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Glendale Legal Blog

Hundreds of companies urge Supreme Court to protect LGBTQ workers

Over 200 American corporations, including California-based Apple, Google and Walt Disney, have joined the court brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees from workplace discrimination. The brief was submitted by a group of five LGBTQ rights groups on July 2 in preparation for oral arguments on three discrimination cases scheduled to go before the high court on Oct. 8.

During the Obama administration, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission concluded that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protected LGBTQ workers from discrimination. However, under the Trump administration, the Justice Department has argued that Title VII offers no such protections. So far, federal appeals courts in Cincinnati, Chicago and New York have ruled that federal law does indeed shield employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. However, an Atlanta federal appeals court ruled in reverse. The Supreme Court is being asked to settle the matter.

What information should you include in a wage violation report?

When you first started your job, you likely had trust in your California employer. You may have felt at ease in his or her presence when conducting your interview and may have been excited when you received an offer of employment. Unfortunately, after starting your position, you may have become less at ease.

At first, you may not have believed that your employer was acting unlawfully when it came to your pay. He or she may have asked you to work overtime, and you may have agreed with the expectation of receiving overtime pay. When that pay was left off your next check, you may have chalked it up to a mistake that would be corrected later. Soon, however, you may have noticed more wage violations taking place.

The EEOC is dropping the ball on discrimination cases

When employees feel they have been treated unfairly by their employers, they often face difficult decisions. Although they may truly believe they are being mistreated in a manner that is against the law, they might hesitate to act for fear that nothing will come of the complaint except more negative treatment at work or, worse yet, termination. Often, the worker wants to continue on the job but under proper and legal conditions. However, even when a California employee does take the major step of filing a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the results are not always as expected.

Established EEOC procedure requires a claim to be evaluated to determine if mediation may be helpful or if the employer should be provided an opportunity to answer the employee's allegations. Discrimination case experts indicate that the case may be dismissed for procedural reasons, such as an untimely filing or the lack of jurisdiction by the EEOC. Increasingly over the last several years, the EEOC has been designating more of its regular cases to its low-priority track, which essentially means that no action will be taken.

Lawsuit accuses Goldman Sachs of LGBT bias

Lawsuits alleging workplace discrimination and harassment can be extremely damaging to employers in California and around the country, and this is especially true when the claims involve unfair treatment based on a worker's gender, gender identity or sexual orientation. One such case was filed on June 5 in New York by a former vice president of the Wall Street investment bank Goldman Sachs. The 31-year-old banker claims in his lawsuit that he was fired for complaining about the treatment LGBT workers were subjected to at the bank.

In the lawsuit, the man claims that unwarranted criticisms of his job performance that began after he voiced concerns about rampant homophobia and discrimination within the bank were used to create a paper trail. He says that this evidence was then cited to justify his termination. One allegation contained in the lawsuit deals with an important conference call. The man claims that a supervisor refused to let him take part in the call because he sounded "too gay".

Bill aims to prohibit discrimination against LGBT people

Despite advances made in recent years, many LGBT people in California are deeply concerned about discrimination in employment, housing, health care and other key areas of life. This is especially true at a federal level where courts have disagreed with one another about the extent to which existing civil rights law protects LGBT people against discrimination, typically under the banner of sex discrimination. The Democrats in the House of Representatives are pushing to institutionalize those protections explicitly in federal law, passing a proposal 236-173 to expand civil rights protections to LGBT people.

Eight Republicans joined all House Democrats to vote in support of the legislation called the Equality Act. It aims to update existing laws such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics. Anti-LGBT discrimination would be prohibited as a form of sex discrimination in terms of employment, housing, access to loans, education and other forms of public accommodation. Most of the 2020 Democratic candidates for president came out with strong support for the legislation, which is backed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Amazon accused of engaging in religious discrimination

The online retail giant Amazon has millions of loyal users in California who are attracted by the company's competitive prices, speedy delivery options and responsive customer service. However, workers at Amazon warehouses often complain about grueling working conditions and unsympathetic managers. The company continues to grow and improve its market share despite these stories, but a federal complaint filed on May 8 could provide Amazon with a far thornier problem.

The complaint, which was submitted to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of three female workers of Somali descent, accuses the retailer of shunning black workers from Somalia and East Africa in favor of white employees when promotions and attractive assignments became available. The women also allege in the complaint that they do not pray at work due to fears of retaliation and were assigned unpleasant duties and issued written warnings when they protested about the alleged conditions on Dec. 14.

California bill would update existing state law

In California, an anti-discrimination law already on the books protects people from harassment based on their race. However, if SB188 passes, the law could be updated to include hairstyles or other traits associated with a race. The bill is known as the Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair Act. It is meant to create an inclusive and diverse environment in schools and businesses. Rules against braids, locks and twists have typically been a greater burden for black students and employees.

These rules have the potential to discourage African-Americans from applying for jobs or subject them to punishment from their current employers. In some cases, workers have been denied advancement opportunities or event terminated from their jobs. Children have been sent home from school because their hair was deemed inappropriate. According to the lawmaker who created the bill, there are already state and federal protections for those who wear their hair a certain way for religious reasons.

When quitting your job is wrongful termination

You are not alone if you hate your job. It is a common feeling among workers in California and across the country. Among the many common reasons for dreading going to work are that your job is physically demanding, you get too little pay and no recognition for your hard work, or your boss is constantly on your back.

On the other hand, you may be one of those employees whose workplace environment is impossible to deal with. This may be due to a complete lack of respect throughout the company or very specific harassment directed only at you. If you feel your employer or coworkers have singled you out for mistreatment, you may have decided enough is enough.

The use of a biometric time clock results in a lawsuit

Human resource departments throughout the country, including in California, are keeping tabs on a recent case in Illinois. In the lawsuit, a large clothing retailer is being sued by employees in Illinois for tracking them by improper means as well as improper collection of personal data. The case is currently waiting to see if it will be certified as a class action.

An Illinois statute is at the heart of the claim. The law prohibits the collection of biometric data from employees unless they consent, and the proper means to store the information is used. In this case, the suit alleges the company utilized a fingerprint time clock to which an employee must present a fingerprint ID to log in and out of work rather than utilizing a time card or picture ID. The company claims the employees did, in fact, consent to the use of the biometric time clock. It further claims that it does not retain the data collected, obviating the need to store it.

Rumors about sex for promotions could be sex discrimination

People in California who are jealous of someone's success at work might retaliate by spreading rumors about that person sleeping with a superior to secure promotions. A case recently heard before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit resulted in a decision that exposed an employer to possible liability because the company fired the female plaintiff after she tried to address widespread rumors about her alleged sexual activities in exchange for promotions.

The woman rose to the position of assistant operations manager over the course of two years. A male co-worker who started working at the company at the same time but who did not advance started spreading gossip that her success stemmed from sleeping with a senior manager. A warehouse manager contributed to the gossip by talking about the rumors during a mandatory staff meeting that excluded the woman in question.

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