Category Archives: FEHA

Five Reasons Why Human Resources Sucks at Helping Humans

I’m an employment lawyer. I sue companies on behalf of terminated employees. My office gets thousands of calls a year from employees. I talk to other lawyers everyday who do what I do. And I’ve realized that human resources does a terrible job helping their employees. Why? Here is why:

This video dives deep into HR and why, even if they want to help you, they largely can’t. I spend a lot of time detailing the five reasons HR sucks. I hope you like it!

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Filed under Abuse, Age, Defamation, Disability, Discrimination, Employment Contract, FEHA, Harassment, Health Care, Layoffs, Leave of Absence, Pregnancy, Privacy, Race, Religion, Retaliation, Settlements, Severance, Verdicts, Wage & Hour, Whistleblower, Wrongful Termination

What does being an “at-will employee” actually mean? Can I get fired for “any reason”?

This is a very common question. At-will employment does not mean that the company can fire you for any reason they want. That is incorrect. In this video, employment attorney Branigan Robertson explains the at-will doctrine and how it actually works.

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Filed under Abuse, Age, Defamation, Disability, Discrimination, Employment Contract, FEHA, Harassment, Health Care, Layoffs, Leave of Absence, Pregnancy, Privacy, Race, Religion, Retaliation, Settlements, Severance, Verdicts, Wage & Hour, Whistleblower, Wrongful Termination

New Video! The Ultimate Guide to Discrimination Law

I am pleased to release another whiteboard video! This video is all about discrimination law. It details the legal definition of discrimination, the statute of limitations, how much cases are worth, what to do if you are still employed, quit, or have been fired, and much more.

If you want to learn more about unlawful workplace discrimination in California, visit our main discrimination page here.

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Filed under Discrimination, FEHA, Uncategorized

New Video! How to Prove Discrimination at Work

I am pleased to release our latest whiteboard video! This video is all about how to prove to HR or management that you are a victim of discrimination. It also details how discrimination lawyers prove discrimination.

If you want to learn more about unlawful workplace discrimination in California, visit our main discrimination page here.

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Filed under Discrimination, FEHA

New Video! How Much Money are Discrimination Lawsuits Worth?

I am pleased to release our latest whiteboard video! This video is all about how much money discrimination lawsuits in California settle for. It focuses entirely on the monetary value of unlawful discrimination. It details how much cases are worth and why.

If you want to learn more about unlawful workplace discrimination in California, visit our main discrimination page here.

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Filed under Discrimination, FEHA, Settlements, Severance, Verdicts

Maternity Leave California

Pregnant women often find that maternity leave is complicated and daunting. It does not have to be! There are a few basics that we cover in this post: what are your rights, what if your boss is upset that you will take a leave, and what to do if you get fired. Taking maternity leave in California is better than most states. The laws protect you here more than anywhere else in the country.

Basic Maternity Leave Rights in CA

The first question that many expecting employees face is whether they are entitled to maternity leave at all. The answer is usually, yes! California’s main pregnancy leave of absence laws (CFRA, FMLAPDL, FEHA) apply to most employers. You have a right to take maternity leave. Employers are not required to pay employees during maternity leave. Even though employees do not have a right to pay from their employers during maternity leave, most California employees have a right to California’s state disability insurance during their leave. Fortunately, pregnancy related illnesses are considered disabilities by California law; employees often have a right to disability insurance payments during their leave. Visit California’s EDD website for more information.

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Leave to Bond With Your Child – 12 Weeks

California provides leave rights under the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) and California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”). To be eligible for leave under CFRA, certain requirements must be met. The employee must work for an employer that has at least 50 employees within a 75 mile radius of the employee’s worksite. The employee must have worked for their employer more than 12 months. The employee must have worked at least 1,250 hours for the employer of work in the preceding year.

If these requirements are met, the employee is entitled to take up to 12 weeks of family care and medical leave in any given 12-month period. This leave can be used for the purpose of child bonding. To learn more about FMLA & CFRA visit this page that details who is eligible. 

Pregnancy Disability In CA – Four Months

In California, expecting employees are not only entitled to maternity leave for the childbirth itself, but they also have a right to time off for disabilities related to the pregnancy as well. The definition of “disabled” is fairly broad. Most employers that have five or more employees, which includes most businesses in California, are governed by California’s main pregnancy discrimination law, the Fair Employment & Housing Act (FEHA).

A law directly under FEHA is CA’s pregnancy disability law, PDL, which requires employers to give female employees time off work if:

  • She is disabled by pregnancy
  • She is disabled by childbirth
  • She has a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth

This can include, but is not limited too, the following: childbirth, loss of child, post-partum depression, bed-rest, prenatal care, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, postnatal care, etc.

How long can you pregnancy disability leave last? FEHA gives female employees a right to maternity leave for up to four months. However, this maternity leave is only available to the employee as long as she is disabled from the childbirth, pregnancy, or some related condition.

The right to as much as 12 weeks of bonding time under CFRA is distinct from the right to pregnancy disability leave under FEHA. Accordingly, the bonding time under CFRA may be taken after the employee takes up to four months of pregnancy disability leave—totaling up to as much as seven months of total maternity leave depending on the length of the employee’s pregnancy disability.

Does maternity leave need to be taken all at once?

Maternity Leave CaliforniaNo, California’s FEHA provides for as much as four months of maternity leave for disabilities related to pregnancy and childbirth. But often disabilities are not continuous. Expecting mothers can take some time off during one trimester, or during an emergency, and then take the rest after delivery. This is called intermittent leave and is considered a reasonable accommodation.

Employers must provide reasonable accommodations for employees if they’re requested and if a health care provider has advised it. Your employer will likely ask you for a doctors note. If intermittent leave is expected, employers may explore a temporary transfer to a similar position with equal pay and benefits.

Can your company fire you for becoming pregnant?

No. California employers are prohibited from wrongfully terminating female employees due to pregnancy. Employment discrimination based on pregnancy is a type of sex discrimination, which is prohibited by FEHA. Expecting mothers also protected from harassment on the basis of pregnancy.

However, just because you are pregnant, does not mean they cannot fire you. If you are a bad employee, they can fire you. If they are laying off your department, you can go too. If you get fired while you are pregnant suspect the reason you were fired was your pregnancy, call a wrongful termination lawyer to investigate your case.

Do California employees have a right to their job after taking maternity leave?

Yes. Employees in California that exercise their right to maternity leave may not be discriminated against for taking a leave of absence. They have a right to return to their same or a similar position after their maternity leave has ended. The employer is not allowed to cut your pay when you return.

2019 Pregnacy Discrimination Update

First of all – for the most current news about CA employment law (the good stuff, not the boring garbage that most lawyers put out) sign up for our newsletter. We’ll send you great information for free only once or twice a month.

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I originally posted this article on February 27, 2015. I’ve updated it several times. Its now 2019 and some women are wondering if CA’s maternity leave laws have changed at all. First of all, the foundation of CA’s anti-discrimination laws have not changed. If you believe that you were fired because of your pregnancy, disability related to pregnancy, or maternity leave you should call the best employment lawyer in California for a free consultation. Some administrative rules and laws may have changed in 2019, but the majority of the calls to our office are about termination or expected termination. Therefore, it is unlikely that the maternity leave laws in California that may have changed in 2019 would affect the analysis of our office during your consultation.

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Filed under FEHA, Pregnancy

When Does Favoritism Become Harassment at Work?

We all hear the typical workplace stories of the male supervisor being overly generous to the young and attractive female subordinate. But at one point does sexual favoritism become a hostile work environment, and therefore a violation of law? This is a tricky question with an answer that is not exactly clear cut.

Sexual Favoritism and CA Employment Law

Interestingly enough, it is not unlawful for a supervisor to favor a subordinate with whom he or she has a romantic relationship. However, it may be unlawful and create a hostile work environment if the favoritism is based upon the granting of sexual favors, it is widespread throughout the workplace, and employees witnessing the favoritism do not welcome such conduct. It does not matter if the employee claiming hostile work environment was the target of such conduct, they can merely be a witness to the conduct.

Under California law, an employee may establish a claim of sexual harassment by demonstrating that widespread sexual favoritism was so severe as to alter his or her working conditions and create a hostile work environment. What is severe as to alter the employee’s working conditions depends on the fact of the case.

Case Study: Salinda vs. DIRECTV Inc.

Salinda is a great example of widespread sexual favoritism in the workplace. Plaintiff was an employee of the Defendant for several years. After a few years of employment with Defendant, Plaintiff witnessed favoritism for young and attractive female employees by male managers and superiors. Further, these female employees would perform sexual favors for the male managers and superiors.

After she complained of this, certain managers and employees were fired. However, years after this first incident, sexual favoritism ensued again. She again complained about the widespread sexual favoritism. Around the same time, Plaintiff was diagnosed with disease of the eye. When she requested a reasonable accommodation, Defendant retaliated against Plaintiff by verbally reprimanding her on her job performance. Soon after, Ms. Salinda was fired.

Plaintiff argued that, among other things, she was retaliated against for her complaints regarding widespread sexual favoritism in the workplace. Defendant argued that Plaintiff was terminated for legitimate reasons having to do with poor job performance. The jury sided with the Plaintiff, and awarded the Plaintiff $1,178,341 in damages.

Sexual Favoritism is Unlawful in California

Sexual favoritism in the workplace is not an uncommon occurrence whether it is between a male and female, male and male, or female and female. Sadly, some larger companies give their star executives too much discretion in the workplace, and sometimes these executives will have employees engage in sexual favors to get ahead in the workplace. If you feel you are a victim of widespread sexual favoritism at your work, then contact an employment lawyer to see if the law was broken.

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Filed under FEHA, Harassment