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San Francisco Employment Law Blog

How do you document sexual harassment on the job?

It's very rare for one incident alone to give rise to a sexual harassment claim—most are based on numerous small incidents instead. But how do you document what's happening when there's often no one around but you and your harasser to see?

Keep a sexual harassment journal. Since it's hard to tell what might end up being important down the line, document as much as possible:

Former California principal alleges pregnancy discrimination

It seems hardly believable that a school district in this modern age wouldn't have a policy in place to deal with the maternity leave of one of its administrators.

Yet, that's precisely what the former principal of a California elementary school is alleging. Perhaps worse, the district admits that it wasn't pleased with her pregnancy or requests for accommodation but fails to see that as a problem.

Public policy trumps over at-will employment

If you had a good job with a highly-valued tech company, could you be lured away by a competitor that promised to be bigger and better?

That's exactly what one former Snapchat employee claims happened. The ex-employee claims he was lured away by the Facebook rival after being given inflated growth metrics by Snapchat recruiters.

Are younger workers most vulnerable to sexual harassment?

Are younger employees, particularly those in their teen years, especially vulnerable to sexual harassment?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission certainly thinks so. One of the agency's directors in San Diego said that young workers can be more vulnerable to sexual harassment because they may be unaware of their rights under the law.

Can sexual harassment among restaurant workers be stopped?

People don't just go out to eat -- they go out to be entertained. Restaurants increasingly are billed as places to cut loose and have a good time. Does that good time include sexually harassing the waitstaff? A lot of servers say that, unfortunately, it does.

Worse, management may not be exactly supportive of the servers' attempts to put a stop to the harassment. In many cases, the manager or co-workers may just be additional harassers that a server figures he or she has to put up with in order to keep the job.

Your employer's social media policy may not be legal

Do you know what your rights are when it comes to posting on social media about your job? Your employer may have a social media policy in place that makes it clear that you can't say anything negative about your company, boss or job.

If so, that policy may be violating the law.

Fighting age bias in the tech industry

How old is too old to be relevant in today's tech job market? If the number of lawsuits alleging age discrimination in California are any indication, it doesn't take long before you "age out" of the market as far as high-tech employers are concerned.

While the 90 or more lawsuits filed in California against tech giants like Hewlett Packard and Cisco are telling, there are some even more startling statistics that have come to light. While the median age of the U.S. worker is 42, the median ages of employees at tech companies are generally significantly lower. For example, at Facebook, the median age of its workers is only 29.

Age discrimination down, but continuing as workforce gets older

As people live longer, healthier lives, more remain in the workforce into their senior years. Many also continue working or seeking work because they're not in a financial position to retire.

The experience and skills brought by older workers can be valuable to employers, and many smart businesses realize that. As the workforce ages, as an attorney with the AARP Foundation Litigation notes, "there continues to be progress in understanding of the capabilities of older workers."

Wells Fargo now faces wrongful termination claims

Wells Fargo & Co. has had its share of troubles recently. Banking authorities are investigating illegal practices that employees were apparently instructed to follow, and the massive financial institution has already been issued millions of dollars in fines. Bank executives are expected to face congressional committees who are investigating the fraud allegedly perpetrated on bank customers. Meanwhile, Wells Fargo is also dealing with new accusations as hundreds of its California employees file suit for wrongful termination.

The suit alleges that workers were fired over the past 10 years for refusing to open fake accounts to keep up with mandatory sales quotas. However, Wells Fargo says it recently fired over 5,000 employees because they did open such accounts without permission from customers. The former employees accuse Wells Fargo of wrongful termination and withholding wages. They are seeking $2.6 billion in damages.

Pregnant women often face workplace discrimination

It is more common for pregnant women in California and beyond to work outside the home than in generations past. The federal government has dealt with workplace discrimination against pregnancy since the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The original act did not include pregnant women in its list of protected individuals, and for almost 15 years women struggled to convince Congress to amend the law. Finally, in 1978, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act was enacted to protect women from losing their positions simply because they were expecting.

However, because the law did not require accommodations for conditions women face when pregnant, many were still penalized for missing work due to doctor visits, morning sickness and recovery after delivery. Thirty years after the PDA was passed, the Americans with Disabilities Act went a little further by including pregnancy-related conditions in its definition of disabilities. While this amendment made conditions like anemia, preeclampsia and depression more acceptable as conditions needing accommodations, any woman who experienced a normal pregnancy free from those complications could not always expect reasonable accommodations.


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