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Sacramento Employment Law Blog

Why is sexual harassment so hard to prove?

No matter where you work in California, days probably exist – maybe many of them – when you wish you did not have to be there. Maybe the problem is a nasty boss. Maybe a cranky coworker. Maybe the lunchroom that seems to breed nothing but lewd jokes and strange little green or black spots in the microwave.

However negative your workplace situation may be, however, it seldom rises to the level of discrimination, harassment or a hostile work environment. These words get bandied about quite regularly these days, but bear in mind that they represent legal words as well. Legal words that require a multitude of proof in order for you to win a sexual harassment or workplace discrimination case.

What to do if you think your employer fired you illegally

If you recently lost your job in California, it may have left you wondering what to do next. Before you walk away from the situation, you may want to consider whether you were wrongfully terminated. We at the Law Office of Jeffrey D. Fulton often help people evaluate whether an employer took an illegal action against them.

It may be tempting to respond negatively. After all, losing your livelihood can be a major blow, both financially and emotionally. However, as FindLaw notes, it is important not to react in a way that could later be used against you if you choose to file a wrongful termination claim. Do not withhold any company property you may have, such as a company phone, vehicle or credit card. Avoid posting about the company, your supervisor or your co-workers on social media, or doing anything else that may be considered slanderous or threatening. 

Power inequality and its effect on female harassment

The #MeToo movement has exploded thanks to fed-up women who have endured illegal exploitation in the workplace. Unfortunately, long-held cultural beliefs feed the falsehood that men cannot help their behavior. 

Some men may use suggestive language or inappropriate touching when they feel they can escape consequences. When a court case backs a male defendant into a corner, he may claim that the inappropriate behavior was consensual, when in fact, the woman was intimidated into silence by the fear of losing her job.

What is nepotism?

There are many ways you can be harassed or discriminated against in the workplace. Some of these can be resolved within your company by communication and cooperation, but other forms of discrimination can violate workplace fairness laws in California and may necessitate professional help. You may have heard of the word “nepotism” without fully understanding how it can affect you at work.

According to Entrepreneur, nepotism is described as a type of favoritism that may discriminate or limit an employee’s position in a company. Nepotism involves someone being hired or promoted based on personal relationships instead of a person’s qualifications and experience. For example, you may have been passed over for a promotion you worked hard for and were promised, after your employer’s son graduated from college and he decided to hire him instead. Or, you suddenly found yourself without a job, when your boss started dating your co-worker and gave her your duties.

Changes to California's sexual harassment laws

Residents in California have certainly been aware that the issue of sexual harassment or misconduct has received more attention in the last year or so. For many, there are not only concerns about potential sexual harassment in the workplace but also about how allegations of these actions are handled. The state of California will see new laws go into effect in 2019 that will continue to place the burden of proof on the person making any allegations but that may well make it easier to prove them.

As reported by The San Diego Union-Tribune, there are multiple components to the new laws. Among them is that no employers can no longer require employees to promise they will not publicly disclose allegations of sexual harassment in order to secure their jobs. Confidentiality as part of an agreement in a case is separate from this.

Drawing the line

You try to be a good person and extend some patience to your employer when he or she is late on paychecks — or even gets something wrong in the payroll accounting. It is a fact of doing business in California that people make mistakes. Sometimes these mistakes are honest. Other times, that may not be the case.

When a pattern of suspicious overtime mistakes or underpayments starts to emerge, you may want to think about drawing the line, and soon. At the Law Office of Jeffrey D. Fulton, we have seen many cases that involve violations that went on far longer than they needed to.

Is it flirting or sexual harassment?

It is often one of the hardest questions to answer: Is a coworker or boss sexually harassing you, or is it just a harmless joke? The answer might be simpler than you think, once you understand the law.

Unfortunately, proving whether you were a victim of harassment might be more difficult than realizing that it happened. Any civil strategies you were to pursue would likely only come to fruition after careful investigation and gathering of evidence. Even with plenty of examples to support your claim, you might find yourself without a convincing argument if you lacked knowledge of the history of similar cases in California.

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.

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