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Los Angeles Employment Law Blog

Majority of workers over 50 face unwanted termination, report says

Age discrimination may be far more common -- and more damaging -- than most people ever thought.

The nonprofit news organization ProPublica and a think tank called the Urban Institute recently analyzed data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a detailed survey of the work lives of Americans over 50. What they found was disheartening: 56 percent of U.S. workers will be laid off, forced out of a job or feel compelled to quit between age 50 and retirement. Worse still, only 10 percent of those workers will ever earn what they had before.

Judge says African-Americans can proceed with class action against Kaiser

Two former Kaiser hospital employees claim Kaiser has a policy of discriminating against workers on the basis of race, gender and age. The workers allege their own experiences of being harassed, being denied promotions and ultimately being wrongfully terminated are common to other female, African-American employees over 40, and Kaiser Permanente uses a totally arbitrary, subjective system when making employment decisions.

Although the two women worked in different areas, their experiences were similar. Lunell Gamble worked in human resources for Kaiser for 16 years before being allegedly wrongful terminated. She claims that, despite being qualified and having an excellent performance record, she was denied promotions for years.

Private Attorneys General Act gives relief to wronged employees

Fifteen years ago, a state budget crisis pushed California to adopt the Private Attorneys General Act, or PAGA. This law allows private attorneys to sue employers on the state's behalf when those employers violate certain state employment and labor laws.

The law is especially important to workers because the California Supreme Court has ruled that employers cannot require PAGA complaints to be handled in individual arbitration. This is significant because employers routinely require, as a condition of employment, workers to agree to arbitrate all claims against the employer.

More than 1,100 women accuse KPMG of discrimination, assault

"We allege that KPMG discriminates against women in pay and in promotions, and that this happens within a boys' club culture that fails to address these disparities -- even though KPMG has known about them -- and that fails to address complaints of gender discrimination and sexual harassment," said the lead attorney in a gender discrimination case against accounting giant KPMG, which has U.S. and international offices.

The plaintiffs allege violations of the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits job discrimination based on gender. The lawsuit has been conditionally certified as an Equal Pay Act class action. It could also be certified as a Title VII class action, which could affect far more women than the 1,112 who have joined the case so far.

Tech giants won't require arbitration in sexual harassment claims

The Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that companies could require employees to resolve their employment law claims through individual arbitration rather than by class action or ordinary lawsuits. After the ruling, it was widely expected that companies would eagerly adopt such policies, as arbitration is thought to benefit the employer. However, Google, Facebook, Airbnb and other technology giants have recently announced they will not require arbitration.

Google's decision not to require individual arbitration in sexual harassment and misconduct cases came after more than 20,000 employees walked off the job on Nov. 1 in protest of the company's conduct in previous cases. According to the New York Times, the walkout was prompted by revelations that Google had given a senior executive a $90 million "golden parachute" even though he was credibly accused of sexual harassment. 

Supreme Court rules unanimously on age-discrimination case

Federal age-discrimination laws apply to governmental entities regardless of their size, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in its first opinion of the court's current term.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the opinion for the court's unanimous 8-0 decision, which was announced November 6.

Justice Department argues transgender isn't protected by law

Two years ago, a unanimous three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination against transgender individuals.

"Discrimination against employees, either because of their failure to conform to sex stereotypes or their transgender or transitioning status, is illegal under Title VII," the court wrote.

Walmart will pay $65 million settlement for denied seating

A class of almost 100,000 current and former cashiers at California Walmart stores reached a settlement last week with the retail giant. Walmart will pay $65 million to settle allegations that it violated California law by refusing to provide the cashiers with a place to sit while they work. The company will also provide the requested seating but denies any wrongdoing.

The settlement must still be approved by a federal judge.

Despite pitfalls, sexual misconduct victims consider speaking out

The parallels between the situations faced by Anita Hill and Christine Blasey Ford are obvious. Both accused Supreme Court nominees of sexual misconduct, of course. For each, doing so meant going up against men with impressive backgrounds and powerful supporters. Both spent hours before the Senate and the press, opening their lives to scrutiny.

Both are heroes to many people. Not only did they put their personal discomfort aside to share crucial information about Supreme Court nominees, but they also served as inspiration for other victims. They are worthy of admiration for undergoing such an ordeal as victims of sexual misconduct even when they weren't certain they would be believed.

Her boss should have protected her from a violent co-worker

What happens when a co-worker with a history of violence assaults someone at work? If the employer knew of the history, the employer could be liable for failing to prevent the attack. The employer certainly shouldn't blame the victim.

In our last blog post, we discussed how the law regards workplace violence, which often begins with sexual harassment and can end in threats, verbal abuse, physical harm or even homicide.

We also discussed how employers are legally obligated to take reasonable steps to stop or prevent workplace violence. When they don't, not only can they face fines and penalties, but they could also be held liable for any damage or injuries that result.

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