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National Origin, Citizenship & Immigration Status Discrimination

In California, it is against the law for an employer to discriminate against a job applicant or employer because of their national origin, citizenship, or immigration status. Such discrimination is regulated by Title VII, which applies to employers with 15 or more employees, and the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), which applies to employers with four or more employees. While IRCA was passed to resolve various immigration-related issues, it includes a provision that makes it unlawful for employers to hire or fire an employee based on citizenship or immigration status (not including unauthorized aliens).

Discrimination lawsuits based on national origin, immigration status, and citizenship are becoming increasingly common. As an employer, you are not allowed to treat an employee adversely with any consideration of his or her national origin, citizenship or immigration status in relationship to any significant aspect of employment.

What is national origin discrimination?

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Think Before You Fire: How to Avoid a Wrongful Termination Lawsuit

Employers in California should be mindful that while California is an at-will state, meaning employees can be fired for any reason, that doesn’t always mean any reason. For example, it is against the law firm California employers to fire for discriminatory reasons, in retaliation for an employee exercising his or her rights, in violation of a contract with an employee, or for a reason that is contrary to public policy (for example, refusing to do something illegal). Employers must also not fire an employee who files a complaint with the government concerning an employer’s illegal activities. Similarly, employers must not fire an employee who refuses to perform tasks that would violate state safety standards. Choosing to terminate an employee under any of the above conditions could result in a wrongful termination lawsuit.

Discriminatory Firing Practices

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Studios Defend Against Retaliation Claims

Racial discrimination is a significant issue in employment law, and in the entertainment industry, labor law and First Amendment rights both impact minority hires. While employees should not be discriminated against on the basis of race, courts also do not interfere with casting or plot decisions, since doing so would bring courts into the creative processes behind TV shows.

On May 13, Sony and CBS filed motions to dismiss a retaliation claim, and it looks like they should ultimately prevail. Victoria Rowell, a former actress on The Young and the Restless, brought a retaliation claim under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) against the studios, arguing that they would not re-hire her because of her outspokenness about increasing the presence of African Americans in soap operas. She seeks an order to re-employ her or to consider her seriously for reemployment as well as back pay for mental anguish.

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Pregnancy Discrimination: Against Fathers

Pregnancy discrimination continues to be an issue in employment law. However, what companies may not realize is this hot topic is one that increasingly involves men.

A former tax-planning manager at Twentieth Century Fox, Brian Jun, is suing Fox, claiming that his supervisor reacted negatively when Jun said he needed reasonable accommodation under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act. Jun claimed that after returning from his leave, Fox retaliated against him, resulting in his termination. In March of 2015, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing issued Jun a right to sue notice. He is alleging FMLA and retaliation claims as well as pregnancy discrimination.

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Updates to Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace?

Recently, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission published Guidance on its website addressing the treatment of pregnancy under Title VII. The standards adopted in the Guidance are currently proposed in the Pregnant Worker’s Fairness Act (the “PWFA”).  If enacted, the PWFA would make it unlawful for employer’s to not provide a reasonable accommodation for a pregnancy related disability.

Currently, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) forbids discrimination based on pregnancy when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, such as leave and health insurance, and any other term or condition of employment. Pregnancy discrimination in the Los Angeles workplace involves treating a woman (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth.  Pregnant women must be treated in the same manner as other applicants or employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work.

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Understanding the Basics of Litigation Under California’s Age Discrimination Laws

Age discrimination is a sub-category of employment discrimination. Laws exist on both the federal and state level to protect against age discrimination in the workplace. For Los Angeles employers, it can be helpful to understand the basics of California’s age discrimination laws in order to avoid potential lawsuits.

As stated above, age discrimination is prohibited by federal law, which means that it is illegal in all 50 states to discriminate in the workplace because of age.  The protections do not extend to all ages though – only persons age 40 and over are protected.  California has an age discrimination law that mirrors federal law in many respects and also protects those age 40 and older from age-based discrimination in the workplace.  This means that an employer could potentially be sued under both federal and California state law for age-based employment discrimination.

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Requirements of ADA and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

As most Los Angeles employers are aware, there are a variety of federal and local laws that provide different forms of protection for individuals with disabilities.  Each law has its own nuances and mechanisms for protection, as well as requirements for ‘action’ under said law. Employers should discuss these in depth with their legal counsel.

One law that is always a hot topic among employers and employees across the country? The Americans with Disabilities Act (ASA). Recently, the United States Supreme Court declined to review two decisions by California courts regarding the ADA.  These cases, Tustin Unified School District v. K.M. and Poway Unified School District v. D.H., highlight the different protections available to individuals with disabilities, and the separate requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act for Los Angeles employers to consider.

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Job Interview Questions to Avoid Asking

Are you a Los Angeles employer looking to hire new employees? As you are likely aware, California and federal laws have a say in what you can and cannot ask a potential employee during the interview process. There are a number of questions that are clearly off-limits in a job interview, with the obvious ones relating to an applicant’s race, religion, gender identity, etc… However, the list of questions to avoid asking during an interview does not end there.

The purpose of the job interview is to establish whether the applicant is right for the job and company, and whether the company is right for the applicant. As an employer, it is important to direct your questions toward the professional assessment of the applicant’s skills, enthusiasm, and fit.

What are some commonly asked interview questions that are inappropriate may be grounds for a workplace discrimination or harassment lawsuit?

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Questions California Employers Should Avoid Asking Employees, Part 2

As we discussed in our first post on the topic of ‘Questions for Los Angeles Employers to Avoid Asking Their Employees’, there are many seemingly safe topics that can present potential headaches, in the form of employment claims. Therefore, for a California employer who is interested in avoiding the time and financial strain that can come with a discrimination, harassment, or other type of employment claim, keep reading. And to review our other list of Questions Not To Ask Employees, click here.

Having a casual conversation with your employee is generally never a bad thing. We say generally, because as soon as you tread into murky waters with the topics and questions listed below, you could find yourself on the wrong side of an employment lawsuit.

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NLRB Shuts Down “No Gossip” Workplace Policy

While you may think that implementing a “Gossip-Free Zone” in your Los Angeles workplace is a good idea, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) disagrees. Recently, an NLRB Administrative Law Judge determined that an employer violated the National Labor Relations Act by implementing a “no gossip policy” and by firing an employee who violated the policy.

Your various workplace agreements and policies must fall in line with the NRLB’s concept of an ideal workplace, which the NRLB is aggressive in pursuing. For instance, it appears that in this case, after an employee filed a charge challenging her termination for unsatisfactory work performance and various policy violations, the NLRB included an additional charge challenging the employer’s “no gossip policy.” The unhappy ex-employee wasn’t even the one who brought the policy to the NRLB’s attention!

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