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SAN FRANCISCO EMPLOYMENT LAW BLOG

In California, the intersection of employment law and family responsibilities takes on a significant dimension for parents of disabled children. Balancing work commitments with the demands of caring for a child with disabilities can be challenging. If you’re in that position, it’s critical to understand the legal protections available to you in the workplace so you can maintain your employment while still caring for your kids. 

Federal Laws and Protections for Parents of Disabled Children

Federal laws in the United States provide various protections for parents of disabled children. These laws help ensure people like you have the necessary support and accommodations to balance their work responsibilities with caregiving:

  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): FMLA allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for specific family and medical reasons, including caring for a child with a serious health condition. This leave is job-protected, meaning employees can return to their same or equivalent position after the leave.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): While the ADA primarily protects individuals with disabilities, it also prohibits discrimination based on association with an individual with a disability. This can apply to parents of disabled kids. Employers must provide reasonable accommodations to employees who need to care for a disabled child as long as it doesn’t cause undue hardship to the business.
  • Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA): Protects employee benefits, including health insurance. If an employer provides health insurance, it typically extends to an employee’s children, including those with disabilities. ERISA ensures that employees don’t lose their benefits unjustly, which is crucial for parents managing medical care for their disabled children.

California-Specific Laws and Regulations

California offers additional legal protections for working parents of disabled children, providing more inclusive rights and accommodations. Some of the key California-specific laws and regulations include:

  • Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA): FEHA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees who are associated with a disabled person to assist them in performing their jobs. FEHA’s definition of disability is broader than the ADA, offering more inclusive protection.
  • California Family Rights Act (CFRA): CFRA allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of protected unpaid leave in 12 months for family and medical reasons, including caring for a child with a serious health condition. CFRA applies to employers with five or more employees, making it more inclusive than FMLA.
  • Kin Care Law: Under California’s Kin Care Law, employees are allowed to use half of their accrued sick leave to care for a family member, including a child.

Examples of Workplace Accommodations You Might Need

Under FEHA, parents of disabled kids have the right to request reasonable accommodations in the workplace to assist them in balancing their job duties with caregiving responsibilities. Here are examples of such accommodations: 

  • Flexible Scheduling: Adjusting start and end times of the workday, allowing for split shifts or modified weekly schedules, or providing time off or adjustments for medical appointments and therapy sessions.
  • Remote Work: Permitting work from home, providing necessary equipment and technology for remote work, or combining telework with in-office work on a part-time basis.
  • Part-Time or Reduced Work Hours: Allowing a reduction in work hours or transitioning to a part-time schedule.
  • Job Restructuring: Modifying job duties that are non-essential or reassigning or redistributing marginal job tasks to other employees.
  • Temporary Transfer to a Less Stressful or Hazardous Position: Moving to a position with less stress or physical demands, if available.

You need to engage in an interactive conversation with your employer when requesting accommodations. Discussing the specific needs related to your child’s care and how the accommodation would assist you in performing your job can help you find a solution that works for you and your employer. 

Navigating Discrimination and Retaliation as a Parent of Special-Needs Children

Unfortunately, discrimination and retaliation against parents of children with special needs in the workplace are all too common. Some of the most common forms include:

  • Disparate Treatment: This occurs when an employee is treated differently or less favorably, specifically because they have a child with special needs. Examples include not being considered for promotions or important projects, receiving lower performance evaluations, or being subjected to negative comments or attitudes from supervisors or colleagues about their parenting responsibilities.
  • Failure to Accommodate: Under various laws, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to employees who are parents of children with special needs unless it causes undue hardship to the employer. Refusal to engage in an interactive process or outright denial of reasonable accommodation requests without proper justification can be considered discriminatory.
  • Harassment: This includes any unwelcome conduct based on the employee’s status as a parent of a child with special needs. Harassment becomes unlawful when the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment or when the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a hostile work environment.
  • Adverse Employment Actions: Retaliation occurs when an employer takes an adverse action against an employee for engaging in a protected activity. Protected activities include requesting accommodations, taking leave under FMLA/CFRA, or filing a discrimination complaint. Adverse actions can include termination, demotion, pay reduction, or unfavorable job assignments.

It’s important for employees who believe they are experiencing discrimination or retaliation to document their experiences and seek advice, potentially from an experienced employment lawyer or a government agency like the California Civil Rights Department (CRD). They can provide guidance and, if necessary, a legal pathway to address these issues.

Expert Legal Counsel for Working Parents of Disabled Kids

Parents of disabled children in California have legal protections designed to help them balance their work and caregiving responsibilities. Understanding these rights and how to assert them is essential. With the right knowledge and support, you can continue to work while caring for your children’s special needs.At Le Clerc & Le Clerc LLP, we can help you if you’re struggling to exercise your rights under federal and state law. Our skilled attorneys are prepared to represent you at the negotiation table or in court if your employer has discriminated against you for having a disabled child. Learn more about how we can help by scheduling your consultation today.

In California, the economy is as diverse as its population, and working parents face a unique set of challenges when it comes to childcare. The Golden State, known for its innovation and progressive policies, is at a crossroads in addressing the childcare needs of its working families. 

Both state legislators and individual employers are addressing the challenges faced by working parents in California. Here’s what you should know about how the current childcare crisis is developing, your rights under state law, and what you may expect from your employer. 

The Landscape of Childcare in California

California’s childcare landscape is characterized by high costs, limited availability, and varying quality. According to a recent report, California is one of the most expensive states for childcare in the United States. The average cost of infant care in the state can exceed $14,000 annually, a figure that is out of reach for many middle and low-income families. 

This high cost is compounded by the scarcity of available spots, especially for infants and toddlers, making the search for quality childcare a stressful and often fruitless endeavor for many parents.

The burden of these challenges falls heavily on working parents. For many, the high cost of childcare consumes a significant portion of their income, forcing tough decisions about work and family life. This situation is particularly acute for single parents and those with multiple children. Additionally, the lack of reliable childcare options can lead to increased absenteeism and decreased productivity at work as parents scramble to cover gaps in care.

Legal Protections for Working Parents

In response to some of these challenges, California has instituted a range of legal protections designed to support working parents in balancing their professional and family responsibilities. These laws are among the most progressive in the United States, reflecting California’s commitment to helping families. Here’s an overview of some key legal protections for working parents in California:

  1. California Family Rights Act (CFRA): CFRA allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave within 12 months for the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child. This law also applies to caring for a child, parent, or spouse with a serious health condition or for the employee’s own serious health condition.
  2. Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL): Under California law, a woman who is disabled by pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition is entitled to up to four months of disability leave. This leave is separate from and in addition to any leave taken under the CFRA.
  3. Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA): FEHA prohibits discrimination in employment on various grounds, including sex, which encompasses discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or related medical conditions.
  4. School Activities Leave: California law requires employers with 25 or more employees at the same location to provide up to 40 hours of leave each year for parents, guardians, or grandparents with custody to participate in activities at their child’s school or daycare facility or if they are called to their child’s school due to a suspension.
  5. Lactation Accommodation: Employers are required to provide reasonable break time and a private space, other than a bathroom, for an employee to express breast milk for her infant child.
  6. Kin Care Law: This law allows employees to use up to half of their accrued sick leave benefits to attend to the illness of a family member.
  7. Flexible Working Arrangements: While not mandated by law, some California cities, like San Francisco, have ordinances that allow employees to request flexible working arrangements to assist with caregiving responsibilities. Employers are required to consider these requests seriously.

These laws and regulations are indicative of California’s progressive stance on supporting working parents. They are designed to help employees balance their professional and personal responsibilities without fear of losing their jobs or facing discrimination in the workplace. It’s important for working parents in California to be aware of these rights and for employers to ensure compliance.

Employer Responsibilities and Opportunities

In this context, the role of employers is becoming increasingly important. Progressive companies in California are beginning to recognize that providing childcare support is not just a benefit for their employees but a strategic business decision that can lead to increased employee retention, productivity, and overall job satisfaction.

  • On-Site Childcare Facilities: Some larger corporations have started offering on-site childcare facilities. These facilities not only provide convenience but also ensure that parents can be close to their children, easing the emotional burden that comes with long hours away from home.
  • Childcare Subsidies and Vouchers: Employers are also exploring financial assistance programs, such as subsidies or vouchers, to help offset the high cost of childcare for their employees.
  • Flexible Work Arrangements: Flexibility in work schedules and the option for remote work have become crucial in supporting parents. This flexibility allows parents to manage their childcare needs better and reduces the stress of juggling work and family responsibilities.
  • Parental Leave Policies: Enhanced parental leave policies, including paternity leave, allow parents to spend more time with their newborns without the stress of immediately returning to work.

It’s important to understand that your employer does not have the legal obligation to provide these benefits under state law. However, if your employer offers childcare benefits to some employees, it cannot discriminate against specific people for protected characteristics. If you are denied childcare benefits for discriminatory reasons, you may have grounds for legal action. 

Legal Support for Working Parents Facing Childcare Discrimination

The childcare challenges in California present a complex issue that requires a multifaceted approach. By acknowledging and addressing these challenges, employers can play a significant role in supporting their workforce. In doing so, they not only aid their employees but also contribute to building a more resilient and productive economy. However, many employers do not provide this level of support – some even attempt to violate their employees’ legal rights. If you believe your employer has discriminated against you by denying you protected leave or discriminating against you regarding childcare needs or benefits, you should seek legal counsel. At Le Clerc & Le Clerc LLP, our experienced attorneys can help you determine if you have a case and pursue compensation for the discrimination you’ve faced. Schedule your consultation to learn how we can assist you.

In today’s evolving professional landscape, gender discrimination in the hiring process remains a critical issue that both employers and job seekers must be vigilant about. If you’re going through the job application and hiring process, understanding the nuances of gender discrimination, recognizing its occurrence, and knowing the steps to address it are crucial for receiving fair treatment. Below, we’ll break down the definition of gender discrimination, how to identify if you’ve experienced bias and the process of pursuing a discrimination claim.

What Is Gender Discrimination in Hiring?

Gender discrimination in hiring occurs when a job candidate is treated unfavorably or unfairly in the recruitment process due to their sex, gender identity, or expression. 

Gender discrimination in hiring is not only unethical but also illegal. Laws like the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibit discrimination in employment, including the hiring process. Employers are required to ensure that their hiring practices are fair and non-discriminatory, providing equal opportunities to all candidates regardless of genders.

How Does Gender Discrimination Manifest in Hiring?

There are many ways that gender-based discrimination can infiltrate the hiring process, such as:

  • Biased Job Advertisements: Job postings may explicitly or implicitly indicate a preference for a certain gender. For instance, using coded language like “strong male candidate” or “female preferred” can discourage qualified applicants from applying.
  • Unequal Treatment During Recruitment: This can occur in various stages of the hiring process, including application screening, interviews, and candidate evaluation. For example, if male and female candidates with similar qualifications are treated differently during interviews or are asked different types of questions (such as personal or family-related questions directed more at women), it constitutes discrimination.
  • Assumptions Based on Stereotypes: Employers may make assumptions about a candidate’s abilities, interests, or commitment to the job based on stereotypes. Examples can include assuming that a woman might not be interested in or capable of handling physically demanding tasks, or that a man might not be suited for roles traditionally seen as ‘feminine’.
  • Differential Compensation Offers: Offering different salary packages, benefits, or terms of employment to candidates based on their gender is also a form of discrimination. This might include lower salary offers to women as compared to men for the same role with similar qualifications.
  • Lack of Gender Diversity in Hiring Practices: An overall lack of diversity in a company’s workforce, especially in leadership roles, can be indicative of bias in the hiring process.

In general, if it appears that people of different genders are being treated differently during the hiring process, discrimination may be occurring. 

Identifying Gender Bias in Your Hiring Experience

Identifying gender bias in your hiring experience requires a keen observation of the recruitment process and an awareness of the subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) signs of discrimination. Here are steps and indicators to help you identify if you have experienced bias during the hiring process:

  • Analyze Job Advertisements: Look for language in job postings that might suggest a gender preference. Terms or phrases that seem to lean towards a particular gender or imply stereotypical roles can be a red flag.
  • Observe Interviewer Behavior: Pay attention to the behavior and attitude of the interviewer(s). Did they make assumptions based on your presentation? Were there any offhand comments or jokes that seemed to stereotype or diminish your gender?
  • Compare Treatment with Other Candidates: If possible, observe or find out how candidates of different genders were treated. Were there noticeable differences in demeanor, questioning, or time spent with candidates of another gender?
  • Assess Evaluation Criteria: Consider whether you were evaluated based on stereotypes. For example, were you judged on criteria that are traditionally associated with your presentation, or were there assumptions about your capabilities or interests?
  • Review Feedback and Communication: Analyze any feedback or communication you received during or after the process. Look for hints of bias, such as comments on your appearance, demeanor, or lifestyle choices that are unrelated to job performance but linked to cultural norms.
  • Examine Compensation Offers: If you received an offer, compare it with industry standards or, if possible, with offers made to other candidates of a different gender for similar roles. Significant discrepancies in salary, benefits, or job level can indicate bias.
  • Consider the Overall Company Culture: Research the company’s culture, diversity, and inclusion policies. A lack of diversity, especially in leadership roles, or a history of related complaints can be indicative of systemic bias.

If, after this evaluation, you believe you have experienced bias, it’s important to document specific instances and seek advice from professionals, such as employment discrimination attorneys, especially if you’re considering taking further action. 

Pursuing a Discrimination Claim for Experienced Bias

If you believe you have been a victim of discrimination in hiring, you can pursue a claim through the following steps:

  • Document Everything: Keep detailed records of your application, interview notes, correspondence, and any comments made that suggest bias.
  • Seek Legal Advice: Contact an employment attorney who specializes in discrimination cases to understand your rights and the strength of your case.
  • File a Complaint: You can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). They will investigate your claim and determine if there has been a violation of employment discrimination laws.
  • Consider Legal Action: Based on the outcome of the investigation and advice from your attorney, you may decide to pursue legal action against the employer.

Experienced Legal Counsel for California Gender Discrimination Claims

Gender discrimination in the hiring process not only affects individuals but also undermines the integrity of our workplaces. Awareness and proactive measures are key to identifying, preventing, and addressing this form of bias. 

If you believe you’ve faced discrimination during the hiring process, we encourage you to get in touch with the experienced employment attorneys at Le Clerc & Le Clerc LLP. Our skilled team has spent years helping victims of hiring discrimination pursue justice against California employers. Together, we can work towards a more equitable and fair hiring landscape.

In the bustling landscape of California’s workplaces, employees often find themselves juggling various responsibilities. From the demands of their jobs to the needs of their families, it’s crucial to strike a balance. 

However, what happens when your family status becomes a source of discrimination in the workplace? Let’s explore California’s marital status laws, examine family status discrimination, understand the protections for parenthood, and learn how to seek help if you encounter it in the workplace.

What Is Family Status Discrimination?

California family status laws aim to protect employees from discrimination based on their marital status. Marital status discrimination occurs when an employer treats an employee unfairly due to their marital status, parental role, or other familial responsibilities. This type of discrimination can manifest in various ways, such as:

  • Refusing to hire or promote someone because they are a parent.
  • Subjecting employees to different terms and conditions based on their marital status.
  • Making derogatory comments or jokes about an employee’s family responsibilities.
  • Failing to provide reasonable accommodations for an employee’s family-related needs.

Is Parenthood a Protected Class in California?

No, parenthood is not a protected class in California. While the state recognizes that being a parent is a fundamental aspect of many people’s lives, being a parent is not a protected class the way marital status is. As such, it is not illegal for employers to discriminate against employees or job applicants based on their role as parents alone.

Certain local jurisdictions have regulations protecting people who are responsible for caring for another person. These are known as family responsibilities discrimination laws or caregiver protection laws. For example, in San Francisco, employers may not prohibit against people due to their role as caregivers. Still, this does not apply to parents specifically, as the law defines a caregiver as someone responsible for caring for an adult family member with a serious medical condition. 

Despite this, there are laws prohibiting certain actions against current or prospective parents, including: 

  • California Pregnancy Discrimination Act (CPDA): In California, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees under the CPDA. This means that if you are pregnant, your employer must make reasonable adjustments to your job duties or provide you with leave if necessary.
  • Lactation Accommodations: Every employer must offer nursing workers a “reasonable amount of break time” and a safe, healthy, and private location to express milk for their infant children. 
  • California Family Rights Act (CFRA): The CFRA is a stronger version of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), giving parents the right to protected unpaid leave if they need to care for their children’s serious medical condition. 
  • New Parent Leave Act (NPLA): This law ensures that eligible employees can take time off work to bond with a new child, whether through birth, adoption, or foster care placement.
  • Reproductive Loss Leave: This law guarantees workers the right to limited protected time off to recover from a reproductive loss such as a miscarriage or failed adoption.
  • Leave to Participate in School Activities: Eligible employees may receive up to 40 hours a year to respond to emergencies at their children’s school or daycare or to find and enroll their children in new institutions. 

While parenthood itself isn’t protected, these laws provide working parents with a variety of protections in the workplace. 

When Gender, Marital Status Discrimination, and Parenthood Intersect

While parenthood isn’t a protected category, marital status and gender are. Many instances of potential discrimination against parents are barred by gender or marital status protections. For example, an employer cannot discriminate against a female employee because she is pregnant (gender discrimination), and they cannot treat her unfavorably because she is a married or unmarried parent (marital status discrimination). This ensures that working mothers receive equal opportunities and protections in the workplace.

Getting Help for Family Status Discrimination in California

If you believe you have experienced marital status discrimination in California, you have several options for seeking help:

  1. Document Everything: Start by documenting any incidents of unfair treatment related to your family status. This includes noting dates, times, locations, individuals involved, and any witnesses. Keep copies of relevant emails, memos, or other written communications.
  2. Speak with your employer: Consider discussing the issue with your immediate supervisor or the Human Resources (HR) department within your company. They may not be aware of the situation and might be willing to address it through internal channels. Be clear about your concerns and provide any supporting documentation. In some cases, addressing the issue directly with your employer may lead to a resolution.
  3. File a complaint: If discussing the issue with your supervisor or HR does not lead to a resolution, you may need to file a formal complaint within your organization. Follow your company’s established procedures for reporting discrimination. Ensure you keep copies of all correspondence related to your complaint.
  4. Consult an attorney: If your employer does not take appropriate action to address the problem, or if you believe your case is not adequately resolved, consider consulting with an attorney who specializes in employment discrimination cases. They can provide legal advice, assess the strength of your case, and guide you on the best course of action.

Professional Representation for Family Status Discrimination 

In California, family status discrimination is illegal, and employees have rights to protect themselves from unfair treatment based on their family responsibilities. Understanding these rights and the laws that safeguard them is crucial for maintaining a healthy work-life balance and a discrimination-free workplace. If you encounter marital status discrimination, remember that help is available, and you have legal protections under California employment laws. At Le Clerc & Le Clerc, LLP, we specialize in helping parents pursue justice for the discrimination they face in the workplace. We encourage you to get in touch if you think you’re facing parental discrimination by your employer. We can help you determine if you have a case and pursue compensation for the harm you’ve suffered.

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.

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