Disability and Medical Leave at Work in Los Angeles

Today I want to talk about disability and medical leaves at work. Under California law, disability is any serious medical condition and can be temporary, as long as it’s not something trivial like a cold or a sore throat.

Disability and medical leave violations are one of the most common issues we handle such as when an employer fires an employee while they’re on disability, medical or pregnancy leave because:

  • They ran out of FMLA.
  • Don’t qualify for FMLA.
  • Ask for too much time off.
  • Don’t have a set in stone return to work date.
  • The employer says they can’t meet the accommodations request.

In California this is likely illegal if they have five or more employees. A thorough discussion is also required by the employer with the employee to determine if a reasonable accommodation is possible such as time off, change in position, and change in hours. Also – you don’t have to be a hundred percent healed in order to be allowed back to work.

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6 Tips to Find the Best Employment Attorney

Email or Call Shirazi Law Firm for a consultation: 310-400-5891. Join us on the following networks for the latest legal news:

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Sexually Harassed Farmworkers Win $17 Million

Sandra Lopez, an immigrant from Chiapas Mexico, along with five other women, recently won a $17 million sexual harassment suit against their employer, Moreno Farms, a packing plant in Florida. According to the suit Lopez and the five women were subjected to graphic acts of sexual harassment that included rape, attempted rape, propositioning, and groping by three male supervisors. 

According to the Miami New Times, Lopez said she was dragged into her supervisor’s trailer and raped for half an hour. The other five women claimed they were fired when they didn’t comply with their supervisors’ sexual advances. 

Despite the large sum awarded to the women, collecting the money will be very difficult. As the case was coming to an end, Moreno Farms shut down and the owner fled to avoid going to jail.

Even though the women may never see a cent, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission still believes that the ruling was significant.  That’s because it shows farmworkers that they have rights despite their current immigration status. The EEOC is committed to protecting immigrants and vulnerable populations that are being subjected to discrimination and harassment by their employers.

Do you think that immigrants are particularly vulnerable to workplace sexual harassment? 

*image by Unsplash

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California Passes Historic Equal Pay Law

Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a gender wage equality law that gives women new tools to protect them from being paid unfairly because of their gender. The law had bipartisan support and is one of the strongest in the nation. 

California is leading the way when it comes to addressing and tackling the gender wage inequality problem that plagues women in the United States. According to a study done in 2013, women employed full time in California were paid 84 cents for every dollar that their male counterpart earned. The gap was even greater for minority women.

Now that more and more families rely on a woman’s income, income equality is essential to having a prosperous economy. It is estimated that the gap in California alone causes families to miss out on an additional $33.6 billion a year, money that would then be pumped back into local business and economy.

As of late, high-profile actresses such as Patricia Arquette have been voicing their feelings on the matter, which is said to have influenced California lawmakers.  For example, Arquette used her Oscar moment to stir controversy with her equal-pay remarks, “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.” 

Some effects of the new law are:

  1. Puts the burden on the employer to prove that a male’s salary is higher due to seniority or merit.
  2. If a woman believes she is being paid unfairly because of her gender, she can question her employer without fear of repercussion/retaliation.
  3. Encourages women to inquire if they are being paid unfairly.
  4. Opens the door for other states to follow suit.

Do you think wage inequality is intentional by employers?  Or do you think wage inequality has more to do with outside factors not having to do with discrimination?

*image byFlickr

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Employees Awarded $12 million in Sexual Harassment Lawsuit for Being Called Sluts and Accused of Having STD’s

A call center in Indianola, Iowa was recently sued by five female employees for sexual harassment. Danielle Rennenger, one of the plaintiffs, claims that she and other female employees were called derogatory names such as ‘whore’ and ‘slut’ on a daily basis during their time of employment. In addition, Rennenger also claims that she was accused of having sexually transmitted diseases at work and also forced to sit on the lap of a male co-worker.  The harassers, supervisor and co-worker, were also accused of holding up money and asking Rennenger to dance. When she complained, Rennenger claims that she was laid off in retaliation. 

Amme Roush, another plaintiff, claims that her supervisor asked her what her favorite sexual position was. When she called in sick one day, the same supervisor told the office it was because she had a sexually transmitted disease. In addition, she also alleges that she (and other female employees) were referred to as sluts and other derogatory names. 

Though a jury returned a $11.9 million verdict in Rennenger’s favor, collecting the money might prove to be very difficult. Because $10 million total was awarded in punitive damages against four independent companies (Manley Toy Direct LLC, Toy Network LLC, SLB Toys USA Inc, and Aquawood, LLC), it will be very difficult for Rennenger to collect money from any one company. Rennenger’s attorney believes that the corporate structure of the call center was set up in a way to protect the companies from lawsuits such as these. 

Though Rennenger has yet to receive any money from the lawsuit, she feels happy knowing that the jury ruled in her favor and that the harassment is out in the open and on record. 

What do you think of these crazy allegations?

*image by Michael Lokner, Flickr

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Rihanna Financial Manager Sued for Race and Sex Discrimination Because of Alleged Statement that Rihanna is “Hot”

Robert Solomon, a former employee at Flynn Family Office, a New York-based financial management firm, has filed a lawsuit against the company because he opposed racist and sexist comments made by his co-workers. Solomon, who was once the company’s marketing head, also claims that he was teased by his co-workers because of his age.

According to the court papers, Solomon claims that co-workers regularly made comments about the attractiveness of women as well as their skin color. A partner at the firm, Alan Kufeld, allegedly made racist comments including one about Rihanna, one of the firm’s clients. Chuffed said she was ‘hot’, but only because she was not ‘too dark.’ He then went on to rate which Caribbean nationalities were more attractive based on their skin color. When Kufeld wasn’t making racist comments about his clients, he allegedly rated the attractiveness of his female employees with Rick Flynn, the chief operating officer of the firm. 

Flynn denies the accusations saying that “FFO has always championed the rights of women and minorities, particularly in the workplace.”

In addition to Rihanna, some of Flynn Family Office’s celebrity clients include Kelly Rippa, Katie Holmes and Tory Burch. 

Do you think these facts are severe or pervasive enough to create a case for discrimination?

*image by Flickr

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Actor Charlie Sheen Sued by Former Employee for Breach of Employment Contract and Unpaid Wages in Los Angeles

Charlie Sheen is being sued by Keith Fitzgerald (a former employee) for over $1 million in damages. The causes of action in the complaint include breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, promissory estoppel, quantum merit, failure to pay wages and overtime in violation of the California labor code, and waiting time penalties. The lawsuit was filed in April 2015 in Federal Court in Los Angeles and the company “9th Step Productions, Inc.” is also named as a Defendant.

Upon hire in 2013, Fitzgerald alleges his employment agreement was for $300,000 a year and that he would receive a 20% incentive bonus and medical benefits. Though his contract was for 3 years—Fitzgerald was fired (with no explanation) after only 5 months of working for Sheen. Fitzgerald claims he was not paid at all for any of the services he performed within that five month time period (though he failed to specify exactly what services he provided for Sheen.) Basically, Fitzgerald is suing for the value of the 3 year contract, overtime, and some Labor Code penalties.

Though Sheen is no stranger to the courtroom, do you think Sheen made and broke this contract or do you think this is another example of someone taking advantage of a celebrity’s wealth and status?

For more celebrity wage lawsuits read more here: Lady Gaga, Mariah Carey, Garth Brooks, LeAnn Rimes, Sharon Stone, Alanis Morissette.

Important terms:

Breach of employment contract:  Most employees are at-will employees and don’t have any contract of employment for any specific time period.  But, some employees are given employment contracts for specific periods of time in which they cannot be fired without cause.  If such employment contracts are breached by the employer, it is responsible for paying the employee up to the whole amount due under the duration of the contract.

Overtime:  Under California law, most non-exempt employees must be paid overtime for hours worked over 40 in a week and over 8 hours in any day.  Overtime is paid at 1.5 times an employee’s regular rate of pay.

Waiting time penalties:  California’s Labor Code provides penalties against employers who do not timely pay their employees all their wages.  This penalty can be for up to 6 weeks (30 work days) of pay.

*image by David Zellaby, Flickr  

Email or Call Shirazi Law Firm for a consultation: 310-400-5891. Join us on the following networks for the latest legal news:

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Jury Holds Los Angeles Hotel Owner Responsible for Discriminating Against Jews

A jury has held that the Pakistani/Muslim owner of the Hotel Shangri-La in Santa Monica, CA discriminated against Jews holding an event at her hotel.  The jury found that a group of 18 young Jewish professionals were kicked out of the pool area at the owner’s direction because of their religion–in violation of the UNRUH Civil Rights Act.  Although not an employment law, the UNRUH Act outlaws discrimination by businesses on the basis of “sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, marital status, or sexual orientation.”

According to multiple news sources, witnesses stated that the owner reportedly stated:

– “Get the [expletive] Jews out of my pool!”

– “If my [family finds] out there’s a Jewish event here, they’re going to pull money from me immediately,”

Shangri-La owner, Tehmina Adaya, denied the charges.  The jury awarded $1.2 million in damages to the group, plus another $440,000 in punitive damages, and awarded the Plaintiffs’ their attorney’s fees.

What do you think of this?

Reply below or at www.ShiraziLawFirm.com/blog

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Shirazi Law Firm, PC

Shirazi Law Firm, PC

1875 Century Park East,
Suite 1025,
Los Angeles, CA 90067

Phone: 310 400 5891
Fax: 888 908 7359