A Look at Employment Discrimination Laws
Employees and prospective employees are protected from discriminatory actions taken by employers and co-workers. These protections are guaranteed by state laws such as California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, and federal laws such as the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1991. Any employee has the right to consult an employment lawyer if he or she feels that a discriminatory action has taken place. A labor law attorney near San Jose can help you understand the applicable laws, investigate your case, and provide guidance with regard to your legal options.
1. Basis for Discrimination
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces employment law, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of a wide range of characteristics. For instance, it is prohibited for an employer to discriminate against an employee on the basis of age, disability, or national origin. Likewise, discrimination on the basis of genetic information, race, color, religion, sex, and pregnancy is also illegal. If you’re unsure of whether a behavior you’ve experienced falls into one of these categories, consult your employment lawyer.
2. Equal Pay for Equal Work
Another aspect of employment discrimination laws involves equal pay for equal work . Under the Equal Pay Act, men and women who work within the same company and carry out equal work must receive equal pay. Equal pay involves salary, bonuses, stock options, overtime pay, life insurance, travel reimbursement, and all other forms of financial compensation. Equal work is not necessarily defined by a person’s job title, but rather by the job responsibilities. For example, if Joan is a secretary to an executive at a company and John is an executive assistant at the same company, and both individuals carry out substantially similar job responsibilities, then it would be a violation of the Equal Pay Act for Joan to receive less compensation than John.
3. Retaliatory Actions for Claims
Under employment law, it is illegal for an employer to take retaliatory action against an employee who has filed a claim of discrimination or has reported discrimination. Some examples of illegal acts of retaliation include wrongful termination, demotions, harassment, and refusal to promote.
Putting an End to Sexual Harassment at Work
Employment law on both the state and federal level protects workers from sexual harassment on the job. Although many workers fear retaliation from taking action against sexual harassment, it’s actually illegal for an employer to fire or otherwise discipline a worker for reporting sexual harassment. If you feel you may have been a victim, contact a sexual harassment attorney right away. Your labor law attorney may help you obtain compensation and other damages.
As you’ll learn by watching this video, there are many forms of sexual harassment. This expert discusses overt advances in the workplace, in addition to the behaviors that can constitute a hostile workplace environment. You can fight back against sexual harassment by working with a sexual harassment attorney in San Jose. Knowledge is power to fight back.
Get the Facts on Sexual Harassment
Everyone has the right to a work environment that is free of threatening behaviors such as sexual harassment. Unfortunately, sexual harassment is far more common than you might think. It can happen to anyone at any time. Getting the facts about sexual harassment and understanding your right to speak with a sexual harassment attorney can both empower you and protect you. If you have been the victim of these types of unacceptable behaviors in the workplace, a sexual harassment attorney in San Jose can explain your legal options.
It’s a common misconception that sexual harassment only affects women and is only perpetrated by men. In fact, both men and women can engage in sexual harassment and they may both be the victims of it. Likewise, a person who commits sexual harassment may be a co-worker, supervisor, or even a non-employee. A victim of sexual harassment may not necessarily be the direct target of it. For example, a sexual harassment attorney may represent someone who has a job at a workplace characterized by a hostile environment.
Sexual harassment is a broad area that can encompass any verbal or physical behavior of a sexual nature that is unwelcome. Employment law recognizes that behaviors such as leering, sexual innuendo, lewd letters, and unwelcome touching are all forms of sexual harassment. A person might “accidentally” brush up against another person, or he or she might display pornography at work. Sometimes, unwanted sexual advances may be blatant , such as requesting sexual favors, or they may be subtle, such as spreading sexist cartoons in the workplace.
Each workplace should have an established sexual harassment policy. This policy should explain that sexual harassment is not tolerated in the workplace and it should inform employees how to report sexual harassment. Unfortunately, filing a complaint with an employer doesn’t always stop the behavior—particularly if the supervisor is the person committing the offense. Victims of sexual harassment should consult a sexual harassment attorney. The lawyer can file a complaint against that employer or company.
A Look at Wrongful Termination
If you think you may be the victim of wrongful termination, consult an employment lawyer in San Jose quickly. A wrongful termination attorney can explain the specific circumstances under which you may be able to file a wrongful termination claim against your employer . For example, you cannot be fired for whistleblowing, which refers to reporting your employer for unethical or unlawful practices. You also cannot be fired in retaliation for exercising a legal right, such as filing a discrimination claim.
You can hear more about other types of wrongful termination by watching this video. This legal expert explains the other wrongful reasons for termination, such as on the basis of gender, age, race, and national origin. She also urges wrongfully terminated employees to seek the help of an experienced employment lawyer in their area as soon as possible.
Attorney Spotlight: Steven Paul Cohn
Steven Paul Cohn is an employment lawyer who is dedicated to providing San Jose residents with exceptional legal representation. He has been practicing law since 1980, and in 1994, he founded the Advocacy Center for Employment Law. If you’re in need of a labor attorney in San Jose, you can find the expertise you need at our law firm. Our team thoroughly investigates complaints related to civil rights violations, unfair business practices, and sexual harassment. Mr. Cohn also handles cases related to all other aspects of employment law, including complaints of discrimination because of gender, age, and disability.
At the Advocacy Center for Employment Law, we believe our results speak for themselves; however, we invite you to explore the credentials of our employment lawyer. Mr. Cohn demonstrates his commitment to professional development by authoring numerous publications in the field, serving as a continuing education lecturer, and serving as a guest speaker at employment law symposiums. In addition to serving as a law professor at the University of Santa Clara, he is also an American Arbitration Association Arbitrator. Mr. Cohn has received numerous recognitions for his dedication to excellence, including being designated as the 1992 California State Bar Wiley W. Manual Award recipient. This award recognizes lawyers who provide outstanding legal representation on a pro bono basis.
Tips for Hiring an Employment Lawyer
There are many reasons why you might require a labor attorney in San Jose. An employment lawyer can help you before you’ve been hired by reviewing contracts before you sign them. An employment lawyer can also help you after you’ve been hired by assisting you with problems such as wrongful termination and workplace discrimination, in addition to negotiating severance agreements. These tips will help you identify the best employment lawyer in San Jose.
1. Request Referrals
Talk to friends and family members who have had problems in the workplace and have sought the help of a labor attorney. Ask them if they would recommend the employment lawyer they worked with. Otherwise, you can compile a list of labor attorneys near you by checking the state or local bar association.
2. Evaluate Background and Expertise
Check the websites of employment lawyers near you to read about their backgrounds and expertise. Select a lawyer who has been practicing employment law for years and is well-versed in the intricacies of civil rights violations, employment harassment, unfair business practices, and any other area relevant to your situation. The attorneys’ biographies may mention their professional associations and recognition. You may wish to select a lawyer who has demonstrated a commitment to ongoing professional development, such as by authoring publications on employment law, serving as a law professor, or participating in mediation and arbitration services.
3. Bring Relevant Documents
You can prepare for your initial consultation with the employment lawyer by compiling any relevant documents. You might bring past performance reviews, severance agreements, employment contracts, and relevant office memos, for example. If you’ve been the victim of employment harassment, bring any evidence you might have for these incidents, such as a written log of all discriminatory behaviors.
4. Discuss Strategies
Before deciding to hire the employment lawyer, ask him or her how the case should be handled and then decide whether you’re comfortable with that approach. Additionally, be sure to ask the lawyer if he or she charges on a contingency basis or offers a flat fee.
Whistleblower Protection Programs
Employees often feel as though they must look the other way when they observe fraudulent activities, unsafe practices, or other unlawful and unethical practices in the workplace. However, you should be aware that not only is whistleblowing protected under the law, whistleblowers stand to enjoy financial damages as a result of a successful investigation. If you suspect your employer is engaging in unlawful activities, you can consult an employment lawyer serving San Jose for more information about whistleblowing. Your labor attorney can explain OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program.
It ensures that your employer cannot legally take retaliatory actions against you, such as firing, blacklisting, disciplining, or demoting you. Failure to hire or rehire, adverse reassignment, pay or hour reduction, denial of benefits, threats, and intimidation are also unlawful activities under these statutes. If you believe your employer has taken retaliatory action, your San Jose employment lawyer can help you file a complaint.
Why People Become Whistleblowers
In an ideal world, all companies and other organizations would conduct business while upholding the strictest standards of ethics and obeying the letter of the law. Unfortunately, private businesses and even government agencies sometimes stray from this path. Sometimes, it may take a whistleblower to uncover the truth and correct any wrongs. Whistleblowing in San Jose and throughout the country tends to have a negative connotation. However, experts on employment law have found that most whistleblowers are actually dedicated workers, not disgruntled employees interested only in personal gain.
1. To Bring Positive Change in the Company
The typical whistleblower is an individual who is keenly interested in the success of the company. He or she works hard to contribute to the business and sees him-or herself as having a personal stake in the company’s future. When that individual uncovers misdoings by a co-worker, supervisor, or an entire department, he or she may choose to expose these problems in an attempt to improve the company.
2. To Protect the Public
Another reason why a person might become a whistleblower is to protect consumers and the public in general. Often, the misdeeds of businesses and organizations lead to some sort of risk for consumers. For example, a whistleblower might work for a medical device manufacturing company that has designed a new metal-on-metal hip implant. The person might uncover clinical evidence that this particular design has a high rate of early failure and can significantly increase the risk of heavy metal toxicity in patients. However, this individual realized that this clinical evidence was never shown to the FDA or to the public. The person might decide to become a whistleblower because he or she is concerned for the welfare of patients who use that particular hip implant.
3. To Obtain Compensation
One of the perks of being a whistleblower is that if any monetary damages are recovered as a result, the whistleblower is entitled to a portion of them. This may be one reason why whistleblowers have such a poor reputation. However, it’s worth noting that most whistleblowers first report problems to a supervisor or other person at their company. Then, if a cover-up is attempted or the problem is otherwise left unfixed, the person might turn to a labor law attorney for help. CA labor code section 1102.5 prohibits retaliation against whistleblowers. This may afford protection to those who do come forward.