work?

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One common reason for seeking employment law advice in San Jose, CA, is the suspicion that an employee has been unlawfully discriminated against , such as in cases of unlawful termination. Women are in a protected class, which means that it is against federal and state laws to take discriminatory actions against women solely because of this unchangeable defining characteristic. For more information about anti-discrimination laws, contact a civil rights attorney near you and watch this introductory video.

This expert discusses how the court views discrimination cases and which laws provide anti-discrimination protections. He also explains that your labor rights lawyer may file a claim on the basis of discriminatory practices in hiring, firing, compensation, and other terms and conditions of employment.

What to Do if You Face Workplace Retaliation after a Discrimination Complaint

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In addition to protecting you against discrimination, employment law also protects you from being the victim of retaliation for speaking up when your rights or the rights of someone else are violated in the workplace. If you believe you are facing retaliation at work in the wake of a discrimination complaint, an employment law attorney in San Jose, CA, can help you fight for your rights.

Whistleblower protection laws mean that you cannot be the victim of adverse actions in the office after speaking up about discrimination. These adverse actions can include demotions, denial of benefits, treats or intimidation, blacklisting, reduction of hours and pay, and termination. If you think this is happening to you, don’t hesitate to contact an employment lawyer, who can evaluate your case and determine the next steps you should take. If necessary, your employment law attorney can help you file a case against your employer.

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Minimum Wage Changes for San Jose

The San José City Council voted to raise its minimum wage to $15 per hour by Jan. 1, 2019 in three steps ($12 in 2017, $13.50 in 2018, and $15 in 2019), with automatic annual cost of living increases (based on the CPI, up to 5 percent) every year thereafter.
Since September of 2015, Mayor Liccardo has worked with a coalition of mayors from throughout Silicon Valley, as well as representatives the Cities Association of Santa Clara County, to prepare an economic analysis studying the impacts of a potential wage increase and to develop a common proposal that each elected leader could bring back to their city councils.

Common Signs of Workplace Discrimination

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Many people picture workplace discrimination as something obvious that occurs in dramatic incidents that are impossible to deny. In reality, it is often more insidious and difficult to identify. The first step to take if you think discrimination is a problem where you work is to seek employment law advice from a labor attorney in San Jose, CA. An attorney can help you decide if what is happening in your workplace is a violation of employment law. Here are some common signs of discrimination to be alert to in your workplace. workplace - discrimination

Unusually High Turnover Rate

Does there seem to a revolving door in your workplace. Although there can be many reasons that employees leave jobs quickly, discrimination could be a factor. Often, people who encounter discrimination at work simply change jobs instead of seeking employment law advice and determining if their rights have been violated. When people seem to quit their jobs quickly after being hired, an intrinsic problem with the workplace culture, including discrimination, could be occurring.

Lack of Access to Opportunities

In many workplaces, discrimination doesn’t take the form of confrontational words but rather in access to benefits within the office. Members of a protected group may be routinely passed over for raises, promotions, preferable shifts, and vacation time. For instance, an employer may consistently overlook women for promotions because of concerns over the potential of pregnancy. This practice is discriminatory and a violation of labor law.

Hostile Work Environment

No one should ever feel threatened at work, but discrimination makes people feel violated and unprotected. Discrimination can create an environment that hostile in which to work, whether the discrimination takes the form of inappropriate language, physical contact, or even exclusion from typical coworker relationships. A hostile work environment can be an indicator that discrimination is taking place. If you feel that the actions of your coworkers is making it impossible to do your job, contact an attorney to see if you should pursue legal action.

Comparing Mediation and Arbitration

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If you are involved in a family law dispute or a dispute in the workplace, your attorney may recommend mediation or arbitration services in San Jose, CA . Could one of these processes help you settle your case with less acrimony and without a lengthy and expensive court battle? Here is a look at how these two similar processes compare. mediation - arbitration

Mediation

Mediation is a process through which two parties attempt to resolve a disagreement in a way that is mutually acceptable without the need to go through litigation in a courtroom. The most important part of mediation is that no side comes out feeling like they have won. Instead, at the end of successful mediation, both sides should feel as though they have made a deal that meets their needs without forcing anyone to lose.

The mediation process is largely a negotiation led by an impartial mediator, who asks questions and facilitates the process. The mediator is not a judge and cannot issue binding decisions. Instead, he or she helps to guide the parties towards an agreement that is mutually acceptable and to ensure the process remains productive. Mediation lawyers can be present to ensure that their clients’ rights are protected, but the negotiation does not happen between the lawyers but rather with the mediator and the parties involved. Most mediation resolutions are non-binding, but lawyers can also help to draft legal agreements that formalize the final arrangement.

Arbitration

Arbitration services are similar to mediation in that they happen outside of the courtroom. However, in arbitration, a panel of people acts as judges and listens to evidence before making a ruling about the dispute. In most instances, the rulings issued during arbitration are legally biding.

Arbitration can be run in a few different ways. Often, both sides will select an arbitrator, and those arbitrators will work together to pick a third arbitration. Because arbitration decisions are made using majority rule, there must be an odd number of arbitrators involved. Less commonly, a single arbitrator will rule on a dispute.

Recognizing the Signs of Age Discrimination

Age Discrimination Video

Discrimination in the workplace can take many forms, including unfair treatment based on age. If you believe that you have been discriminated against at work because of your age, consult with a labor rights attorney for employment law advice in San Jose, CA .

Watch this video to learn about the signs of age discrimination at work. Discrimination may be overt, such as being refused a position because of your age, or it could be more subtle and take the form of bullying. If you believe that age discrimination is happening to you or someone in your workplace, speak up. A labor attorney can evaluate your case and offer employment law advice to help you decide what steps you should take next.

EMPLOYMENT ADVISORY: NEW LAWS FOR 2017

The California legislature has been busy creating additional protections for employees. Employees and employers must be aware of the changes for their own protection.

The minimum wage in California for employers with 26 or more employees goes to $10.50 per hour on January 1, 2017. The minimum wage for employers with 25 or fewer employees will remain at $10.00 per hour for 2017.

Minimum wage violations (AB 2899): An employer seeking a writ of mandate to contest a Labor Commissioner citation for failure to pay minimum wages must first post a bond with the Labor Commissioner issued in favor of the employee in an amount equal to the unpaid wages, liquidated damages, and overtime compensation assessed, excluding penalties. Proceeds are forfeited to the employee if the employer fails to pay the amounts owed within 10 days after the proceedings.

DLSE enforcement authority ( AB 2261 ): The Department of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) authority under Labor Code section 98.7 to bring an action, with or without an employee complaint, against an employer who terminates or discriminates against an employee in violation of any law under the Labor Commissioner’s jurisdiction.

Salary history (AB 1676): An individual’s prior salary cannot, by itself, justify a wage differential between genders.

Juvenile criminal history (AB 1843): Labor Code section 432.7 restrictions on inquiries regarding criminal history are expanded to prohibit asking an applicant to disclose juvenile convictions and information related to a juvenile arrest, detention, processing, diversion, supervision, adjudication, or court disposition; or seek from any source or utilize as a factor in determining any condition of employment any of the same information. Health may inquire about an applicant’s juvenile criminal background if a juvenile court made a final ruling or adjudication that the applicant had committed a felony or misdemeanor relating to certain sex or controlled substances crimes within five years preceding the employment application. Inquiries regarding sealed juvenile criminal records are prohibited.

Choice of law and forum in employment contracts (SB 1241): New Labor Code section 925 prohibit makes voidable the employee’s request any contractual provision that (1) requires an employee who lives and works in California to litigate or arbitrate outside of California claims that arise in California; or (2) deprives the employee of the protection of California law with respect to a controversy arising in California. The law applies to contracts entered into, modified, or extended on or after January 1, 2017. It does not apply where the employee is represented by legal counsel in negotiating the choice of law or forum.

Work experience education programs ( AB 2063 ): Expands the opportunity to participate in a work experience education program for credit to students at least 14 years old (previously this only applied to students at least 16 years old). Students may job shadow for up to 40 hours if the school principal certifies that it is necessary for participation in a career technical education program.

Background checks by “transportation network companies” (AB 1289): Companies like Uber or Lyft will be required to conduct or have a third party conduct local and national criminal background checks on each driver. Companies are barred from hiring a driver who is currently registered on the National Sex Offender Public Website, has been convicted of terrorism-related or violent felonies or, has been convicted of misdemeanor assault or battery, domestic violence, or driving under the influence within the previous seven years.

Removal of age from actors’ online profiles (AB 1687): A commercial online entertainment employment service provider may longer the actor’s age on its website.

Wage statements for exempt employees (AB 2535): Employers of exempt executive, managerial, professional, outside sales, or computer software professionals need not show the employee’s “total hours worked” on their pay stubs. It also applies to parents, spouses, children, or legally-adopted children of the employer; participants, directors, and staff of a live-in alternative to an incarceration rehabilitation program for substance abuse; exempt crew members of licensed commercial passenger fishing boats; and participants in national service programs.

Overtime for agricultural workers (AB 1066): Currently , workers engaged in agricultural occupations covered by IWC Wage Order 14-2001 get overtime after 10 hours a day in a work day or 60 hours in a week The Phase-In Overtime for Agricultural Workers Act creates new overtime protections for. Starting in 2019 the daily and weekly hours that an agricultural worker must work to receive overtime pay, will decrease to eight hours in a work day and 40 hours in a work week by 2022.

Pay equity based on race and ethnicity (SB 1063): A new Wage and Equality Act extends California’s Fair Pay Act protections in Labor Code section 1197.5 to race and ethnicity. It is now unlawful to pay employees less than employees of another race or ethnicity for “substantially similar work.”

Single-user restrooms must be “all gender” (AB 1732): Effective March 1, 2017, a business establishment with no more than one bathroom and one urinal with a lock controlled by the user must have “all gender” signs.

Smoking in the Workplace (ABX2-7) : Effective June 9, 2016, Expands Labor Code Section 6404.5’s prohibition on smoking in all enclosed places of employment to all employers of any size, including a place of employment where the owner-operator is the only employee ( i.e. , owner-operated business). “‘Enclosed space’ includes covered parking lots, lobbies, lounges, waiting areas, elevators, stairwells, and restrooms that are a structural part of the building.” A violation is punishable by a fine not to exceed $100 for a first violation, $200 for a second violation within one year, and $500 for a third and for each subsequent violation within one year.

Notice of domestic violence leave and accommodation rights (AB 2337): The Labor Commissioner must develop a model notice of the time off and accommodation rights under Labor Code sections 230 and 230.1 protecting victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Employers will not be required to provide this notice until this sample is available.

Unfair immigration-related practices ( SB 1001 ): Labor Code section 1019.1 defines an “unfair immigration-related practice” to do any of the following in verifying authorization to work: (1) request more or different documents than required by the I-9 process; (2) refuse to honor documents reasonably appear to be genuine; (3) refuse to honor documents or work authorization based on the specific status or term that accompanies the authorization to work; or (4) attempt to re-verify an existing employee’s work authorization using an unfair immigration-related practice. An aggrieved person can file a complaint with the DLSE for enforcement. Violations carry a penalty of up to $10,000.