Call Now For a Free Consultation

Local: 510-250-7278

Toll-free: 877-741-5160

Oakland Employment Law Blog

Hotel housekeepers at high risk of sexual harassment from guests

Hotel housekeepers in California usually enter rooms alone as they perform their cleaning duties. Unfortunately, this private environment often exposes them to assaults by guests. A survey conducted by the labor union Unite Here found that 53 percent of its members in Chicago and Seattle had experienced sexual harassment on the job.

Harassment took various forms, including physical intimidation, cornering, groping, solicitations for sex and guests walking around naked. A handful of major cities have passed laws that require employers to supply hotel workers with panic buttons so that they can summon security when threatened. A union for hotel workers in one city has included panic buttons in union contracts since 2013.

Workplace bullying can violate the law

People in Alameda County who face bullying on the job may be dealing with a problem that goes beyond interpersonal difficulties and represents a real legal issue. Workplace bullying may leave many victims confused about how to confront the problem. It may seem appealing to stay silent and hope that the harasser moves on or finds a new target; in addition, the threat of retaliation could loom large, especially if the bully is a supervisor or another person higher in the workplace hierarchy.

Bullying in the workplace is not, in and of itself, illegal. Simple mean behavior may be disruptive, immature and deeply divisive to a workplace, preventing the emergence of a healthy job environment. When it does not have an unlawful motivation, there is not usually a legal remedy available. However, in many cases, bullying is another form of workplace discrimination and harassment. Many instances of workplace bullying are not examples of random negative behavior but instead target individuals due to the characteristics that are protected from discrimination on the job.

Experience ranges could be discriminatory in nature

A 60-year-old man claims in a lawsuit that his supervisor at STMicroelectronics, Inc. made remarks that could be considered ageism. The man said that his supervisor said that the ideal candidate for a job that he was interested in applying for wouldn't have enough experience to be inflexible in the position. In 2008, the plaintiff had held the same position that he was interested in applying for in 2013.

While most companies understand that they can't directly tell older workers not to apply for jobs, they have other ways to discourage them from applying. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), ageism is an issue that they will take a closer look at. One poll found that about two-thirds of workers between the age of 45 and 74 have experienced or seen age discrimination at work. It is said to be an open secret that this occurs at workplaces both large and small.

Discrimination still prevalent in the workplace following #MeToo

Many California employees are aware of the #MeToo movement, which aims to bring gender inequality in the workplace to the forefront. While society appears to be pushing for equality, gender discrimination in the workplace is still prevalent as companies do not seem to be making any changes.

According to the poll, half of the women who responded reported that they had experienced gender discrimination at their workplace and had experienced unwanted sexual comments or an unwanted advancement made towards them. Even after the #MeToo movement has gained momentum, many of the polled employees said that they saw no improvement in their own workplace. Further, respondents to the poll said that both men and women do not treat other women as equals. This may be due to the fact that entertainment and media often pit women against each other in order to drum up drama.

Man wins $18 million in employment lawsuit

A jury in California awarded a man roughly $18 million in damages after finding that he had been wrongfully terminated. The 55-year-old had worked for Allstate Insurance for 30 years when he was let go months after being taken into custody by police. The incident occurred when his girlfriend wouldn't allow him to enter her home during a domestic dispute. He was originally charged with two counts of domestic violence as well as one count of drug paraphernalia possession.

However, two of the charges were dropped in January 2015 while the other was dropped later in the year. The company investigated the matter and determined in February 2016 that he had not violated any policies. After receiving a request from the man's former girlfriend for another investigation into the matter, he was terminated in the late spring of 2016.

When caste becomes a workplace discrimination issue

Since California is a center for the tech industry, a number of the workers from South Asia who come to the country on skilled worker visas may be located there. Some of those workers may have been among those who responded to a survey by the South Asian American human rights startup Equality Labs about workers from that region and caste discrimination in the United States.

Caste discrimination is thousands of years old, but it is rarely discussed in the United States. However, in areas where there is a sizable immigrant population of South Asians, it may emerge in the form of being unable to date someone of another caste, being made to sit somewhere else or being the target of slurs. Unfortunately, it can be a difficult issue to address because most Americans do not understand or recognize caste discrimination.

Pregnancy discrimination can taint the workplace

Working parents in California are not alone in their concerns about how their pregnancy and parenthood will be treated by their employers on the job. Even U.S. senators may have reason to share in these concerns as has come to light following the pregnancy of Sen. Tammy Duckworth, the first senator to deliver a child while in office. She may be prevented from participating in deliberation and voting during her parental leave as senators must be physically present in order to vote and children are barred from the floor of the Senate, unlike many other national parliaments.

Numerous parents face some of the same problems, such as a lack of a formal paid parental leave policy, but without the advantage of a senatorial vantage point. Parents may face workplace discrimination due to their pregnancy or their parenting role despite existing protective civil rights legislation like the Pregnancy Discrimination Act or the Family and Medical Leave Act.

IBM faces allegations of age discrimination

Workers in California and around the country who are 40 or older are protected by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. However, a report from ProPublica and Mother Jones suggests that IBM has taken many different steps to reduce the number of workers it has in that age range. This has been done by asking some to retire early or to move thousands of miles to keep their jobs.

In the past, IBM was known as a company that would reward workers for their loyalty, but a shift reportedly began taking place in 2014. This was when the organization decided to change its focus to providing cloud storage and data analytics. Instead of older workers, the company decided that it wanted millennials to make up a larger portion of its workforce. According to ProPublica, IBM got rid of 20,000 workers who were 40 or older in the past five years.

Microsoft sued by female employees

Workers throughout California and the rest of the country are supposed to be protected from disparate treatment in the workplace. However, even the nation's top companies sometimes fail their employees. According to a report from Reuters, there were 238 sexual harassment or gender disparity complaints made by female Microsoft employees between 2010 and 2016. This was revealed as details from a 2015 lawsuit against the company were recently made public. It claims that female workers were passed over for promotions or other opportunities.

Of the 118 gender discrimination claims, the complaint says only one was considered founded by the company. Microsoft says that the number of claims made and considered founded should not be made public as it could discourage others from coming forward. According to Pew Research, 50 percent of women working in tech/math fields say that they have experienced gender discrimination. This is about 10 percent higher than the rate for women in other fields.

Google sued for discrimination against white and Asian men

A former Google employee has filed a lawsuit against the California-based company for discrimination. According to the complaint, YouTube, which is owned by Google, pressured recruiters to exclude white men and Asian men when hiring as a way to increase the company's diversity.

The lawsuit said that some of the hiring practices included "Project Mirror", which was where employees from marginalized groups would be specifically assigned to interview candidates that were their gender or their race. Further, the lawsuit noted that in one hiring round, all software engineering interviews from applicants that were non-diverse and below a specific experience level were cancelled.