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Bay Area Employment Law Blog

Can you get fired on your first day?

Getting fired on your first day at a new job feels like it can't be possible. Don't you deserve some sort of warning? Don't they have to give you a fair chance to do the job well?

The truth, though, is that at-will employees can get fired on their first day, with or without a warning. For instance, some employees have shown up 20 minutes late for work on the first day. Instantly, the boss likely begins thinking about firing them. If that's their mindset on day one, it's not likely to get any better, so the company may decide to cut their losses and hire someone else as soon as possible.

'White' resumes expose hiring discrimination

Legally, companies cannot refuse to hire workers based on their race or ethnicity. These companies may say that everyone gets a fair shot or even claim to be progressive about race relations. However, despite laws and policies, there is one simple test that exposes the fact that discrimination still happens.

That test is a worker's resume. What minority workers have been finding is that they can overhaul their resumes so that they appear to be Caucasian candidates, and that they have more success landing interviews when they do. The company may not be allowed to ask for their race, but that doesn't mean there aren't clues in the resume. Removing those clues brings the candidates more success, which indicates that the companies were discriminating against them due to their race.

What is employment arbitration?

The job market here in the San Francisco Bay Area is quite competitive. Many employers in the area have their prospective employees sign a contract before they start working for them because of this. What you may not realize is that these employment agreements often contain arbitration clauses in them. There are pros and cons associated with signing a job contract that features an arbitration clause.

Arbitration pros

Can you be fired for your political views?

The freedom to hold our own political views is very important in America. In most instances, this is covered by the First Amendment. You are allowed to have any views that you'd like, as long as they do not endanger others. While the United States does have two main parties, there are also many smaller parties that millions of people follow.

But what if you and your boss have very different views? It doesn't matter which direction either of you leans with those views. If you believe different things, can your boss decide to fire you?

How being young, female and fertile can affect your job

When you think about pregnancy discrimination, you likely think it only impacts your career if you become pregnant and then lose your job. Rather than working with you throughout the process and then giving you proper maternity leave, your employer simply opts to fire you and hire someone else.

However, it may go even beyond this blatant example of workplace discrimination. As one expert put it, just the possibility that you could become pregnant in some hypothetical future could make you a less attractive worker to some employers.

Bullying and harassment may go hand-in-hand

Some people are bullies. That's true when you're in grade school, college or the workplace. These types of individuals do not just disappear because you hit a certain age. We often think of bullying as something that happens to young people, but you could have decades of career experience and be in your 50s when you encounter a workplace bully who tries to push you around to get your way or just to make themselves look better.

In some cases, bullying can turn into illegal harassment. It depends on the reason for the bullying and the form that it takes. Remember, it is illegal for people to harass you based on your:

  • Age
  • Genetic information
  • National origin
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Disability
  • Pay
  • Skin color
  • Religion
  • Pregnancy
  • Gender/sex
  • Sexual orientation

Employees with disabilities have a right to accommodations

It is quite simple: employers cannot discriminate against employees based on a disability.

And yet, it is still common to hear about such discrimination in the workplace. Even though you have protections under federal and state laws if you have a physical or mental impairment, you might still face unfair and unreasonable discrimination.

The ABC test: What should workers know?

In 2019, California lawmakers passed several laws that expanded and protected worker’s rights. One of those was Assembly Bill 5 (AB5), commonly referred to as the “gig-worker law.” AB5 strictly enforces a test that differentiates between independent contractors and employees.

This new law requires employers to use this test – the ABC test – when classifying their employees. However, it is also critical for workers to understand the details of the test and what it means for their own classification.

Do you need a warning before you get fired?

If your boss decides to fire you, do they have to warn you first? Do they have to give you notice in advance so that you can plan for the future, or do they have to warn you about behavior that may get you fired so that you can make changes?

While that may seem like the logical chain of events, the reality is that most workers don't need any sort of warning. Legally speaking, employers are not obligated to give them advance notice or to tell them how to change so that they can keep their jobs. Your boss can likely just walk into your office and tell you to clean our your desk, and you have to do it.

Is office decor harassment?

Harassment is a very tricky subject because it is not always that overt. You do have cases of a boss saying something discriminatory about women, minorities or something of this nature, clearly singling out a worker or a group of workers. But these events are less common than they used to be, and harassment often takes on a more subtle form in the modern day.

For instance, some have pointed out that even office decorations could constitute harassment. Examples they give include:

  • A worker hanging up a Confederate flag inside their cubicle
  • A man hanging up pictures of women in bikinis
  • A woman setting a Bible on top of her desk to make sure everyone knows what religion she follows, or hanging up cross decorations on the wall
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