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California Legal Blog

Motor vehicle accidents: California firefighter killed

Wild fires in California have been especially bad this year. Firefighters and others involved in battling the fires know that they risk their lives doing what they do. They may not expect to lose their lives in motor vehicle accidents commuting to the fires. That was the case for a contractor coming from Yuba who was going to be helping with the containment effort.

The man was driving westbound on Interstate 80 in the vicinity of Blue Canyon on his way to assist in fighting a fire near the Blue Canyon Airport early on a recent Tuesday morning. He was killed in a collision with another vehicle. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

Employment law and the question of binding arbitration

The #Metoo movement reminded people that in 2018 sexual harassment is still an issue in the workplace. There is a piece of employment law in California that can limit an employee's ability to file suit against an employer. Included in the documents that new employees sign as part of their employment agreement is an arbitration document that waives their right to sue the employer in the event of sexual harassment, discrimination, labor violations and other issues. Instead, such grievances would go to binding arbitration.

Arbitration is not governed by a judge or a jury nor does the arbitration process have much in the way of government oversight. Studies have shown that workers are less likely to win arbitration cases, and if they do win, they are frequently awarded less money than they might receive in a jury trial. Juries frequently respond favorably to workers and have been shown to side with workers more often and are more likely to award large dollar amounts in verdicts.

Firefighter suing for wrongful termination under employment law

Firemen in California put their lives on the line every day to protect people and property. The California Public Employees Retirement System is an organization put in place to, among other things, help make retirements affordable for firefighters. Companies are mandated to pay into the system if a firefighter works more than 1,000 hours per year. A firefighter is suing for wrongful termination in violation of employment law.

The firefighter in question brought to his employer's attention that part-time firefighters were working beyond 1,000 hours but were not receiving CalPERS benefits. The benefits are mandated by state law. The gentleman who brought this to the chief's attention was told it was not his issue to be concerned about and to not bring it up again. The man passed a promotion exam and received two positive performance evaluations. He also took his concerns regarding CalPERS to the area firefighter's association.

Poor driving conditions cost an L.A. driver nearly $3,000 a year

A new study just released by the National Transportation Research Group (TRIP) shows that vehicle repairs, safety issues and congestion cost a Los Angeles driver an average of $2,995 a year. That adds up to $61 billion each year for California drivers.

Congestion leads to lost time and increased gas usage. More repairs are needed due to driving on rough roads. Then there is the financial impact of getting into traffic accidents.

Changes to employment law may help to reduce harassment

In the year 2018 sexual harassment remains an issue for working women in California. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the media and entertainment industry where the issue was brought to the fore by the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Revelations in the wake of that case reveal that it is a much broader problem. In a recent survey, 41 percent of women who filed harassment claims were in the media or entertainment industry. The California Assembly is revising a 1994 employment law to further protect women.

The law already protects women in professional relationships such as between employee and employer, vendor or contractor. The revised law would also protect against harassment in relationships such as that between a woman and a mentor or advisor. This change recognizes that people such as directors and producers can have professional relationships and impact a person's career before an employer-employee relationship exists.

Workplace discrimination should not be tolerated

Discrimination in the workplace can take many forms. In a recent California workplace discrimination case, a woman took exception to language used by an investor in her company who used a racial slur on a recent broadcast of his television show. The investor was Bill Maher and he used a racial slur to describe himself during the show.

The woman in question worked for ATTN:, a Los Angeles based news startup that focuses on raising social consciousness among millennials. Mr. Maher is an investor in the company, and the woman took objection to the language used; she organized co-workers to protest his use of the racial slur. The woman and the people she organized were all African-American. Shortly after the protest group was formed, the woman who had organized it and made the original complaint was let go.

Key issues when reporting workplace sexual harassment

What can workers do when they face sexual harassment on the job? One key step can be to report the harassment.

Reporting such behavior can do many important things. For one, it could help with getting the harassment stopped. According to recent survey data, around three-quarters of workers who notify their employer of harassment report a resolution of the issue. Also, reporting workplace sexual harassment can create an important paper trail if a worker finds that they need to take legal action, such as filing a lawsuit or EEOC complaint, to stand up for their right to not have to face sexual harassment in the workplace.

This summer, be wary of pool accidents

Summer vacations are the perfect chance for California families to take their children to the local pool for swimming lessons or fun exercise. Most swimmers and parents expect the afternoon to be carefree aside from a bit of sunburn.

Unfortunately, too many people have suffered accidents at the pool. You may have seen news articles in past summers about dangerous drains, chemicals and lack of supervision leading to severe injuries. Despite news coverage, these accidents keep happening year after year.

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