Archive for the ‘ Discrimination ’ Category

New California Law Prohibits Bosses From Discriminating Against People With Convictions

Posted on: November 20, 2017 by in Discrimination
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If you have served time in a prison for a criminal conviction, you know that employment is perhaps the toughest challenge for anyone who is returning to the outside world. Will you be able to find a job? Will you face discrimination? Is legal protection or help available? If you are looking for work in California after serving time in prison, keep reading. The state has new laws that you need to know about.

According to recent national surveys, as many as two-thirds of the employers in the United States still ask job applicants to disclose prior criminal convictions on an initial job application, and 92 percent of employers make some kind of inquiry about a prospective employee’s background. Many employers simply will not hire anyone who “checks the box” that asks about previous convictions on the employment application.

But in more than one hundred U.S. cities – and now statewide throughout California – “Ban the Box” laws let employers consider a job seeker’s application on its merits and without being prejudiced by non-job-related information. Most of these ordinances exempt employers who hire for “sensitive” positions such as jobs in law enforcement and jobs working with children.

EXACTLY WHAT IS THE “BAN THE BOX” CAMPAIGN?

According to Wikipedia, the Ban the Box “campaign” was launched in the 1990s “by civil rights groups and advocates for ex-offenders, aimed at persuading employers to remove from their hiring applications the check box that asks if applicants have a criminal record…The premise of the campaign is that anything that makes it harder for ex-offenders to find a job makes it likelier that they will re-offend, which is bad for society.”

Over fourteen million arrests are made every year in the U.S., and about two-thirds of all felony arrests lead to criminal convictions, so the number of job seekers who need Ban the Box-style legal protection is always on the rise. Ban the Box laws give job applicants a fair chance at employment by removing the conviction history question on job applications and by delaying the background check inquiry until later in the hiring process.

In 2014, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors banned “the box” for employers in that city, but many California employers outside of San Francisco were still printing the box on job applications until July of this year, when a “ban the box” rule finally took effect for most employers in this state.

The rule keeps employers from asking job seekers about prior convictions if the questions are not job-related or if the questions have an “adverse impact” on someone who belongs to a class protected by California anti-discrimination laws. However, in October, job seekers in this state gained even more legal protection when Governor Jerry Brown signed the California Fair Chance Act – one of the nation’s strongest “ban the box” laws.

WHAT DOES THE CALIFORNIA FAIR CHANCE ACT PROVIDE?

Under the Fair Chance Act, which goes into effect in just a few weeks – on January 1, 2018 – no California employer with five or more employees will be allowed to ask any job applicant about his or her prior criminal convictions before a decision to hire is made. That’s important, because more than one in four adults in our state has a prior arrest or conviction – and that’s about eight million people. Many of them are parents.

According to a statement released by the nonprofit National Employment Law Project (NELP), “When eight million people across the state are effectively shut out of employment, that shrinks the economy, undermines public safety, and harms families and communities. For those reasons, this new law – which aims to give people with records a fair chance at employment – will ultimately benefit all of us.”

The Fair Chance Act makes California the tenth U.S. state that bans the box for both public and private employers. Twenty-nine states ban the box for public employers, and earlier this year, lawmakers in Louisiana prohibited that state’s public universities from asking applicants about their previous convictions. Lawmakers in Newark, New Jersey, recently approved an ordinance that expands the ban the box anti-discrimination policy to housing.

IF YOU ENCOUNTER HIRING DISCRIMINATION, WHERE CAN YOU TURN?

Employment seekers, as well as employees, enjoy considerable legal protections in the state of California. Whether or not you have a prior criminal conviction, if you are seeking employment in this state and you believe that a California employer has asked you questions that cannot be legally asked, arrange as quickly as possible to discuss your situation with an experienced San Francisco employment rights attorney.

If you are a victim of hiring discrimination in California, the law is on your side. If a California employer violates your rights as a job seeker, and if you file a discrimination claim, an attorney may be able to help you negotiate an out-of-court settlement, or you may qualify to bring a discrimination lawsuit. An experienced San Francisco employment rights attorney can protect your rights, outline your options, and explain how the law applies to your own case.

In addition to the Fair Chance Act, employees in California receive additional protection from California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, which explicitly forbids employment discrimination for any of these reasons: ancestry, national origin, or physical or mental disability; race, color, or religion; medical condition, age, or pregnancy; sexual orientation or marital status; and gender, sex, gender expression, or gender identity.

HOW WILL THE FAIR CHANCE ACT BENEFIT CALIFORNIANS?

The Fair Chance Act benefits thousands of families in California, connects employers with employees they might otherwise overlook, and reduces prison overcrowding by lowering the recidivism rate in our state. Banning the box is one more step toward ending employment discrimination in all of its forms in the state of California.

If you believe that you are or have been a victim of employment discrimination in California, put the law to work for you. An experienced San Francisco employment rights attorney may be able to negotiate an out-of-court settlement on your behalf, without the time and inconvenience that accompanies a trial.

If a negotiated settlement with the employer cannot be reached, an experienced California employment lawyer will take your case to trial and hold the employer accountable for illegal discrimination. Employment discrimination is unacceptable, and beginning in 2018, the California Fair Chance Act will forbid it in this state.

Filing A Discrimination Claim In California

Posted on: October 18, 2017 by in Discrimination
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Employment discrimination still exists, even in California, but if you face any kind of discrimination at work because of your race, religion, gender, disability, or pregnancy, it needs to stop. What kinds of discrimination are against the law in California? How do you file a discrimination claim if you need to? Will you need an attorney? Keep reading, and you’ll learn those answers and more.

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act makes it illegal for most California employers to discriminate against anyone in housing or employment on the basis of the person’s age, race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, physical or mental disability or condition, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, or military or veteran status. Just about everyone is protected from employment discrimination in California.

Employment discrimination against persons predisposed to a genetic hereditary disease is also against the law in California. So is testing employees for genetic characteristics. Employers can’t enforce an “English-only” policy, either, unless a business need actually requires the use of English.

HOW DO YOU FILE A CLAIM FOR EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION?

If you are a victim of any type of workplace discrimination in California, the first step to take is to file a formal discrimination claim with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The agencies cooperate to process discrimination claims, so filing a claim with both agencies isn’t necessary, provided you indicate that your claim should be “cross-filed.”

However, if you work for a small business, file your claim with the DFEH. The EEOC only enforces federal law, so it deals only with employers that have fifteen or more employees (or twenty or more for age discrimination claims). The DFEH deals with businesses that have five or more employees, although if the claim is for harassment, California law will extend to an employer with only a single employee.

Before filing an employment discrimination claim with the DFEH, speak to the agency by calling their employment discrimination hotline. After speaking briefly with an operator, you’ll be able to schedule an appointment at a DFEH district office in person. More information about the DFEH can be found at the agency’s website: http://www.dfeh.ca.gov.

To file an employment discrimination claim with the EEOC, contact the nearest EEOC office. You can find that location – and more about the EEOC – at https://www.eeoc.gov/, or you can speak to someone at the EEOC directly by calling 1-800-669-4000.

ARE THERE DEADLINES FOR FILING WORKPLACE DISCRIMINATION CLAIMS?

Yes, there are deadlines for filing claims, so if you are a target of discrimination, take action promptly. You must file a claim with the DFEH within one year of the date that you experienced the discrimination. Under federal law, you must file a claim with the EEOC within 300 days of the date that you experienced the discrimination.

If you file with the EEOC, the EEOC may:

– ask you and your employer to participate in a mediation procedure
– ask your employer for a written response to your claim, which is then turned over to an investigator
– dismiss the claim – if you miss the deadline or if the EEOC does not have jurisdiction

When the EEOC investigates an employment discrimination claim, that investigation may involve interviewing witnesses and compiling documents. When the EEOC determines that no discrimination occurred, you will receive a “Notice of Right to Sue,” which is permission to pursue a discrimination lawsuit through the civil courts.

When the EEOC decides that employment discrimination did in fact occur, the agency will first try to negotiate a settlement with your employer. If no settlement can be achieved, your case is sent to EEOC attorneys (or in some cases to the Justice Department), who may or may not file a lawsuit on your behalf. If their choice is not to sue, they will send you a Notice of Right to Sue at that time.

HOW LONG DOES AN EEOC INVESTIGATION TAKE?

The average EEOC investigation takes about six months to complete, but the precise length of any particular employment discrimination investigation can depend on any number of factors. However, a mediated settlement usually takes less than three months once mediation actually begins.

If you are satisfied with the resolution of your discrimination claim by the DFEH or the EEOC, you may not require an attorney or need to file a discrimination lawsuit. In fact, as part of any settlement or resolution, the DFEH or EEOC may have you waive your right to file a lawsuit independently. But if your claim cannot be resolved by the DFEH or EEOC, you may need to file your own lawsuit with your own attorney.

However, you can’t just file a lawsuit first. The courts require you to pursue and “exhaust” what are called “administrative” remedies before they will hear an employment discrimination case in either a state or federal court. Nevertheless, it can’t hurt to have independent legal advice from an experienced San Francisco employment rights attorney at every stage of your fight against workplace discrimination.

WHAT ELSE SHOULD EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION VICTIMS KNOW?

California places no cap on either the compensatory or the punitive damages that an employer might be ordered to pay to a discrimination victim, but those damages are capped in federal workplace discrimination cases. California law usually offers more protection to employees than federal law, so in most cases, it’s better to file a workplace discrimination claim in a state court. Your attorney will review the details of your own case and recommend the best path forward.

You need to know about two other deadlines. If you receive a Notice of Right to Sue from the EEOC, an employment discrimination claim must be filed in federal court within ninety days of your receipt of the notice. If your claim was filed with the DFEH and dismissed by that agency, you have one year to file an employment discrimination lawsuit in a California state court.

Missing a deadline will end your ability to pursue justice any further, but do not wait a year – or even ninety days – to take your case to an experienced San Francisco employment rights attorney. If no government agency will handle your employment discrimination claim, speak to an employment rights lawyer at once, and do not hesitate to seek legal advice at any time or for any reason if you are or have been the target of employment discrimination in California.

California’s Transgender Identity And Expression Regulations

Posted on: August 21, 2017 by in Discrimination
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Anti-discrimination laws in the state of California probably offer employees more legal protection than the laws in any other state. When an employer in California discriminates against an employee or a job seeker because of that person’s gender or gender identity, race, religion, age, disability, nationality, orientation, or pregnancy, it is usually in violation of both state and federal law. California lawmakers and courts are serious about protecting employees’ rights and making sure that no one who is employed in California is victimized by employment discrimination.

In fact, hiring and employment discrimination victims may sue employers who illegally discriminate in California, and in some cases, discrimination victims may be awarded monetary damages. In the San Francisco Bay Area, if you believe that you are facing hiring or on-the-job discrimination for any reason, discuss your legal rights and options – which may include filing a discrimination lawsuit – as quickly as possible with an experienced San Francisco employment rights attorney.

EXACTLY WHAT ARE THE NEW CALIFORNIA EMPLOYMENT REGULATIONS?

Earlier this year, the California Fair Employment and Housing Council (FEHC) issued new regulations regarding transgender identity and gender expression in the workplace. The regulations became effective on July 1, 2017. These regulations protect and enhance the legal rights of employees who are transgendered individuals. California employers must be in compliance with the new regulations – now. Some employers may need to revise employee handbooks to ensure that policies described there are compliant.

The new rules spell out the policies and practices that employers in our state now must implement, including these:

Restroom use: California employers must offer equal access to restroom facilities. Employees must have access to facilities that correspond to a worker’s gender identity or expression. Employers cannot demand “proof” of an employee’s gender before allowing an employee to use a specific restroom facility.

“Transitioning”: The new state rules define “transitioning” and make it illegal to discriminate in any way against a transgendered employee who has transitioned, is transitioning, or is thought to be transitioning. Transitioning can include name and clothing changes, hormone therapy, surgery, and counseling.

Dress: Unless the action is dictated by a business need, California employers cannot impose dress codes that conflict with an employee’s identity or expression of gender.

Legal documentation: California employers cannot request documentation of an employee’s or a prospective employee’s gender or gender expression. Employers must respect an employee’s desire to be referred to by a certain name and gender identity – except when the law requires the use of an employee’s “legal” name and gender expression (if different from the employee’s “preferred” name and gender expression.)

The regulations also address signage on restroom doors. The state’s new rules are not new laws or policies but rather are clarifications to the anti-discrimination laws that the state of California has been enforcing for years. The state has prohibited discrimination against transgendered individuals in employment and housing since 2004. In 2012, the Gender Nondiscrimination Act made state law even more explicit by specifically defining “gender identity” and “gender expression” as legally protected categories.

WHY WERE THE NEW REGULATIONS ISSUED?

According to the Oakland-based Transgender Law Center, even though transgender discrimination has been illegal for years in California, the new regulations set forth by the FEHC provide clarification regarding precisely what rights transgender employees have and what responsibilities employers have. The new rules also remind employers that they may be legally accountable for any violations. Employment discrimination, as you may guess, is not the only kind of transgender discrimination that is illegal in this state.

Discrimination against transgendered individuals is prohibited in almost every realm of public life in California, including housing, insurance, education, public benefits, and public accommodations. You cannot be fired, evicted, forced to use a particular public restroom, denied services, or denied medical treatment in California on the basis of your gender identity or gender expression. Landlords may not falsely represent that a residence is unavailable or restrict the price or conditions attached to a rental unit on the basis of a prospective tenant’s gender identity.

Federal employees in California are not covered by the state’s employment laws, but federal employees in California and other states are protected from discrimination based on gender stereotyping by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Transgendered individuals who believe they are victims of discrimination by any employer – or who believe they are or have been the victims of any illegal discrimination – should discuss their concerns with an experienced San Francisco workplace harassment attorney.

EXACTLY WHAT CONSTITUTES EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION?

Employment discrimination includes but is not limited to the denial of benefits or promotions, favoritism, unwanted sexual advances, or any kind of retaliation for whistleblowing or for filing a legal complaint. During hiring interviews, California employers may not ask questions about a job seeker’s sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, children, or about certain criminal arrests and records.

If you are victimized by employment discrimination, try to compile evidence that proves it. Document every discriminatory incident immediately. Write down times and dates and the names of any witnesses. Print hard copies of emails or any other evidence that helps prove your allegations.

Report discrimination to your supervisor or manager or to a higher-up or a Human Resources officer. If there’s no response or no change in the discriminatory circumstances, you should consider taking legal action. It is your right.

If you take an employment discrimination claim to an experienced San Francisco employment rights attorney, and if your attorney determines that you have sufficient grounds and evidence for legal action, your attorney will first attempt to negotiate a settlement with the employer and the employer’s attorney or attorneys. Out-of-courts settlements of these claims are common, and in fact, very few California employment discrimination cases actually go to trial.

However, when the employer is unwilling to negotiate in good faith or offer a reasonable settlement in an employment discrimination case, an aggressive employment rights lawyer will take your lawsuit to trial and will accept nothing less than the compensation you deserve as a discrimination victim. In California, if you are targeted for employment discrimination because you are transgendered or for any other reason, you should know that legal help is available and the law is on your side.