Articles Posted in Discrimination

Los Angeles County officials recently decided to halt providing funds to pay for housing investigators in Palmdale and Lancaster after allegations were made that they were targeting minorities for eviction, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Our Westminster employment lawyers often blog about the issues associated with discrimination practices that happen in a workplace setting. But discrimination can happen in public and with the government as well.
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California and federal laws that prohibit Westminster discrimination apply not only to workers, but also to those who are trying to obtain public housing.

California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits discrimination for the following reasons:

-Race -Color -Religion -Sex -Sexual Orientation -Marital Status -National Origin -Ancestry -Familial Status -Disability -Source of Income
Additionally, the Unruh Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination for all business establishments. This includes private businesses and people who are involved in selling or renting housing. So, people are protected from discrimination, even though it still can happen.

In the desert communities of Lancaster and Palmdale, people have accused housing investigators of targeting nonwhite recipients of federal housing subsidies for harassment and eviction. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, in turn, have cut off funds to provide additional investigators there.

The move was made in a closed-door session recently in a move to try to avoid civil rights challenges and an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department. The sheriff’s office is now barred from sending deputies on housing compliance checks without sound reason. The county also is aiming to preserve the confidentiality of people who participate in the Section 8 subsidy program to avoid future harassment.

Last summer, the NAACP filed suit against those cities, alleging that officials were using sheriff’s deputies and other county resources to drive black and Latino residents from government-subsidized housing. Federal prosecutors then announced they were investigating the use of sheriff’s deputies.

County taxpayers currently dish out $98,685 per year to Lancaster and $62,000 to Palmdale to fund extra inspectors for the Section 8 program. Officials in Antelope Valley claim they needed the money to provide extra resources to make sure landlords and tenants comply with program regulations.

County officials readily admit that they are making these moves in order to keep themselves out of any type of discrimination lawsuit. But perhaps they should have begun taking these steps earlier to try to be proactive in avoiding discrimination.

All people have the right to qualify for public housing and the decision of who is allowed to live in these low-income houses and apartments shouldn’t be based on bigotry. But if that’s how it happens, residents need to fight back. If people stand by and allow it to happen, it will continue. Without accountability, the situation lingers.

Westminster employment lawyers recognize that these are challenges people can face on a daily basis can be demoralizing. But meeting with an attorney is a good first step. If you have documented proof that you or a loved one has faced discrimination and your rights have been violated, you should consider all your options.
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CNNMoney is reporting that for the first time ever, all 100 firms on Fortune’s Best Companies To Work For list have discrimination policies in place that include a person’s sexual orientation.

This is a major milestone in protecting workers’ rights, especially in combating sexual orientation discrimination in Fullerton. Our Fullerton employment lawyers believe this is a big step forward, but more must be done.
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A list of 100 companies creating anti-discrimination policies is certainly a good thing, but there are hundreds of thousands of businesses in this country and it would be safe to say that a majority likely don’t have similar policies in place. Sexual orientation discrimination in Fullerton, Southern California and nationwide is still an issue.

After athletes last year called something that was negative “gay,” organizations ran advertising campaigns trying to get children and teens not to use gay as a negative connotation. It’s obvious that there is still work to be done in this area. Many adults, who grew up in an era where discrimination wasn’t uncommon, struggle today when dealing with gay or bisexual co-workers.

According to the news article, in 2008, 95 of the top 100 companies on the list that year had policies and within three years the number hit 99. It wasn’t until this year’s list that all 100 companies had such a policy in place.

The list’s creators say gay rights at work have gained strength in the last 15 years, culminating with the news that all the companies have such a policy in place. Of the 100 companies, 89 of the companies offer benefits for same-sex domestic partners, which is up from 70 in 2007.

Gay rights supporters say it isn’t shocking that the companies that are rated best to work for also are the places that have policies in place to protect their workers from discrimination.

About 86 percent of Fortune 500 companies also have non-discrimination policies in place that include sexual orientation, CNN reports. That’s up from 61 percent in 2002. About 60 percent of those firms also offer health benefits for same-sex domestic partners. That’s a jump of 34 percent from 10 years ago.

Gay, bi-sexual and transgendered people throughout Southern California still have an uphill battle at work and no person should be put in that position. Every worker should have equal rights and by 2012, you’d think that would have been accomplished.

But our Fullerton employment lawyers see daily cases of workers who face discrimination based on their gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, national origin and other factors that have no bearing on their ability to do a job well. Sadly, these biases cannot enter the workplace and if they do, they must be fought. Bosses cannot treat workers differently based on some type of in-grown discrimination unrelated to the employee’s work ethic.
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While many employees may just be getting back to work after some vacation time, companies’ human resources departments are likely just getting started on making sure they are in compliance with a host of new laws that went into effect and are designed to protect workers from discrimination in Fullerton and statewide.

The San Francisco Chronicle recently published an article that states nearly two dozen new employment laws went into effect Jan. 1 — some that prohibit discrimination and others that help employees who typically end up getting the short end of the stick at work.
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Our Fullerton employment lawyers fully support new laws that go into effect with the plan to end discrimination and not put people at a disadvantage in the workplace. There are far too many situations where employees face a difficult time at work, whether it be pregnancy, service in the military or because of their race or gender.

One law that may have the biggest impact is one that requires companies to inform workers who aren’t exempt from overtime of their rate of pay, the workers’ compensation insurer, the paydays and if there are any meal or lodging allowances.

If there are any chances in that information, the employer must tell each non-exempt worker within seven calendar days, the newspaper reports. If there are wage violations, the penalties are larger than in year’s past.

Another new law on the books requires companies with five or more employees to ensure they have health coverage under a group health plan to ensure female employees who take leave for pregnancy can do so for up to four months. The benefits have to be the same as if the woman were working during the leave period.

In cases where employees and employers split health care costs 50/50, the same must be done if the woman is out on leave. The current law applies to companies with 50 or more employees and for a maximum of 12 weeks, so the new law expands the time frame and type of company affected.

Other laws that go into effect:

SB459: A law that creates penalties of $5,000 to $25,000 for a “willful misclassification” of employees as independent contractors. Doing so can save money for companies, but being penalized changes things.

AB22: The law prohibits companies, except some financial institutions, from using credit reports on job applicants and employees. Some exceptions include managerial positions exempt from overtime pay, law enforcement and work with money.

AB1396: This requires commission plans for employees to be in writing so they can’t be changed after the fact.

AB877: The law prevents companies from discriminating against employees based on their gender expression. While there are laws on the books that protect from discrimination against people based on their gender and gender identity, the new law also protects employees based on the way they dress and behave.
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A recent court case out of Maine shows that the only way to fight discrimination in Irvine and other places in the country is to take the case to court and fight for your rights.

Some workers today would argue that officials at large corporations have little in the way of loyalty. They spend most of their time worrying about making profits, regardless of what that means to their employers.
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Sadly, our Irvine employment lawyers have seen workers be discriminated against in cases where people in power believe the law and company policies don’t apply to them. Discrimination comes down to a power struggle without regard for a person’s feelings.

If a person faces discrimination at work, it’s likely because a co-worker with authority has decided not to follow the laws that are in place to protect workers from discrimination. That person likely believes they won’t get caught or they disagree with the laws and choose to disobey them.

A person can face discrimination for a variety of reasons — age, gender, race, national origin, sexual orientation, disability and other factors that have no bearing on whether you are able to competently do the job at hand.

The Maine case of Russell v. ExpressJet Airlines shows us that standing up and fighting in a court of law may be the only way for a person to fight discrimination in their workplace.

In this situation, a jury found that the airline discriminated against Edward Russell based on his sexual orientation. The airline appealed, arguing that it should have won the case on three grounds. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court denied the appeal and found in favor of Russell.

In 1998, Russell became an agent for Continental Express and he was later promoted to supervisor. When ExpressJet opened in 2002, he joined that company as a supervisor. At the time, the general manager was a gay man and Russell, too, was gay and was open about his sexual orientation.

A year after being hired, a regional director for the airline told Russell that three women had filed a lawsuit against the company alleging that only gay men were being hired for managerial positions. The general manager left soon after and Russell, along with another man, took over those duties. Co-workers said Russell did a great job running the office while the company searched for a new general manager.

He asked about getting the job full time and was turned down twice because the company had just gotten out of a “boiling pot of water,” a reference to the discrimination lawsuit filed by the three women. Russell was told twice he would not get the job.

When a new general manager was hired, he spoke well of Russell. When a new regional director was hired, he was told by the general manager that Russell was doing a good job. But then, the regional director recommended Russell be fired, and the general manager declined to do so.

As new general managers came in, Russell was overlooked for the position and he was told that the company had a policy — though unwritten — of hiring general managers from within the stations. By 2006, Russell began trying to reach the human resources department about unfair hiring practices, though those calls were not returned.

In 2007, a new general manager was hired and Russell overheard him say that the company needed to “clean house” of homosexuals. When he contacted the regional manager about becoming a general manager, he suggested two other locations, but then those positions either weren’t available or were filled. Russell eventually resigned and filed suit. A jury awarded him $500,000.
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A recent case out of Georgia, Glenn v. Brumby, centered around a man who wanted to transform to a woman and amounted to sexual discrimination.

The transgender person got a favorable ruling recently and may be soon reinstated to editor and proofreader of legislation, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
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Our Newport Beach employment discrimination lawyers have seen many forms of discrimination at work that have left employees feeling ostracized and unwanted, causing them to struggle at work and form emotional problems, among other issues.

These problems are not only internal issues, but they are illegal. There are laws, both in California and federally, that are designed to help employees who have been discriminated against by co-workers, bosses or by the company in the form of not hiring them in the first place. Job candidates and workers should be judged based on their performance alone and not the color of their skin, religious following, gender or other factors.

In the Georgia case, a man was fired from the Georgia General Assembly after revealing he was planning to transition from a man to woman. She filed a federal lawsuit and in a recent court of appeals ruling, found favor with a three-judge panel.

She has continued to receive pay since she was fired in October 2007, but hasn’t been allowed to return to work. Vandy Beth Glenn, formerly Glenn Morrison, was hired in 2005. She was diagnosed with gender identity disorder, and doctors recommended she undergo a gender transition for her “health and well-being,” the newspaper reports.

She told her superiors she intended to start coming to work as a woman and underwent surgeries in order to complete the process. When she told her boss she intended to change genders, he fired her.

The recent appeals court ruling found that it was a form of sexual discrimination because she was fired for not conforming to the stereotypes associated with the gender. Previous court cases have shown that city employees couldn’t fire a man for wearing an earring considered effeminate, and a restaurant couldn’t allow a waiter to be harassed for carrying a tray like a woman.

These court cases are important in order to pave the way for future generations of people who may end up being the victim of a form of discrimination at work. For one, if a person believes they have faced discrimination at work and do nothing, they must work in that environment, which is unlikely to change, for the duration of their employment.

But secondly, they may have an opportunity to change the entire culture of an organization or an industry by stepping up and trying to make change. Sure, it could be difficult, but it also may be necessary. Allowing discrimination to continue is no way to work. These labor law issues and others must be addressed. They can’t linger and affect people in the future.
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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on world leaders for the first time not to discriminate against gays and lesbians, announcing that the United States would dedicate $3 million to fighting for gay rights worldwide, the Los Angeles Times has reported.

And while this is a noble cause, there is plenty of discrimination in workplaces right here in Orange County. Sexual orientation discrimination in Fullerton can be a major issue. Employers must be forced to comply with state and federal laws requiring them to hire and fire based on ability, not meaningless attributes.
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Unfortunately, our Irvine employment discrimination attorneys have seen many examples of businesses doing exactly that. Rather than selecting the most qualified candidate, employers choose a person based on his or her skin color or gender. In some cases, instead of promoting a promising worker, they stick to someone based on age or religious preference.

According to the Times story, Clinton gave a speech as part of Human Rights Day, saying that protecting the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people is one of the “human rights challenges of our time.” She likened the cause to battles dealing with racial equality, the rights of women and religious freedoms.

Clinton said that people in the rest of the world tend to see this issue as a “Western phenomenon” and something they don’t have to deal with. But she said gay people come from every society, throughout the world. She called on other governments to combat the criminalization of sexual orientation.

She also reported the creation of a global fund that the country has committed $3 million to in order to enforce rights worldwide. The Obama administration has promoted gay rights in recent years through the changing of military policies and gay marriage law changes.

And while there are have certainly been examples of violent injustices, discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people happens in corporate settings as well. Perhaps not violence, but bias against these people exists and must be stopped.

In some occasions, the discrimination is outward, where bosses or co-workers are allowed to call things “gay” or make remarks that are disparaging toward another person who they believe is gay or who outwardly states they are gay.

Other times, the discrimination is kept “in-house” when bosses make firing and hiring decisions or determine who can be promoted or not. Sometimes, these cases require a whistleblower, a person who reports the wrongdoing or other times a pattern of discrimination can be found.

In any of these scenarios, it is unlawful. There is a reason why laws were created to stop this type of behavior. No one wants to feel they don’t get a fair shot at a job or advancement in a field because of something they can’t control. Our Irvine discrimination defense lawyers challenge businesses that violate these laws and seek to treat people unfairly based on their sexual orientation.
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Discrimination can happen anywhere. Most commonly it happens in the workplace — people may be hired or fired not based on their abilities or work performance, but based on race, sexual preference, disability, national origin or other factors.

Those are unlawful reasons to fire someone or not hire someone. And that type of discrimination in Newport Beach must be fought.
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But the job market isn’t the only place you may find discrimination. As our Newport Beach discrimination lawyers have reported in recent months, discrimination outside the workplace can lead to major changes with businesses as well as municipalities.

In August, a woman sued Bloomingdale’s after alleging that a male employee wouldn’t serve her when she attempting to buy a men’s shirt for her upcoming wedding. A lawsuit states that the man scoffed at her and told her she shouldn’t be buying men’s clothes for herself.

In October, we reported that a city in Georgia had to re-do its policies about headgear in the courthouse after a woman sued and later settled with the city after her headscarf was torn from her head by a security guard. In that case, the Muslim woman was attempting to show support to a relative and was arrested because she refused to remove her headscarf.

In the news recently was another example of problems with discrimination. According to a study by the Williams Institute at UCLA, a survey of 612 dentist offices in the Los Angeles area found that five percent of dental providers have a policy of denying service to HIV-positive people.

Many surveyed claimed that they don’t have the needed precautions to control infections. Another five percent admitted they would treat HIV-positive patients differently, in ways that could violate anti-discrimination laws, The Huffington Post reports.

While this is a relatively small percentage, it still shows that discrimination exists in our society. On a positive note, 90 percent of those surveyed said they wouldn’t discriminate. And dentistry’s numbers are far lower than other industries surveyed by the organization — 55 percent of obstetricians and 46 percent of skilled-nursing facilities and 26 percent of plastic surgeons admitted to refusing treatment.

While there is room for improvement, the researchers were happy with the results, opining that two decades of exposure to HIV and AIDS and the progress of information about the illnesses has helped change the culture of discrimination against this group.

Our lawyers agree that while 90 percent is good, 100 percent would be better. No group should face discrimination based on their medical records, skin tone, gender or other factors. The only way to stop discrimination is to fight against it. Allowing it to happen and doing nothing only allows the culture to continue. It has taken decades to break down barriers and our Newport Beach employment lawyers will continue working toward that goal.
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A case out of Puerto Rico recently shows the challenge that persons with disabilities have at work as well as trying to show they have faced discrimination in the workplace.

In Ramos-Echevarria v. Pichis Inc., a worker who suffers from epilepsy claimed that his employer discriminated against him because he was denied a full-time position. He claims it was because of his disability, but two courts have ruled against him.
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There are both state and federal protections for people with disabilities in California. Under disability discrimination laws in Newport Beach, workers who are otherwise qualified for a job but who suffer from a physical or mental disability can’t be denied employment simply because of the impairment.

And California residents also have federal protection from disability discrimination as well. Private employers, state and local governments, and others aren’t allowed to discriminate against the disabled, including hiring, firing, compensation, advancement, training and other areas of employment.

In this difficult economy, our Irvine employment lawyers feel for those who are rejected for jobs based on their disability. We will stand by their side and demand justice.

In this case, Ramos-Echevarria suffers from epilepsy, and according to court documents has nine to 16 “episodes” a week where he will see an “aura” before his body convulses for eight to 15 seconds. After that, his cognitive abilities are impaired and sometimes for a period after.

He was a part-time kitchen assistant since 1999, assisting with food preparation. He had a similar position since 2002 with another restaurant. Between three and six times a year his seizures cause him to leave work, but most of the time he stabilizes himself until they pass.

When he was first hired — he told the company about his illness on his application — his boss fired him after his first episode. He was told to bring in a doctor’s note stating that he can work despite the illness and he got one and was re-hired. Since then, he has never been denied medical assistance.

He claimed in his lawsuit that he has asked for full-time work but was told that he couldn’t get full-time work because of his condition. Others were hired after him and got full-time work while he still was stuck in a part-time role, despite his reviews being favorable.

The appeals court ruled that he failed to show that he has a disability within the meaning of the Americans with Disabilities Act and therefore his claim should be dismissed. They agreed with the lower court ruling and dismissed his case.

Employment law is a complex area that must be handled by an experienced lawyer. While these laws provide protection for workers, there are specific elements that must be met in order to show that a person has faced discrimination for a disability. A Santa Ana employment lawyer can help.
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CNN is reporting that tens of thousands of farmers who faced racial discrimination from the U.S. Agriculture Department in the 1980s and 1990s could start to get $1.25 billion in compensation after a recent federal settlement.

While not usually on this grand a scale, racial discrimination in Irvine and elsewhere happens every day. Employees are fired or not hired not based on their skills, but based on their skin color. Sadly, Orange County employment lawyers have seen many Americans whose lives have been disrupted because of discrimination in the workplace.
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Race is a characteristic that is part of a protected class where discrimination cannot be tolerated and the class includes disability, religion, age and sexual orientation, to name a few. In 2010, there were nearly 36,000 race-based claims of discrimination in the United States, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. That was up from nearly 34,000 in 2009 and 29,000 in 2000.

In this case, as many as 68,000 African-American farmers could receive either $50,000 or $250,000, depending on the circumstances of their case. In the class-action lawsuit, a judge ruled that the settlement is fair in helping black farmers who can prove they were discriminated against in the department’s support and programs.

“Historical discrimination cannot be undone,” the judge wrote, citing a basis to establish payments, “for the broken promise to those African-American farmers and their descendants.”

A review panel of retired judges and neutral parties will look at each case to determine the amount of aid the farmers can get. This will no doubt go a long way toward helping farmers whose livelihoods were shattered because of discrimination.

Many who faced discrimination lost their farms when they were not given equal opportunity to get aid from the government-backed department. When competitors, who were not black, got the needed support, they were able to put black farmers out of business.

Our country runs on farmers who are able to create produce, meat and other animal products that feed our families and keep the grocery business competitive. But if they aren’t able to thrive because of racial bias, the entire system struggles.

On a smaller scale, discrimination in the workplace can be equally disruptive. When bosses make decisions of hiring, firing, promotions and training not based on a person’s skills, experience or abilities, but rather on the color of their skin, that is a major inequality.

Many examples of outright racial discrimination in Irvine workplaces require the help of a whistle-blower — a person who is willing to stand up to what is wrong. In many racial discrimination situations, an insider can help change the culture of a business that has for years operated in the wrong.

Sometimes, however, the culture is such that bosses are open about their discrimination and use their power to influence others to stay quiet. The threat of losing a job, especially in this difficult economy can be an intimidating force.
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For a country that was built on religious freedoms, many states and companies in the United States seem to be years behind in their acceptance of the world’s religions.

Just a few months ago, the California Employment Lawyer Blog reported that the California city of Walnut had to settle a lawsuit because it showed bias against a Buddhist group that wanted to build a Zen Center, which would have been the only non-Christian religious center in the city.
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It cost a lot of time and money to settle something that should have been handled in the first place. And Georgia recently made news too, Thomson Reuters reports. A city there recently settled a lawsuit filed by a Muslim woman who was placed under arrest and put in jail when she refused to remove her headscarf before entering a courtroom.

It would be nice for cities and companies to realize that they simply cannot tolerate religious discrimination in Los Angeles. While it’s not a problem if officials aren’t familiar with the basis of different religions, not understand them or even not believe in them, but it’s not right for them to treat people differently because of them.

An experienced Santa Ana employment law attorney must be consulted if this has happened to you. Many public and private officials aren’t quick to make policy changes or stop their behavior, but a timely lawsuit can put a stop to the unlawful behavior.

In 2008, a woman was taking her nephew to court in Douglasville, Georgia, when an officer who was using a metal detector told her that headscarves couldn’t be worn in court. The woman told the officer that the policy discriminated against her and she attempted to get out of the courtroom. But the officer arrested her and charged her with contempt.

While the charge was later dropped, she was forced to remove her head covering, was placed in cuffs and carted off to jail like a common criminal. The wearing of headscarves in the Muslim world mark modesty, as they cover up a woman’s hair and neck.

U.S. civil rights advocates say that banning them amounts to religious discrimination, while in France, they have been banned on school grounds.

After settling the lawsuit, the city will have to adopt a new policy permitting people to wear headscarves inside courtrooms and allowing those wearing religious head coverings to go through a private screening area with a person of the same gender.

Many of these policies used by companies and municipalities are borne out of ignorance for a certain religion and aren’t fair to those who practice it. No one wants to be discriminated against, but decision-makers sometimes don’t realize the damage their policies are doing.

Every American enjoys the right to choose their religion and believe what they want. If that means they choose to wear a certain garment in a certain way, a city shouldn’t be allowed to stop them from doing so. Let’s hope that businesses and cities that treat people differently based on their religious choice see this decision and wise up.
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