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Fresno Employment Issues Blog

Can I sue for wrongful termination?

There is perhaps no other type of legal issue that causes more misinformation than that devoted to what determines a wrongful termination. Many employees incorrectly believe that they have a case when their employers were well within their rights to let them go.

The laws overwhelmingly favor the employers being able to hire and retain those employees that they feel are the best fit to represent their companies. But — and there is always a but — employers may not discharge their employees for illegal reasons under the law.

Don't be fooled by employee misclassification myths

Sometimes employers take advantage of their workers by misclassifying them as contract workers when they actually are company employees. Additionally, the laws are ambiguous enough that a worker may qualify as an employee under federal laws but still retain his or her status as an independent contractor (IC) under California state laws.

Let's examine some other myths associated with worker misclassification.

  • Getting a 1099 tax form automatically means you are an independent contractor. While independent contractors do receive 1099s, you may be classified as such for tax purposes but actually be an employee.
  • Independent contractors are ineligible for unemployment insurance (UI). Not necessarily. There can be cases where injured workers do qualify for UI even if certain business entities consider them to be ICs.
  • You got paid "under the table," so you aren't an employee. Being on the payroll is not what determines your employment status, That's determined by the scope of your work in relation to the legal definition of employment. You should be aware that you will be responsible for all income tax owed on your wages, however.
  • You started as an IC, so your status shall remain that. If your employment relationship with a company changes over time, so may your status.

Sexual harassment on the job is not just a Hollywood issue

While the scandal involving Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein dominates media headlines, for many victims of sexual harassment in the workplace, it's just another day in the office.

That such egregious behaviors are allowed to go unreported is possible because of the shame and fear of the victims and the network that protects these predatory industry leaders.

Attorney General denies transgender workers protection

This week, Attorney General Sessions issued a directive to prosecutors for the federal government. As such, the AG stated that "in all pending and future matters,'' the position of the Justice Dept. will be that transgender men and women are not protected from workplace discrimination by current federal civil rights laws.

According to the memo Sessions sent to all of the U.S. Attorneys' offices on Oct. 4, the attorney general interpreted the Civil Rights Act of 1964's Title VII to prohibit discrimination solely because of workers' biological sexes, and excludes protection for gender identities.

Can companies monitor workers' health using wearables?

With wearable health technologies evolving rapidly, perhaps it's only a matter of time until employees start receiving directives from management to start using health tracking devices both on and off the job.

But where is the line between an employee's free time and the company clock? Can companies' wellness programs go too far?

Have you been told any of these misclassification myths?

Employers can use various guises to pay their workers less than what is legally owed them, or to deny them the benefits to which they would otherwise be entitled to receive. One way this is done is through misclassification of a worker's status.

Below are some common myths about worker misclassification it's good to be aware of.

  • It doesn't matter whether I'm classified as an employee or an independent contractor.

Woman who lost sex discrimination suit blasts employer in book

Ellen Pao knows a thing or two about discrimination in the Silicon Valley tech industry. She experienced it firsthand and sought justice through the California civil courts. Then she wrote a book to tell the world about the way women who work in a typically male-dominated industry are systemically treated.

Pao spent six years working for Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in the capacity of a managing partner's chief of staff and as a junior partner. She claims her former company was viewed as "one of the three most powerful venture-capital firms in the world."

Gender diversity drama swirls around Google memo, firing

By now, almost everyone has heard about the engineer for Google who got fired earlier this week because of a reported violation of the code of conduct for the company. His dismissal was related to the release of an allegedly sexist memo the employee wrote about diversity, which read in part, "We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism."

On the website for the National Labor Relations Board, it indicates that the fired engineer filed a complaint under the category of "Coercive Statements (Threats, Promises of Benefits, etc.)" with labor officials for the government.

California protects its workers from discrimination

Under the laws of California, employers cannot discriminate against or harass workers. However, that doesn't mean that it still doesn't occur -- only that workers have recourse to these prohibited acts.

What specific actions and behaviors are prohibited?

Did one of these sexual harassment scenarios happen to you?

Sexual harassment comes in many forms, and if you think sexual harassment is rare -- or less common -- in the modern world, you're mistaken. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to talk with one California worker who hasn't experienced or witnessed this kind of abuse on the job.

Aside from its prevalence, perhaps the most unfortunate thing about sexual harassment is the fact that people who are victimized by the abuse tend to stay quiet. Men and women who find themselves subjected to demeaning sexual banter, comments about their body or an onslaught of sexual offers often let the abuse continue, thinking that if they speak up, they will suffer employment setbacks as a result -- or worse, lose their job.

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