New Video! How Much Money are Retaliation Lawsuits Worth?

We are excited to release our latest video. This one is about how much money retaliation lawsuits can be worth. In this video Branigan explains recovery from three different perspectives: people who got fired, people who quit, and employees who are still employed. This video is a necessary addition to our Ultimate Guide to Retaliation Law webpage.

If you would rather watch the video on YouTube, click here.

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New Retaliation Video – An Overview of Retaliation Law and Lawsuits

We are excited to release our latest video. This one is on retaliation, specifically, what exactly is unlawful retaliation and when do you have a case? In this video Branigan explains when you might have a case and how much it may be worth. This is meant to be an introductory video to our Ultimate Guide to Retaliation Law webpage. So, give it a watch!

If you would rather watch the video on YouTube, click here.

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New Video! How to Prove Retaliation at Work

We are excited to release our latest video. This one is on retaliation, specifically, how to prove that retaliation is happening to you. In this video Branigan explains the dangers of going to war with your boss and trying to “prove” retaliation to HR. He also explains how a retaliation lawyer like Branigan goes about proving your case in court. So, give it a watch!

If you would rather watch the video on YouTube, click here.

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Wrongful Termination Law Video

Mr. Robertson is excited to release another wrongful termination video. This video is meant to headline our Ultimate Guide to Wrongful Termination Law. If you want to learn more about wrongful termination, that is the place to do it.

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What to Expect in a Wrongful Termination Lawsuit – From Termination to Settlement

Branigan is pleased to release his latest video on YouTube. This is one small part of Branigan’s Ultimate Guide to Wrongful Termination Law. If you have any questions about wrongful termination, that is the place to get them answered.

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Can Employers Enforce a Dress Code Policy that Targets Someone’s Hair?

When it comes to employment law, California tends to lead the nation in terms of the protection it provides employees.  The state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act goes beyond federal law to provide broader protections for workers against discrimination, harassment and other work place injustices. 

The state distinguished itself once again in July 2019 when Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Senate Bill 188, the first of its kind in the nation. The law takes aim at more subtle discriminatory practices and policies that unfairly target employees based on the style or texture of their hair. 

Sadly, for years employers have been allowed to enforce dress code policies that unfairly target and penalize persons of color, often black employees, for their natural hairstyles. With the passage of Senate Bill 188, employees and their attorneys have one more tool in the legal arsenal with which to fight back against unfair workplace practices.Continue reading this article to learn more about SB 188, as well as workplace discrimination in general. If you feel you have been the victim of discrimination, contact our office to schedule a consultation.

California Employment Law on Hair Discrimination

What CA Law Says About Hair Discrimination

Senate Bill 188, also known as the Crown Act (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair), amended both the education and government code. The Act states in part:

“Workplace dress code and grooming policies that prohibit natural hair, including afros, braids, twists, and locks, have a disparate impact on Black individuals as the policies are more likely to deter Black applicants and burden or punish Black employees than any other group.”

Senate Bill § 188 – The Crown Act

The act further acknowledges that the federal courts have long accepted that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination against persons with afros, but adds that “afros are not the only natural presentation of Black hair. Black hair can also be naturally presented in braids, twists, and locks.”Accordingly, California state law was amended to broaden the definition of race to include hair texture and protected hairstyles.

Here Are a Few Examples

While the following incident did not occur in California, and is not strictly work related, it still highlights the type of discrimination persons of color have been known to experience based on hairstyle.

In December 2018, a black high school wrestler from New Jersey was singled out by a white referee and made to cut his dreadlocks before being allowed to compete in a match. Video shows the young man agreeing to cut his hair in the gymnasium before going on to win the match by takedown.

This incident is extreme, but it demonstrates how hair policies can be used to unfairly target people of color.

In 2010, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued Alabama- based Catastrophe Management Solutions for its treatment of a recent hire, a black woman named Chastity Jones. At the time of her interview, her hair, which was blond, was dreaded in curls known as “curllocks.” She was offered a position as a customer service representative.

At a meeting held later that day, staff noticed her dread locks and told her that company policy required her to cut her hair. She declined, and the manager rescinded the job offer.The EEOC sued the company on Chastity’s behalf.

The regional attorney for the Birmingham office stated that the litigation wasn’t about fighting company policies that require employees to maintain neat, professional hair, but rather

“it focuses on the racial bias that may occur when specific hair constructs and styles are singled out for different treatment because they do not conform to normative standards for other races.”

California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act Prohibits Racial Discrimination

California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act is contained in the Government Code. Section 12940 states that with few exceptions, it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee or job applicant based on racereligious creed,  national origin, ancestry, gender, or sexual orientation (in addition to a number of other traits). A worker who believes they have been treated differently because of legally protected characteristics should contact an attorney in order to have their case reviewed.

Have You Been the Target of Discrimination? Contact our Office

If you believe your employer is trying to enforce a policy that unfairly targets you because of the natural presentation of your hair, contact our office to schedule a consultation.

Our office doesn’t charge to review the facts of your case, and cases are often taken on a contingency basis — this means the client doesn’t pay out of pocket fees. For more information, contact the office of Branigan Robertson to learn how we can help.

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What Should You Do When Your Boss Sends Inappropriate Text Messages?

With great advances in digital technology, come great opportunities for nasty surprises. These days, a swipe of a finger is all that’s necessary to open an unsolicited inappropriate message on our phones and other digital devices. Such texts or direct messages can range from the mildly offensive to the outright vulgar.  And when the inappropriate message comes from a coworker, or worse yet, a boss, it can affect one’s work life in significant ways.

This article briefly details some of California’s laws regarding sexual harassment as well as some of the steps a worker might take to protect themselves if they are the recipient of harassing texts.  As always, if you believe your employer has broken the law, contact our office so that we can evaluate your case and help you decide if you should pursue legal action.

The Basics of California’s Sexual Harassment Law

We’ve written extensively on CA’s sexual harassment law. We’ve also made several YouTube videos on it. If you want to learn the basics, I recommend that you check out our sexual harassment page.

For the purposes of this article, lets look at a simple explanation provided by the Government Code. Section 12923 states that inappropriate workplace behavior rises to the level of harassment when the conduct:

“Sufficiently intrudes upon the victim’s ability to perform the job as usual, or otherwise interfere(s) with and undermine(s) the victim’s personal sense of well-being.”

CA Government Code § 12923

An employee who receives unwanted and inappropriate text messages from a boss or coworker clearly will intrude upon the victims ability to perform the job. He or she might justifiably experience difficulty concentrating on tasks, or might not feel free to move about the office without intimidation.

Boss or Co-Worker Sends Inappropriate Text Messages | Employment Law

Employers Have a Legal Responsibility to Prevent Harassment

The Government Code provides a strongly worded mandate for employers when it comes to their responsibility to protect employees. It states that it is unlawful for an employer

“to fail to take all reasonable steps necessary to prevent discrimination and harassment from occurring.”

CA Government Code §12940(k)

There are different situations and ways in which workplace harassment can occur —these differences can result in different levels of liability for the company depending on who’s sending the inappropriate material, and what is done by the company to stop it.

Texts from a Coworker vs. Texts from a Boss

Inappropriate texts come in any number of forms. They can include:

  • Vulgar jokes or sexually explicit images
  • Photos of the senders’ (or another person’s) genitals
  • Requests for pictures of the recipient’s private parts
  • Requests for sexual favors in return for career advancement (quid pro quo)
  • Unwanted flirting or teasing
  • Sexually threatening messages

As mentioned earlier, a company has a legal obligation to deal with any employee who might be sending inappropriate texts. If you receive a text or direct message from a coworker that makes you uncomfortable or is sexually explicit, report the issue to your HR director. If you report the issue, and the company fails to deal with the offending worker and stop the harassment, the company could be liable for damages.

But what about when the boss sends inappropriate messages? 

Such a situation represents unique challenges because of the power the boss holds in the workplace. Naturally, a victim might be hesitant to report the behavior due to fears of retaliation.

When a boss harasses an employee with lurid or inappropriate texts, this behavior exposes the company to liability much quicker than a lower level employee. 

Understandably, a worker who finds herself or himself in such a position should talk to an attorney to discuss the best way to proceed.

Steps You Can Take to Protect Yourself

Make sure to save any inappropriate text or direct messages sent by the harasser – Don’t delete anything—even the texts you might have sent in response. Our office has fielded countless calls from potential clients who likely have been harassed, but who have failed to preserve the evidence of their harassment. This often makes it far more difficult to proceed with their claim.

Furthermore, some clients will attempt to conceal or delete text messages they have sent in response to their harassers. This is always a bad move, and can cause problems down the road once the case has started. Always be up front with your attorney.

Screenshot any inappropriate images sent to your phone or computer – This is important because it preserves dates and times. A solid timeline can be valuable when your attorney is deposing or cross examining a witness. 

Report the Issue to HR – Whether you’re dealing with a boss or a coworker, it’s important that you report the issue to your HR director (assuming your employer has an HR department) so that the company is aware of the issue and investigates.

Contact a lawyer – Sometimes, the only way to get justice when dealing with bad actors is to hire an employment attorney to help you stand up for your rights. Our office performs free consultations for harassed employees.

Has a Boss or Coworker Sent You Inappropriate Text Messages? Contact Our Office

Our office has handled a wide variety of sexual harassment cases as well as other employee rights issues (discrimination, whistleblowerovertime, etc.). If you feel you’ve experienced harassment either from a coworker, or someone in a position of authority over you, contact our office to schedule an appointment.

Our firm often handles these types of cases on a contingency basis, which means the client doesn’t pay any out of pocket expenses. Contact the firm of Branigan Robertson to find out how we can help.

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