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San Francisco Employment Law Blog

California senate pays $350,000 discrimination claim

A former employee of the California Senate won a discrimination suit against her former employer for failing to accommodate her needs and retaliating against her for requesting accommodations. The Senate was ordered to pay the former employee $350,000 -- a figure that's at least twice as high as any previous settlement.

The former employee claimed that she was raped by an Assembly employee in late 2016. She reported the rape to the police, but the alleged rapist was never charged. The Assembly hired its own lawyers to investigate and failed to substantiate her allegations.

Were you fired or wrongfully terminated? What's the difference?

Absent a clear violation of your contract, what's the difference between being unfairly fired and a wrongful termination?

Neither are pleasant experiences, to be certain. Being unfairly let go from your position can happen for a number of reasons -- whether the boss just doesn't like you or there were unrealistic expectations about your performance from the start. You can't do much about it when you're treated unfairly -- unless you're treated illegally. That's what turns a firing into a wrongful termination.

The corporate culture is shifting against sexual harassers

There's been a remarkable change in the way that America is approaching the idea of gender equality and rights -- especially where sexual harassment is concerned. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reports that it has filed 50 percent more lawsuits regarding sexual harassment in 2018 than in the previous year, and charges filed with the commission have increased by 12 percent.

In addition to vocalizing their experiences and taking legal action, victims of sexual harassment are also getting results. The EEOC also reports that it has found reasonable cause for complaints 1,200 times -- which is up from 970 the previous year. Altogether, the agency has collected $70 million for victimized employees -- a significant increase from the $47.5 it recovered in 2017.

Pregnancy discrimination at work: Your rights

Sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination in the workplace has dominated national conversations as of late -- but there's another form of discrimination that also affects the ability of women to get ahead: pregnancy discrimination.

Biases against pregnancy aren't new. Back when married couples on TV had to sleep in separate beds, women used to be routinely required to leave numerous professions once their pregnancies started "showing," because merely being pregnant in public was somehow scandalous.

Being fired unfairly? Handle yourself like a professional

Nobody enjoys being fired, but the whole experience is somehow vastly worse when you know you don't deserve it and believe it's nothing more than retaliation for exercising your rights as an employee.

The important thing to do in this situation is to focus on your goals and your future -- you want to leave yourself in the best possible position in case you decide to pursue legal action based on a wrongful termination.

Don't let the backlash against 'MeToo' intimidate you

America has been suffering from a lot of divisive beliefs lately -- including those surrounding the #MeToo movement.

Many people believe the movement helped open the door to conversation about sexual harassment and sexual assault -- as well as reduce the stigma that victims often felt. Simply realizing that they aren't alone in their experiences has helped many victims find their voice and new strength. However, a surprising amount of people -- 40 percent in at least one survey -- indicate that they feel like the movement has gone too far.

How do you confront racist comments in the workplace?

Are you wondering what you can do to help stop racist comments and jokes in the workplace?

Racism is a community issue and it will only end when it becomes clearly unacceptable by community standards. That will only happen when enough people decide to take a stand and call out racism whenever they hear it.

How to avoid showing your age on your resume

Ageism and age discrimination can be a real problem when you're over 50 and trying to find a job. No matter what your qualifications and enthusiasm for a position, some employers won't seriously consider you if your resume makes you look too old.

Hiding your age on a resume to get your foot in the door isn't as simple as leaving a few dates off it. Instead, you need to make your resume look current and suited for the digital age. This means creating one that may be a lot different than the last ones you sent out a decade (or more) ago.

What do you do if you're handed a performance improvement plan?

Performance improvement plans, or PIPs, are part of an employer's paper trail. PIPs are supposed to be tools that employers can use to address deficiencies in an employee's work. They're also supposed to be tools that help the employee understand exactly what he or she has to do in order to bring his or her performance up to expectations.

In reality, they're usually part of a paper trail that employers try to build to insulate themselves against wrongful termination claims. It's not uncommon for the PIP to be so unrealistic in its goals that employees subjected to them quit in frustration. Those that remain seldom manage to meet the lofty requirements necessary to show improvement as given in the PIP.

What type of sexual harassment at work is actionable?

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a complicated issue. People are often confused about what the difference is between generally boorish behavior and something that is legally actionable.

This is what everyone should know about sexual harassment in the workplace.

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