Northern California Employment & Personal Injury Law Blog

Employment & personal injury law news, insights, and information.

Surveillance at work

Most workers think that they cannot be recorded at work. In fact, the opposite is usually true. An employer has the right to record with video or audio most places at work. An employer can conduct secret surveillance in open places where an employee could be observed by the naked eye, even if the employee thinks that they are not being recorded. An employer cannot places like a bathroom or changing room however; it would be considered an illegal invasion of privacy there.

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Sexual Orientation Laws in Employment - What San Francisco Bay Area workers need to know

The US Supreme Court this week made a much-publicized decision granting gay couples the right to marry no matter what state they are in.

What are the rules about sexual-orientation discrimination in the workplace?

There is no federal law prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination on the job. Fewer the half of the states have laws prohibiting it. California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act does make it illegal to discriminate on the job because of a worker’s sexual orientation. You can look at this map to see if your state has a law. Non-Discrimination Laws: State by State Information - Map

There is a proposed federal law, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (“ENDA”) that may eventually make it illegal in all states to discriminate based on sexual orientation. I believe this law will eventually pass and become the law of the land. I also believe that before too long the rest of the states will adopt similar laws.

In the meantime, other laws, like sexual harassment and sexual discrimination laws, may protect a victim of discrimination.

If you feel you have been discriminated on the job, contact San Francisco Bay Area Employment Law Attorney John Furstenthal at (925)-284-1718 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation.

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The Verdict Is In: Ellen Pao v. Kleiner Perkins

Last month, I described the high profile employment case of Pao v. Kleiner Perkins, in which a high level employee of the venture capital firm claimed sexual discrimination. The jury found in favor of the defendant, giving Ms. Pao nothing.

This case highlights that a plaintiff in this kind of case needs clear evidence of gender bias to prove her case. The jury did not believe that she provided enough evidence that she was treated differently because she was a woman. They believed that she was not promoted, and eventually fired, because of her poor performance. Often times, an employee believes that because she was treated badly, demoted, refused promotion, or fired, it must be because of her gender. An employee, or plaintiff in this case, needs to show that the motivation for a termination is gender. It is by definition hard to prove what someone is thinking, or motivated by, when s/he acts. No one says, “I’m going to demote you because you’re a woman.”
The case will hopefully be powerful at least to force employers to reconsider how and why they are acting and treat women more fairly.

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In the news: Ellen Pao v. Kleiner Perkins

In San Francisco, the high profile case of Pao v. Kleiner Perkins has been continuing for several weeks. The defense is finishing its witnesses and closing arguments will go ahead shortly.

This case is about a woman at the large venture capital firm (mostly tech investing) who claims that she was the victim of gender discrimination and harassment. She argues that men were hired ahead of her. She claims that she was not invited to meetings and on trips because she is a woman. She claims that she was fired after complaining about the gender discrimination.

Kleiner Perkins, in their defense, said that she was not a competent leader, and that their promotions of other women showed no bias against women.

The case has produced ugly witness testimony about affairs and stereotyping. It also underlines the tech industry’s low employment of women.

More to follow when the jury reaches a verdict.

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California Bill Would Give employees Greater Certainty in Work Hours

California state Assemblymembers David Chiu and Shirley Weber introduced AB 357 in February 2015. The "Fair Scheduling Act," if passed, would require employers to provide a schedule to employees at least two weeks in advance. It would give workers additional pay if there are any last minute changes. In restaurants and retail stores, last minute scheduling and cancellations regularly make workers' wages uncertain and inconsistent. Workers with children can be put in an awkward position without flexible childcare. It would apply only to food and retail establishments with 500 or more California employees. California would be the first state in the US to establish such a law. Stay tuned to this blog to see if the bill becomes law in California.

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