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Sacramento Employment Law Blog

Prenatal testing company sued for pregnancy discrimination

A California company that specializes in testing services for expecting women is being sued by a former employee for alleged pregnancy discrimination. The plaintiff in the case claims she was wrongfully fired for becoming pregnant.

According to media reports, the plaintiff worked as a senior manager of content marketing at Natera, a San Carlos-based company that provides preconception and prenatal testing services to women. The plaintiff alleges that the company told her she would no longer be a manager after she announced she was pregnant. She also claims that a male executive asked her and another pregnant employee to use their pregnancies to go undercover and get blood tests at a competing company. Then, during her maternity leave, she claims she was demoted. When she complained about the demotion to human resources, she alleges that she was terminated from her position at the company.

Workers over 40 face discrimination on the job

Despite greater public attention to corporate diversity, California workers continue to face discrimination on the job. In 1967, Congress passed the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, protecting workers over the age of 40 from being denied jobs, promotions and opportunities due to their ages. However, while the law has been in effect for over 50 years, age discrimination continues to rear its head in the workplace and often goes unreported.

Research from the AARP indicates that only 3 percent of workers over 40 who have experienced age discrimination on the job have filed formal complaints. At the same time, nearly 60 percent of workers over 45 said that they had personally witnessed or experienced age discrimination. While reports often rely on the charges filed by federal and state agencies to track workplace discrimination rates, these official complaints reflect only a portion of the discriminatory actions that workers encounter on the job.

Retaliation isn't legal after complaints of discrimination

There are many reasons why employers might terminate an employee or move them to a less desirable shift. These actions, as well as other adverse employment actions like pay decreases, are perfectly legal as long as they aren't made due to discrimination, as harassment or for retaliatory reasons.

When an employer takes an adverse employment action for one of these illegal reasons, the employee can take action. Proving that these actions were discriminatory can be challenging, however. Here are some important points to remember when determining your next course of action:

EEOC alleges Walmart discriminated against deaf workers

Walmart stores throughout California have an obligation to comply with local and federal employment laws. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has alleged in a lawsuit that a Walmart store violated the Americans With Disabilities Act when store management chose not to accommodate deaf employees who needed support to receive training and workplace communications.

A spokeswoman for the EEOC said that deaf or hearing-impaired employees have a right to access workplace information and participate in meetings. When employers fail to provide reasonable accommodations for workers' disabilities, they deny those people a fair chance to enjoy the benefits of employment.

Wrongful termination case reinstated on appeal

The case of a former Wells Fargo Bank employee from California is moving forward after a federal appeals court panel reinstated her wrongful termination claim. The former loan officer at the major bank had filed her case after she was dismissed from her job as a loan officer at the bank while she was on leave after giving birth to her child. She alleged that Wells Fargo engaged in discrimination and retaliation, violated the California Family Rights Act and that her dismissal was directly related to these discriminatory practices.

Initially, the U.S. District Court in Pasadena dismissed her claims, granting summary judgment in favor of the bank. While the appeals court ruled that several of the former employee's claims for failure to promote could not move forward, it reinstated her wrongful termination complaint. The appeals court panel that heard the case found in favor of the former employee in a 2-1 ruling.

Proposed bill targets harassment in the workplace

A California senator is co-sponsoring a bill designed to protect women at work by targeting the imbalance of power between employees and employers. The bill has been called the EMPOWER Act, short for the Ending the Monopoly of Power Over Workplace harassment through Education and Reporting Act. California Sen. Kamala Harris said perpetrators of sexual harassment have created a culture of silence and fear that must end.

The Act makes use of different means to target harassment. It gives victims more power, for example, by removing the use of nondisclosure agreements to keep accusers silent. Use of NDAs in harassment settlements came under scrutiny following allegations of harassment by celebrities like Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer and Bill O'Reilly. The bill also includes measures to punish companies that have allowed systemic harassment to develop. It establishes a confidential service for employees to report violative behavior to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Experience range may be subtle indicator of age discrimination

Workers in California who are not hired for a position because of too many years of experience might be able to file an age discrimination claim. One man did so after applying for a job he had previously held as a temp. The company said that although the man met the criteria for the job, someone with years of experience might be inflexible. The man is in his 60s, and the job went to a 36-year-old.

The company filed a motion for summary judgment, but a federal district court judge denied it. The judge ruled that the upper limit on experience and the comments made to the man could constitute age discrimination and that there was sufficient evidence for the case to go to trial.

Inappropriate gesture could cost NPS head his job

The new Interior Secretary for the United States came into office promising to have zero tolerance for any type of workplace harassment within his department. This strong stance could soon be tested as the head of the National Park Service is under fire for making an inappropriate gesture in front of other employees. California residents could know the results of the investigation into the matter by the end of June.

According to anonymous employees, the acting director was walking through the hallways of the department's headquarters telling a story to another employee. At one point during the story, he allegedly stopped and acted as if he was urinating on the building's interior walls. This occurred in view of multiple employees.

Religious discrimination is against the law

Life in the United States comes with many freedoms. For one, people are free to choose and exercise their religion of choice without fear of discrimination. Unfortunately, there are some individuals in this country who have forgotten that this simple right exists.

While nobody should ever have to deal with discrimination, there is a chance that it will happen at some point. When it happens while the person is doing his or her job duties, there is a serious problem. Religious discrimination in the workplace is forbidden by federal law. Here are some points to know:

Reporting workplace sexual harassment

Some employees in California who face sexual harassment at work may be reluctant to report it. According to a study by CareerBuilder, almost three-fourths of people who are harassed at work do not report report their incidents, and over half say they never confront the harasser. Fear of retaliation is one of several reasons people may not pursue a sexual harassment claim.

According to the survey, over half of people who said they had been harassed at work were targeted by a peer. More than one-third were targeted by a supervisor, and the rest reporting a client, vendor, senior management or direct report harassing them. People ages 18 to 34 were the most likely to say they had been harassed. Of those who did report harassment to employers, around 75 percent said their situations were resolved.


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