I. Can Your California Employer Fire You for Legal Activity Away from the Workplace?
You've probably heard about the events in Charlottesville, Virginia. In sum, the city announced that it intended to take down a statute of Robert E. Lee, the Confederate general. In response, a large group of racists, white supremacists, American Nazi Party members, and KKK members assembled to protest.
I don't want to talk about the counter-protestors or the violence committed by the racist groups. That's not the subject of this post. This blog is about employment law, and what's interesting from an employment law perspective is what happened on Twitter.
Losing your job can be traumatic. All of a sudden, you don't know how you're going to make your house payments or pay your rent. Will you have to move? What will happen to you and your family if you can't meet your bills?
In an emotional, scary moment, it can be difficult to know how to react. The tendency is to react emotionally, defensively, and in ways that ultimately don't help.
If you are going to fired, and you think that the firing is illegal, there are questions you can ask that may help you later. I know that it's difficult to think clearly and act logically in such a situation. Experience teaches us that the best way to perform when the mom...
"Fairness is what justice really is."
-- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart
Women earn less money than men. That is a truism of American life. A 2015 study showed that women make 79 cents for every dollar made by men. Substantial gender-based wage gaps exist in every single profession in which statistically significant samples were available. See http://www.iwpr.org/initiatives/pay-equity-and-discrimination
California is no different. A recent studyby the Census Bureau showed that women make about 84 cents for every dollar made by men in the Golden State.
California, however, has decided to blaze the trail in correcting this problem. In Ja...
I recently gave a talk to a group of soon-to-be college graduates about workplace law. I gave them an outline of at-will employment, anti-discrimination laws, and non-compete issues. I told them about laws relating to wages, and how California jealously protects the wages of its workers.
One student raised her hand and asked me, "I am not a United States citizen. Do the laws still protect me?"
I was proud to answer "yes" to her question.
1. Employees include *all* employees in California
California law explicitly states that all of the provisions of its Labor Code apply to "all individuals regardless of immigration status." See Ca. Lab. Code §1171....
If you have had something illegal happen to you in the workplace, and you are considering taking legal action, you've probably asked yourself: What is my case worth? If you haven't asked yourself that yet, I urge you to think about it.
Your legal issues aren't just dollars and cents to you. They are about something that really happened, and they affected you and your life. Maybe you want just compensation for what you've gone through, and what you'll continue to go through for the near future. On the other hand, maybe you feel it's crass to try to quantify your distress and assign a dollar value to it.
When people find out what I do for a living, I usually get an earful. Too many lawsuits, they say. The verdicts are too high, they tell me.
The first thing I learned about being a good lawyer is that preparation is key. So I go to parties ready to hear this kind of stuff. Here's what I say to these folks.
1. Who Have You Sued?
I usually start off with a little party game I like to call, "Who Have You Sued?" It goes like this: I ask the person, "Have you ever sued anyone, or been sued?" The next question is, "Do you know anyone who's been sued, or who's sued anyone?"
I feel completely safe asking these questions, because no one's ever answered yes t...
Most forms of discrimination are not illegal. It's not illegal for your employer to discriminate against you because they don't like you, because they want to hire their nephew instead of you, or because you wore yellow socks to work one day and they don't like yellow socks. Your employer is legally allowed to discriminate, so long as the discrimination is not based on a protected characteristic, like race, age, sex, disability, or something like that.
By the same token, most forms of retaliation are not illegal either. If you complain to Human Resources that your boss doesn't like you, or that they hired their nephew, you can legally be retaliated ag...
Employment in California is at-will. That means that, absent some type of agreement to the contrary, you can be fired for any reason or for no reason at all.
But there are lots of limitations on that rule. The federal government has some limitations, but the State of California has many more. California law frequently models itself after federal law, but then adds additional protections. One example is California's WARN Act, or Cal-WARN.
California's Worker Adjustment and Re-training Notification Act applies to employers with more than 75 employees in the last 12 months. Passed in 2002, Cal-WARN was a reaction to mid-sized companies opening and closi...