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Oakland Employment Law Blog

Discrimination against female doctors common

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco found that physicians who were also mothers faced discrimination at work. The study was inspired by comments made by female doctors on an online forum called Physicians Moms Group. Researchers created a series of questions that asked respondents to discuss their working conditions and whether they had experienced burnout or had been discriminated against.

Of the nearly 6,000 women who had responded to the survey, more than three-quarters said that they had been discriminated against at work. Of those who had experienced discrimination, 66 percent said that they experienced gender discrimination while 35 percent said that they have been the victim of maternal discrimination. The most common forms of maternal discrimination according to the survey were related to being pregnant or taking maternity leave. Breast feeding was another common source of discrimination, which surprised researchers because it is a generally accepted fact in the medical community that breast milk is good for babies.

Cancer patients and workplace discrimination

California residents who have cancer and are still working should know that many in their situation still face workplace discrimination. This is in spite of the Americans with Disabilities Act , according to a study published in a peer-reviewed medical journal. However, the study also shows that oncologists and oncology providers can help with creating customized and effective workplace accommodations for people with cancer.

The Americans with Disabilities Act was established in 1990. It was amended in 2008 so that the impairment due to chronic diseases could be one of the disabilities included in the ADA.

HR departments and allegations of sexual harassment

Some California employees who have faced sexual harassment in the workplace may have also found that their company's human resources department did not protect them or investigate as effectively as it should have. According to some obervers, some HR departments are more focused on protecting high performers and top executives than responding effectively to sexual harassment complaints. HR departments may run into conflicts because of a lack of independence, and they may find themselves investigating the very people they work for.

Experts say that while many companies may have sexual harassment policies in place, they do not follow through in upholding those policies. Once an employee files a complaint, HR departments should ideally conduct investigations and ensure that there are consequences for sexual harassment. The employee should also not face retaliation for reporting harassment.

Why companies have not stopped workplace sexual harassment

California employees may be aware that there has been an increasing number of sexual harassment scandals occurring in large companies. Some of the high-profile cases have included employers such as Fox News, Uber and Sterling Jewelers. There are several reasons why the scandals are occurring and will likely continue to occur.

In the above cases, it appeared that there were no policies in place that prevented sexual harassment incidents or that even allowed the company to properly investigate and effectively deal with incidents when they occurred. If the company does have a policy that deals with sexual harassment, it is often more about protecting the company than the affected employees. For example, several companies that offered hotlines used them as a way to prepare themselves against any potential legal action that may be taken against them.

Religious discrimination in the workplace

California employers must take steps to ensure that religious discrimination does not occur in their workplaces. It is important to keep in mind that for the purposes of determining religious discrimination, religion is not limited to the major world faiths like Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism. It may also include much smaller and lesser-known religions and belief systems as well as people who are atheists.

There are several types of religious discrimination that employers must keep an eye out for. One is treating people differently, including failing to hire or promote them, because of their religion. Another is remaining silent while an employee is harassed because of his or her religion. Not acting when an employee is harassed can make it appear as though the employer condones the behavior. Employers are also not permitted to retaliate against workers who report religious discrimination. Finally, a worker cannot be discriminated against due to the religion of another person with whom he or she has a relationship. This practice is known as associational bias.

Protection for transgender employees

California offers certain protections to transgender people, but this may not be the case in other states. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is the federal agency that protects workers against discrimination, has said that transgender people are still protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, the Trump administration has indicated it wants to roll back some of these protections, and the EEOC might be under pressure to shift its position as well.

In 2015, an opinion from the Department of Education stated that students must be treated in accord with their gender identity. The following year, both the DOE and the Department of Justice put forth statements that transgender students needed to be allowed to use the locker rooms, bathrooms and other facilities of their choosing. When several states and two school districts filed a lawsuit, an injunction was issued against this requirement. The government responded that the injunction should only apply to the places that had filed a lawsuit. This was withdrawn on Feb. 10 by the Trump administration.

Disability discrimination claims increase in 2016

California residents may understand that discrimination should not occur in the workplace. However, according to the EEOC, discrimination claims rose around the country in 2016, and disability discrimination claims are also on the rise. In 2016, claims based on disability discrimination rose 30 percent despite the fact that disabled workers comprise only a small portion of the overall workforce. Roughly 20 percent of the population as a whole is disabled.

There are many reasons why a disabled person may not be employed. In some cases, individuals prefer not to work or refrain from working to retain their benefits. In other cases, they would like to work but can't find anyone willing to hire them. Those who do find work may be employed in part-time jobs that offer low wages. They may also be subject to retaliation, harassment and denied access to reasonable accommodations to help them do their jobs.

Preventing gender bias in the workplace

California women often experience both gender bias and sexual harassment on the job. The problems that are faced by female employees transcend income levels as women in entry-level and executive positions face gender-based employment discrimination. A poll of female advertising industry employees found that 54 percent of women in that occupation feel vulnerable at work because of their gender.

Employers and supervisors can do a lot to prevent gender bias and sexual harassment in the workplace by setting the tone for a nondiscriminatory workplace. The first step that employers can take to prevent gender bias is to implement a workplace discrimination policy and make sure every staff member understands it. The policy should include ways for employees to report discrimination or harassment when they see it.

Amtrak employee wins settlement and returns to work

California employees who are in fear of losing their jobs after reporting potential risks may be interested to learn that a former Amtrak employee was awarded a nearly $900,000 settlement in that type of a case. The agent had raised concerns in October 2010 about the work an Amtrak contractor was completing as the contractor had been convicted for fraud in New York.

After the employee gave information to Amtrak's Dispute Resolution Office, he received his first negative performance review. In March of the following year, he was told his position was being eliminated. He attempted to apply for other positions that he was well qualified for, but was told that he did not have the proper training. Finally, in June, he was ultimately fired after Amtrak told him that it could not place him in a new position.

Yoga founder ordered to pay lawsuit with income

On Jan. 6, it was reported that a California judge ordered the founder of Bikram yoga to turn over proceeds from his business to his former legal adviser. The adviser won a $6.8 million judgement against him last year after winning a wrongful termination and sexual harassment lawsuit in 2016.

The adviser's attorney stated that the adviser, who worked for the Los Angeles yoga school from 2011 to 2013, was fired when she refused to assist the founder with covering up a rape allegation. The adviser claimed that he also touched her inappropriately. Following the lawsuit, she was awarded $1 million in compensatory damages and approximately $6 million in punitive damages.