Stokes Wagner Law Firm
Stokes Wagner

If there is one thing worse than sexual harassment in the workplace, it’s retaliation against a victim of harassment as a result of reporting harassment. Existing law in California prohibits an employer from terminating, discriminating or retaliating against an employee because of the employee’s status as a victim of sexual harassment, domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking (Labor Code, Section 230). Assembly Bill-171 (presented by Gonzalez, D-San Diego) seeks to broaden the protections for such victims by providing a “rebuttable presumption” of unlawful retaliation if an employer within 90 days following either the date when the victim provides notice to the employer or when the employer has actual knowledge of the status, discharges, threatens to discharge, demotes, suspends, or takes any other adverse action against the victim-employee. “Harassment” in this context means sexual harassment, gender harassment, and harassment based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

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In January 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that California would soon be expanding its Paid Family Leave (PFL) program. That promise has come to fruition in the May revisions to Governor Newsom’s budget released earlier this month.

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As spring starts to turn into summer, increases to city and state minimum wages are steadily approaching. Employers should take the time now to ensure that they are ready for minimum wage increases scheduled for July 1, 2019.

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The Stokes Wagner team has defeated claims of discrimination, harassment and wage violations against the storied Beverly Hills Hotel. The claimant was a former employee of The Beverly Hills Hotel Logo Shop who was terminated for cause. She alleged that during her employment, she was subject to rampant use of racial slurs, including the “N-Word,” by Hotel management and fellow employees. She also claimed that she suffered from race-based favoritism and that she was ultimately terminated because of her race. She also claimed that the Hotel failed to provide her with required rest breaks and to pay her for all hours worked. Claimant sought damages for lost income, emotional distress, unpaid wages, related penalties, and attorneys’ fees.

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On March 4, 2019, the U.S. District for the District of Columbia issued an opinion reinstating the EEOC’s collection of pay data as part of the EEO-1 Report filing. The revised EEO-1 form was an Obama-era change that would have required employers with 100 or more employees to report W-2 wage information and total hours worked for all employees by race, ethnicity and sex within 12 proposed pay bands. The pay data collection requirement was originally slated to go into effect on March 31, 2018 but was stalled after the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) stayed the implementation of the pay data collection portions of the revised EEO-1 Report.

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Recently, the United State Supreme Court accepted three different cases dealing with gay and transgender rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based on sex and the question of whether this includes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity has been hotly contested in recent years. While opinions issued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) have generally indicated that sexual orientation and gender identity should fall within the purview of Title VII, courts have remained divided over these issues. It is anticipated that the Supreme Court’s decisions will finally provide much-needed clarity for employers and the LGBTQ community at large.

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Did you receive a notice from the Social Security Administration that an employee’s name and Social Security Number are mismatched on their W-2 this tax season? Not to worry, this is a fairly common occurrence, and the Social Security Administration has provided simple instructions for addressing the issue.

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It’s no secret within the hospitality industry that restaurants and hotels have thin profit margins, averaging only 3-5%. With the two largest expenses being fixed rent and variable labor, it is not uncommon for venues to focus on labor costs. This undoubtedly explains the growing trend to evaluate outsourcing certain positions. Outsourcing aims to eliminate overtime and the cost of employee benefits while responding to business level fluctuations in real-time. But, if the outsource process is mismanaged, it may create more problems than it solves. These are our top 5 prevention tips to avoid problems.

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Even in California, where the courts have resisted sending employee claims to arbitration, the tide is turning in favor of mandatory employment arbitration agreements. The California Court of Appeals for the Second Appellate District reversed the decision of Los Angeles Superior Court judge William Fahey denying the employer’s petition to enforce its arbitration agreement.

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With the popularity of Facebook and the widespread use of social media by employees, it probably comes as no surprise that experts believe a person’s Facebook status update offers interesting (and usually obvious) insight about his or her personality. Some people tend to share photos of their travel adventures or culinary skills while others post primarily about the political issues of the day or their kid’s latest athletic competition. For the reader, status updates can be interesting, fun and educational. They can also be dangerous traps for the unwary when they consist of unrestrained rants targeting an employer. Certainly, “concerted activities” for the purpose of mutual aid or protection are permitted and protected by the National Labor Relations Act; therefore, posts consisting of complaints concerning working conditions or worker’s rights will typically not support termination of the employee. However, before “going off” on an employer on social media, or tolerating the same by your employees, remember that such posts may be viewed as offensive and unprotected, supporting a legal termination.

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