Sexual harassment in the workplace is an unpleasant experience, whether it’s by an ordinary co-worker or a celebrity. Nobody likes being treated as a piece of property or plaything. Workplace harassment affects more than your feelings, too. It usually interferes with the performance of your day-to-day duties. That can result in a lack of promotions and pay raises, through no fault of your own. Battling against workplace harassment is difficult in a typical office setting. If your harasser is famous, or highly placed in the corporate world, you’ll face additional challenges. That’s no reason to put up with sexual harassment. You can level the playing field by consulting with sexual harassment lawyers.
Celebrity Cases Bring Unwanted Attention
When a celebrity becomes involved in a sexual harassment case, it attracts a lot of attention. It doesn’t matter whether the person is a celebrity in show business or any other field. There have been a number of well-known cases where harassment charges are brought up. It is never easy for the victim of the harassment. Certainly celebrity cases, such as the allegations against Bill Cosby, create a lot of turmoil for everyone connected to them. The public stature of the harassing celebrity can add increased pressure on the victim to just go along. When Anita Hill spoke up against Clarence Thomas, the fact that he was nominated for the Supreme Court brought more scrutiny than if he was simply a lawyer in private practice. Even more attention fell on everyone involved when the accused harasser was Bill Clinton, who was the sitting President of the United States.
Stand Your Ground
It is challenging when you know you will face the harsh light of scrutiny. That often happens when anyone brings up harassment charges. In any field, there are celebrities. When they misbehave, everyone connected to the situation gets attention whether they want it or not. Famous chefs, well-known religious leaders, political figures, business executives, all have the same aura of celebrity that a Hollywood star can have. The ability to call on a celebrity reputation to brush off accusations can be intimidating to the victim of workplace harassment. But before the law, everyone’s stature should be equal. The big ego of a workplace celebrity can create the specter of job termination if you move forward with your accusations. If you seek the help of employment lawyers, you can make your case just as effectively as you can when the harasser is Ordinary Guy.
Always Document the Events
When faced with celebrity sexual harassment in the workplace, it’s important to stay determined. Always make and keep records of individual incidents of sexual harassment. These steps avoid a he said/she said situation. These steps have nothing to do with the nature of celebrity and everything to do with standing your ground.
- Keep a log of the unwanted interactions, with dates and times
- Make a note of other people who were present and saw any part of the interaction with your harasser
- Document any physical interactions. Use photos to document injuries
- Work with an attorney, and keep the lawyer informed of any changes in the situation
Repercussions for a worker who brings a harassment charge against a celebrity can be very similar to those a workplace whistleblower might face. In high-profile cases, sexual harassment lawyers who are also familiar with whistleblower retaliation are more likely to be able to help you. Sexual harassment in the workplace creates a hostile work environment for the victim. When a work environment also contains the high energy charge of a celebrity, the victim of harassment faces an uphill battle.
Sexual Harassment Lawyers Can Help
If you’re the victim of celebrity sexual harassment, the best thing you can do is consult with an employee rights lawyer. Having solid legal help at your side makes an important difference. The sexual harassment lawyers at the Employee Rights Law Group are ready to help you in your fight for justice — no matter how famous your opponent might be.
There are many influential Supreme Court cases that have shaped American history. These cases influenced how citizens exercised the civil rights granted to them by the United States Constitution. Many have set precedents on when and how a citizens’ civil rights are violated. Civil rights lawyers agree that these are some of the most influential decisions made by the Supreme Court:
Marbury v. Madison (1803)
Civil rights attorneys note this case as one of the most important cases in Supreme Court history. This case was the first of its kind to use the “judicial review” principle. This principle gave courts the power to overturn an Act of Congress they considered against the constitution. This case was an essential element in establishing the Supreme Court as a separate branch of government. It put the Supreme Court on a par with the legislative and executive branches as a check and balance component of the government.
Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)
In 1892, the State of Louisiana passed a law that legalized segregation of blacks and whites. In a groundbreaking decision, civil rights lawyers lost the case. The Supreme Court upheld the Louisiana segregation laws. This opened the door for the famous separate, but equal era of segregation. The only dissenter, Justice John Marshall Harlan, remarked that the ruling would “stimulate aggressions, more or less brutal, upon the admitted rights of colored citizens.”
Brown v. Board of Ed. Topeka Kansas (1954)
This is probably one of the most famous victories for civil rights lawyers in the history of America. This civil rights case was actually five separate cases heard by the Supreme Court. Each case challenged segregation in public schools. The main case started in Topeka, Kansas. Segregation laws forced a student to walk several miles to attend a blacks only school while a whites only school was much closer.
Civil rights lawyers challenged the laws on the grounds that they were in violation of the 14th Amendment. This amendment states that every citizen has the right to equal protection under the law. The state claimed that prior Supreme Court decisions like Plessy v. Ferguson set the precedent for the laws to stay. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the civil rights attorneys and overturned the Plessy case precedent. This decision marked the beginning of the civil rights movement.
Miranda v. Arizona (1966)
Arizona police arrested a man by the name of Ernesto Miranda. They charged him with kidnapping and raping a woman. He was never informed of his rights, and he did not know to ask for a lawyer. He faced a grueling interrogation by police over the next two hours. Ernesto confessed to the crime through the interrogation. His civil rights attorneys later argued that police violated his rights, and appealed.
The Supreme Court acquitted Ernesto Miranda of the charges. They also ruled that police must inform all citizens under arrest of their rights before police may question them. Any information or statements acquired before a citizen learns their rights is inadmissible in court. This case became the grounds for the famous Miranda Rights that police must read to citizens upon arrest.
Roe v. Wade (1973)
Norma McCorvey of Texas was pregnant but did not want to give birth to the child. At the time, it was against state law for women to have an abortion. Taking the name of “Jane Roe”, she and civil rights lawyers sued the State of Texas. They claimed laws outlawing abortion violated her rights to privacy. The civil rights attorneys argued that the laws interfered in what Roe could or could not do with her own body. The state contended that an act of abortion was the same as murder. It was therefore in the state’s interest to protect the life of unborn children.
The Supreme Court ruled that laws prohibiting abortion were, in fact, a violation of a woman’s right to privacy. It was one of the biggest victories by civil rights lawyers. This decision opened the door for women across the nation to receive abortions. Despite this decision, abortion is still hotly debated, even today.
Civil Rights Lawyers Change Lives
These are just a few of the many groundbreaking court cases that relied on expert civil rights lawyers to change longstanding legal doctrines. They led to the creation of new laws and constitutional amendments that now protect every citizen’s rights.
Your relationship with your employer isn’t the same as one with family or friends. However impersonal it might be, employment lawyers would argue it still holds one important advantage. An employer-employee relationship usually starts with a clear understanding of each other’s expectations. It is usually written as a binding agreement known as an employment contract.
Employment Lawyers Share the Keys to a Successful Employment Contract
It is important to know the key elements of an employment contract. Every employee should read it very carefully to make sure both sides benefit from the agreement. Employment lawyers or other labor law attorneys can help if the language is too hard to read. Here are some of the key elements that an employment contract typically contains:
1. Definition of the Position
A contract should clearly define all job requirements and duties essential to the position. It should also include the location and hours of employment. Make sure that the contract clearly defines all employee expectations, as well as the expectations of the employer.
2. Length of Agreement
A contract should clearly spell out the length and term of the agreement. It should include an original date of appointment, and the date of the end of the contract if needed. It should also include conditions for the employee or employer to extend, reduce, or terminate the contract.
3. Performance: Held to High Standards
Contracts should clearly define all primary and secondary performance goals. Primary performance goals are considered essential to your job. Secondary performance goals are those that involve added commissions or bonuses, for example. Contracts should cover all measurable performance standards that employees will need to meet. These might include things like production goals, volume expectations, or quotas. Employers should also include any other measurements they’ll use for holding employees accountable.
4. Compensation: The Employee’s Take
Of course, employment lawyers would say that a contract is not complete without discussing compensation. After base wages, a contract should outline policies about overtime or under time. If there any commissions, bonuses, or incentive programs, a contract should outline these as well. There should also be language about how the termination of a contract affects unpaid wages, and any other compensation programs that employers may offer.
5. Benefits: Everything Else an Employee Gets
Contracts should also include any additional benefit packages or insurance. Employment lawyers also agree that if an employee needs any licenses, or will be required to pay dues or memberships for employment, it should be included in the contract as well. The contract should clearly state who pays, and whether licensing or membership is handled by the employer or employee.
6. Termination: the End of the Relationship
Finally, any contract should detail what happens at the end of the contract. Employment lawyers believe that termination clauses should include scenarios for termination “with cause” and “without cause.” Contracts should also include any severance packages. They should also discuss how wages, commissions, bonuses, and other compensation will be handled in the event of a contract termination.
Other Elements for Employment Lawyers
Employment lawyers and labor employment attorneys also have pointed out other miscellaneous language a contract may include, such as:
Employees promise to treat specific information as a trade secret. They promise not to disclose the secret to others without proper authorization.
Employees agree not to solicit a company’s clients or customers after leaving the company, for his or her own benefit, or for the benefit of a competitor.
Employees agree not to ask a company’s employees to join his own company or join a competitor after they leave the company.
Employees agree not to work for or start a similar business that will compete against their former employer.
Property Rights Clauses: Whose Is It?
Employees produce goods such as research notes, program code, art work, or other products as a result of their employment. Clauses like these determine who owns this property.
Employment Lawyers Understand Complex Contracts
Employment contracts are complex documents. They require a sharp mind to fully grasp and understand. An employment lawyer or other employment law attorney can help employees understand the various clauses of an employment agreement. A full understanding the terms of your employment protects you and your employer. Most of all, avoiding misunderstandings ensures a long-lasting and beneficial relationship for everyone.
Workplace discrimination brings down the morale of all employees. Even if you’re not the target of discriminatory behavior, it can affect the overall atmosphere in any job setting. Discrimination is defined as unfairly treating a person or group of people differently. In practice, discrimination can be many things. A good discrimination lawyer can outline a long list of behaviors that constitute workplace harassment. It can be harder for an individual to identify discrimination in practice, and do something about it. Here are some tips that employees can use to help protect themselves and their co-workers against unfair discrimination:
Respect Racial and Cultural Differences
People aren’t identical. It’s important to accept people’s differences and work together as a team. Respecting cultural differences doesn’t require an in-depth study of every race and culture on the planet. It simply means that everyone should be treated as an individual human being, first and foremost.
Be Professional in Speech and Conduct
It’s important to address coworkers in a respectful manner, and always wise to think before you speak. It’s also helpful to put yourself in another person’s shoes. Being mindful of other people’s feelings, and remaining courteous at all times, will minimize the chance of causing a hostile work environment.
Let Calmer Heads Prevail
If you think that something you’re about to say or do might be hurtful towards another employee, then you should stop before you start. Especially when emotions run high, making insinuations or continuing to argue will only make things worse. Usually, the best move you can make is to simply walk away and allow yourself to calm down before continuing. Likewise, if you notice a co-worker getting upset, it’s best to suggest that they remove themselves from the confrontation until they’ve cooled off.
Avoid Culturally Offensive Humor
Everyone has heard a co-worker crack a joke at the expense of someone else. Most people consider good natured ribbing as a form of bonding between employees, but it can easily turn into a form of shunning and shaming. This inevitably leads to issues of a hostile work environment, and invites workplace retaliation. When in doubt, it’s usually best to leave pranks and jokes for outside the workplace.
Know Your Company Policies
You can empower yourself by knowing how the company handles workplace discrimination. If you know the correct procedure for reporting discrimination in their workplace, you’re more likely to make a positive difference. Knowing the ground rules can help you, and others, too. For example, if you see something that looks like gender discrimination, you can instruct the victim on the proper way to file a complaint.
Learn Your Legal Rights and Responsibilities
It’s easier than ever to find out information about discrimination. A quick search on the internet for examples of discrimination delivers a wealth of examples on discrimination and harassment. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission also has excellent information about workplace discrimination and employee rights.
Being pro-active is important to help stop workplace discrimination. The first step in combating workplace discrimination is identifying it and reporting it. Report incidents of inappropriate, discriminatory, harassing or abusive behavior to your supervisor. If your immediate manager can’t help, try sending a message to the Human Resources Department. Workers in unions find it especially useful to speak to a union representative.
If you’ve tried to resolve the situation on your own without success, don’t give up. then it may be time to speak to an employee rights lawyer. In the Los Angeles Area, call the Law Offices of Cathe L. Caraway-Howard. She and her legal team have had overwhelming success in taking on cases of workplace discrimination, gender discrimination, and other issues of civil rights and labor law.
The signs were there — you just didn’t know it yet, or what to do about it. Workplace discrimination is often subtle and difficult to notice right away. If you believe that something doesn’t feel right, you might be hesitant to discuss it with coworkers. Complaints at work are usually frowned upon, and could even make matters worse. It can be even more difficult to prove discrimination without outside help. Many times, victims of workplace harassment and discrimination aren’t comfortable speaking with their superiors for fear of retaliation, and don’t know where to turn.
Here are a few signs a workplace may be discriminatory towards their workers, or that a single person has been unfairly targeted for workplace discrimination:
If store is only staffed by people who are similar in gender, race, religious or sexual orientation, there’s a chance this may have been intentionally done by the employer. It could be due to the demographics in the area. Other times, hiring managers ensure that only a certain type of people get hired. This can be done subconsciously, as a result of a comfort level with familiar people. Other times, it can be an overt case of discrimination against whole groups of people.
Same People, Same Roles
If an office is diverse, but women are all rank and file workers and only men become managers or executives, this may be a sign of a discriminatory environment. Of course, discrimination is not always that clear cut. There may be a specific reason why certain people are placed in certain roles and others are not, and may not be based on discrimination. A director looking for a group of actors who look Asian will probably not hire any African-American actors.
Skipped Over for Promotions
If you have all the right skills for a better job, and have been working diligently, it’s natural to be disappointed if you’re passed over when it’s time for promotions. You may eventually suspect workplace discrimination. It’s true that employees are not guaranteed bonuses, wage increases, or promotions. However, constantly being overlooked when lesser qualified candidates are receiving promotions can be a sign of workplace discrimination.
Increase in Workload
You could be a victim of workplace discrimination if you’ve suddenly been assigned more work than you can possibly complete in your allotted hours. If other employee workloads seem far more manageable in comparison, it may be worthwhile to ask why you are being assigned so much more work. If you don’t get results by telling your superior that that the work is overwhelming you, there is a strong possibility you are being subjected to workplace discrimination.
Responsibilities Are Being Diminished
Conversely, if an employee with many years of experience is suddenly being given fewer tasks to perform, there may be an issue with workplace discrimination. Speaking with a superior sometimes results in a sensible explanation of why work is scarce. There may be a legitimate reason that is not discriminatory. However, if this occurs continually, especially when other employees are being given more tasks, there may be an issue.
Federal and state laws require employers to to provide a safe workplace that is free from harassment and discrimination. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, harassment of employees is prohibited. But laws don’t solve every problem. If an employee believes they are experiencing workplace discrimination, it’s vital that they speak with a discrimination lawyer, employment lawyer or another civil rights attorney who is versed in labor laws. It’s smart to let an attorney hear about the problem, and let them make the determination if there is case of discrimination. Most attorneys provide a free initial consultation over the phone or via online chat. A good legal counsel will let a person know right away if they believe there is discrimination or harassment. They’ll be able to offer expert guidance on what steps to take next.
There may never be an end to workplace discrimination and harassment, but with the right tools, it can be identified and reduced significantly. Employees who know how to identify workplace harassment stand a better chance of reducing or eliminating hostile work environments. That will make their workplace happier and healthier for everyone to work in!
“Do me a favor, won’t you?” That comment may not start out sounding like a problem, but for many workers it has been the opening move in a disturbing “game” of harassment in workplace conditions. It may not be as blatant as the infamous Hollywood “casting couch,” but it can still have disturbing repercussions when a supervisor asks an underling to do something outside the parameters of their job description, especially when the “favor” is a personal one.
Classic Quid Pro Quo Harassment
Once upon a time, people only thought of sexual harassment in the workplace as being of the “have sex with me or I’ll fire you” type. Over the years, as harassment issues have become more clearly defined and combated, sexual harassment lawyers have made it more hazardous for unscrupulous supervisors to make that threat. “Give me what I want, or I’ll withhold something you rightfully should receive” just doesn’t slip by scrutiny these days. But in spite of advances in employment protections from harassment, human nature doesn’t really change much. Ill-natured people in positions of power will still try to exert that power in some fashion or other over the people working under them.
Favor For Favor
One of the ways this type of workplace harassment shows up is the initially seemingly harmless act of asking for a personal favor. At first it might not seem out of place for a supervisor to ask for a simple favor, but by going along with it, the worker may find the requests escalating into disturbing territory. The “quid pro quo” factor may show up in mild favorable terms at first: “Do this and I’ll put in a good word for you.”
An employee rights lawyer will tell you to beware of this type of opening, especially when it comes from your supervisor. Even if the favor for favor request starts out in this kind of positive note, it can move into more threatening tones fairly quickly. “Remember I’m the one who writes the evaluations,” could be the veiled threat that really exposes the harassment that is growing in the workplace.
Chain of Work Evaluation
One of the things that has led to the apparent decrease of Quid Pro Quo Harassment is the obvious nature of it when the person doing the harassing is directly in charge of the worker’s position and advancement in the company. But even if the person who has the real power to fire or promote someone is careful about such behavior, that does not mean that the mid-level supervisor is equally cautious. The mid-level supervisor is the one who makes the immediate assessment of an employee’s work performance, and usually the supervisor’s evaluations are accepted at face value without further verification. Many acts of harassment or gender discrimination may get hidden in less than accurate reports of an employee’s work performance.
Hidden retaliation on the part of a supervisor whose unwanted sexual advances have been rejected isn’t always easy to spot. The employee who feels that she or he is being punished for failing to go along with “doing a favor” for a boss may have many challenges in proving the problem. But the reality is that such an undercurrent can create a hostile work environment. If you feel that this subtle version of Quid Pro Quo Harassment is affecting you, contact an employee rights attorney for advice. You may be able to do something about the situation with legal help.
The Encounter of Trump, Lewandowski & Fields
Touching, tapping, grabbing, and holding: these types of physical contact have been in public discussions since a March 8, 2016 incident at the end of a Donald Trump campaign event in Florida. The discussions have included issues of harassment, battery, and assault. The bare facts of the situation are as follows:
- Trump finished his speech and press conference and was departing through the crowd of the assembly.
- Michelle Fields (at the time a reporter for Breitbart) continued to try and get Trump to answer some questions, matching stride with him. She may have touched his arm to get his attention.
- Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s campaign manager, grasped her arm to pull her away from Trump. There was some degree of force to his grasp, as the video recording (Trump’s own, in fact) shows the back of her jacket pulled toward that side.
Beyond those facts, things start to become more challenging to sort out. Three days later, Fields alleged to the police that Lewandowski’s action was excessive, leaving bruises on her arm. The police felt the evidence sufficient to file a charge of battery against him. Trump maintained support for his campaign manager, and after viewing the video pointed out that Fields had herself touched him, implying that her action was in some way comparable to what she was claiming Lewandowski had done.
Assault & Battery: What Are They?
In general, many people do not know the distinction between assault and battery. They are used to seeing the terms together, so they tend to be lumped together in the awareness as the same thing. But they are not the same.
- Assault: Assault is when someone attempts an offensive or harmful contact with a person, or creates a threat to do so.
- Battery: Battery is when someone actually achieves an offensive or harmful contact with another person.
The sticky part in dealing with these issues is the matter of personal interpretation of physical contact. Was the touch really offensive? Was it intended to be harmful? How does one prove that something was offensive? In this case, “offensive” means much more than an affront to the recipient’s sensibilities.
The public incident with Trump, Lewandowski, and Fields demonstrates how difficult it can be to work out the issues of harm committed or intention in the act. On April 14, 2016, the Palm Beach County attorney dropped the battery charge against Lewandowski. Prosecutor Dave Aronberg said, “While the evidence in this case is legally sufficient for the police to charge Mr. Lewandowski, it is not strong enough to meet the burden of a reasonable likelihood of a conviction.”
Keep in mind that just because there will be no criminal prosecution of Mr. Lewandowski, Ms. Fields can still sue in court for battery and does not have to prove her case “beyond a reasonable doubt.” She only has to prove that the touching was more likely than not offensive.
The Other Unwanted Touching in the Workplace
When we talk about unwanted touching in the workplace, we are usually referring to a degree of sexual harassment in workplace conditions. But it is possible that other types of physical contact could occur, especially in a work environment where there is a great deal of physical movement and potential for bodily contact. Warehouse co-workers may affect a rough-and-ready style of social interaction, with “friendly” punches to the upper arm or shoulder. Heavy back slapping, meant to be a hearty acknowledgement or encouragement, might be the personal style of a supervisor.
The problem is that such behaviors when mixed with personal animosity (no matter how the dislike came about) can easily escalate into physical abuse. A hostile work environment generated by personal conflict, or hostilities between the labor force and management, or any other type of volatile, emotional charge, can become a breeding ground for potential acts of assault and battery.
Annoyance, Harassment, and Beyond
Human behavior, especially negative and unwanted behavior can easily move through stages of annoyance, harassment and into the more dangerous physical possibilities of assault and battery. The wide variety of personalities that exist, however, guarantee that no two similar situations will follow the same path. The fears of the recipient of the negative behavior do need to be taken into account, but they also have to be weighed against the realities of actions and intentions of the other party. That is why it is often advisable for the recipient to seek the counsel of an employee rights attorney.
One of the first things in the advice of a harassment lawyer Los Angeles employees will receive is that they need to keep a record or account of interactions with the harassing co-worker. Isolated incidents like the Lewandowski-Fields matter are difficult to evaluate. If the worker is dealing with ongoing behavior, keeping a log of encounters can be very crucial in any legal action. Making note of potential witnesses to the unwanted physical contacts is also important.
If you are dealing with this type of unwanted touching or physical contact, speak to an attorney for guidance about your options. The Employee Rights Law Group specializes in workplace law. “We fight for the little guy.”
Many aspects of employment law operate in a gray area. While there are a great many regulations in place to protect workers against some kinds of workplace discrimination, there is less of a track record to go by in other areas. Pregnancy in the workplace is one of those areas where labor law attorneys are making great strides in safeguarding employee rights that are not fully understood by the general public.
Pregnancy Discrimination Was Outlawed In 1978
The importance of women in the workplace has changed enormously over the last 75 years. While gender discrimination is still common, the rules are now understood and there is a lot of case law that covers problems like equal pay for equal work, sexual harassment, and other workplace harassment.
Issues that arise from pregnancy in the workplace are a little less settled. Labor law attorneys are now hearing from more pregnant and nursing women who feel they’ve been treated badly by their employers. The increase in the total number of working women has resulted in an increase in the total number of pregnant and nursing workers. That in turn has led to disagreements between labor and management over what is and isn’t required to accommodate pregnant and nursing women in different types of jobs.
Because these disagreements are in the news frequently, it is easy to forget that pregnancy discrimination was outlawed all the way back in 1978 by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. This act also traces its roots back to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The purpose of the acts was to first make sure that a pregnant woman was allowed to work under the same conditions as any other employee, and if they later became unable to work, they would be treated the same as a worker who was unable to work for any other reason.
Additional Guidance Was Offered in 2014
The problem of gender discrimination due to pregnancy didn’t go away after the passage of this important legislature. Pregnant women and civil rights lawyers had to keep pressure on many employers who used any pretext to fire or otherwise treat pregnant workers differently than other workers. In many cases, conflicts over a hostile work environment eventually led to workplace retaliation when pregnant workers demanded their rights.
In order to make it easier for pregnant women and employers to better understand the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission offered further guidance in 2014. The Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues has a detailed overview of the meaning of the applicable laws, and a long list of case studies that illustrate different situations that might arise due to pregnancy in the workplace. The document makes it much easier for women who are having difficulties with gender discrimination in the workplace to know their rights. It also makes it easier for employers to understand what is required to comply with the law.
Complication of Pregnancy May Come Under ADA Rules
Most pregnant women can work without limitations until shortly before the birth of their child. Others are not so lucky, and suffer from complications that make it impossible for them to fulfill their duties without some form of accommodation from their employer.
Many employers don’t understand that when a pregnant employee has a serious complication like preeclampsia, their workplace rights begin to be covered by the Americans With Disabilities Act. Like any other worker, a pregnant woman must be offered reasonable workplace accommodations for their temporary disability. This is an important detail for a disability discrimination attorney to keep in mind when advising their clients.
Breastfeeding Must Be Accommodated, Too
Another poorly understood part of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act is the period of time directly after the birth of a child. Nursing mothers must be given reasonable workplace accommodations under the act. In the modern workplace, this commonly takes the form of allowing a time and place for working mothers to pump breast milk throughout the day.
Parental Leave Policies May Apply to Men, Too
Gender discrimination in the workplace is a two-way street. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act also has important safeguards for men. If a company offers substantial amounts of pregnancy leave for women, it must also match that amount for men who have recently become parents. This situation only applies if the pregnancy leave lasts for substantially longer than the period of time that’s required to recover from childbirth.
If You’re Not Sure of Your Rights, Seek Advice
Pregnancy in the workplace can lead to a complex mix of gender discrimination, a hostile work environment, wrongful termination, or whistleblower retaliation. As you can see, several laws can apply depending on your personal circumstances. While it’s important to know as much about your rights as possible, it’s smart to consult civil rights attorneys that fully understand all the technicalities that govern pregnancy if there’s a dispute in the workplace.
When it comes to matters of a hostile work environment, the question of the effect of peer pressure can be a problem. Is it harassment or just ordinary interaction? How is the ordinary worker to determine when it is becoming a problem? The advice of an employee rights attorney can help a stressed worker determine what his or her options are.
Peer Pressure and the Work Place
Everyone has experienced peer pressure at various points in their lives. Whether at school, social organizations, or in the work place, no person moves through the space entirely untouched or unaffected by the people who surround them. The majority tends to urge individuals to “go with the flow” because that does create the sense that things are moving smoothly. This often turns up in work places, because people get used to certain methods and patterns and they will tend to hold on to those forms even in the face of a new, more efficient method.
Is It Harassment?
Peer pressure in the work place can be a grey area when it comes to the matter of harassment. Co-workers may not be aware of the degree of discomfort they can inflict on the colleague who is not conforming to the expected norms of the work place. If a group of workers unquestioningly accept conditions that are actually improper, their pressures on their co-worker would certainly contribute to a hostile work environment.
Feeding the Hostile Work Environment
When a whistleblower starts to expose work conditions that harass individuals, those who work with them will probably react with suggestions like “Don’t rock the boat” or “Nobody else has a problem with it.” Although these co-workers may not realize that they are reinforcing a problem that needs to be addressed, they are contributing to creating a hostile work environment. The reactions of the co-workers might escalate into whistleblower retaliation. For the whistleblower, the addition of peer pressure to an already difficult situation may raise many questions.
When circumstances become complicated by peer pressure, the whistleblower can consult a labor lawyer. Especially when the whistleblower has a strong desire is to avoid workplace retaliation for bringing the basic problem to official attention. Legal advice can help guide the whistleblower through the difficult events of addressing any sort of workplace harassment.
Many might think the need for employment law attorneys has diminished as labor operations become more transparent in the digital age, however, the need for protecting workers continues. On January 11th, the Supreme Court will be hearing a case brought by teachers in California. At issue is the requirement that public-sector workers pay union fees—whether they join a union or not. This practice has been in play for a long time. The thinking behind it is that even if public-sector workers don’t join their respective unions, they receive many of the benefits the unions work for, like pay raises and job protection.
Unions are generally recognized as pro-labor, and often represented as speaking for skilled laborers like electricians and carpenters, as well as public-sector workers like teachers and social workers. Most of the recent news we hear about unions concerns workers’ attempts to unionize in places such as Whole Foods and Walmart. Unions aim to guarantee fair pay for their members through collective bargaining, but does mandating fees for public-sector workers help their cause?
Ten teachers from California are fighting to stop paying union fees, arguing that the previous case allowing mandatory union fees, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court will decide whether it is indeed constitutional to force public-sector workers to pay union fees, especially if the workers don’t agree with their unions or don’t feel as if their unions are working for them. Their findings could affect laws in up to 25 states that require public-sector workers to pay union fees.
Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association could have many repercussions for labor unions. The Supreme Court decision may affect how unions work in the future, curtailing their effectiveness as collective bargainers, as well as diminishing their operating budgets. While employers cannot stop employees from unionizing, many demonize unions. Combined with the negative media attention unions tend to garner, this case could serve to harm ongoing unionization efforts in the service sector while reducing the purview of public-sector unions.
Regardless of the Supreme Court’s June decision, what should be front and center throughout this case is the importance of protecting the rights of workers, whether they’re unionized or not. It is important that non-unionized workers educate themselves about their rights as employees and know when they should hire an employment law attorney to help them. Unionized workers are generally assisted with this process, but not always. For those unsure of their rights, the California State Bar offers some information regarding employee rights. However, it is always a good idea to consult with a qualified LA employment law attorney to discuss the merits of your case.
Many employee rights cases often focus around discrimination, sexual harassment, or unpaid wages, but labor law extends much further. With the increase of the on-demand labor force, the integration of the internet, and the mobilization of more unions, labor law will need to continue to evolve to meet the needs of the changing workforce. An LA employee rights attorney might even say this is an exciting time to be practicing labor law and helping to protect workers!