Although most employers would like to think that they conscientiously follow the labor law, California employers find it to be a challenge. In fact, many business owners and their employees often unknowingly break federal and state employment laws. Unfortunately, this can result in employee claims which can lead to time-consuming and costly legal lawsuits.
Labor Law California: Employers and Common Employee Lawsuits
Despite the best efforts and intentions of employers in California, avoiding employee lawsuits can be challenging. And while there are multitudes of employer violations that can be committed - knowingly and otherwise - there are a few common ones that make up the bulk of legal cases.
Here are the four most common employee claims made against employers nationwide, according to statistics from the EEOC:
The most common form of employee lawsuits are discrimination claims. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a federal organization tasked with enforcing these laws, they received almost 94,000 of discrimination claims in 2013 alone. The EEOC tracks the many forms of discrimination and all alleged cases, particularly those concerning protected categories like race, sex, nationality, religion, sexual preference, age or disability.
2. Discriminatory Discharge
Discriminatory discharge occurs when an employee is either fired or laid off because he or she falls into a legally protected category, as listed above. The EEOC website states that:
An employer may not take into account a person's race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information when making decisions about discipline or discharge.
When deciding which employees will be laid off, an employer may not choose the oldest workers because of their age.
Employers also may not discriminate when deciding which workers to recall after a layoff.
Retaliation often occurs in the context of a discharge. An example would be firing an employee due to his or her engagement in a legally protected activity, such as:
Filing a claim of discrimination
Participating in an investigation of such a claim
Refusing to commit an illegal act, such as refusing to lie during an investigation
Retaliation can also occur without a discharge. In fact, almost any adverse action committed against an employee involved in a claim is illegal.
Harassment includes offensive conduct relating to any of the above mentioned categories (i.e. gender). It also includes offensive jokes, objects or pictures, name-calling, physical assaults, threats and anything else that might interfere with one's performance at work. This type of conduct can create an intimidating, hostile, or abusive environment.
The harasser can be anyone that is associated with the workplace, including full-time employees or contractors. Anyone can lodge a harassment complaint, regardless of whether they witnessed it or were the recipient of it.
Complying With Labor Law - California and Federal
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