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San Francisco Employment Law Blog

Can you be fired for breaking the dress code?

Your company has a dress code, but you don't agree with it. You decide not to adhere to it, get a warning and then eventually get fired when you continue breaking it. Is this legal?

It is, in many cases, but the specifics are important. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) does note that companies are allowed to use and enforce dress codes. As with other workplace rules, violations can lead to termination.

Dealing with a wrongful termination

Your boss calls you into his or her office and tells you that you're being fired, effective immediately. You're instantly furious, because you think it's not just unfair, but illegal. Maybe you recently filed a sexual harassment complaint, for instance, and you believe that's why you're being fired.

It's understandable that you're angry, but the best way to deal with a wrongful termination in the moment is to stay calm. Don't scream at your boss, rant about unfair treatment, lash out at co-workers or do anything else you're going to regret. Don't react based on emotion alone.

Unemployment with a degree shows potential racial discrimination

The raw statistics from a Bureau of Labor Employment Situation Survey show that racial discrimination is possible by exposing the unemployment rates. The rate of unemployment at the time of the survey was 8.8 percent for white workers and 15.0 percent for those of African American heritage. The rate for those with a Latino or Hispanic background was 12.7 percent.

Now, people may claim this doesn't show racism by pointing to other factors, like education levels. For example, the rate for teenagers was 25.1 percent, but it's fair to note that many teens do not work since they live at home and are still in school, making a career impossible. People will sometimes look to things like college degrees to deny that racial discrimination is in play, saying that everyone with a degree would have the same chance at getting a job.

LGBT employees protected under federal law, appeals court says

The notion that the U.S. Supreme Court recently became more conservative with the appointment of Neil Gorsuch, it appears that progressive rulings in the future are not totally inconceivable. This may be especially important to the LGBT community as it continues to fight for equality in the workplace.

Historically, courts have resisted calls to include sexual orientation as a protected class under the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which bans discrimination of employees based on a number of inalienable traits, including race, sex, national origin and religion; to name a few. This is probably based on the ill-fated notion that people “chose” to be gay.

Which industry sees the most sexual harassment claims?

You know that sexual harassment is common in the workplace, resulting in many complaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). But have you ever wondered exactly which industry sees the highest number of complaints?

According to some reports, the restaurant industry is responsible for a stunning 37 percent of all sexual harassment claims. That makes it the leading industry for these complaints by a healthy margin.

Victims are often blamed after sexual harassment or assault

You may have heard that people are sometimes nervous to speak up after a sexual assault or sexual harassment in the workplace. There are many potential reasons for this, such as fear of losing a job, but one big issue is that others may tend to blame the victim.

One woman talked openly about her own experience, saying she felt like society itself blamed her for what had happened to her. She was in college at the time, and the university administration blamed her. She reported that she'd talked with strangers about it, and they even blamed her, despite not knowing her or being around for the incident.

What you need to know about meal breaks in California

At one time or another, most employees have questions about meal breaks. Is it a right or a privilege? What happens if the company refuses to provide lunch breaks? Are meal times supposed to be paid or unpaid?

Here are a few key points about meal breaks from the California Chamber of Commerce:

Work culture, discrimination and fitting in

Work culture is not always something that is formally created. Parts of it may be -- putting up a dress code, for instance -- but other parts are not. The things workers talk about and the way they interact may be drastically different from one business to another, based on the culture.Some experts do warn that this can cause discrimination. As much as employers are looking for new employees who are qualified, they also want to hire people who fit in. They want workers who already adhere to the culture or who look likely to pick it up quickly. This is thought to create a more cohesive workforce, in many ways.This can be a problem, though, when it leads to discrimination. Employers may not even realize that they are doing it. They may just think that the people they are interviewing won't be a good fit, without realizing that they're stereotyping one type of worker.

For instance, maybe the workplace is made up of two dozen people between the ages of 22 and 30. It's a young workforce and that defines the culture and workplace environment. When a 55-year-old worker interviews for a job, the interviewer may think that the person doesn't fit the culture. This could be seen as age discrimination because the lack of fit may be traced back to the age difference and that person's inherent inability to fit the mold.

Should you leave your job if you're facing sexual harassment?

You're sexually harassed in the office. You find it infuriating and embarrassing, and your first instinct is just to get yourself as far from that situation as you can. Should you quit your job and look for another one with a better workplace environment?

While every situation is different and your employment decisions are up to you, some experts warn against quitting. They note that the Supreme Court has instructed employees to understand and follow the company's sexual harassment policy. Not doing so could hurt your chances if you later pursue a lawsuit.

Workers claim job websites discriminate against them

More and more often, workers use the internet to find jobs and apply for them. It's a far easier way to submit information and resumes than filling out paper applications for each job.

However, some workers aren't all that pleased with the process. They say that the websites may discriminate against them based on their age. They're not claiming that the use of websites itself is discrimination, as if older workers can't use them as easily as younger workers, but that the sites simply assume older workers won't be online.

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