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California Legal Blog

Tesla now faced with cases of workplace discrimination

The Tesla plant in Fremont has had its share of problems recently. There have been incidents of concern over worker safety, and now comes news of incidents of workplace discrimination. The reported incidents involved racial slurs and other race-related incidents at the California plant.

One worker reporting the alleged incidents cited instances of seeing swastikas in bathrooms, having racist taunts directed toward him and even receiving a drawing that illustrated racial stereotypes. He tried to let it go, but his son, also employed by Tesla, was subjected to similar treatment. Another employee claimed she was forced to scrub floors on her hands and knees, which was something she never saw a white employee asked to do.

Employment law changes for 2019

The year is drawing to a close and with the arrival of 2019 there will also be some new labor laws taking effect in California. These changes will have a direct impact on employment law. The changes coming will impact hourly incomes and overtime pay as well as create new laws around sexual harassment.

On Jan. 1, the minimum wage for companies with 25 or fewer employees will go from $10 per hour to $11, and larger companies will go from $11 to $12 per hour. Current law mandates that agricultural employers who employ 26 or more workers pay overtime after 10 hours in a day or 60 hours in a week. On Jan. 1, that will change to 9.5 hours in a day or 55 hours in a week.

Motor vehicle accidents can result from marijuana use

A tragic accident in California last year took the lives of a mother and daughter as they set out from home to run some errands together. The crash happened near Modesto. The driver of the other vehicle, 16 at the time of the wreck, will be tried as an adult on charges of vehicular manslaughter. Such charges are not uncommon for those who cause fatal motor vehicle accidents.

The girl was driving a 2006 Mercedes sedan and had two passengers, her 14-year-old brother and another 16-year-old boy. The other vehicle was a 2003 Ford Escape. The Mercedes was driving north when it collided with the Ford that was making a left-hand turn. The Ford flipped and came to a stop some distance from the intersection. According to witnesses, the Mercedes may have been speeding.

Questions about religion in an interview violate employment law

Workplace discrimination based on religion is not permitted in California or elsewhere in the country. Freedom to worship as one wishes is one of our most sacred freedoms and one that many of the original settlers risked their lives for. In a recent case in Menlo Park, a man believes he was turned down for a job because of his religion and alleges that this constitutes an employment law violation.

A man, who happens to be a Muslim, interviewed for a job with Samsung. In the course of the interview, the interviewer alluded to after-hours functions with the team that involved drinking. The interviewer was concerned that the candidate would not fit into this culture as Muslims do not drink. He further detailed these outings as lasting all night and that silly behavior ensued, which again the candidate would not be a part of due to his abstention from partaking of alcohol.

Workplace discrimination due to disability still an issue

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed into law in 1990. The act was meant to make workplace discrimination against the disabled illegal, and it included other measures intended to facilitate life for the disabled in California and throughout the country. In 2018, people are still fighting to get fair treatment in the workplace.

In a case involving a company in Carlsbad, an employee requested leave for medical treatment for a disability. In lieu of being granted the leave, the employee was fired. A lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), stating that the company had failed in providing the employee with an acceptable accommodation for her situation.

Can I sue more than once if my injury worsens?

Especially in the case of brain injuries, your initial injury may lead to other injuries, such as anxiety, PTSD or even depression.

So, if you sue over some type of injury and your condition worsens or becomes permanent following the settlement agreement, can you recover for damages you weren’t aware you required before?

Workplace discrimination in LosAngeles government

People in California are entitled to a safe and comfortable workplace when it comes to one's well-being. This includes a workplace free from sexual harassment and discrimination. A recent complaint has been brought against a Los Angeles city councilman. The complaint was lodged via MyVoiceLA, a new website created by the mayor. The website was created to allow staff members, commissioners and others to report allegations of  discrimination or harassment.

When a report comes in via the website, the Special Committee on Investigative Oversight reviews it and determines if the complaint warrants an independent investigation. If an investigation is launched, the findings are then forwarded on to the city council for any recommended action. The councilman named in the most recent complaint had been accused once before.

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.

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