Employment Law in the News: Can NFL Players Be Fired Over Protests?

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An intriguing question regarding unlawful termination has been making headlines lately: Are NFL team owners legally able to fire players who use time on the field to protest social injustices? Despite the urgings of the 45 th President, whether or not an NFL owner can let a player go because of protests is a bit more complicated than simply saying, “You’re fired.” Employment lawyers serving San Jose, CA would defer to the player’s contract and the collective bargaining agreement when determining whether a termination is unlawful or not.

In the typical workplace, an at-will employee can be fired at any time for any reason, as long as the termination does not arise from discrimination based on a protected class. Employees who work under a contract, such as NFL athletes, can only be fired under the terms specified in the contract. The typical NFL contract requires athletes to conduct themselves in a manner that befits the “public respect.” It’s possible for an NFL owner to fire an athlete if he or she claims that the athlete’s protests have diminished the public respect. However, since fans are about evenly split between disliking the protests and appreciating the true meaning behind them, the athlete could possibly argue that protesting in such a way actually upholds the public respect.

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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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Employee Termination Mistakes to Avoid

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It’s not common for an employer to enjoy firing someone. But if it’s not done correctly, a termination can lead to a far greater headache for the company. Unlawful termination claims filed in San Jose, CA often follow critical mistakes made by the employer. You can hear about some of the most common mistakes by watching this video. Then, consult an employment lawyer to find out how you can avoid legal liability .

This video features many brief skits that illustrate how not to fire someone. For instance, claims of unlawful termination can follow a publicly humiliating firing. It’s also risky to terminate an employee who has just participated in a protected act, such as taking maternity leave or whistleblowing. Taking the time to consult a labor attorney can give you peace of mind knowing that you’ve avoided these costly errors.

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.

Highlighting the Laws Against Workplace Harassment

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Many companies have workplace policies that prohibit harassment, but filing a complaint with human resources isn’t the only remedy available to wronged employees. When certain criteria are met, workplace harassment is also a violation of federal and state laws. If you feel you’ve been targeted, consider seeking employment law advice from an experienced labor attorney in the San Jose, CA area. Be sure to thoroughly document each incident, and bring this written record to your initial consultation with your employment law attorney. office - harassment

Legal Definition

Under the law, workplace harassment is defined as unlawful and unwelcome acts that are discriminatory in nature. Harassment may stem from discrimination based on race, age, sex, religion, color, disability, national origin, or genetic information. Unlawful harassment falls into one of two categories. First, workers are forced to endure the acts in order to maintain their employment. Or the conduct is widespread or severe enough in the workplace to constitute an intimidating, abusive, or hostile work environment.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964

Labor attorneys can file a workplace harassment complaint under Title VII of this federal law. Title VII provides the foundation for anti-discrimination complaints. It prohibits employers from engaging in discriminatory actions against employees based on their sex, religion, race, national origin, or color. This federal law applies to employment agencies, labor organizations, and federal, state, and local government organizations. It also applies to private and public universities.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

This monumental piece of legislation was passed in 1990. It gave employees with disabilities broad legal protections against discrimination in the workplace, in addition to protections regarding public accommodations, telecommunications, and public services. Under the ADA, individuals with disabilities are protected from suffering discriminatory harassment in applying for a job, hiring, firing, promoting, job training, and compensatory procedures.

The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA)

FEHA is a California law that applies to employers with at least five employees. Under FEHA, employers are required to take reasonable steps to both prevent and correct harassment and discriminatory practices. FEHA takes a proactive approach toward workplace harassment, as it requires employers to have written policies to prevent discrimination, retaliation, and harassment. Current and future employees must be provided with a copy of this policy, but they still have the legal right to consult an employment lawyer if they feel they’ve been the subject of harassment.

Political Speech at Work: What Is and Isn’t Protected

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In a highly charged political climate, many people wonder if they have the right to engage in political speech at work. Can your boss fire you for saying you don’t like his or her candidate? Can you pass out political pamphlets in the workplace, or does that violate labor law? Political speech at work is a complex issue, so if you think your rights have been violated, hire an experienced employment law attorney in San Jose, CA , to help you determine how to proceed. Here is a look at some of the things that are—and are not—protected when it comes to political speech at work. politics - work

Expressing Political Views: Not Protected

Your right to free speech does not necessarily extend to your right to engage in political speech at work. Employers in privately owned companies can decide to ban political discussions of any kind in the workplace. For public sector employees, there are more free speech protections, but these employees can legally have their political speech restricted as well. Generally, employees can be fired for engaging in political speech at work when it interferes with their jobs in some way, whether it takes time away from their duties or causes them to treat customers or co-workers differently who do not agree with them. However, if an employer seems to target employees whose views differ from their own and don’t apply the rules fairly, then he or she could be violating anti-discrimination laws.

Off-Duty Political Activity: Protected

Generally, employees can engage in political activities outside of their working hours without fear of retaliation from their employers. An exception would be if the employee’s activities violated any morality clause or similar contract point. For instance, if your contact allows you to be terminated if you are arrested and you are rounded up during a political protest, your employer could fire you because your arrest violated the terms of your agreement.

Political Displays at Work: Not Protected

Your employer can prevent you from wearing political shirts, buttons, hats, and other pieces of clothing through the use of a dress code. He or she can also decide to prohibit any kind of political signage in the workplace, as long as the rules are applied equally. An exception is that non-managerial employees are legally entitled to wear and display labor union insignia.

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

Man with Kippah

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.

Can You Be Fired for Taking Family Medical Leave?

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The Family Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, allows employees to take unpaid time off from work for qualified medical reasons, from childbirth to a surgery. Each year, an employee is entitled to 12 weeks of FMLA leave, but there are instances in which an employee can be terminated while on FMLA. If you have been fired while on FMLA leave, were you the victim of wrongful termination or did your employer have the right to end your employment? The best way to know for sure is to contact a wrongful termination attorney in San Jose, CA, who can review your case. Here is a look at what you need to know.

It is unlawful for an employer to fire someone for taking FMLA, unless they do not follow the proper protocol for taking leave or they take leave for an ineligible reason. You may also be fired while on FMLA if your employer can demonstrate that your termination was already planned before your leave or if he or she can prove that you had significant, documented performance and absenteeism issues before your leave. If you are terminated, allow a wrongful termination attorney to examine your case and determine if you should pursue legal options.

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