Case Example: Disability Medical Leave in Los Angeles

Today I want to talk about one of my medical and disability leave cases.

I had a client once who was injured in a car accident, and either needed a few weeks off, or, the ability to work from home. The employer refused both, and summarily fired her, on grounds that she didn’t quality for disability leave.

This is illegal.

After hiring us, we got her an excellent settlement, and she was able to turn her life around. This is just one of the many examples of the medical and disability leave violations that happen.

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Case Example: Pregnancy Leave Discrimination in Los Angeles

Today I want to talk about one of my pregnancy discrimination cases.

I once had a pregnant client who needed more than four months of leave, allowed under California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave Law. Instead of giving her additional time for her doctor’s note, they callously fired her without warning.

This was devastating to her, and illegal.

After hiring us, she got an excellent settlement and she was very grateful. This is just one of the many types of illegal pregnancy and medical leave violations.

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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

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Sexually Harassed At Work? Here’s What To Do.

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Independent Los Angeles Movie Theater “Cinefamily” Temporarily Closed Due to Serious Sexual Harassment Problem and “Rape Culture”

An independent (and nonprofit) movie theatre in Los Angeles has temporarily shut its doors after an anonymous email surfaced alleging a hostile working environment and misogynistic company culture. The email accuses Shadie Elnashai, the VP of the Board of Directors and Hadrian Belove, executive managing director, of assaulting and abusing ther younger, female subordinates. Both have since resigned.  The theatre will remain closed until further notice. Here is what we know about the allegations: 

1. 17 former Cinefamily employees chronicled deeply rooted sexism in the workplace, starting from day one of the theater’s opening ten years ago.

2. Shadie Elnashai, former board vice president of Cinefamily, was known for repeatedly flirting with staff and volunteers as well has openly having sexual relationships with them. 

3.  Shadie resigned from Cinefamily after an email surfaced accusing him of raping multiple women and then verbally threatening the women into silence. Because the email is anonymous, it is unclear who the accuser is. 

4. Executive Managing Director Trevor Jones said that when he started two years ago, he made it very clear that relationships between upper management and employees would not be tolerated. 

5. According to screenshots provided to Buzzfeed News, Simon Oré (the former board president of Cinefamily) said that the “only reason [a staff member] is there is cause H wants to fuck her.” H is referring to Hadrian Belove, the now former executive creative director. 

6. Employees say that they often saw Belove leave through the back door after hours with volunteers. 

7. Karina Chacham, a former volunteer, was told that Belove liked to “test the new meat.”

8. Chacham admits that she saw Belove receiving oral sex from a volunteer during a backyard party for employees. 

9. A former programmer, William Morris, alleges that the company culture at Cinefamily was not only misogynistic but an “active rape culture”. 

10. When Matt Cornell, the former theatre manager, was crafting the first mission statement for Cinefamily with Belove back in 2007, he suggested including a sexual harassment policy. Belove was against the idea. 

11. A former employee alleges that Belove once said out loud that he started Cinefamily in order to “get laid.” 

12. Belove slept with employees and then showed them preferential treatment afterward (like offering them promotions.) 

13. Mario Muñoz, a former volunteer coordinator, said that Belove requested he recruit more “hot girls” to be volunteers. 

14. In 2014, a lawsuit was filed against Belove and Cinefamily by a former employee. The case was settled out of court. 

15. During a private screening to wealthy donors, Belove inappropriately introduced employee Christina Poppy to the crowd. “Here is Tina – isn’t she beautiful and stylish! If you are lucky maybe she will give you her telephone number.” Not only did Belove essentially pimp her out to the wealthy donors, but he also made her sleep in the same bed as him during a trip to the Sundance Film Festival. 

Belove has responded to the allegations against him claiming that they were made by bitter ex-employees that he’s fired over the years. He goes on to say that they banded together to ruin the reputation of Cinefamily. If these two men, Shadie Elnashai and Hadrian Belove, are indeed innocent, why did they both resign following the anonymous email? 

Nothing in California (or federal law) outright forbids consensual workplace sexual relationships, but it is illegal if the sexual relationship becomes non-consensual, leads to quid pro quo, favoritism, or exploitation, which seems to be exactly what happened here. 

*image by Jake Hills

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Los Angeles Dodgers Accused of Discrimination Against Disabled Military Veteran Employee

Nick Francona (31) alleges that the Los Angeles Dodgers and Major League Baseball discriminated against him because of his military veteran status. Nick Francona, son of Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona, was working as an assistant director of player development when he contacted Home Base for a consultation. Home Base is a Boston-based organization that seeks to help veterans treat “invisible wounds of war” like post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, depression, anxiety, etc. In Afghanistan, Francona experienced concussions resulting from multiple explosions. Though seeking help for “invisible wounds” is still highly stigmatized (especially for veterans currently in the workplace) Francona decided to seek treatment fearing that he might be experiencing aftereffects. 

The problem? His treatments would be in Boston, while his job was in Arizona. 

Upon hearing about Francona’s treatments, Gabe Kapler (Dodgers director of player development and Francona’s direct supervisor) sent an encouraging email to Andrew Friedman (Dodgers president of baseball operations), saying that they should support Francona get to a “healthier place physically, mentally and emotionally.” Though Kapler suggested that Francona take a leave of absence while he sought treatment, he and Friedman remained flexible with Francona’s state of employment.

After two months, however, Kapler allegedly engaged in discriminatory practices including:

1. Reassigning Francona to a different position in the research and development department. Though the other position was paid the same, Francona felt that it was a demotion. 

2. The Dodgers then told him he could resign or he would have his contract terminated. Francona chose the termination, an action that allowed him to still receive a year’s salary.

According to Dodgers employees, Francona’s reassignment was suggested because of an existing personality conflict between him and Kapler, not because of his veteran status. Both the Dodgers and MLB deny any wrongdoing or discrimination saying that they have “the utmost admiration and respect for all of the men and women who serve or have served in the armed forces, and we are very proud of the veterans whom we employ.” In addition, the MLB claims to have contributed “tens of millions of dollars to groups assisting veterans with their transition.” 

Do you believe that Francona was discriminated against because of his veteran status? Or something else was going on here? 

*image by Tyler Barnes

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Abercrombie & Fitch Loses Lawsuit in Supreme Court for Not Hiring Muslim Woman Because of Head Scarf

Abercrombie & Fitch can’t seem to stay away from controversy. The Supreme Court recently ruled 8-1 in favor of Samantha Elauf, a Muslim woman who claimed she was not hired by the clothing store because her head scarf (or hijab) conflicted with the dress code. Elauf was awarded $20,000 for the suit filed on her behalf by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 

The decision was determined based on this principle: though companies are allowed to have dress codes, they cannot “act with the forbidden motive of discriminating on the basis of an applicant’s religious practices.” Employers are required to reasonably accommodate the religious needs of an employer or applicant. 

In addition to having to wear clothes that have an East Coast collegiate or preppy style— Abercrombie employees must follow a strict (and controversial) dress code or  ‘look policy’ that  includes recommendations for appropriate fingernail length and hair color. Because of the latest lawsuit, Abercrombie & Fitch will have to replace its “look policy” with a more “individualistic” dress code. 

What do you think–should some employers be able to have dress codes for their employees that would prohibit certain religious clothing?

*image by Flickr

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Former NBA Great Isiah Thomas–Who Lost Sexual Harassment Case–is Now President of WNBA Team

Last week, Isiah Thomas was hired as the president of the WNBA’s New York Liberty. Thomas is a 12-time NBA All-Star and one of the fifty greatest players in NBA history.  But, in 2007 he was found guilty of sexually harassing a fellow New York Knicks executive, Anucha Browne Sanders. After Thomas and the New York Knicks lost the civil sexual harassment lawsuit, Sanders received $11.5 million.  The New York Knicks also own the Women’s NBA Liberty and their principal owner James Dolan remains the same from the time of the alleged harassment.

Upon the announcement of Thomas’ hiring, Sanders issued a statement through her lawyer, “those who do not learn from the past will be condemned to repeat it.” Sanders isn’t the only one who objects to Thomas’ hiring, women’s sports advocates and fans are also displeased. They believe that this decision sends a message to young girls and women everywhere; that sexual harassment is not only excusable but also rewardable. 

The incident is being compared to the Donald Sterling case. Critics claim that Sterling’s racial remarks were condemned yet Thomas’ sexual harassment history seems to have no affect on his career. Instead, Thomas was given the prospect of becoming part owner of the Liberty with Dolan.

What do you think about someone who was found guilty of sexual harassing a woman running an women’s basketball team? Should Thomas be given a second chance?

*image by Kevin Coles, Flickr

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Muslim Correctional Officer Claims Racial and Religious Harassment Against California Prison

Elsiddig Elhindi, a 56-year-old correctional officer at California State Prison-Sacramento recently filed a harassment lawsuit against CA Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Elhindi claims that co-workers would frequently harass him because of his national origin (Sudan) and his religion (Islam).

In addition to making derogatory comments about Elhindi’s accent and religion, his coworkers would allegedly refer to Elhindi as a terrorist.

According to the lawsuit, Elhindi started being harassed severely by his co-workers from the start of his employment in 2006. Elhinidi says that when he filed complaints with his supervisor and the union, the harassment only got worse. His coworkers began to refer to him as a “rat” or “snitch”. He said the harassment continued up until the day he left the facility in 2014.

Harassment of an employee based on their religion or national origin is illegal. A hostile work environment can arise when a co-worker, supervisor, or client engages in unwelcome and inappropriate racial based behavior, making the workplace atmosphere intimidating, hostile, or offensive. Harassment does include racial or religious based comments, as is the case here.

How frequent do you think racial bias is in the workplace? How frequent do you think harassment of middle-eastern or Muslim employees is? 

*image by Michal Svec, Flickr

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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