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San Francisco Employment Law Blog

"Glass ceiling" workplace discrimination

You may have heard of the term "glass ceiling" used to describe the limitations that some employees, especially minorities and women, face in the workplace. Although these limitations are not explicitly expressed in most cases, they exist nonetheless.

If you are experiencing glass ceiling discrimination, you do have rights. Read on to learn more about what glass ceiling discrimination is, and how you can exercise your rights if your employer is violating them.

Was I retaliated against after highlighting employee safety?

All employees have the right to voice any concerns they have about safety. However, when they do, this can be costly for the employer, since the employer will likely need to enact policies to address the safety conditions in the workplace. This is why employers can often wrongly become angry at employees who make complaints about safety in the workplace, either intentionally or unintentionally.

An employee may be retaliated against by an employer in many ways. They might be given disciplinary treatment, demoted, denied a promotion or they may even have their employment terminated entirely. If you have had your employment terminated a short time after you complained about safety in your workplace, it is important to consider whether you have a legal claim.

Are you a victim of workplace disability discrimination?

If you live and work in California, you have a disability and your employer also employs a workforce of at least 15 people, you have certain workplace rights, as dictated by the Americans With Disabilities Act of 2010. Essentially, this act makes it illegal for your employer to treat you differently because you have a disability, and it gives you grounds to try to hold your employer accountable, if he or she does so, anyway.

Disability discrimination in the workplace can take on many different forms, some of which are obvious, and some of them, less so.

Being uncomfortable at work because of your sexual orientation

Everyone has the right to feel comfortable at work and feel relaxed enough to get on with the task at hand. In the same way, workers in the state of California have the right to be judged on how well they perform their job rather than irrelevant characteristics that do not relate in any way to the job that they do.

Unfortunately, however, many workers experience discrimination while in the workplace. This might be discrimination due to their skin color, their national origin, their dialect or accent, their sex or their sexual orientation. Discrimination is never acceptable in the workplace, and it is possible to take legal action when you have been discriminated at work as a result of your sexual orientation or your perceived sexual orientation.

Can I take action after being fired while on family leave?

When you have a family or have medical issues, it is likely that there will be times when you need to take time off work in order to attend to a specific matter. As long as you meet certain requirements, you will qualify for unpaid employee leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Taking unpaid leave under the FMLA means that you are immune from having a negative action being made against you because of the leave taken. In other words, you cannot be fired or demoted for taking leave in order to have a child or care for a sick family member.

However, unfortunately issues happen and disputes arise. A situation that does sometimes occur is when an employee gets fired while taking FMLA leave. This is not always unlawful; therefore, if you have had your employment terminated in the state of California while you were on FMLA leave, you should take the time to learn more about the law and how it applies to you.

Want to sue your employer? Follow these three guidelines

Unfortunately, your workplace is not always a positive environment. Sometimes, where you work is discriminatory or uncomfortable. If this is your situation, you may be thinking about suing your employer. Common reasons for employees to sue their bosses include:

  • Discrimination
  • Wage and hour issues
  • Wrongful termination
  • Harassment
  • Denials for family and medical leave
  • Retaliation

If any of these things are happening to you, you may feel the temptation to bring a lawsuit against your workplace. Here are some general guidelines to follow when pursuing a legal claim: 

Reduced hours after making a harassment complaint may be unlawful

While any type of harassment in the workplace is unlawful, unfortunately it does continue to happen in workplaces in the state of California. Harassment is defined as any type of behavior that creates what is known as a "hostile environment" in the workplace. A hostile environment means that you as the harassment victim feel uncomfortable or embarrassed to attend work and to be in the workplace, and you may have difficulty concentrating on the work at hand because of the harassing behavior.

While harassment in the workplace is unlawful in itself, there are also many regulations and protections in place for the victim of the harassment, or the person who makes a complaint about it on behalf of another. If a formal complaint is made about sexual harassment in the workplace, the person making the complaint has protection from any form of retaliation.

What situations make a California job termination illegal?

When you are terminated from your job, it can be a very upsetting experience, no matter the circumstances. However, when you are fired and you believe that the firing was an unlawful one, it can be even more stressful, and you probably feel confused and hurt. If you have any suspicion that your termination was not done under legal circumstances, it is important that you take the time to read about how employment law works in the state of California.

A termination can be unlawful for a number of reasons; however, it is quite common for the termination to be unlawful due to acts of discrimination, or as a retaliatory response to a complaint that was made by the worker.

Defining adverse employment action

As a California employee, you probably already know that your employer cannot fire you for reporting workplace discrimination to your supervisors, your company’s management team or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. But did you know that your employer likewise cannot take any adverse employment action against you whatsoever?

An adverse employment action is any act on your employer’s part that inhibits you or any of your co-workers from reporting discrimination. The prohibited action can take place before you file a complaint in an effort to prevent your doing so, or it can take place after you lodge your complaint in an effort to retaliate against you in other ways short of termination.

Wrongful termination and age discrimination

It is very well-known that many employers discriminate based on the age of their employees or prospective employees. This is usually driven by the cost of labor and the perceived potential progression of employees; however, it is never acceptable, and it is possible to make a legal claim against an employer for age discrimination.

If you believe that you have been fired because of your age, it is important that you take the time to understand your rights and learn what your legal options are. While age discrimination can be difficult to prove, it is often worthwhile.

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