When Is Political Speech Allowed at Work?

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In today’s politically contentious landscape, many employees find it difficult to abide by the golden rule: Never discuss politics in the workplace. This can create problems if heated political debates interfere with employees’ job duties and attentiveness to customers. Freedom of expression in the workplace differs from state to state. Employers should check with a labor rights lawyer in San Jose, CA for the reliable employment law advice they need to craft a written policy regarding political speech.

This video provides a brief introduction to this topic, including a discussion of the National Labor Relations Act, anti-discrimination laws, and the First Amendment. It’s a common misconception that the right to free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment extends to the workplace. In fact, it only prevents governmental action against the impingement of free speech. This means that employers can take action to limit political debates in the workplace, particularly if these debates could be considered harassment.

What Whistle Blowers Should Know About Employer Retaliation

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Whistle blowers are protected from retaliation by law. If you are involved in a whistle blowing case, hire an employee rights attorney in San Jose to ensure that you are not subject to any unlawful retaliation in your workplace, and so that you have the legal support you need if your employer does target you.

Whistle blowers’ protections are extensive. Your employer cannot deny you benefits, demote you, lower your pay or hours, or discipline you in reaction to your whistle blowing. You may not be reassigned in such a way that will impact your future potential for promotions, and you cannot be terminated from your position as the result of being a whistle blower. Your employer also cannot attempt to intimidate or threaten you or blacklist you in your industry if you seek employment elsewhere. Both federal and state laws protect whistle blowers from this kind of retaliation at work. If you feel that your rights are being violated, document the instances of retaliation and contact an employment lawyer for help. Your attorney can help you decide what to do next to ensure that your rights are protected.

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Reasons to File a Wage Claim

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Wage claims, sometimes called unpaid wage claims, can be filed to request that an employer or former employer properly compensate the employee or former employee. If you think you are owed wages or another type of compensation, you have the right to consult an employment law attorney serving San Jose, CA. He or she can file a claim on your behalf if you’re owed overtime, commissions, or bonuses. A labor attorney can also file a claim if you were issued a check, but there were insufficient funds. Wage claims are appropriate for obtaining compensation for unused vacation hours, non-reimbursed employment expenses, and unpaid sick leave.

You may have left a job or been let go. Your employer is required to send you your final paycheck, but this doesn’t always happen in a timely manner. Before filing a wage claim under these circumstances, your employment lawyer may recommend checking with the Labor Commissioner or the state’s Unclaimed Wages Fund. It’s possible that your former employer couldn’t locate you, and he or she turned over the funds to the state.

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FAQs About Tips and Gratuities

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Customer-facing jobs are often partially compensated by tips and gratuities. Waiters, bartenders, gaming dealers, and tattoo artists are common examples of workers who earn part of their pay in tips. Employee rights lawyers near San Jose, CA often counsel clients who are unsure of their legal rights regarding tips and gratuities. If you suspect your employer has been unfairly deducting or withholding your tips, head for a law office right away to get the employment law advice you need. tips - money

Is a service charge considered to be a tip?

Some establishments include a mandatory service charge on the customer’s bill. Since these service charges aren’t voluntarily paid by the customer to the employee, the state of California doesn’t consider them to be tips or gratuities. If the employer decides to distribute a service charge to an employee, it would be considered a bonus.

Is it legal to force me to share my tips with other staff?

It’s customary for waiters to be required to share their tips with busboys and bartenders, but it’s still a common source of controversy. Even if the customer gives you the tip directly, you can be required to add the tip to a group pool, which will then be distributed equally among the employees. California employment law allows this if tip pooling does not benefit the owner, manager, or supervisor.

Will my tips be figured into my regular rate of pay?

Your regular rate of pay plays a role in determining your overtime pay. However, since tips are left voluntarily by your customers, they are not added to your regular rate of pay. The exception is if your employer distributes a mandatory service charge to you. Since this is a bonus and not a tip, it is part of your regular rate of pay for the purpose of calculating overtime wages.

Is my employer allowed to deduct tips from my wages?

No. Your employer is not allowed to confiscate part or all your tips, nor can your employer deduct your tips from the wages you’re owed. Similarly, employers are not allowed to pay you less than the minimum wage because you receive tips.

Know Your Rights After Reporting Workplace Violations

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Whistleblowers provide invaluable services to the country. By exposing corporate wrongdoing, whistleblowers may help protect consumers, patients, or the environment, or they may save millions of taxpayer dollars. But potential whistleblowers often don’t step forward because they fear retaliation. Before making your decision, seek employment law advice from a qualified labor attorney in San Jose, CA.

You’ll learn that whistleblowers are protected from retaliatory actions, such as unlawful termination. Workers who report workplace violations are protected from being demoted, denied benefits, blacklisted, unjustly disciplined, threatened, or intimidated. They are also protected from having their pay lowered and their hours reduced. Refusing to hire or rehire, or reassigning a worker in a way that affects promotion opportunities are other forms of retaliation that are prohibited. If you think your employer has initiated retaliatory actions against you, you should consult an employment law attorney right away. Remember to keep a written record of the retaliatory incidents, as your lawyer will need this for your claim.

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Standing Up Against Age Discrimination at Work

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Age discrimination is prohibited under federal and state law, but countless employees suffer its effects regardless. If you’re age 40 or older, you should know how to identify the signs of age discrimination and how to exercise your legal rights with the help of a labor rights lawyer serving San Jose, CA. Another way to protect your job is to familiarize yourself with some basic employment law advice, such as by taking a proactive approach during the course of your career. age - discrimination

Know your legal rights.

Your employment law attorney can review your case to determine if your legal rights may have been violated. Under a federal law—the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)—employees and job candidates are protected from age-based discrimination if they are ages 40 or older. This law does have some limitations. For instance, it doesn’t apply to elected officials, military personnel, or independent contractors. The ADEA does apply to:

  • Federal, state, and local government entities
  • Labor organizations with a minimum of 25 members
  • Employers with a minimum of 20 employees
  • Employment agencies

Since the ADEA does not extend protections to employees of companies with fewer than 20 workers, many states have enacted additional protections. In California, employees are protected from age discrimination if the company has at least five employees. The same age range applies. Your state rights are explained in the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).

Take a proactive approach to fight discrimination.

There is no guarantee that not having experienced age discrimination in the past will mean you won’t in the future. It’s best to be proactive about protecting your legal rights. During the course of your career, you should request specific feedback at each job review meeting. Request written copies of your job reviews, and keep these records indefinitely. A track record of positive job reviews can be helpful later on if you need to have a labor rights lawyer file an age discrimination claim.

Identify potential signs of age discrimination.

If you do suspect that you’ve been the recipient of discriminatory actions, contact an employee rights lawyer right away. Age discrimination isn’t always easy to spot. Sometimes, a mature worker may be told, “You have too much experience for this position,” or “Your salary history is too high.” These statements can indicate unlawful discrimination.

Solving Workplace Disputes Through Mediation

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When you have a workplace dispute, an alternative to a lengthy and costly court case could be mediation. If your attorney offers mediation services in San Jose, CA , or recommends mediation as an appropriate choice for your case, here is what you need to know.

During mediation, the goal is not for one side to emerge as a winner but rather for both sides to compromise and come to an agreement that they can both accept. During an employment dispute, legal mediation could address things like wage and discrimination issues under the guidance of an impartial, third party mediator, who facilitates the negotiations. Your lawyer can still represent you during mediation to ensure that your rights are not being violated. Once you reach an agreement during mediation, it is legally binding, so both you and the other party must adhere to the terms.

Although mediation may not be the right choice for the most contentious cases, it can help you avoid the stress and expenses of going to court while getting a decision on your case much more quickly.

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What Are Your Rights if You Are Being Sexually Harassed at Work?

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Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious issue that can be incredibly distressing. Fortunately, you have options and you have rights. If you think you are being sexually harassed, consult a labor rights lawyer in San Jose, CA, as soon as possible to determine how you can best protect your rights. Here is what you need to know. sexual - harassment

You have the right to report to a person with whom you are comfortable.

You are not obligated to report sexual harassment to your boss. In many cases, immediate supervisors are either involved in the harassment or have a relationship with the person who is being accused. You can report your harassment to anyone in your workplace that has the ability to take action. In some companies, there is a designated human resources person who is in charge of sexual harassments complaints who can help you. However, you can report your harassment to anyone with whom you are comfortable as long as he or she is able to take some kind of action on your behalf.

You have the right to be protected against sexual harassment as defined by your company.

Companies are required to take action against harassment that is severe, pervasive, and that creates a hostile work environment under federal law. Most workplaces have sexual harassment policies that far exceed that benchmark, and you have the right to expect to be protected from harassment as defined by your employee handbook. For instance, if your company has a policy against employees asking each other for dates and someone makes you uncomfortable by asking you out, your workplace is obligated to address that situation as harassment.

You have the right to pursue an investigation outside of the workplace.

You don’t have to accept the results of any internal investigation into sexual harassment that is conducted by your employer. You can contact a labor rights lawyer if you are unhappy with your workplace’s evaluation. A lawyer can help you decide if you should file a claim against your employer.

What Is a Hostile Work Environment?

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Hostile work environment is a term that you may have heard used on many different occasions, but in most instances, the workplaces people are describing do not actually meet the legal definition of hostile. If you do find yourself in a hostile workplace, help is available. Consult with a labor attorney in San Jose, CA to find out if your workplace meets the criteria for being considered a hostile work environment and what you can do to fight for your rights. hostile - work

Characteristics of a Hostile Work Environment

A work environment in which you have a bad boss, lack of access to amenities, and coworkers who don’t help shoulder the burden of the work may be unpleasant, but it doesn’t legally qualify for a hostile work environment. To be considered a hostile work environment, your workplace must include a boss or coworker that interferes with your ability to do your job through discriminatory communication or behavior.

In other words, rude behavior does not make a work environment hostile, but sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination do. Although these discriminatory behaviors are themselves prohibited by law, when they are severe and occur for an extended period of time, they contribute to the creation of a hostile work environment.

Strategies for Overcoming a Hostile Work Environment

As a first step, it is generally recommended that employees who think that they have a hostile work environment address the issue with the offending party or with the human resources department. It can be helpful to keep a record of discriminatory behavior so you can provide specific instances. The person who is engaging in the hostile behavior should be notified in writing by human resources or a manager that his or her actions are unacceptable.

If the matter is not corrected internally, then bring your case to an employment law attorney. He or she will decide the best way for you to proceed to protect your rights. Keep in mind that whistleblower laws protect you from retaliation if you do file a complaint.

Examining the Laws Against Religious Discrimination in the Workplace

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Federal laws prohibit religious discrimination in the workplace against both employees and job applicants. These laws forbid an employer from considering a person’s religious beliefs when making decisions about hiring, promotions, wages, and other employment conditions. An employment law attorney in San Jose, CA can help you build a case against your employer if you think that you have been targeted because of your religion. Here is a closer look at what protections are put in place by the federal laws. employee - religion

Legal Definition of Religious Discrimination

Religious discrimination laws restrict discrimination against anyone on the basis of his or her membership in a traditional, organized religion, including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. The law also extends protections to members of non-traditional religions who sincerely hold ethical and moral beliefs tied to those religious communities.

Employers cannot discriminate against employees on the basis of these beliefs, nor can they target employees for discrimination based on the religion of employees’ spouses or friends. If you are unsure if religious discrimination protects extend to you, consult with an employment law lawyer.

Types of Discrimination

Religious discrimination can take many forms. During the hiring process, an employer cannot refuse to hire someone solely on the basis of his or her religion. For current employees, employers cannot make decisions about employment conditions, including position, salary, shifts, promotions, or firings, based on religion. Finally, workers are protected from harassment in the workplace on the basis of their religions, including from offensive remarks. If you are experiencing this kind of discrimination at work, keep a record of the incidents to share with an employment law attorney.

Reasonable Accommodation Requirements

Employers are required to make reasonable accommodations to allow employees to honor their religious beliefs. This can include flexible scheduling to allow an employee to take time off for a religious observation or proving space and time during a shift for prayer in accordance with religious practices. Employers must also make reasonable accommodations to allow employees to dress and groom themselves in ways that are in keeping with their beliefs, such as wearing a headscarf or yarmulke or avoiding certain types of clothing.