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Glendale Legal Blog

Gender discrimination in today's workplace

It's an unfortunate fact of life that gender discrimination still permeates American society, including in the workplace. Citizens of California might be surprised to learn that studies have shown how gender discrimination impacts both genders and harms their opportunities when they pursue jobs that tend to be associated with the opposite sex, i.e. when a woman applies for a "man's" job or vice-versa.

The study began when a sociologist wanted to know to what extent gender discrimination affects each gender in the workplace. She sent out 3,000 applications to different jobs, both working-class and middle-class. The researcher chose jobs that tended to be affiliated with one sex significantly more than the other, such as "male" jobs that required strength and mechanical ability or "female" jobs that required good communication skills and friendliness. After that, she waited to see which applications ended up in an interview

Former employee describes pattern of race discrimination

Members of the gamer community in California might dream of working at companies such as Blizzard. However, a former Blizzard employee has spoken out about the allegedly discriminatory treatment he experienced while he was working on the Hearthstone esports circuit.

According to the man's social media post, the culture of inclusion at the company only applies if people are not people of color. The man, who is of Hispanic heritage, reports that he was repeatedly tormented over the fact that he was Mexican by a female team member.

Are you getting the breaks you deserve?

A long shift can seem even longer if you do not get a chance to take a break. Stopping to grab a bite is not the same as taking time to sit and rest so your body and mind can recharge. Unfortunately, not even half of the states in the country require employers to provide a period of time off the clock so you can sit and eat in peace. However, California does have such a law.

If you are a non-exempt worker in California, meaning that you receive an hourly wage and overtime if you work more than 40 hours a week, your employer has certain rules to follow regarding your breaks. Having a general understanding of those rules may help you recognize if your employer is violating your rights.

Confronting retaliation on the job

When employees in California witness or experience inappropriate or discriminatory behavior in the workplace, they may want to take action but be concerned about the potential to face retaliation. In fact, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission noted that retaliation is a common form of discrimination in and of itself. Equal employment laws prohibit workers or even job applicants from being punished or targeted because they complained about discrimination or asserted their rights regarding workplace harassment. Employers that fire workers, cut their hours or deny them raises as a result of raising these issues are violating the law.

There are a number of protected activities for which employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees. These include filing a complaint with the EEOC, participating in an investigation or pursuing a lawsuit; witnesses are also protected. It is also illegal to punish employees for answering questions during a harassment investigation at the company. Workers have the right to refuse to follow discriminatory orders, to refuse sexual advances and to proactively intervene to help others being targeted for harassment and discrimination. Employees also have the right to ask other workers about their wages, as this is a mechanism to uncover discrimination in pay that may go otherwise unrevealed.

What the law says about age discrimination

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) is designed to prevent workers who are 40 or older from being treated differently by their employers. It applies to employers in California and throughout the United States that have 20 or more employees. This is true whether the employer is in the private sector or is a state or local government. Furthermore, ADEA applies to the federal government and labor unions.

Under the terms of this legislation, employers are not allowed to use age as a primary basis for hiring, firing or making other employment decisions. This generally applies to decisions related to benefits, promotions and employee training programs. Although employers are allowed to ask for a job applicant's date of birth, it could be seen as a violation of age discrimination legislation. If a worker takes legal action against an employer or participates in legal action against an employer related to possible age discrimination, a company is not allowed to retaliate.

Goldman employee fired on maternity leave seeks $1.5 million

A public records request to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing has brought to light a gender discrimination complaint against Goldman Sachs Group Inc. A woman who had worked for Goldman Sachs for 15 years alleges that the company fired her for taking a four-month paid leave after the birth of her third child. A company spokesman said that her termination resulted from strategic business decisions. Her case remains in arbitration as she pursues damages of $1.5 million.

The woman had been a vice president in the Los Angeles office when she went on leave. She had expected her supervisor to accept her growing family because he had four children himself. However, he called her during her leave and dismissed her.

African Americans continue to experience discrimination in hiring

Anyone searching for a job in California could experience setbacks, but racial prejudice persists as a impediment to career development for African Americans and Latinos. A meta-analysis of all available research studies that tested job callback rates among applicants of various races concluded that hiring discrimination against African Americans has not improved at all since 1989.

The researchers who studied the findings of multiple experiments conducted across the years calculated that employers called back white applicants 36 percent more often than African Americans. Latino applicants gained some ground over the years, but white applicants still got job interviews 24 percent more often.

Can your employer retaliate by calling immigration?

If your employer is not paying you overtime wages you have earned, isn't paying you the appropriate minimum wage, is forcing you to work off the clock or is deducting inappropriately from your paycheck, that's less money you have to take home to your family, pay your bills and get a secure financial foothold for your future. That's not only isn't fair, it's against the law.

It can be scary to think about filing a complaint, wondering if you could be fired, demoted or worse. You may even fear that an employer could turn you in to immigration in retaliation for reporting a valid issue. It's important to understand that even if your immigration status makes you vulnerable, you are still protected by the law. It is illegal for your employer to use your immigration status as a weapon if you assert your employment rights. More specifically, your employer cannot:

Sexual harassment is still a problem for many companies

Despite the #MeToo movement and the increased spotlight on sexual harassment, employees in California are still at risk on the job. The acting chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission noted that the federal agency deals with large numbers of sexual harassment complaints and can be nearly overwhelmed with the frequency of these issues. She noted that harassment continues to be a persistent, pervasive problem in many American workplaces, despite awareness-raising efforts and media exposure.

Following the widespread attention to sexual harassment in industries like news and filmmaking, the EEOC noted that human resources departments have a major role to play in reducing the risk of harassment in the workplace. According to the EEOC, employee training can play a major role in decreasing incidents of harassment. In June 2016, the EEOC released a report on workplace harassment, noting that there are three principles that employers can enforce. These include introducing firm guidelines on how workers treat one another, promoting bystander intervention and enhancing employee education.

Survey finds sexual harassment from investors common

In a new survey by Y Combinator (YC) and Callisto, more than 20 percent of female startup founders said that they had been harassed. This lead YC to create a process by which entrepreneurs in California and throughout the country can report harassment. The survey targeted 125 female founders that had received funding from YC.

Of those asked to participate, 88 responded to the survey, and a total of 56 had reported experiencing some sort of sexual impropriety. For instance, four had said that they were subject to unwanted sexual contact while another 18 said that they experienced sexual badgering. However, many chose not to report their experiences, and they cited a fear of backlash from investors as their motivation to remain quiet. Those who did report their experiences said that they wanted to protect others from possible repeat offenders.

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