Los Angeles Employment Law and Civil Rights Law Blog

Should you be paid in your 'unpaid' internship?

The summer is an ideal time for college students to have internships with potential employers after college. While the experience is paramount for the student (and to the employer, to a certain extent) most of the internships offered are unpaid.

But are unpaid internships legal?

How to know if you're being sexually harassed

When we go to work, there are a number of concerns that can bring about stress. It could be a high-pressure environment, difficult personalities to manage, lofty expectations or financial problems. None of them should be the specter of sexual harassment.

Most people understand that state law  (as well as federal law) prohibits both sexual harassment and discriminatory treatment based on an employee’s sex. But recognizing illegal behavior may be easier said than done. Yes, crude jokes and overt touching are actionable offenses, but there may be other behaviors that may toe the line but not cross it. In these situations, an affected employee may be hesitant to come forward to complain; which begs the question: am I being sexually harassed?

When are you allowed a day off as an employee?

2017 is likely to be known as the year the “gig economy” finally became mainstream. This moniker essentially means that many people earn a living by stringing together a number of part-time jobs, or supplementing income from a full time job with a part-time job. With as many people making ends meet by working as baristas, part-time tutors and even Uber drivers, they may not take a day off each week.

It is not uncommon for part-time employees to be scheduled for several days in a row, or even a full week. But when an employee is scheduled to work more than six days in a row, this may run afoul of California’s “day of rest” rule. 

Could your job application have discriminatory questions?

As a job seeker, it is particularly difficult to know what to do when an application has questions you may be uncomfortable answering, or when one has illegal questions. After all, you would not be applying if you didn’t want the job (or needed the income), so unwittingly complying with illegal directives is common, and can foster discriminatory practices.

Through this post we hope to educate job seekers on what to look out for on applications. As always, the following is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. 

How employees should react to marijuana use policies

As the State of California embarks on its journey of allowing recreational use of marijuana, many employers and employees may be curious of how the new laws (and decriminalization) would affect workplaces. Indeed, state medicinal marijuana use provisions do not directly translate to workplace drug testing laws. Also, marijuana is still listed as a schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act.

With that said, what can employees expect as state law changes? This post will provide some insight.

Feel like you need to nap at work? Read this post

With how early we get up in the morning, and how late at night we go to bed, it is natural to feel like needing a nap during the day. That’s why many workers (especially in the tech industry) swear by their coffee breaks. Some employers acknowledge this and welcome coffee chains such as Starbucks and Caribou in their workplaces.

But sometimes a good old fashioned power nap may be necessary. A recent Bloomberg.com report highlighted a law firm that actually encourages midday naps. The firm recently established a spa-like room where two “napping pods” reside. The room is dimly lit and the pods (made of steel and fiberglass) are separated by Japanese folding screens. 

HSR Obtains $5 Million Settlement in Civil Rights Case on Behalf of Inmate in Sacramento County Jail

HSR partners Dan Stormer, Lori Rifkin and Joshua Piovia-Scott secured a $5 million settlement in a civil rights case on behalf of a former inmate in the Sacramento County Jail. Plaintiff James Joshua Mayfield was left paralyzed after a suicide attempt in the Jail that was caused by defendants' unlawful denial of treatment for his mental illness and repeated beatings. After obtaining a pre-trial, $2.5 million settlement from the University of California Davis Health Systems, which had been hired by the County to provide mental health treatment in the Jail, Plaintiffs secured an additional $2.5 million from Sacramento County and Sheriff Scott Jones the day before the parties were to resume trial after HSR obtained an unusual order finding that defendants had improperly excluded African American jurors because of their race pursuant to the Supreme Court decision in Batson v. Kentucky. HSR litigated the case for more than two years before finally settling after the trial had begun.

Another example of public employees' First Amendment rights

In a prior post, we warned our readers of the dangers of social media rants, particularly after being terminated. We also wrote on how a union member was wrongfully fired after an expletive laced post circulated among his fellow employees and up to management.

Lawsuits over employment actions taken after social media posts are increasing, and in some cases Plaintiff’s receive hefty awards. The case involving a Charlotte, North Carolina arson investigator that should serve as a stark reminder that an employee’s social media posts may be protected speech, even though they may be controversial or disrespectful. 

Employers allowed to use salary history to set new salaries

Whether you are looking for a new job or are recruited to take a new position, chances are that you are looking for an increase in salary. To that extent, salary history could be used in setting your new salary. But when salary history is used to pay someone less than their peers, such a practice should be actionable.

Or should it?

HSR Settles Civil Rights Case on Behalf of Formerly Incarcerated Plaintiff Against California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for $950,000

After seven days of trial, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) Defendants offered to settle the case brought by HSR on behalf of Plaintiff Jermaine Padilla, a formerly incarcerated man whom CDCR officials and doctors unlawfully denied mental health treatment and subjected to horrific use of force involving 82 ounces of Oleoresin Capsicum pepper spray and three days of full-body restraints. HSR's trial team of partners Dan Stormer and Lori Rifkin and associate Caitlan McLoon were still in the process of putting on plaintiff's case when Defendants agreed to settle Mr. Padilla's legal claims for $950,000.

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