Employee Rights 101 Part Two
If you've read our recent post, The Scoop on Wrongful Termination, then this will at least be familiar to you. Wrongful termination, the rules governing at-will employment, and determining who's exempt and who's non-exempt are some of the most confusing topics for both bosses and employees. It doesn't help that the answers vary from case to case. It's hard to bring up a hypothetical example of something that could unequivocally be called wrongful termination without then having to go through and prove it point by point. This is why we think it's important to devote another whole post to the topic.
We will return to the point of wrongful termination by way of a digression into the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). FEHA is a powerful piece of California legislature that protects people from discrimination in housing and the workplace. The law protects from discrimination and harassment for the following reasons:
FEHA was signed into law back in 1959 and has been amended and expanded in the years since; it remains the subject of much discussion and litigation. The law also established the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, the body to which one petitions when making a FEHA complaint. The intent of this law is to protect as many vulnerable groups as possible from the potential of discrimination in housing or employment. It also creates a structure that can respond to individual complaints and assure compliance with the law. You are probably already familiar with the protections provided by the federal civil rights act of 1964, even if you don't know it by name. It protects from hiring and workplace discrimination for race, skin color, religion, gender, and national origins. FEHA expands on these protections to include age, sexual orientation, and considerations of pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. The law also serves to implement of 1990's federal Americans with Disabilities Act to protect and accommodate people with physical and mental disabilities. California has some of the most comprehensive employee protection legislation in the country, and goes into detail with guidelines for reporting sexual and physical harassment. The issue of wrongful termination, then, is closely related to issues of harassment and discrimination, and this bill in particular. If you are a person who falls into one of the above categories and if you find yourself the subject of patronizing or discriminatory behavior, then you may have a case for workplace harassment. If you have a supervisor who doesn't like you because, say, you're disabled, and he then decides to move your workstation around, or make changes to your schedule that make it difficult or impossible to do your job, with the intention of forcing you out of your job, then that would be a case of wrongful termination. You see how these categories tend to bleed together. If an employer fires you, intimidates you, or has a habit of treating you pejoratively for one of the discussed reasons, then you are protected under FEHA. Furthermore if you are fired or forced out of a job because your workplace is hostile to one of the above categories, then you probably have a case for wrongful termination. We hope this has been informative and entertaining, please remember to check our blog for the remaining parts of our 101 series. Or click here to learn more about wrongful termination.