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Most Americans have the right to take up to three months of unpaid leave to recover from injuries or care for a sick family member. This right is protected under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). If you live in California, you’re also protected under the California Family Act (CFRA) and have even broader rights to take time off. 

Under these laws, a covered employer can’t take “adverse employment actions” against you, like termination, demotion, or cutting your hours when you return to work. However, many employers ignore this restriction and fire workers for taking protected leave anyway. 

If you’ve taken FMLA or CFRA leave and been fired for it, you may have grounds to take legal action against your employer. Here’s what you need to know about these laws and what you can do if you’ve already been fired for taking protected time off. 

How FMLA and CFRA Protect Your Job

Both the FMLA and CFRA require covered employers to grant covered employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per 12-month period to recover from illness or injury or to care for a sick family member. They also permit people to take time off for the addition of a child to their household through birth, adoption, or foster placement and for qualifying military exigencies. 

During this time, employees are not paid, but they remain employed, and their benefits must continue. Furthermore, when they return to work, they must be given their old job or one that is functionally indistinguishable. This allows workers to take time away from work for family reasons without risking their entire careers. 

California’s laws cover significantly more state residents than the FMLA does. Under the CFRA, covered businesses include any company with five or more employees, whether they are full-time or part-time. Workers qualify for CFRA leave if they have worked for an employer for at least one year and have worked at least 1250 hours for that employer in the past year. 

Furthermore, the state no longer requires specific legal relationships. Workers can take time off under CFRA to care for a “designated person,” including anyone to whom they are legally related or whose association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship. 

What Counts as Illegal Retaliation Under FMLA and CFRA?

Employers cannot retaliate against workers for taking FMLA or CFRA leave before, during, or after their time away. That is why this leave is considered “protected.” Employees are supposed to be able to take this time off without risking the loss of their job. 

However, too many employers either misunderstand CFRA or disregard it. These companies often view their workers as expendable resources and look for ways to discourage them from doing anything that may inconvenience the business. 

One way they do this is by finding excuses to terminate employees who request CFRA leave. This allows them to replace the worker with someone who does not need time away and discourages other employees from requesting their due time off. However, this type of termination is illegal, and the fired employee can file a claim against the business to get their job back and receive compensation for their losses. 

Termination because of CFRA leave isn’t the only type of retaliation the law bans. Other forms of illegal retaliation for CFRA leave include:

  • Cutting your hours before or after your time off
  • Demoting you 
  • Cutting your pay
  • Refusing to give you the same job or a functionally identical one when you return

In short, any adverse employment action your employer takes against you because you request CFRA or FMLA leave is unlawful. 

Benefits of Holding Your Employer Accountable for FMLA Discrimination

If you have suffered from an unlawful FMLA termination, you do not have to accept that your job is gone. You can take legal action against your employer to fight for your career and your lost pay. Pursuing your claim has benefits such as:

  • Job Reinstatement: If you’ve been fired, demoted, or had your hours cut, you can request that you be reinstated to your old job. Reinstatement will allow you to return to the work you did before suffering retaliation for your request, with the same pay and benefits as you had before you left. 
  • Damages for Lost Wages: Most forms of retaliation for requesting CFRA leave involve lost wages. Whether you’ve had your hours or pay cut or were fired, you can request back pay equivalent to the pay and benefits you did not receive. This is typically calculated based on the amount you made and the benefits you received in the months before you requested leave. 
  • Compensation for Emotional Distress: Losing your income is stressful, especially when you or a loved one is experiencing significant medical distress. You may be able to pursue financial compensation for the emotional damage your employer’s actions caused you. 

In short, you may be able to reclaim your job, the pay and benefits you lost, and even additional funds to make up for the stress of the matter. 

Proven Legal Representation for FMLA Discrimination Cases

You most likely have the right to take FMLA or CFRA leave in California to care for yourself or a loved one. If you’ve been fired for taking protected leave, you can stand up for your rights to keep your job, income, and benefits. The first step is to reach out to an experienced San Francisco employment law attorney. At Le Clerc & Le Clerc LLP, we specialize in protecting your right to fair employment under state and federal law. We have years of experience helping our clients address employment law violations like unlawful FMLA terminations. We are available to advocate on your behalf in court or at the negotiation table. Schedule your free consultation today to learn more.

In California, a state known for its progressive stance on human rights, gender identity discrimination in the workplace remains a significant concern. Here’s what you should know about the intersection of gender identity and workplace discrimination, what you can do as a transgender or gender-nonconforming person to prove discrimination, and how you can get help if your workplace is mistreating you.

Legal Protections in California

California law explicitly prohibits discrimination based on gender identity. The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) offers comprehensive protections, ensuring that individuals are judged on their merits rather than their identity. The state’s robust legal protections for people based on their gender identity are among the most comprehensive in the United States. Here’s an overview of these protections:

  • Fair Employment and Housing Act: This act prohibits discrimination in employment and housing based on gender identity and expression. Employers are not allowed to discriminate in hiring, promotion, termination, or any other employment condition. It also requires employers to allow employees to dress and use facilities in accordance with their identity.
  • Senate Bill 396 – Workplace Training: Known as the “Transgender Work Opportunity Act,” this legislation mandates that all California employers with five or more employees provide training on harassment based on gender, expression, and sexual orientation. This training must be part of the larger sexual harassment training and is required every two years.
  • California Restroom Sign Law: California law requires that all single-occupancy restrooms in any business or public place be identified as all-use restrooms, thereby providing safe and equal bathroom access for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals.

These laws reflect California’s commitment to protecting the rights and dignity of people based on their gender identity, ensuring they are treated equally and without discrimination in various aspects of public life.

Understanding Gender Identity Discrimination in the Workplace

What constitutes discrimination? Gender identity discrimination occurs when an employee is treated unfavorably because of their gendered identity or expression. This can manifest in various forms, including:

  • Hiring and Promotion Bias: Refusing to hire or promote or unfairly terminating an employee because they are transgender or do not conform to traditional norms.
  • Misgendering and Name Use: Consistently using incorrect pronouns or refusing to use an employee’s affirmed name, especially after being corrected, can be a form of harassment and discrimination.
  • Unequal Pay and Benefits: Paying a transgender or gender non-conforming employee less for the same work as their cisgender counterparts or denying them equal benefits.
  • Harassment: Subjecting an employee to derogatory comments, jokes, or actions based on their identity or expression, including verbal harassment or physical assault.
  • Denial of Access to Facilities: Denying a transgender employee access to restrooms and other facilities that align with their identity.
  • Exclusion from Workplace Activities: Excluding transgender employees from meetings, team activities, or other workplace events because of their gender identity.
  • Lack of Accommodations: Not providing reasonable accommodations for transgender employees, such as allowing time off for medical procedures related to transition.
  • Forced Disclosure: Requiring employees to disclose their transgender status or pressuring them to answer personal questions about their identity or transition process.
  • Dress Code Enforcement: Enforcing dress codes that are not inclusive of transgender or gender non-conforming employees or punishing them for dressing according to their identity.
  • Retaliation: Punishing an employee for filing a complaint about gender identity discrimination, participating in an investigation, or supporting another employee’s complaint.

If you experience any of these issues related to your gender expression, you may have the right to file a workplace discrimination or harassment claim

Proving Discrimination

Proving workplace gender identity discrimination can be challenging, but several steps and strategies can be employed to build a strong case:

  • Documenting Incidents: Documenting instances of discrimination is crucial. This can include keeping emails, recording dates and times of discriminatory comments or actions, and noting any witnesses.
  • Gathering Evidence: Gather any relevant company policies and performance reviews. Discrepancies between policy and practice or sudden negative changes in performance reviews can be indicative of discrimination.
  • Witness Testimonies: Witness accounts can be powerful evidence. Colleagues who are willing to corroborate your experiences can significantly strengthen your case.
  • Comparison with Cisgender Colleagues: If possible, show a contrast in treatment between you and cisgender colleagues, particularly in areas like pay, promotions, job assignments, or disciplinary actions.
  • Internal Company Channels: Start by exploring internal grievance mechanisms. Many companies have policies and procedures for addressing discrimination complaints.
  • Legal Assistance: If internal channels are unhelpful, seeking legal assistance is the next step. An experienced employment law attorney can help you determine the best way to build your case and pursue justice for the mistreatment you’ve experienced at work. 
  • Filing a Complaint: Your attorney will help you determine if you should file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). The DFEH investigates complaints of discrimination and can mediate or litigate on your behalf.

Remember, each case is unique, and the approach to proving discrimination will depend on the specific circumstances. It’s crucial to consult with experienced legal professionals to navigate the complexities of these cases effectively.

Get the Help You Need With Workplace Gender Discrimination Claims

Navigating gender identity discrimination in the California workplace is challenging, but understanding your rights and the avenues available for assistance is empowering. By documenting incidents, gathering evidence, and seeking appropriate help, transgender individuals can assert their rights and fight against workplace discrimination.

If you are experiencing discrimination in the workplace, it is in your best interest to consult with a legal professional who specializes in employment law. The skilled attorneys at Le Clerc & Le Clerc, LLP, can help. We have spent decades representing clients in complex employment rights disputes and have the knowledge and experience to help you pursue compensation for your mistreatment. Schedule your consultation with our California employment law firm to learn how we can help you. 

Workplaces are spaces where individuals of all backgrounds and beliefs should be able to thrive without the heavy burden of discrimination and harassment. With the rise of violence in the Middle East, antisemitic attitudes have resurfaced worldwide, including in the United States.

It is important to identify and combat antisemitism in the workplace to ensure that every employee is treated with respect and dignity. Below, we explore the nature of antisemitism, California’s legal framework for addressing these issues, and what constitutes antisemitism in the workplace. For Jewish employees in California facing workplace harassment and discrimination, it’s vital to know that there are broad legal protections and supports to combat this issue.

Understanding Antisemitism

Workplace discrimination refers to the unfair treatment of an employee or job applicant based on their race, ancestry, ethnicity, religion, religious practice, national origin, and more. Discriminatory behavior can manifest in various forms, including harassment, denial of promotions and opportunities, denial of reasonable accommodations for religious practices, and wrongful termination. Antisemitism generally refers to conduct that targets individuals because of their actual or perceived Jewish identity.

However, the Jewish identity is a complex matter, and antisemitism in the workplace does not have to fit into a single category to be prohibited. Judaism is a religion, and discrimination based on religious belief and practice is prohibited. However, not all Jews practice Judaism. Meaning, Jewish atheists are still Jews. This is because a person’s Jewish identity may be rooted in their ethnicity or ancestry: Ashkenazi, Sephardic, Mizrahi, Yemenite, and Beta Israel. Moreover, various Courts held that for purposes of anti-discrimination laws, Jews are a race. Promulgation of stereotypes about Jews is antisemitism based on negative perceptions about the Jewish identity, often without regard for ethnicity, ancestry or religious adherence. Finally, the State of Israel is associated with Jewishness, and vice versa. Thus, antisemitism can sometimes take the form of perceived national origin discrimination and harassment. 

While antisemitism does not neatly fit into a single legal checkbox, California law offers broad protections despite the nuanced concept of Jewish identity. Governor Gavin Newsom stated, “California already prohibits discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation and other characteristics, and state law specifies that these civil rights protections shall be liberally construed.” While his statement was made in the context of caste discrimination, it confirms that when ethnicity, ancestry, national origin and religion intersect, California law provides broad protections. 

California’s Legal Framework for Combating Antisemitic Discrimination

California has robust anti-discrimination laws in place to protect employees against workplace harassment and discrimination, including antisemitism. 

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits discrimination based on various factors, including religion, race, ancestry, ethnicity and national origin. Under FEHA:

  • Employers with five or more employees must provide a workplace free from discrimination and harassment.
  • Discrimination claims can be filed with the Civil Rights Department (CCR).
  • Employees have the right to file a civil lawsuit in court against their employer as well as individual harassers in the workplace.

What Constitutes Antisemitism in the Workplace?

Antisemitism in the workplace can take various forms, and it’s crucial to recognize these behaviors and conduct. Some common examples of antisemitic discrimination include:

  1. Derogatory Comments and Harassment: Engaging in unwelcome comments, jokes or slurs related to the Jewish identity.
  2. Exclusion: Isolating Jewish employees, excluding them from work-related activities, or making them feel unwelcome.
  3. Religious Bias: Treating employees differently because of their Jewish beliefs and practices, such as scheduling conflicts on holidays or days of significance, e.g., Shabbat.
  4. Stereotyping: Spreading negative stereotypes about Jewish people.
  5. Hostile Work Environment: Creating an environment where Jewish employees feel threatened, unwelcome, or uncomfortable due to their identity.
  6. Retaliation: Punishing employees for reporting antisemitic behavior or discrimination.

Consult Expert Workplace Discrimination Lawyers About Antisemitism

Antisemitism in the workplace, harassment and discrimination, is unacceptable and illegal in California. Understanding your rights, recognizing the signs of antisemitism, and taking appropriate legal action can help combat discrimination and promote a fair and inclusive work environment.If you’re facing antisemitic workplace discrimination, don’t hesitate to seek legal guidance. An experienced attorney, such as those at Le Clerc & Le Clerc, LLP, can help you navigate the legal process, gather evidence, and represent your interests effectively. By taking action against workplace discrimination and harassment, you protect your rights and contribute to a more equitable workplace for all employees. Remember, you don’t have to face workplace harassment alone. Schedule your consultation at Le Clerc & Le Clerc, LLP, to learn more about how we can help.

Navigating the workplace and personal faith can sometimes feel like walking a tightrope, especially when it comes to observing religious holidays with your family. In California, a state celebrated for its cultural and religious diversity, understanding your rights as an employee to take time off for religious observances is crucial. 

Whether you’re celebrating Yom Kippur, Eid, Diwali, Christmas, or any other religious event, it’s important to know that your rights are safeguarded, allowing you to honor your traditions and spend time with your family while maintaining your professional commitments. Let’s delve into the details of these rights and the steps you can take to exercise them.

California’s Laws Regarding Religious Accommodations for Time Off

In California, employers are required by law to provide reasonable accommodations to employees who are unable to work on specific days due to religious holidays or observances. This includes excusing employees from performing duties that conflict with their religious beliefs. These laws come into play in workplaces with five or more employees, aligning with California’s broader employment laws and standards.

Reasonable accommodations, including time off for a religious holiday, are determined on a case-by-case basis. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, and each situation is evaluated individually. Employers must engage in an interactive process with employees to discuss any requests for religious accommodation. This process involves both the employer and the employee working together to find an acceptable solution that respects the employee’s religious needs while considering the employer’s operational requirements.

A reasonable accommodation may include, but is not limited to, job restructuring, job reassignment, modification of work practices, or allowing time off. The accommodation should aim to eliminate the conflict between the religious practice and the job requirements. For example, if an employee has worked extra hours or days, they may be allowed time off equivalent to this amount to observe a religious holiday.

Employers are expected to grant reasonable accommodations unless doing so would result in “undue hardship.” This is a high threshold to meet and implies that an accommodation should be given unless it causes significant difficulty or expense to the employer.

The employee bears the burden of providing notice of the conflict between their religious beliefs and work requirements. This means that employees need to inform their employer about their need for time off for religious observances.

Has Your Right to Religious Accommodations Been Violated?

If you’re not sure whether your rights to accommodations have been violated, here are some factors you can look for:

  • Refusal to Accommodate: If your employer outright refuses to accommodate your religious practices without consideration, it’s likely discriminatory.
  • Failure to Engage in Interactive Process: Employers are required to engage in a good faith interactive process to discuss accommodation requests. Failure to do so can be a sign of violation.
  • Retaliation: If you face negative job actions like demotion, termination, reduction in hours, or harassment after requesting religious accommodations, your rights may be violated.
  • Inconsistent Policies: If accommodations are granted to some employees but not to others in similar situations, this may indicate discrimination.
  • Undue Hardship Claim Without Justification: Employers may deny accommodations by claiming undue hardship, but this must be based on concrete evidence, like significant expense or difficulty, not mere inconvenience.

How to Take Legal Action for Workplace Religious Discrimination

Taking legal action for workplace religious discrimination can be a multi-step process. It’s important to understand your rights and the procedures involved. Here’s a general guide on how to proceed:

  • Document the Discrimination: Keep detailed records of any instances of discrimination. This includes dates, times, places, names of the people involved, and a description of what occurred. Save any related emails, memos, or other written materials.
  • Seek Legal Advice: Consider consulting with an attorney experienced in employment law. An attorney can provide guidance specific to your situation and can help you navigate the process of filing a charge and a lawsuit, if necessary.
  • Report the Discrimination Internally: Most companies have a process for filing discrimination complaints. Report the discrimination to your HR department or another designated internal body. Follow your company’s procedures, and keep a record of your complaint and any responses.
  • File a Complaint with the CRD: If the issue is not resolved internally, you can file a complaint with the California Civil Rights Department (CRD). The CRD is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. You must file a charge of discrimination with the CRD before you can file a job discrimination lawsuit against your employer.
  • Investigation by the CRD: Once you file a charge, the CRD may investigate your complaint. The EEOC may mediate between you and your employer, ask your employer to respond to your charge, and gather information from your employer and other sources.
  • Notice of Right to Sue: If the CRD determines that discrimination has occurred, they may take legal action. However, if they decide not to sue, or if you request it, they will issue you a “Notice of Right to Sue,” which permits you to file a lawsuit in a court of law.
  • File a Lawsuit: If you receive a Notice of Right to Sue from the EEOC, or if the EEOC has not completed its investigation within 180 days, you can file a lawsuit against your employer. This lawsuit can be filed in either federal or state court.

If your case goes to court, be prepared for the legal process. This may include discovery (gathering of evidence), depositions (formal statements made under oath), and, eventually, a trial. An experienced attorney can help you prepare for this process and consider more efficient solutions such as mediation. 

Seek Expert Legal Counsel for Your Religious Discrimination Case

Recognizing a violation of your right to religious accommodations requires a clear understanding of the laws, knowing what an appropriate accommodation looks like, and being aware of your employer’s response to your request. If you believe your rights have been violated, it’s important to take the appropriate steps to address the issue, including seeking legal advice.

At Le Clerc & Le Clerc LLP, we can help. Learn more about how we can assist you with your religious discrimination claim by scheduling your free consultation with our San Francisco employment law firm today.

Pay inequality based on gender is an issue that persists in many workplaces, including those in the diverse and progressive state of California. To address this problem, it’s essential to understand the concept of substantially equal work, how California laws protect equal compensation, and the steps you can take to address compensation discrimination. This article aims to shed light on these important topics and empower both women and men to confront unequal pay in the workplace.

Defining Substantially Equal Work

Substantially equal work refers to jobs that require similar skills, effort, and responsibility, and are performed under similar working conditions. In essence, it means that individuals performing these roles should receive the same compensation, regardless of gender. The principle of equal pay for equal work has been a cornerstone of the fight against workplace gender discrimination.

However, achieving substantially equal pay has proven to be a formidable challenge despite the existence of laws designed to prevent such discrimination.

California Laws Protecting Equal Work

In California, several laws are in place to address workplace gender discrimination, including unequal pay for relatively equal work. One of the most critical pieces of legislation is the California Equal Pay Act (EPA), which prohibits employers from paying employees less than those of other genders for substantially similar work.

To establish a violation of the Equal Pay Act, an employee must show that the employer pays employees of the opposite sex more for comparable responsibilities and that the wage difference cannot be justified by factors such as seniority, merit, education, or any other bona fide business necessity.

In addition, California’s Fair Pay Act, the 2015 expansion of the EPA, provides additional protections for workers. The new law made changes, including:

  • Removing the requirement that workers be compared must work at the same establishment, allowing better comparison across large businesses.
  • Strengthening the definition of a “bona fide” business reason to pay people differently; companies must now prove the differential is both job-related and consistent with a business necessity.
  • Preventing employers from using employees’ previous salaries as justification for wage differentials.
  • Providing anti-retaliation protections for workers who make EPA claims.

Finally, as of January 1, 2017, race and ethnicity are protected under California’s EPA. This makes filing a compensation inequality claim substantially easier in California than it is under federal law. 

Gender and Parent Bias in the Workplace

Despite these legal protections, pay inequality remains a significant issue. Gender bias and, more specifically, anti-parent bias, continue to influence compensation decisions. Mothers, in particular, often experience lower wages and face challenges in career advancement due to societal expectations related to childcare responsibilities compared to childless women and men. In contrast, fathers often receive higher wages and more career opportunities than childless men or women. 

Addressing gender and parent bias in the workplace is crucial to achieving substantially equal pay for all. This involves dismantling traditional gender roles and challenging discriminatory practices that perpetuate compensation disparities.

Examples of bias include: 

  • Withholding a bonus from a working mother when one was granted to a childless coworker on the grounds that the mother must be “less dedicated” to her job.
  • Conversely, offering a working father a larger bonus because he needs to “support his family” when other colleagues aren’t given the same bonus.
  • Denying working mothers the opportunity to work overtime because of their gender.
  • Offering women lower raises or fewer benefits on the assumption they’ll be leaving the workforce anyway. 

Any of these situations may be grounds for an EPA claim under California law. 

Steps to Address Substantially Equal Work Disputes

If you believe you are a victim of compensation discrimination, taking action is essential. Here are some steps to consider:

  • Gather Evidence: Collect evidence demonstrating you receive less pay than colleagues of other genders despite performing comparable work. This may include pay stubs, job descriptions, performance reviews, and any relevant communications.
  • Consult with an Attorney: Seek the guidance of an experienced workplace discrimination lawyer. An attorney can help you understand your rights, assess the strength of your case, and guide you through the legal process.
  • Negotiation and Mediation: Attempt to resolve the issue through negotiation or mediation. Many disputes can be resolved through open dialogue and cooperation between employees and employers. If your employer or HR is unaware of the discrepancy, simply filing a complaint and attending a meeting with your attorney may be all that’s necessary to resolve the situation. 
  • File a Complaint: If negotiations fail, you may consider filing a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Your attorney can assist with this process.
  • Consider a Lawsuit: If other avenues do not lead to a resolution, you may pursue a lawsuit against your employer for compensation discrimination. Your attorney will help you build a strong case and navigate the legal proceedings.

You Deserve Equal Pay

Achieving substantially equal pay for substantially equal work is an ongoing battle, but it is one that must be fought to break the barriers based on gender roles. California’s Equal Pay Act provides a legal framework to address unequal pay, but it’s essential to understand and exercise your rights.The persistence of compensation discrimination, particularly related to gender and anti-parent bias, demands our continued attention and action. Seeking the guidance of an experienced workplace discrimination lawyer can be a critical step in holding employers accountable for unequal pay and promoting a more equitable and inclusive workplace. Remember that your fight for equal pay is not just for yourself but for all those who deserve fair and just compensation for their work, regardless of gender. You can learn more about getting help for Equal Pay Act claims by scheduling a consultation with the experienced workplace discrimination attorneys at Le Clerc & Le Clerc LLP.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), not even other branches of the federal government are above fair employment standards. In a remarkable ruling, the EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations director ruled that a pregnancy discrimination class action lawsuit against the Homeland Security Department’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency may proceed.

The initial lawsuit was filed by current and former workers of CBP who had been pregnant during their employment there. According to the plaintiffs, the agency required all pregnant workers to surrender some duties and transition to temporary light duty status. They argue that this violates their rights under both CBP policy and the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), which both state that pregnant employees should only be placed on light duty if they request it. The plaintiffs report that the forced transition to light duty had discriminatory consequences, including:

  • Fewer opportunities to receive overtime
  • Reduced chance for promotion
  • Less access to professional training and development
  • More difficult scheduling
  • The loss of the right to carry a firearm and the later requirement to requalify to carry a firearm

Furthermore, they claim that non-pregnant staff who were placed on light duty were treated differently because those workers typically requested the transfer. In contrast, pregnant employees allegedly never had the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to carry out their duties. 

More than two dozen women have so far signed onto the class action lawsuit. It was initially certified to proceed by a regional EEOC judge, but CPB used its discretion to reject that decision and appeal. The agency argued that since it was against policy for pregnant workers to be forced onto temporary light duty, the complainants “lacked commonality” and also that they failed to prove that other women had faced similar discrimination. 

However, the EEOC rejected the appeal and recertified the lawsuit. The recertification ruling made it clear that a consistent discriminatory pattern of behavior may be grounds for a class action regardless of whether it is against an organization’s written policy. It further stated that the consistent pattern identified by the complainants constituted commonality and indicated there were likely other victims. 

The case is an excellent demonstration of how pregnancy discrimination claims may become necessary and how they can proceed even if an employer disputes the claim. If you have faced similar discrimination for your pregnancy, your employer may be violating your rights. 

Your Rights as a Pregnant Worker

Both state and federal laws protect pregnant people’s rights to work. For example, under the PDA and the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), an employer must treat pregnant workers any other employee with similar abilities. If a pregnant person can still perform all their normal job duties, the employer cannot treat them differently due to their pregnancy against their wishes. Meanwhile, pregnant employees who cannot perform some of their duties must be treated like any temporarily disabled employee.

California laws also grant expecting mothers the right to fair employment regardless of pregnancy status. This includes individual rights such as:

  • The chance to take up to four months of pregnancy disability leave if medically necessary.
  • The opportunity to request a transfer to light duty for the duration of the pregnancy.
  • The ability to request reasonable accommodations to continue performing their normal duties.
  • The protection from adverse employment actions and discrimination due to the pregnancy. 

When the rights listed above are violated, the violation is considered pregnancy discrimination. Examples of unlawful workplace pregnancy discrimination include:

  • Firing, demoting, or involuntarily altering a worker’s duties because they became pregnant.
  • Refusing an employee’s request for light duty that would be granted to a similarly temporarily disabled male employee.
  • Refusing to provide reasonable accommodations for the duration of their pregnancy.
  • Denying protected leave for covered employees.
  • Retaliating against a worker who requests accommodations, takes protected leave, or reports a pregnancy discrimination incident.

How Pregnancy Discrimination Negatively Affects Working Parents

The purpose of pregnancy and disability protection laws is to ensure all workers have access to fair employment based on their abilities and protect them against bias. Expecting mothers are frequently subject to significant workplace discrimination due to societal biases against women. 

Unfortunately, this can make it significantly harder for working parents to support their families. Some of the most harmful impacts of workplace pregnancy discrimination include:

  • Being forced out of the workforce: People who are wrongfully terminated or face other adverse employment action due to pregnancy are less likely to remain in or re-enter the workforce, preventing them from financially supporting their families.
  • Receiving lower performance evaluations: Many expecting mothers face discrimination due to their need for protected leave and accommodations. Biased supervisors may rate their performance lower than workers with similar abilities who are not expecting. 
  • Receiving fewer career opportunities: Expecting and current mothers often struggle to receive the same opportunities for advancement, often due to assumptions that they are less dedicated to their careers or have less time to train or take on new responsibilities.
  • Reducing lifetime earnings: Because of all the issues above, many mothers face lower overall lifetime earnings than their peers. 

These types of discrimination prevent pregnant workers from fully realizing their career goals and may permanently depress their economic opportunities and those of their families. That’s exactly why pregnancy discrimination is considered unlawful. 

Experienced Legal Counsel for Workers Experiencing Pregnancy Discrimination

You have options if you have experienced discrimination such as forced reassignment to light duty due to a pregnancy. At Le Clerc & Le Clerc LLP, our skilled attorneys have decades of experience pursuing justice for workers experiencing discriminatory or retaliatory action by their employers. Schedule your free consultation today to discuss your needs and learn more about how we can help you achieve compensation for your employer’s unfair actions.

The California legislature prioritized workers’ rights during the summer session, and you’ll likely benefit from it. Governor Gavin Newsom signed a wide range of bills into law in October that will come into effect between now and January 1, 2024. 

These new laws cover various topics that should impact every employee in California. Let’s break down the most important employment regulations you should know about for next year. 

New Protected Leave Laws

By far the area of law that saw the most expansion is the requirement for protected leave. California employers are already held to some of the most rigorous leave laws in the country, with guaranteed sick leave for most workers, widespread parental leave availability, and family and disability leave options. However, the legislature determined the current requirements did not go far enough. As of October, Governor Newsom signed two additional bills into law expanding the right to leave: Senate Bills (SB) 616 and 848.

SB 616 has been referred to as the Paid Sick Leave Expansion law, and that covers much of what the new law accomplishes. It raises the current required number of paid sick days per year from three days or 24 hours to five days or 40 hours. 

Additionally, SB 616 updates the requirements for sick leave accrual and carryover. Companies offering sick leave by accrual must grant employees at least one hour of leave for every 30 hours worked. They must also permit employees to carry over up to 40 hours of sick leave each year. These changes should help employees better care for themselves and their families without sacrificing their financial well-being.

SB 848 is just as important for families. It institutes a new form of protected leave for “Reproductive Loss.” Employers may not deny employees’ requests for protected unpaid time off work after experiencing a reproductive loss. This includes miscarriages, stillbirths, unsuccessful surrogacies or assisted reproduction, and failed adoptions. SB 848 provides workers with time to grieve and physically recover after an often grueling and traumatic loss. 

New Retaliation and Discrimination Laws

Two new retaliation and discrimination bills were passed into law this October. The first, SB 497, is invaluable for anyone who has faced workplace retaliation in California. The bill establishes a rebuttable presumption of retaliation if a worker is fired or otherwise penalized within 90 days of engaging in protected activities.

A rebuttable presumption means that the courts are instructed to assume something has occurred until proven otherwise. Under SB 497, state courts will assume that employers are retaliating against employees if they take adverse employment action against them within 90 days of reporting discrimination, retaliation, or equal pay violations. Employers must provide a legitimate reason for the adverse action other than retaliation, or the case will be decided in favor of the employees. This change makes it substantially easier for workers statewide to file retaliation claims successfully. 

Another bill that protects workers is SB 700, which institutes new protections for off-the-clock cannabis use. The law prohibits employers from requesting information from applicants or employees about their history of cannabis use to reduce the likelihood of unlawful discrimination against these workers. 

It’s worth noting one bill that was not passed. The legislature advanced SB 403, which was intended to make caste a protected class like race or religion. However, Governor Newsom vetoed the bill, stating, “Because discrimination based on caste is already prohibited under these existing categories, this bill is unnecessary.” In other words, he declined to sign the bill into law because caste discrimination is already unlawful. 

New Restrictions on Noncompete Agreements

A pair of new bills will make noncompete agreements not just void but illegal. In California, Business & Professions Code §16600 already renders noncompete clauses and contracts invalid and unenforceable. However, it does not prevent employers from including these clauses in new employment contracts, which may have a chilling effect on workers’ willingness to exercise their rights. 

SB 699 and Assembly Bill (AB) 1076 change this. AB 1076 adds §16600.1 to the Code, which makes it unlawful to add a noncompete clause in any employment contract and is retroactive to new agreements issued on or after January 1, 2022. Meanwhile, SB 699 states that §16600.1 applies to employment contracts signed anywhere in the country if enforced in California. It also grants employees a private right of action against companies that attempt to place a noncompete in new agreements. 

Public Prosecution for Labor Code Violations

Finally, AB 594 has been passed into law. This bill grants city and district attorneys the right to take civil or criminal legal action against employers violating the state Labor Code. Furthermore, it clarifies that employment agreements that prevent class action lawsuits or require arbitration do not affect public attorneys’ right to enforce the Labor Code.

This substantially expands the options for workers facing discrimination, retaliation, or other rights violations. Permitting parties other than the state labor commissioner to enforce the Code increases the likelihood that a given claim is pursued. It also ensures employers can’t avoid liability for labor violations through restrictive employment contracts. 

Stand Up for Your New Employment Rights

Over the next few months, the new laws above will be going into effect statewide. You will soon have more options if you have been denied protected leave, face retaliation or discrimination, or have an unlawful noncompete clause in your employment contract. 

No matter what mistreatment you’re facing at work, the skilled employment law attorneys at Le Clerc & Le Clerc LLP can help. Our team is dedicated to advocating for the rights of California workers. We can help you better understand your rights, determine if you have a case, and represent you in court. Schedule your consultation with our San Francisco law firm today to learn how we can support your rights. 

California’s laws regarding workplace discrimination have just become more employee-friendly. On October 8, Governor Gavin Newsom officially signed the Equal Pay and Anti-Retaliation Protection Act into law. This bill, officially titled Senate Bill (SB) 497, makes it substantially easier for employees to establish a retaliation claim in court successfully. 

Between SB 497 and California’s existing laws, it may be easier for employees to demonstrate retaliation than to prove discrimination. Below, we discuss how retaliation and discrimination differ, how the new law may make retaliatory actions easier to prove, and what you can do if you believe your employer has retaliated against you for a protected activity. 

Retaliation vs. Discrimination: How Are They Different?

Retaliation and discrimination are both ways that a company can violate its employees’ protected rights. However, the two violations occur in different contexts

Discrimination is taking adverse employment action or creating a hostile workplace because of someone’s protected characteristics. California law considered protected characteristics to include:

  • Sex, gender, and gender identity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Race, ethnicity, and national origin
  • Religion
  • Marital status
  • Disability
  • Citizenship
  • Primary language
  • Familial status and pregnancy

An employer cannot choose to fire, demote, cut hours or pay, or otherwise treat someone poorly because of these characteristics. If it does, it commits discrimination, and the victim has the right to submit a claim against them.

In contrast, retaliation is taking adverse action against someone because they exercised a protected right or engaged in a protected activity. The person’s characteristics don’t matter, just their behavior. Protected activities include:

  • Participating in religious events
  • Requesting or taking family leave
  • Requesting reasonable accommodations for a disability or pregnancy
  • Submitting a whistleblower complaint for discrimination or safety concerns
  • Filing a discrimination lawsuit against the company

If a company penalizes an employee in any way for these activities, it may be retaliatory, and the victim could file a lawsuit. 

Why Retaliation Claims May Be More Successful

Proving discrimination in court is often a complex process. Most employers are well aware that discriminating against employees for protected characteristics is illegal. As such, employers that discriminate are often doing so unintentionally, which can make collecting evidence to prove a claim more difficult. Instead of collecting direct statements, plaintiffs may need to gather substantial evidence from the company to establish a trend of discriminatory actions or the creation of a hostile workplace. 

Historically, this was also true for retaliation claims. Workers had to build a strong prima facie case for their claim before it would be considered. This frequently made it difficult for employees’ claims to be taken seriously. 

However, SB 497 should make it significantly simpler to establish retaliation in court. The new law creates a “rebuttable presumption of retaliation” if a worker is penalized or fired within 90 days of engaging in specific protected activities. Covered activities include: 

  • Filing a claim under the Equal Pay Act
  • Filing a complaint with the California Civil Rights Department
  • Reporting legal and regulatory violations to supervisors or other employees
  • Submitting a whistleblower report to a government agency

If you do any of the above and your employer fires or punishes you for any reason in the next 90 days, SB 497 instructs the court to assume that it was a retaliatory action automatically. The responsibility to prove otherwise falls on your employer, which must prove that the action was a reasonable and non-retaliatory reaction to unrelated circumstances. Only then will you need to demonstrate that the action was retaliatory despite your employer’s reasoning. This makes it significantly easier to establish your case in court and seek compensation for your losses.

Furthermore, a retaliation claim can succeed even if a discrimination claim does not. You do not need to win or even pursue a discrimination lawsuit in court to experience retaliation. Regardless of the outcome of your discrimination claim, any punitive action your employer takes against you as a result is considered retaliatory and may be grounds for its own lawsuit.

Proving Workplace Retaliation Claims in California

If you suspect you’re experiencing retaliation, it’s worth taking action. Your employer’s actions have likely cost you wages, benefits, and career opportunities. You deserve compensation for these losses, and a retaliation lawsuit can help you pursue justice. 

SB 497 makes this easier. However, if your employer provides a reasonable non-retaliatory reason for the adverse action taken against you, you will need to prove that you experienced retaliation. Depending on your circumstances, you may accomplish this by:

  • Collecting written communications: The strongest evidence for retaliatory action is a written statement by your manager or employer. These may include texts, emails, or other written messages. If you have received any threats or other communications stating that you will be punished or fired for engaging in a protected activity, save them immediately for use in your claim. 
  • Talking to your coworkers: Another valuable form of evidence is eyewitness testimony. Even if your employer has not written anything down, your colleagues are likely aware of what’s going on. If you were verbally warned in front of others, or if your coworkers have noticed that you’re being treated differently, they can testify on your behalf. 
  • Demonstrating a change in behavior by your employer: You can further support your case by showing that your employer began treating you differently after you engaged in a protected activity. If your hours were cut, your performance reviews dropped significantly, or you were fired shortly after requesting family leave, that strongly suggests retaliatory action.

If you believe you have experienced workplace retaliation, SB 497 now makes it easier to hold your employer accountable. We encourage you to reach out to the experienced employment attorneys at Le Clerc & Le Clerc LLP to discuss your situation. We can help you determine whether you have a case and the best path forward to achieve compensation for your losses. To learn more about how we can advocate for you, schedule your consultation with our California retaliation law firm today.

According to a recent study, San Francisco and Fremont are the fourth- and sixth-best cities for working parents in the US. These Bay Area locales have more than just nice weather and high wages. They also offer a suite of other benefits and protections that make raising children while working full-time easier. 

But what makes a place a good option for parents? There are a lot of factors involved. According to CoworkingCafe, which performed the review, it considered details ranging from working conditions to education opportunities to health and environmental concerns. The study even left out certain critical features, such as protections for workers with families, that might have elevated Fremont and San Francisco even higher. Let’s break down what the study looked at, what it left out, and what you can do to make the most of these features. 

What Makes Cities Parent-Friendly?

There’s a lot to consider regarding parent-friendly locations. The CoworkingCafe study rated cities based on three categories:

  • Education (40%): How affordable is childcare? How well do public schools rank? How available is public education?
  • Work (40%): How many people work remotely or in remote-eligible roles?
  • Health & Environment (20%): How many pediatricians are there? How much green space is there? What is the air quality like?

While these are valuable tools, the study prioritizes remote work and coworking solutions over other working conditions due to its source. Other factors that should be considered when determining a city’s true friendliness toward working parents include:

  • Cost of living: How affordable is an area to live in? How much does housing and transport cost?
  • Minimum and median wages: How much can parents expect to earn to support their families?
  • Parental and family leave policies: If a worker wants to start or expand their family, will they be able to take time off?
  • Paid leave opportunities: Can a new parent take time off to bond with their child without sacrificing their financial stability?
  • General worker protections: If an employee is forced to leave their job due to discrimination, harassment, or wrongful termination, what options do they have?

Considering these factors alongside the CoworkingCafe review may lead to a much more well-rounded understanding of what makes a city good for parents. 

Why San Francisco and Fremont Are Working Parents’ Paradise

Whether you consider the nationwide review on its own or add the extra factors listed above, the Bay Area looks like an excellent option for parents. 

Fremont is the number six city for working parents nationally because of its excellent environment and comparatively low childcare expenses. Meanwhile, San Francisco is named the number four city nationwide because of its large share of remote-eligible jobs, which signifies that workers have substantial flexibility in where they work. That flexibility is often indicative of positive work environments. It also has great air quality and excellent medical infrastructure. 

The report leaves out the sheer number of protections offered to working parents in California. Among the most valuable state initiatives to support families are:

  • Paid Family Leave (PFL): Eligible workers can receive PFL assistance worth up to 70% of their average income for eight weeks while welcoming new children to the family. 
  • School-related leave: Workers can take up to 40 hours a year off work to manage issues related to their children’s schooling or daycare, including attending open houses, parent-teacher conferences, and more. 
  • Medical and pregnancy leave: The state has some of the best protected leave policies in the country. Employees may take protected time off to ensure a healthy pregnancy or care for sick children. 
  • CFRA coverage: Compared to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) extends protected leave to a much larger portion of the working population. 

These policies apply statewide, giving workers greater options to care for their children. San Francisco still edges ahead of Fremont, though, due to two critical city laws:

  • Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance (FFWO): Employees covered by the FFWO may request flexible or predictable work schedules to simplify caregiving responsibilities toward their children. Additionally, employers may not retaliate against workers who request these schedules. 
  • Paid Parental Leave Ordinance: Employers are required to supplement the income of workers who are currently receiving state PFL assistance to equal 100% of their normal income. 

These policies make San Francisco indisputably one of the best places for working parents nationwide. 

Make the Most of Your Rights as a Working Parent in California

There’s no doubt that California laws make working full-time easier for parents. However, these policies only help you if you know your rights. Employers may still attempt to discriminate and retaliate against workers requesting protected leave and accommodations despite the law. This may look like:

  • Refusing to grant protected leave without providing a reason
  • Threatening to fire you for asking or taking protected leave
  • Terminating your employment during leave
  • Cutting your hours, pay, or responsibilities before or after taking time off
  • Refusing to provide reasonable accommodations while you’re pregnant

If you have experienced any of these problems, you likely have the right to take legal action. You may be able to hold your employer accountable for violating your rights under state and municipal law and pursue compensation for your losses.At Le Clerc & Le Clerc LLP, we’re dedicated to protecting employees from rights violations like these. We are prepared to advocate for you in court or at the negotiation table to help you achieve fair compensation for a lost job, pay, or refused accommodations. Schedule your free consultation with our Bay Area employment law firm to learn how we can protect your rights as a working parent in California.

After months of nationwide high-profile labor and employment disputes, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has set new standards for evaluating employee rights violations. These standards come from its decision in the case Stericycle, Inc., 372 NLRB No. 113 (2023). 

Under its new standard, the NLRB will take a much more employee-friendly approach when determining if a company’s workplace rules violate the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). This law primarily addresses “labor relations,” such as unionization, but it heavily impacts other elements of employment law as well. 

By revising its approach to evaluating company rules for rights violations, the NLRB has made it easier for all employees to exercise their rights. Let’s explore how the NLRA protects workers nationwide, how the NLRB has changed its evaluation approach, and what that means for you. 

Your Right to Free Speech Under the NLRA

One of the laws that makes the US unique is the enshrinement of free speech as a fundamental right. However, freedom of speech means that the government may not restrict or penalize people from saying things; it does not prevent private parties from choosing to end relationships over someone’s statements. 

This means that in at-will employment states like California, employers can fire workers who make statements they disagree with. For example, it is usually legal for an employer to terminate someone for swearing or making crude remarks. However, laws like the NLRA designate types of protected speech and activities that cannot be used to make adverse employment decisions. 

The NLRA is a remarkably broad law that applies whether employees are on the clock or off-duty. Under the law, protected activities include things like:

  • Complaining about workplace issues with colleagues or in public
  • Speaking to reporters, the public, or the employer’s customers or vendors about working conditions and concerns
  • Talking about pay, benefits, and working conditions among coworkers
  • Making safety reports to state or federal agencies
  • Organizing or going on strike

Of these activities, only the last is limited to unionization efforts. The rest are common occurrences in most workplaces, regardless of whether the employees want to unionize. The NLRA protects all workers, not just organized groups.

NLRB Standards After the Stericycle, Inc. Decision

One of the major duties of the NLRB is reviewing potential violations of the NLRA. This includes reviewing company rules to see if they may have a “chilling” effect that discourages workers from exercising their rights. 

Since 2017, the agency has performed these reviews based on the standard it set in its decision on Boeing Co. (2017). Under the Boeing standard, the NLRB stated it would consider the impact of “reasonably interpreted” workplace rules on workers’ ability to exercise their rights and the employers’ justifications for the rules. This standard was interpreted as being particularly favorable for employers because it instructed the Board to deem rules to be lawful if employers’ needs outweighed their potential adverse impacts on employee rights. In other words, the Boeing standard meant that employers’ profits could be and were prioritized over individuals’ rights. 

In the Stericycle decision, the NLRB reversed its stance. In its new decision, it stated that the Boeing standard permitted employers to “adopt overbroad work rules that chill employees’ exercise of their rights” and that employers were not required to tailor their rules to promote their “legitimate and substantial business interests without unnecessarily burdening employee rights.” 

The new standard is heavily employee-focused. The Board states that future and currently active rule reviews will be performed “from the perspective of an employee who is subject to the rule and economically dependent on the employer, and who also contemplates engaging in protected concerted activity.” In other words, the NLRB will not take into account the employer’s justifications for rules and will instead focus entirely on the perspective of a potential employee. If it is found that an employee could reasonably interpret a rule to be restrictive, then it will be deemed unlawful. 

Do Your Employer’s Rules Violate Your Rights?

The Stericycle standard is excellent news for workers nationwide. The Board has clarified what constitutes protected actions by broadening the definition of unlawful rules. More importantly, the new measure makes it clear that simply having unlawful rules on the books could violate employee rights, regardless of enforcement. 

Examples of unlawful rules under the NLRA include prohibitions on:

  • Complaining about your employer in private or public
  • Talking to reporters or attorneys about your working conditions
  • Making “whistleblower” reports to safety agencies

The NLRB is responsible for reviewing rules that may violate the NLRA. Employees can report these violations but may not file a lawsuit in civil court. However, workers can hold companies accountable if they suffer from adverse action because of these rules. If you are retaliated against for engaging in protected activity like that which the NLRA covers, you can file a claim against your employer to pursue back pay and other damages. 

Defending Your Right to Protected Activity in California Workplaces 

The legal tide is turning in favor of employees. There has never been a better time to hold your employer accountable for violating your rights in the workplace. If you have had your hours or pay cut or been terminated for exercising your rights under the NLRA, you could have a claim against your company. If so, you should talk to the expert California employment attorneys at Le Clerc & Le Clerc LLP. Our employment law firm is dedicated to representing workers who have experienced retaliation and discrimination in the workplace. Schedule your appointment with our attorneys today to discuss your situation and learn more about how to pursue justice for workplace retaliation.

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