Law Office of Jeffrey D. Fulton

Sacramento Employment Law Blog

What employment rights do you have as an independent contractor?

As an independent contractor living in California or working for a California client, you already know that the American workforce has undergone a substantial change in the past decade. More and more businesses hire independent contractors in lieu of or in addition to their own employees. But what does this distinction between employee and independent contractor mean for you?

As MBO Partners explains, as an independent contractor, you have no right to traditional employee benefits such as the following:

  • Health or disability insurance
  • Paid vacation
  • Paid leave
  • Paid sick days
  • Company 401(k) or pension plans

Understanding age discrimination

At the Law Office of Jeffrey D. Fulton in California, we know that your work is a vital part of your life. Nevertheless, your workplace itself may some place you wish you did not have to go. Such is true if you face any type of discrimination while there, including that of age discrimination.

As the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission explains, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act forbids your employer and your co-employees hired to work there to discriminate against you if you are 40 years old or older. Your protection extends to all aspects of your relationship with your employer, including as any of the following:

  • Current employee
  • Former employee
  • Job applicant
  • Applicant for or participant in an apprenticeship or training program

Will gender requirement for boards end sexual harassment?

In the wake of the past year, where #MeToo has been a part of our national conversation, lawmakers are starting to take the actions they think are appropriate to address workplace harassment. In California, one strategy has been to diversify corporate leadership.

California recently passed SB 826, which requires publicly traded companies to include at least one woman on their boards of directors by the end of next year. By the end of 2021, companies would need up to three female directors, depending on the number of board seats.

Reviewing The Seven Tests

Given that California follows the "at-will employment" philosophy, most in Sacramento might assume that only dismissals that discriminate or violate one rights are disputable. Yet what is lost in this assumption is the fact that many employees in the state do indeed have employment contracts that protect them from being fired under the at-will model. 

Most of those who have actual employment contracts with their employers are guaranteed employment up until the time the terms of their contracts end. That does not mean, however, that an employer can never fire an employee before his or her contract is up. Section 2924 of California's Labor Code states that a company has cause to fire a contracted employee if there is a willful breach of duty on the part of the employee, or the employee neglects their duty or is continuous incapable of performing it. 

Men are sexually harassed too

In recent posts, this blog has discussed numerous ways employees are subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace, especially women in fields where this is common, such as the restaurant industry. However, many California residents may not realize that men can be victims of sexual harassment, as well. In fact, harassment is not limited to gender on either side.

The Epoch Times describes a case of sexual harassment against a male employee of Google. The man claimed his supervisor repeatedly subjected him to lewd acts and other forms of sexual harassment, and said his co-workers regularly engaged in sexually explicit conversations and incidents he found offensive and uncomfortable. He initially ignored the behavior, fearing for his job, but eventually reported it to human resources and requested an investigation. Reportedly, the man was terminated after the completion of the internal investigation, and he filed a lawsuit against the company.

Former employee sues for age discrimination

Workers in California and across the United States are protected from discrimination by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. However, situations arise where certain populations of people are wrongfully terminated due to their age, race, ethnicity or religion.

In a recent lawsuit, IBM was accused of age discrimination and targeting older people to lay off in many instances within the last five years. Statistics show that the company has terminated the employment of more than 20,000 employees over the age of 40 years since 2013.

LA companies investigated for wage violations

A number of business owners in California and across the United States are required to provide employees with certain benefits, including fair wages and workers’ compensation coverage. Workers who are injured on-the-job have the right to receive free medical treatment for their injuries. There are companies, however, who may attempt to bypass these laws in an attempt to hold on to more money.

The Garment Manufacturing Act of 1980 is just one of these laws regulating the industry, requiring employers to register with the Labor Commissioner, carry workers’ compensation insurance and provide at least minimum wage to workers in the facilities. In July, the California Labor Commissioner’s Office initiated an investigation into six garment contractors working in the Los Angeles area. During the case, investigators found that 57 employees earned less than minimum wage while working up to 65 hours a week. Furthermore, two employees were working in violation of child labor laws. Four of the companies did not provide workers’ compensation to their employees.

Industries where sexual harassment is most likely to occur

Sexual harassment continues to be a major workplace issue in the United States. Recent research suggests women and men alike are more likely to experience this type of harassment in some industries more often than others. 

When people are ready, they need to consider filing a sexual harassment claim. A person's background or job is irrelevant. Everyone deserves to feel safe at work. 

Minor labor laws in California

Although there are situations where minors under the age of 18-years-old are needed to work, there are child labor laws designed to protect them against certain work violations. These Child Labor Laws address issues, including school attendance requirements, wages, work permits, hours of work and minimum ages allowed for certain types of employment.

According to these laws, children ages six to 15-years-old must be in school full-time; however, this can include personal tutoring or approved alternative schools. Kids that are 16 or 17-years-old may choose to attend high school part-time while they work. Most everyone under the age of 18 needs a work permit to be employed in the state. Yet, those who have a certificate of proficiency do not have to have a work permit or attend full-time classes.

Making the arbitration agreement optional

When people are hired to work for a company, they may be required to sign an arbitration agreement. What employees may not know, is that when they sign this document, they are giving up their right to initiate lawsuits involving discrimination, labor violations, sexual harassment claims and any other type of discrimination. Rather than taking these matters to court, the arbitration agreement requires workers to work out the issue out of court using mediation.

In California, and in several other states across the nation, a proposed bill would give employees the choice to refuse signing the arbitration agreement. Currently, employers can refuse an application or revoke a job offer if the agreement is not signed. If the proposed bill is passed, however, employers would not be able to require employees to sign the document and could not impose restrictions if employees choose not to sign it.

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