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Bay Area Employment Law Blog

The problems with forced arbitration

Employees at Google, the tech giant in California, have been challenging tech companies and urging them to change their policies with regards to workplace harassment. In particular, their main gripe pertains to forced arbitration, which requires employees of large tech companies to solve harassment issues at the company rather than taking their employers to court.

There are many problems with forced arbitration. For one thing, studies show that arbitration favors the employer over the employee more often than not whereas the courts tend to be fairer. Additionally, winning in arbitration can result in a smaller settlement than what would have been offered in court. This campaign to get rid of forced arbitration is part of a larger movement to tackle inequality in the workplace, especially in tech companies. These efforts are bolstered by the available diversity statistics, which demonstrate how underrepresented both females and minorities are at tech companies.

Job loss and retaliation silence many sexual harassment victims

The number of workers in California facing sexual harassment at work remains largely hidden because most of them never make formal complaints. University researchers who studied the problem estimated that roughly 5 million people experience sexual harassment on the job every year. Almost all of them, 99.8 percent, never make official charges because only approximately 1,500 cases went to court during the time period of the study.

Researchers gathered data from over 46,000 complaints that occurred from 2012 to 2016. They relied on reports from state fair employment agencies and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Job loss resulted for 64 percent of people who complained about mistreatment at work. Retaliatory treatment affected 68 percent of complainants.

Doctors who are mothers face increased workplace discrimination

Doctors working in the San Francisco Bay Area and other parts of California generally enjoy a sizable income due to the nature of their profession. Even so, a survey published in a leading medical journal reveals that more than a third of MDs who are also mothers face discrimination in their workplaces. In an attempt to discover the reason for this trend, research authors dove deeper and looked at more than 900 comments from the nearly 6,000 physicians who responded to the anonymous survey.

Recurring issues included pregnancy discrimination in the form of lack of support while pregnant, lower salaries than colleagues performing similar work, gendered performance expectations and fewer opportunities for advancement. One woman reported routinely not being invited to outside work events where she could possibly make important connections as coworkers assumed she wouldn't be able to attend because of her children. Some of the doctors surveyed also reported increased stress from trying to find an appropriate work-home balance after becoming mothers.

San Francisco Board of Supervisors addresses race discrimination

The heads of several San Francisco city agencies vowed to do more to eliminate race discrimination in their departments during a volatile November 11 Board of Supervisors hearing, but many of the African-American workers gathered were unimpressed by what they heard. They and advocacy groups like the Service Employees International Union say that little has changed since San Francisco Mayor London Breed made similar statements when the board's Government Audit and Oversight Committee discussed the very same issues in September.

African-American workers at both hearings gave accounts of being passed over for promotions in favor of less qualified Caucasian candidates and facing workplace retaliation after filing complaints about race discrimination. City officials also heard that African-American workers face disciplinary action far more often and for less serious offenses than their white colleagues. Advocacy groups have called for a reevaluation of the hiring, retention and management practices of all city departments to root out both overt racism and unintentional bias.

Former Avon employees sue over discrimination claims

Many women in the San Francisco Bay Area see Avon as a company that celebrates female entrepreneurship and empowerment. Nevertheless, two former employees of the company have filed a class-action lawsuit accusing the beauty products manufacturer of pregnancy discrimination. They alleged that Avon discriminated against pregnant women and mothers, including nursing mothers who need to pump breast milk while on the job. The suit cited Avon's own language about women's empowerment and commitment to advancement, noting that women may apply to work at the company due to its branding.

The suit also noted that Avon insists on forced arbitration to handle complaints. Arbitration clauses at various companies have sparked outrage after they have been used to silence people complaining about sexual harassment or workplace discrimination. In addition, the lawsuit noted that Avon's executive team was overwhelmingly male. The suit targets two companies, New Avon and Avon Products. Both firms share common branding despite one being spun off.

Is denying religious holidays enough for discrimination lawsuits?

As the end of the year approaches, many workers are looking forward to their time off during Thanksgiving and Christmas. However, not all employees celebrate these holidays at their homes. They might celebrate a special holiday for their religion that takes place on what is a typical work day for everyone else.

When fired employees file a lawsuit against their employers for religious discrimination, many of them cite their employers not accommodating for their religious needs. One of the most common examples is not giving them the time off to celebrate a holiday specific to their religion. It is important to know if an employer denying a worker one of the most important times of the year for their beliefs can play a large role in their lawsuit.

How common is sexual harassment in the architecture industry?

A recent survey looked at sexual harassment in the field of architecture. The survey suggests that such harassment is very prevalent in this field.

Among the people polled in the survey were around 600 architects and architectural designers. Of these architecture professionals, around two-thirds reported having been sexually harassed.

How California's overtime laws work for salaried workers

One of the most common lawsuits employees take to court happens when their employers fail to pay them the proper overtime. Depending on how long the worker went overtime, the employers could be denying some much-needed extra money to the employee's bank account.

If you are not receiving extra payment for your extra work, then you have a right to file a claim against your employer. However, not all jobs in California will pay you for overtime. Before you consider taking your issue to the courtroom, you should be aware of the state's overtime laws and how it affects different workers to see if you are eligible.

What you need to know about sexual harassment in the workplace

Sexual harassment is an age-old problem and something that is not as uncommon as some people may think. This form of sex discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Under Title VII, sexual harassment describes "unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct."

The behavior of sexual harassment in the workplace does not have to be of sexual nature. It can also include offensive remarks about a person's sex. Because it takes many forms, sexual harassment can sometimes be missed or misunderstood. It is important to identify harassment in the workplace as it can be traumatizing and stressful for the victim.

What can be considered discrimination in the work place?

Navigating a new work situation is difficult, especially if you are a minority in the workplace. Unfortunately, discrimination at work still happens but sometimes it may be hard to recognize. There are a variety of categories and types of discrimination. Here is a brief list to help you figure things out. 

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