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Don’t Be Afraid To Report Discrimination Or Other Unlawful Practices That Occur At Work

Quite often I will receive a call from an employee who is concerned that they are being discriminated, harassed and/or retaliated against at work. The first thing I will ask the employee is whether or not they have notified their employer that such unlawful practices are taking place. I am not surprised when they tell me they have not. The employee may be afraid to do so for fear of retaliation, and/or concerned that the employer will ignore their complaints. Employees are, however, expected to utilize their employer’s internal complaint procedures, if available, in order to show that they used reasonable care to avoid the harm resulting from the unlawful conduct. California Employers Are Required to Take All Reasonable Steps To Prevent Discrimination In The Workplace In California employee protection against workplace discrimination, harassment and retaliation is governed by Fair Employment and Housing Act (California Government Code §12940, et. seq.), otherwise known as the “FEHA” statute or, simply, FEHA. The FEHA is the state counterpart to Title VII of the federal 1964 Civil Rights Act, and is generally considered to provide broader protection and remedies than Title VII. The FEHA prohibits unlawful employment practices by employers who the FEHA statute defines as any person or entity with five or more employees. Pursuant to FEHA employers are required to “take all reasonable steps necessary to prevent discrimination” in the workplace. (Cal. Gov. Code § 12940 (k)). Reasonable steps included a prompt investigation of discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation claims, as is required to ensure a discrimination free environment. Employers are also required to establish antidiscrimination polices and to implement effective procedures...

Can Employers Pay Employees On A Piece-Rate Basis?

Employees can be compensated for their work in multiple ways.  While hourly wages and commissioned positions are the most well known, some employees are paid on a piece-rate work basis.  Workers paid piece-rate receive compensation for each unit of product created or each task that they perform.   At times, piece-rate work may pay an employee less than minimum wage for the number of hours that are actually worked.  A recent California decision, however, makes it clear that employers, in order to comply with California’s Wage & Hour law, cannot keep from paying their employees at least the minimum wage for the amount of time worked, even if an employee is paid for piece-rate basis. Gonzalez v. Downtown LA Motors In Gonzalez v. Downtown LA Motors, the plaintiffs were automotive service technicians that worked for the defendant, a Mercedes-Benz dealership that sells and services Mercedes-Benzes.  The technicians were paid on a piece-rate basis by which they were compensated for the amount of time Mercedes-Benz determined each specific repair task “should” take to complete (termed “flagged hours”).  This meant that technicians could work more hours on a repair than they would be credited for in their pay period.  The dealership also kept track of how many hours the technicians would spend at the work site, even if they were not working on a repair.  The dealership recorded these hours to ensure that each technician earned at least the amount of money they would have made if they were paid the minimum wage for each hour spent at the dealership.  If a technician was going to make less than what (s)he would have earned on minimum wage, the dealership would supplement their...
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