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In today’s fast-paced world, balancing work and family responsibilities is a significant challenge, especially for working parents. California, known for its progressive labor laws, offers a variety of rights and protections to employees seeking flexible working arrangements. 

However, these regulations only help you if you understand and exercise them. Let’s take an in-depth look at how working parents in California can navigate these options to achieve a healthier work-life balance.

California’s Legal Framework for Flexible Working

In California, several laws and regulations govern flexible working arrangements. Notable among these are:

  • Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA): While FEHA primarily addresses discrimination, it indirectly supports flexible working conditions by ensuring employees are not discriminated against due to familial responsibilities. It prohibits employment discrimination based on familial status. Employers cannot treat employees less favorably because of their responsibilities as parents. For example, an employer cannot deny a promotion or flexible working request simply because an employee has children.
  • California Family Rights Act (CFRA): This act allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for family and medical reasons, which can include the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child. This leave can be used intermittently and can be combined with flexible working arrangements for a phased return to work. While not directly about flexible working hours, it supports work-life balance for parents.
  • San Francisco’s Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance: Unique to San Francisco, this ordinance allows employees in companies with 20 or more employees to request flexible or predictable working arrangements to assist with caregiving responsibilities. Employers are required to consider these requests and can only refuse them for legitimate business reasons.

These laws protect workers from discrimination based on family responsibilities and provide certain entitlements for parental leave and flexible work requests. Some of the most important protections they offer include:

Right to Request Flexible Working

Under the laws above, employees have the right to request flexible working arrangements if they qualify for accommodations or if their employer grants flexible schedules to other people in similar roles. For example, if an employer gives one employee the option to work from home two days a week, it must grant a working parent employee with the same duties the same option. Such arrangements help working parents manage childcare, reduce commuting time, and address other personal responsibilities.

Employers are required to consider employee requests for flexible arrangements seriously and can only refuse them for legitimate business reasons. Doing otherwise may constitute workplace discrimination. The process often involves a discussion between the employee and employer to find a mutually agreeable solution. This collaborative approach is encouraged to ensure that both parties’ needs are met.

Options for Flexible Work Arrangements

Depending on your circumstances and your employer’s policies, you may have several options for non-traditional work schedules and arrangements, such as:

  • Telecommuting as a Flexible Option: Telecommuting or remote work has become increasingly popular and viable due to technological advancements. California employers are increasingly adopting telecommuting policies that allow employees to work from home, benefiting working parents by eliminating commute time and providing greater flexibility in managing home responsibilities.
  • Part-Time Work and Job Sharing: Part-time work or job sharing are other flexible options that can be ideal for working parents. These arrangements involve working fewer hours than a full-time schedule or sharing a full-time job with another employee. While these options may impact benefits and salary, they offer greater time flexibility.
  • Compressed Workweeks: A compressed workweek allows employees to work their usual number of hours over fewer days. For example, an employee might work four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days. This arrangement gives parents an extra day each week to spend with their children or attend to personal matters.

The best option depends on your family’s needs and your employer’s scheduling policies. In general, you have a stronger case for requesting working arrangements that the company has already granted to other employees since it will need to justify why those workers qualify for alternative schedules, and you do not. 

Is It Discrimination If Your Employer Denies Your Request for a Flexible Working Arrangement?

Determining whether the denial of a flexible work arrangement request constitutes discrimination in California requires examining the specific circumstances of the case and the reasons for the employer’s decision. If you think your denial was discriminatory, you should talk to an experienced employment law attorney about your situation. Your attorney will help you evaluate the following factors to help you determine if it was discriminatory:

  • Reason for Denial: If the denial is based on legitimate business reasons, such as undue hardship, inability to reorganize work among existing staff, or significant detrimental effect on business operations, it may not be considered discriminatory. However, if the denial is based solely on the employee’s status as a parent, it might be discriminatory.
  • Consistency in Policy Application: If the employer consistently allows flexible work arrangements for other employees without caregiving responsibilities but denies them to parents, this could be indicative of discrimination.
  • Documentation and Dialogue: The way the employer handles the request and communicates the decision can also be relevant. Proper documentation of the reasons for the denial and an open dialogue with the employee are important.
  • Case Law: Your attorney will help you find any relevant California case law that guides how similar situations have been handled in the past.
  • Employer Policies: The employer’s policies and past practices regarding flexible work arrangements also play a role. A pattern of denying such requests only to working parents could be problematic.

Suppose your employer has denied you alternative work arrangements and cannot present a justifiable business reason or violated its policies. In that case, you have a strong argument that the denial is discriminatory. 

Professional Legal Counsel for Working Parents in California

As a working parent in California, navigating flexible working arrangements is a crucial aspect of balancing work and family life. If your request for alternative arrangements was denied, you may have other options. If you believe you are facing discrimination for requesting accommodations like an alternative work schedule, you should talk to an experienced employment law attorney at Le Clerc & Le Clerc LLP. We can help you determine if you’ve suffered from discrimination and represent you during legal action if necessary. 

One of the most important things you can do for yourself as a member of the LGBTQ community is to understand and fight for your rights in the workplace. California, known for its progressive stances on various social issues, has established robust laws and regulations to protect LGBTQ individuals from workplace harassment and discrimination. Below, we dive into the intricacies of these protections, highlighting what constitutes a protected identity, the forms of harassment or discrimination that are prohibited, and the steps you can take to safeguard your right to fair employment. 

What Are Protected LGBTQ Identities in California?

Under California law, particularly through the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), a broad range of LGBTQ identities are explicitly protected against discrimination and harassment in the workplace. These protections cover:

  • Sexual Orientation: This encompasses individuals who identify as heterosexual, homosexual (gay and lesbian), bisexual, or asexual. The law protects individuals against discrimination based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation.
  • Gender Identity: Gender identity refers to an individual’s internal understanding of their gender, which may be different from the sex assigned at birth, including transgender, non-binary, and genderqueer individuals.
  • Gender Expression: This pertains to the external presentation of one’s gender, including behavior, clothing, hairstyles, voice, or body characteristics, which may or may not conform to socially defined behaviors and characteristics typically associated with being either masculine or feminine.
  • Transitioning Status: The law also provides protections for individuals who are transitioning, have transitioned, or are perceived to be transitioning from one gender to another. 
  • Association: Additionally, California law protects individuals who are discriminated against because of their association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics.

These protections are designed to ensure that all individuals, regardless of how they identify or are perceived in terms of their sexual orientation, gender expression, and identity, are treated equally and without bias in the workplace. 

Legal Protections and Enforcement for LGBTQ Workplace Rights

In California, LGBTQ individuals, as defined above, enjoy comprehensive legal protections in the workplace. These protections are designed to ensure that all employees, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, are treated fairly and without discrimination in employment. Here are the key legal protections provided to LGBTQ people in California:

  1. Protection Against Discrimination: FEHA prohibits employers from discriminating against employees or job applicants based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. This includes all aspects of employment, such as hiring, firing, promotions, job assignments, training, and benefits.
  2. Protection Against Harassment: The law also protects employees from harassment in the workplace on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Employers are required to take reasonable steps to prevent and correct such harassment.
  3. Equal Benefits: Employers must provide equal benefits to all employees, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender. This includes health insurance coverage for spouses and domestic partners equivalent to that provided for different-sex spouses.
  4. Gender Affirmation Rights: Employers are required to allow employees to dress consistently with their gender identity and expression. Additionally, employees have the right to use facilities that correspond with their gender identity. Employers may need to provide reasonable accommodations, such as access to gender-neutral restrooms.
  5. Privacy Protections: Employees have the right to privacy regarding their sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. Employers cannot discriminate against employees based on the disclosure or discovery of such information.
  6. Retaliation Protections: California law protects employees from retaliation by employers for filing a complaint, testifying, or assisting in any proceeding under FEHA related to discrimination or harassment.
  7. Required Training: California mandates sexual harassment training for supervisors in companies with five or more employees, which includes training on harassment based on gender identity, expression, and sexual orientation.
  8. Legal Recourse: Employees who believe they have been discriminated against or harassed can file a complaint with the California Civil Rights Department (CRD), which will investigate the complaint and can mediate or prosecute cases of discrimination or harassment.

These legal protections underscore California’s commitment to creating inclusive and equitable workplaces for LGBTQ individuals. It’s important for both employers and employees to be aware of these rights and to uphold them actively within the workplace.

Steps to Protect Yourself at Work

LGBTQ workers in California have several legal protections and steps they can take to safeguard themselves from harassment and discrimination at work. These measures are rooted in the state’s robust anti-discrimination laws, particularly the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression, among other characteristics. Here are key actions LGBTQ workers can take to protect themselves legally:

  • Document Incidents: If harassment or discrimination occurs, it’s crucial to document every incident with as much detail as possible. This includes dates, times, locations, what was said or done, and any witnesses present. 
  • Report the Behavior: Workers should report harassment or discrimination to their employer according to the company’s established procedures. This usually means speaking to a supervisor or the human resources department. 
  • Seek Legal Advice: Consulting with an attorney who specializes in employment law or LGBTQ rights can provide personalized guidance and representation. An attorney can help navigate the legal system, understand the nuances of the worker’s specific situation, and determine the best course of action.

By taking these steps, LGBTQ workers in California can actively protect their rights and seek recourse in the face of workplace harassment or discrimination. Workers need to remember that they are not alone and that there are laws designed to protect them at work. 

Take a Stand Against LGBTQ Discrimination in Your Workplace

California’s commitment to protecting LGBTQ workers from harassment and discrimination sets a precedent for fostering inclusive and respectful workplaces. Remember, advocating for your rights not only benefits you but also supports the broader movement toward equality and justice for all.At Le Clerc & Le Clerc LLP, we are dedicated to helping victims of workplace discrimination take a stand against unjust harassment and discrimination based on their identities. If you believe you are facing harassment at work for being a member of the LGBTQ community, contact us today to learn how we can help you.

In the evolving landscape of employment, remote work has emerged as a crucial aspect, particularly for working parents. As a California employment attorney, it is vital to understand and convey the legalities surrounding remote work policies. This includes ensuring equal access to remote work for employees regardless of their gender or parental status. Moreover, specific policies in San Francisco have set precedents regarding remote work for caregivers, which are essential for both employers and employees to understand.

Your Right to Equal Access to Remote Work in California

Under California law, employers are required to provide equal employment opportunities to all employees. This includes access to remote work options. Discrimination based on gender or parental status is prohibited under both federal and state laws, such as the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).

Employers must ensure that remote work policies do not favor one gender over another. For example, assuming that mothers are more in need of remote work than fathers can be a form of gender discrimination.

Similarly, providing remote options only to parents and not to non-parents, or vice versa, can lead to gender and discrimination claims. Policies should be structured to offer equal opportunities to all employees, regardless of their parental status. Failing to do so can violate employees’ rights and give them grounds for legal action. 

San Francisco’s Policies on Remote Work for Caregivers

While California laws are good, many municipalities offer even better protections for working parents. For example, San Francisco has been at the forefront of addressing the needs of working caregivers through its remote policies. The city’s Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance (FFWO) is a groundbreaking law designed to provide employees in San Francisco with the right to request flexible or predictable working arrangements to assist with caregiving responsibilities. 

The FFWO applies to employers in San Francisco with 20 or more employees. It is designed to assist employees who are caregivers. This includes care for a child, a parent over the age of 65, or a person with a serious health condition in a family relationship with the employee. 

Eligible employees have the right to request flexible or predictable working arrangements. These can include changes in the number of hours they work, the times they work, where they work (such as remote work), and the assignment of work. The request must be made in writing and should clearly state the arrangement sought and the reason for the request.

Employers are required to consider these requests seriously. After receiving a request, an employer has 21 days to meet with the employee to discuss the request. Within a further 21 days after this meeting, the employer must respond in writing. If the employer denies the request, they must explain the business reasons for the denial and provide a notice of the employee’s right to request reconsideration.

In addition, the FFWO includes protections against retaliation. Employers cannot take adverse employment actions against an employee for making a request under the ordinance. Employers who violate the ordinance may face legal consequences, including penalties and requirements to take corrective actions.

The FFWO represents a significant step towards creating a more family-friendly work environment. It acknowledges the challenges faced by working caregivers and seeks to provide them with the flexibility they need to manage both their professional and personal responsibilities effectively.

What to Do If Your Right to Remote Work Access Is Violated

Despite state, federal, and municipal laws, employers may still discriminate against parents and bar them from the remote opportunities offered to their colleagues. If you believe your right to a flexible work arrangement has been violated, here’s what you can do:

  • Try Internal Company Resolution: If possible, you should attempt to resolve the issue internally. This could involve discussing the concern with a supervisor or the human resources department. Sometimes, misunderstandings or miscommunications can be resolved through internal processes.
  • Document the Situation: It is important to document all relevant communications and events. This includes keeping copies of the request for flexible working arrangements, any responses from the employer, and any other related correspondence or documents.
  • Contact the San Francisco Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (OLSE): If internal resolution does not work, you can file a complaint with the OLSE. The OLSE is responsible for enforcing the FFWO and can investigate claims of violations. The complaint should include all pertinent details, such as the nature of the request, the employer’s response, and any evidence of how the FFWO was violated.
  • Seek Legal Advice: It may be necessary to seek advice from an attorney specializing in employment law. An attorney can guide the rights and options available under the FFWO and assist in navigating the legal process.
  • Mediation or Legal Action: In some cases, mediation might be a viable option to reach a resolution. If the issue cannot be resolved through mediation or other means, legal action may be necessary. An attorney can help file a lawsuit against the employer for violations of the FFWO.

Remember, each situation is unique, and the best course of action may vary depending on the specific circumstances. Legal advice from a qualified professional is often critical in these situations to ensure that your rights as a working parent are adequately protected and pursued.

Talk to the Skilled Parental Discrimination Lawyers at Le Clerc & Le Clerc LLP

In San Francisco, the FFWO provides a framework for supporting caregivers, setting an example for other cities and states. Employers must be diligent in providing equal access to remote work opportunities avoiding discrimination based on gender or parental status. Laws like the FFWO also mean that if your employer is violating your legal rights, you have the right to take action. The experienced employment law attorneys at Le Clerc & Le Clerc LLP can help. We encourage you to talk to our professional team today to learn more about your options and take the first steps toward holding your employer accountable for violating your rights.

California has some of the best protections for workers in the United States. Among these protections are comprehensive laws that permit workers to take a leave of absence from their jobs under specific circumstances. In fact, state law treats time off of work as a reasonable accommodation in certain circumstances. 

However, it’s not always clear what counts as accommodation or when you’re eligible to take leave. That can make it difficult to exercise your rights and take the protected time off that you need. Here’s what you need to know about how leaves of absence work and when such leave may be considered a reasonable accommodation for disability under California law.

What Is a Leave of Absence?

A leave of absence is a period that an employee is allowed to be away from their job. This time can be paid or unpaid, depending on the specific circumstances and the employer’s policies. Commonly recognized types of leave in California include:

  1. Medical: Often associated with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), medical time off allows employees to take time off for serious health conditions or to care for a family member with a serious health condition.
  2. Disability: This pertains to employees who are unable to work due to a disability. California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) provides protections for such employees.
  3. Pregnancy Disability: Specifically for employees unable to work due to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, offering up to four months of leave.
  4. Paid Sick: California law requires employers to provide paid sick leave to employees who have worked for at least 30 days. Employees can use paid sick days for diagnosis, treatment, or preventative care for themselves or a family member, as well as for certain purposes related to being a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
  5. Parental: This allows parents to take time off for the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child without pay but with job protection and continuation of health insurance benefits.
  6. Jury Duty: California law requires employers to provide unpaid time off for employees summoned to serve jury duty. Employers are prohibited from penalizing employees for taking this time.
  7. Kin Care: Under California’s “Kin Care” law, employees are entitled to use up to half of their accrued sick days to take care of a family member.

In California, if you meet the appropriate criteria, you can likely take unpaid time off from your job without losing employment.

When Is Leave Considered a Reasonable Accommodation?

In California, a leave of absence is considered a reasonable accommodation under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) when it enables an employee with a disability to manage their health condition and eventually return to work. This accommodation must be provided unless doing so would cause undue hardship to the employer’s operations. Criteria for reasonable accommodations include:

  • Disability or Medical Condition: The employee has a physical or mental disability that limits one or more major life activities, and the leave is necessary for them to seek treatment, recover, or otherwise manage their condition. Under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), this now includes temporary or permanent disabilities related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. 
  • Employer Notification: The employee, or someone on their behalf, must communicate the need for a leave of absence due to a disability, providing sufficient information for the employer to understand that the time is needed for disability-related reasons.

Employers are required to engage in a timely, good-faith interactive process with the employee to determine the feasibility of the accommodation. This process involves discussing the need for leave, its expected duration, and any possible alternatives that could equally meet the employee’s health needs without unduly disrupting the employer’s operations. If the leave is found to be reasonable and does not place an undue burden on the employer, it must be approved as an accommodation. 

But what constitutes reasonability? Four key factors must be present for leave to be considered a reasonable accommodation:

  1. Finite Duration: A leave with a defined duration, indicating when the employee expects to return to work, is more likely to be considered reasonable. Indefinite leaves, where no return date is specified, are less likely to be seen as reasonable accommodations.
  2. Does Not Cause Undue Hardship: The time off does not significantly strain the employer’s resources or operations. Factors include the size of the organization, the nature of the work, and the impact on the workforce and costs.
  3. Medical Documentation Support: The request for leave is supported by medical documentation that outlines the need for absence as a form of accommodation for the employee’s condition.
  4. Allows the Employee to Perform Essential Job Functions Upon Return: The purpose of the time off is to ensure that the employee can perform their essential job functions upon returning to work, with or without other reasonable accommodations.

In short, a leave of absence is considered a reasonable accommodation in California when it is necessary due to a disability (including those caused by pregnancy or labor), does not impose an undue hardship on the employer, and is part of an interactive process aimed at facilitating the employee’s eventual return to work.

Le Clerc & Le Clerc LLP: Protecting Your Right to Reasonable Accommodations

Leaves of absence and accommodations for disabilities are integral parts of California employment law aimed at protecting workers while balancing the interests of employers. Determining what constitutes a reasonable accommodation, including leave of absence, requires a nuanced understanding of both the employee’s medical needs and the employer’s operational capabilities. If you believe you have been denied access to time off work as a reasonable accommodation, the skilled employment lawyers at Le Clerc & Le Clerc LLP are available to help you. Our San Francisco attorneys have decades of experience assisting clients like you to pursue justice and fair treatment at work, including reasonable accommodations and compensation for rights violations. Schedule your consultation today to discuss your case and take the next step toward a more equitable work experience.

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 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.

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.

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.

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