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Dealing with Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Both men and women have to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace, be it with a higher positioned employee or client. Individuals who work in any environment should learn the warning signs and know how to deal with someone who continues to harass in a sexual manner. Below is a short guide on how to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace. Recognize Harassment To get started, you need to be able to recognize when harassment is taking place. Sexual matters should not be discussed in the workplace, yet such discussions do take place. When an individual discusses something that you do not wish to talk about, you have the right to say so. If the individual continues and tries to make you feel uncomfortable, this is a form of harassment. The most common form comes in sexual advances of the individual, with the harasser trying to get a date, hookup or even unwanted touching. Know Your Human Resources Department Whenever you begin to work in a new position, it is important to get to know the Human Resources Department. This is who you would report to if an issue of sexual harassment were to take place. Human Resources can assist you with filing a complaint and taking care of any issues that may exist in the workplace. If you are subject to any type of sexual harassment, speak to someone. Never put up with such behaviors. If you find that higher ranking officials are trying to push you to do something you do not wish, perhaps to keep your positioning within a company, seek legal advice. Romain... read more


California is arguably the most regulated state in the union and when it comes to employment laws, issues can get complicated rather quickly. This goes for both the employee and the employer. That’s why both businesses and workers alike in Southern California are lucky to have George G. Romain and the services of Romain Law available. The causes of labor disputes vary almost as widely as the broad spectrum of jobs in California. Add migrant workers, high unemployment rates and an uncertain economy to the mix and you have a good recipe for potentially improper work relations. While there are certainly many hundreds of large corporate firms with many thousands of employees, there are many more thousands of small businesses who hire only a few people. Large businesses tend to be aware of the rules when it comes to hiring practices, work and pay schedules because they have to be. Small businesses can often be completely ignorant of such obligations. For example, how do you determine if a worker is an employee or an independent contractor? What kinds of IRS forms need to be filed? When does a worker have the right to overtime pay? What obligations does a business have to provide health care? As mentioned, larger businesses tend to know the answers to these questions and often use payroll companies which are adept in the rigors of such matters, but make no mistake about it, those companies are very concerned about their bottom lines and their degree of generosity or miserliness is fine-tuned! This is why a consultation with the Romain Law firm can be a great... read more

Things to Do When You Experience Discrimination at Work

If your suspicion of being discriminated against by your boss or your co-workers ultimately turns into a solid-based fact, here are the initial steps you should take to protect your rights, your job, and your hard-earned money.   Make sure to keep track of and record the specific details of the discriminatory circumstances as they happen- noting the names and positions of the perpetrators (as well as of the people who may have overheard or witnessed the derogatory remarks or treatment), as well as when and where the discriminatory event(s) took place. In this way, you are creating a more corroborative account of what actually happened and securing acceptable pieces of evidence for future litigation.   Step up and notify the human resources department of your company about your problem. Provide accurate details and emphasize on how such discriminatory actions have taken a toll on your work performance. In this day and age, discrimination is not something you should just easily let slide or ignore. Don’t worry; there are laws that protect everyone from one sort of discrimination or another.   One visit to the Human Resources office is never enough. Any complaints should always be followed up. Inform and update your HR representative of specific situation changes, whether positive or negative.   Now, while you have duly notified the HR department of your dilemma, add extra effort in doing your job well. Being punctual and showing good work performance while keeping a low profile are the safest ways to emphasize that your claim is not simply due to your disobedience to company rules.   Finally, if your situation... read more

Californians to Vote on Raising Medical Malpractice Award Cap

Ballot initiative seeks to improve fairness of medical malpractice awards. Ten years ago, Steven Olsen fell on a stick while hiking with his family in the woods. The two-year-old was taken to the hospital for treatment, but doctors refused to give Steven a CAT scan to check for head injuries as his parents requested. The next day, a growing brain abscess had Steven back at the hospital, this time in a coma. Had the hospital provided the $800 CAT scan, Steven would not be blind and brain damaged today. A jury awarded $7.1 million to Steven and his family in a medical malpractice case, but due to a California cap on non-economic damages, the judge was forced to restrict the judgment to just $250,000, which seems far from fair compensation for a lifetime of suffering. Activists have been trying for years to get the medical malpractice cap adjusted to better provide for fair and equitable compensation to victims of medical malpractice like Steven. Now, their efforts seem poised to bear fruit. A ballot initiative will place the question of whether to raise the medical malpractice cap on non-economic damages to $1.1 million before California voters this November. The current $250,000 cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases dates back to 1975. Besides being an arbitrary and unfair number, this cap has not been adjusted for inflation. The result is a cap that is woefully out of touch with the needs of victims and their families. Lifting the cap will also help more victims to pursue claims against irresponsible medical professionals by providing a means for them to be... read more

Job Title More Important than Assignment in Proving Disability

Employees may be considered disabled if they cannot perform all duties listed for their job title or classification. Under both state and federal law, employers are required to make accommodations for employees with injuries or conditions that qualify as a disability and prevent them from carrying out the job duties required for their position or job title. As one recent case shows, this can hold true even if the employee is fully capable of performing all the duties required in their daily work routine. The case involved a California Highway Patrol Officer who was diagnosed with carpal tunnel and a degenerative back condition in 2004. Both of these conditions were found to be work-related and aggravated by filing reports and getting out of a patrol car respectively. The officer was transferred to a light-duty desk position so that he would not have to stress his back further. In 2006, the officer was examined again pursuant to a worker’s compensation claim. The examination found that he could not perform the “14 critical tasks” expected of all highway patrol officers, which included tasks such as dragging a 200-pound person 50 feet or handcuffing a person who was resisting arrest. The officer no longer had to do any of these tasks in his light-duty desk assignment, but nonetheless as a result of this finding the officer was found unfit for duty and sent home. He later chose to retire, but was denied industrial disability retirement. Upon appeal, the court found that the officer did in fact deserve disability because, although he may have been physically qualified to perform the duties that were... read more

Reverse Disability Discrimination Retaliation Lawsuit DOA

Court shuts down case alleging retaliation for complaining about coworker’s disability benefits Recently, a woman filed a lawsuit alleging retaliation for bringing up claims of reverse discrimination at her workplace. The plaintiff, Shajuana Ingram, was apparently upset at the preferential treatment that a coworker with a special needs child was receiving. Ingram claims that when she complained about the situation, she was fired as retaliation. She then brought a suit against her employer alleging violations under the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as illegal termination by retaliation. There are several things wrong with this case. First of all, the Americans with Disabilities Act prevents discrimination against individuals with disabilities, but does not contain any provision that could form a basis for an employee to claim discrimination due to lack of disability. Therefore Ingram’s lawsuit lacked a cause of action for any reverse disability claim. Secondly, complaining about another employee’s legal entitlements or protections is not the sort of protected activity that can serve as the basis of a retaliation claim. Employers are only prohibited from taking undeserved negative job action against an employee as punishment for protected activities such as whistleblowing, making good faith harassment or discrimination complaints, or exercising rights to workers comp or disability. With no legal basis for her claims, the court quickly shut down Ingram’s case, granting a summary judgment due to no cause for action on either the reverse discrimination or retaliation questions. One has to wonder where Ingram found her lawyer and what they were thinking. Of course, we do not have access to all the facts of the case, but it... read more

How Pregnancy Discrimination Hurts Companies, Women

Many things have been modernized when it comes to employment laws. Regardless of the changes, mothers are still facing difficulties when it comes to pregnancy and disability leave issues. Some experts have been focusing on these and other issues pertaining to the working woman’ world. But one has been catching our eye as of late: pregnancy discrimination. There are many employers who are concerned about this issue. To avoid problems, they should contact an attorney who’s specialized in employment law once worries kick in. The subject may seem fleeting at first, but the laws are clear about what should and should not happen so that your workplace is healthy to mothers. Between 1992 and 2011, the rates of pregnancy discrimination charges increased by 71 percent. Working women who are pregnant or who are coming back to work after pregnancy are often exposed to discriminatory practices. Each year, thousands of these women file charges against employers over pregnancy discrimination. This trend seems to show employers are not treating women who are pregnant in a fair way. What Is Pregnancy Discrimination Anyway? Discrimination occurs when employers choose to use dissimilar treatment toward qualified job applicants over their pregnancy. But that’s not the only time that happens. Medical conditions, pregnancy, childbirth are all conditions employers may discriminate applicants over. This type of behavior may involve a series of other scenarios as well. Refusing to bring a new job applicant on board over their medical condition or pregnancy is considered discrimination but employees who must put a hold on their work to give birth also suffer. Too often, women are forced to leave... read more

49ers Hit with Age Discrimination Lawsuit

According to several reports, at least two former 49ers employees have filed an age discrimination lawsuit against the team. The suit claims 49ers’ owner laid off the employees who were in their late 50s to “rebrand” the company. Just before the 49ers moved to a new stadium in Silicon Valley, reports claim several older employees suffered discrimination. Two of these employees assert they were laid off because the owner wanted to rebrand the team as a new “startup.” The suit claims the team’s owner did not offer valid reasons to have younger workers take the place of older employees. The company has been struggling with its reputation since hiring a former Facebook executive. Former employees claim the tech company executive referred to them as “legacy employees.” Insiders use this term in a derogatory fashion to refer to older workers. Former 49ers employees have added complaints linked to this treatment to their suit. Employer May Have Defended Discriminatory Practices In light of reports concerning the job applicants and their qualifications, many believe that former employees are right to pursue this case. The suit claims both job applicants were qualified for the position. Still, younger candidates were the ones who were chosen to take over. During meetings—one of the former employees claims—the company’s vice-president mocked him for his grey hair. This type of complaint is usually associated with age discrimination behaviors that should not be encouraged in the workplace. Co-workers claim former employees were exemplary professionals. Still, none of the consistently positive performance reviews were enough to help them to keep their jobs. When both men were asked to finally leave,... read more

How Will New Employment Laws Affect Your Business?

The legal landscape in California has changed a great deal, especially for employers. The rules recently added to the state’s employment law books are scheduled to take effect as soon as 2015 rolls in. As stipulated by the California Chamber of Commerce, employers are being urged to get acquainted to the new rules, particularly because their businesses could be greatly affected by some additions. One of the changes made to the California employment law is the expansion of the list of employees who are permitted to take time off in case there’s a need for emergency duty. Health care providers who are employees are now required to notify their employers in case they have been designated as part of emergency rescue parties, to which employers are required to respond by allowing the worker to perform his or her duty. Employees are urged to keep in mind that employers must be contacted at the very moment they lean they have been designated to work as emergency personnel. The new rules make it difficult for employers to prevent the employees from leaving if they must perform emergency duties, thus keeping health care providers free to help their communities. Other new rules have also added extra protections to interns and volunteers. According to the California Chamber of Commerce, to discriminate against volunteer and intern workers is now prohibited. This protection expansion serves as a means to offer interns and others the same laws that protect paid employees. Whether you’re an employer or an employee, staying aware of the changes made to labor and employment laws could help you to know just how... read more

New California Law Implements Changes to State Paid Sick Leave Policies

Employers should always be on top of legislative news in order to ensure they are aware of changes made to state employment law codes. Too often, employers who are not in the loop end up lacking in implementation, eventually putting their company in a tight spot. According to a series of reports, effective July 1st, 2015, employers will be required to offer paid sick leave to their employees. In accordance with the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 code, employers of all sizes are required to revise their sick leave policies in order to ensure they are complying with the new legislation. The new law instructs employers to provide at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. All employees are eligible once they have put in 30 hours of work. Once the employee has worked 30 days, he or she is eligible to claim one hour of paid sick leave. While the new law gives employees more sick leave hours overall, it also gives employers more flexibility to limit the use of this benefit. According to the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act, employers may either allow the accumulated paid sick leave to roll over to the next fiscal year or simply limit its use in that particular year to either three days or 24 hours. This was made possible since the law has required companies to provide the employee with his or her full paid amount of sick leave at the preamble of each employment year. If the employer is unable to do so, the carry–over will then be required. For more information... read more
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