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Hayward Law Blog

It can take some people years to land the job of their dreams. When you achieved your goal and felt that you were hired to the perfect position, you likely could not have been more excited. Unfortunately, as the weeks passed, you may have begun noticing that your employer or co-workers did not treat you fairly.

At first, you may not have thought too much about the manner in which they treated you. Deciding to keep your head down and focus on your work, you tried not to let their negative comments, belittling actions or other behavior get to you. However, as it persisted, you could no longer ignore it.

Are you facing discrimination?

Perhaps the mistreatment started out as someone calling you a name or making an inappropriate joke at your expense. If so, you may have found it easy to ignore someone’s rude remark and move on, especially if it came from your boss and you did not want to ruffle any feathers. However, when your boss passed you over for a promotion, denied you employee benefits that others received, or did not give you the same opportunities as other workers, you knew that the problem was too serious to let go.

Protected characteristics

In some cases, unfair treatment does not necessarily constitute workplace discrimination. If you believe that you are being mistreated because of one or more of the following characteristics protected under federal law, your employer may be discriminating against you:

  • Age
  • Pregnancy
  • Gender
  • Disability
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • National origin
  • Skin color
  • Genetic information

You also should not receive unfair treatment because of your relationship or other association with another person who suffers from discrimination. If you suspect that your mistreatment stems from nothing more than one of these characteristics, you may need to take serious action.

What can you do?

You may want to first address your concerns by looking over your employee handbook if one is available. Hopefully, it will contain information on how to file a complaint regarding workplace discrimination. If after following those steps the mistreatment continues or is not appropriately addressed, you may want to look outside your place of employment for help.

Employment discrimination is illegal, and if you believe your employer is not taking steps to address your concerns, you may want to reach out to a California employment law attorney for help and information.

Few things may prompt someone to begin the serious work of making an estate plan than to watch someone else’s family implode after his or her death. If you recently witnessed the adult children of a friend or family member break into factions as they disputed what should happen to the estate, you may have resolved to begin immediately to draft clear and complete instructions for your own family.

However, even with a will, you may leave your family with unanswered questions that lead to confusion and arguments. Sadly, it is not uncommon for divisions that occur after the loss of a parent to linger throughout the lives of the children. For this reason, you may wish to enlist the help of an experienced professional so you have every chance of creating an estate plan that your loved ones will not contest.

Heading off any arguments

Perhaps the most common mistake parents make is to put off estate planning until it is too late. Without a will or other directives, your children may have no choice but to guess at what you would have wanted and to project their own desires into the distribution of your assets. As you make your plan, you can take the following steps to reduce the chances that your kids will bicker over your estate:

  • Consider the benefits and flexibility of including trusts in your plan, which can include incentives for your loved ones and protect them from tax ramifications.
  • Discuss your plans with your family, especially if your choices may be surprising, such as disinheriting someone or including conditions in your trust.
  • Make sure your estate plan has a no-contest clause, which discourages anyone from disputing your plans by cutting out those who make unsuccessful challenges.
  • Keep your plan in a safe place but where your family can find it when the time comes.
  • Review your plan at least once a year, and be sure your family knows you are doing this so they realize you are giving careful thought to your decisions.

The options for contesting a will are limited, including proving that you did not have adequate mental capacity to understand what you were doing when you executed the document. You can reduce the chances that your loved ones will drag each other to court over your estate plan if you work with a skilled attorney and communicate your wishes to your family.

Business owners often feel they need to walk on eggshells. That’s because the potential for lawsuits are everywhere. Whether it’s over employees, binding contracts or accusations from customers, litigation can leave businesses financially battered and bruised.

Because of these risks, many businesses are now turning to alternative dispute resolution as a more timely and affordable method of handling disagreements.

Litigation can damage finances and relationships

No matter how a conflict starts, settling matters in the courtroom can be stressful and expensive for both parties. As court proceedings can take a long time and the attorney fees increase, disputants may end up feeling more resentful of one another after proceedings are done.

Looking at other options

Alternative dispute resolution comes in several forms, but the two primary methods are mediation and arbitration. In mediation, parties talk out their disputes with a neutral moderator in hopes of forming an amicable agreement. In arbitration, disputants express their frustrations about one another with an arbitrator. Once the arbitrator gathers information from both parties, they can present an award based on the evidence.

Benefits of ADR

These are some advantages of using alternative dispute resolution:

  • Saves the business time by avoiding long hours in the courtroom.
  • Saves the business money as mediation and arbitration costs can be more affordable.
  • It can give businesses more control over the case and outcome of the dispute instead of leaving it up to a judge.
  • It can save the business from damaging relationships vital to its operation. However, the circumstances may differ based on the dispute.

ADR can save businesses time and money

Businesses thrive on a combination of sweat equity, relationship building and profits. When businesses use a less hostile approach to settle disputes, they can reach an agreement and keep operations running smoothly. If you’re a business and are currently considering litigation, talk to an attorney to see if alternative dispute resolution works for your situation.

When you go to work, you have the right to do your job without fear of harassment or discrimination of any kind. If you are an older employee, or older than many of your coworkers, you may find that you experience age discrimination in your place of work. This may not seem like a big deal to others, but it can take a severe mental and emotional toll on you.

You do not have to sit by and hope that this type of treatment at your California job stops at some point. Any type of discrimination is unacceptable, and you may speak up and hold liable parties accountable. You have rights, and you have the right to push back against a hostile work environment and other problems you may be experiencing.

Protections available to you

There are specific protections provided to you under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. This is a federal act that mandates how employers can treat workers and what workers can do if they experience age discrimination. Some of the specific provisions listed in the ADEA include:

  • Employers cannot use a person’s age as a factor in making employment decisions, whether it’s hiring, firing, promotions and more.
  • Employers cannot include age requirements when advertising for an open position, unless it is a genuine prerequisite for the job.
  • Employers cannot use a person’s age as a factor when making decisions related to downsizing.
  • Employers cannot take away health benefits from older workers.
  • Employers cannot retaliate or act against an older employee for speaking out about age discrimination.

Regardless of your age or your age compared to other people in your place of work, you are still capable of adding value to your team, working hard and getting good results. If your employer is treating you unfairly and you suspect that it is because of age, you may want to act quickly to proceed with an appropriate course of legal action.

You may find significant benefit in reaching out for the assistance of an attorney who understands employment law and knows how to protect your rights. It may be appropriate for you to seek compensation for your suffering through a civil claim filed against your employer or liable parties. An assessment of your case can help you see what course of action may be most appropriate for your individual situation.

When it comes to employee disputes and controversies, many California employees often turn to arbitration to resolve the issue. The process tends to cost less money and time than litigation under the right circumstances. Several companies even include in their contract a requirement for the employee to consent to mandatory arbitration should an issue arise while at work.

Recently, the California state legislature approved a bill that could ban forced arbitration if Governor Newson signs it. While this isn’t the first time they’ve passed this bill, many companies are wondering if it will pass now that Jerry Brown (who vetoed similar bills in 2015 and 2018) is no longer the governor.

One of the main arguments supporters of the bill have is that forced arbitration is much more beneficial for the employer than it is for the workers. As a California employee, you should understand what potential disadvantages you have in this process.

Presenting evidence is harder

Presenting and requesting evidence from both sides works differently in arbitration than it does in the courtroom. You won’t get the chance to request as much evidence or documents as you would in litigation. While arbitrators are specially trained in certain subjects and attempt to be unbiased, they often lack the legal experience of a judge or a jury’s opportunity to debate amongst colleagues to come to a group decision. Having the ability to request depositions, a discovery process and interrogatories may make the trial longer, but for many workers, it can help make the final verdict feel fairer.

Restrictive agreements

Since the employer is the one in charge, they can change the rules of the forced arbitration rules to benefit themselves. Many California companies often rely on their workers not reading the agreement before signing their contract so they can restrict certain rights they would normally have such as selecting an arbitrator and their right to an attorney. Make sure you read the agreement closely before you decide to sign it and bring up any concerns you might find on it to an employment law attorney and your employer to see if you can negotiate the terms.

No appealing

The majority of arbitration cases have not allowed the worker to appeal the arbitrator’s final decision. This can be especially frustrating for workers who experience the severe limitations of the process. Not only do they not get a second look at their issue, but because the case was private, the rest of the company’s staff are completely unaware of what happened. Depending on the nature of your case, you may want your coworkers to know what the lawsuit was about so they could take it as a warning.

As California officials continue to debate whether forced arbitration is ethical or not, you should speak with a local employment law attorney to understand the conditions of your agreement should any issues arrive at the workplace.

A new study says more than one out of every five U.S. workers over the age of 40 has experienced age discrimination in the workplace. The survey says the issue is increasingly serious for both employees and businesses.

The study surveyed 400 full-time workers age 40 and above who said they’ve experienced workplace discrimination due to their age, which most said took place after they turned 51. However, only 40% said they filed a complaint.

Main takeaways from the study

The Hiscox Ageism in the Workplace Study reports four main findings:

  • 44% said that they or someone they knew had experienced age discrimination in the workplace
  • 36% feel that their age has prevented them from getting a job since turning 40
  • 26% feel there is a significant risk that they could lose their current jobs due to their age
  • 21% said they faced age discrimination themselves

Ageism complaints have risen dramatically

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) says 18,376 workers filed age-related discrimination charges in 2017, and the number of complaints by workers 65 and older has doubled since 1990. Employers have paid more than $810 million in settlements from 2010 to 2018. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) forbids discrimination based on age for every aspect of employment, including:

  • Hiring
  • Firing
  • Pay
  • Job assignments
  • Promotions
  • Layoffs
  • Training
  • Benefits

Identifying and eliminating age discrimination in the workplace

The study urges employers to protect against ageism through a three-step process: Prevent, detect and mitigate. Hiscox said its research shows 62% of managers reported they had no formal training in age discrimination over the past 12 months. Attorneys here in California who are experienced in employment law can help companies update and adopt policies that prevent discrimination. They can also help employees who feel they have been discriminated against because of their age.

Many people have an idea of what discrimination in the workplace is. But while discrimination claims on the basis of sex, race, age or another protected category are a serious issue, the most common type of discrimination claim is something else: retaliation.

In fiscal year 2018 alone the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recorded 4,344 discrimination charges in the state of California. Retaliation claims accounted for half of those, outpacing complaints related to any protected category. That rate mirrors federal figures as well. What qualifies as retaliation might surprise you.

Retaliation can be subtle

Retaliation occurs when an employer punishes, penalizes or harasses a worker because they were involved in a discrimination claim. Some retaliatory behaviors are obvious, actions such as threats, demotions or firings. It is also illegal for an employer to make work conditions terrible in order to get someone to quit. This is called constructive discharge.

But retaliation can take more subtle forms. A manager abruptly assigning the employee to more difficult shifts, for example, or giving noticeably worse performance reviews without explanation. The EEOC provides some other specific instances from real cases, including:

  • Managers involved in a discrimination complaint trying to influence whether that employee would later get a promotion
  • A manager taking away the use of a government car after an employee filed a complaint – while letting another worker continue to use the vehicle
  • An employee’s discrimination complaint being described by superiors as “unprofessional,” “highly offensive” and “bad for morale.”

Retaliation claims

According to the EEOC, the number of discrimination-related findings based on a retaliation claim has outpaced other types of discrimination claims recently. The commission also points out that, in many cases, a straightforward discrimination claim might fail – only for the follow-up retaliation claim to end with a discrimination finding.

When employers retaliate, it isn’t always obvious. If you believe behavior at your workplace may be considered retaliatory, it might be a good idea to talk to an attorney to determine your options.

It is a sad truth that not all appointed executors are up to the task. Some people are blindsided by the position, completely unaware their loved one chose them until the event of their death. Others think they can handle it but grief or an uncontrollable circumstance leaves them overwhelmed.

If you think the executor of a will is overburdened, unqualified, or simply the wrong person for the job, can you remove them? Is there a way to do so compassionately?

Why would you need to remove an executor?

Executors are sometimes the deceased’s spouse, adult child, parents or friend. Although your loved one may have trusted them when they wrote their will, circumstances can change.

The following are reasons you may want to remove an executor:

  • The person is not mentally sound.
  • The person is not financially responsible.
  • The person’s relationship with the deceased or their beneficiaries changed significantly before their death.
  • The person lives far away and is therefore unable to make deadlines. (California does not have an in-state residency requirement for executors, but distance can make things difficult.)
  • The person neglects their fiduciary duties regarding the estate.

There is a narrow window of time to remove an executor from the position before they do irreparable damage to the estate (either intentionally or unintentionally). You may need legal assistance to approach them with your concerns.

How can you communicate with them compassionately?

Know that many wills or estate plans name a backup executor who can serve in the event the first choice cannot. A legal advisor can help you find and prepare this person, or if you are that person, they can help you prepare a discussion with the current executor.

Your discussion can center around your concern for the estate, the beneficiaries, the person’s legacy or even important upcoming deadlines and the real consequences for missing them. They have a legal responsibility to perform their duties to the best of their ability. It might not be their fault that their best isn’t compatible with what the estate needs.

An advisor can help guide this discussion in private or in front of a judge. If you need to remove an executor of an estate, learn about your legal options.

It may be an unusual thing to consider for some; the idea of facing employee discrimination simply because of your hairstyle is something most people would not believe possible until it happens to them or someone they know. But the truth is, is that it can and does happen. Enough so that states have taken notice and are now addressing the issue through legal measures and legislative bills.

How the California Senate is addressing the issue

California has decided to join other states to stop discrimination against people who choose to wear natural hairstyles representing their racial or ethnic background. While some states have addressed the issue through court cases, California has decided to tackle the problem using their legislative branch. Recently the California Senate passed the CROWN Act. CROWN stands for Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair, which will now ban discrimination against employees based on the hairstyle that they choose to wear.

Senator Holly Mitchell of Los Angeles discussed the need for the bill to pass after stating that Google searches on unprofessional hairstyles will often depict pictures of women sporting their natural hair or wearing twists and braids, showing that more natural racial styles are often associated with negativity in the workplace. After Mitchell concluded her speech, the bill passed unanimously with a vote of 37 to 0, quickly moving the State Assembly. The passing of the bill was met with widespread approval from the public who are hoping to see this bill as the first step to ending discrimination against natural hairstyles across the country.

New York City puts in new protections, as well

The most populous city in the country decided to tackle the natural hair discrimination practices itself by implementing new protections through banning policies that discriminate against someone for their chosen hairstyle. The mandates were targeted at businesses as well as public places such as area gyms, nightclubs, schools, and libraries who may have required specific hair requirements to be admitted or retain affiliation. With the new policies, people would not be forced to change their hairstyles to utilize, patronize, or work in these facilities.

Why are natural hairstyles the target of restrictions?

Originally ethnic hairstyles became a target of discriminating policies because they were considered to be unprofessional in a workplace setting. But the Human Rights Commissioner of New York City, Carmelyn P. Malalis sees this as a way to make the policies seem valid. In truth, she feels that these policies were created for an entirely different reason. She states, “policies that limit the ability to wear natural hair or hairstyles associated with Black people aren’t about ‘neatness’ or ‘professionalism;’ they are about limiting the way Black people move through workplaces, public spaces and other settings.”

What prompted the new guidance in New York City?

The guidance came on the heels of controversy at a New Jersey high school. A high school wrestler attending a New Jersey school was informed that he would be required to cut off his dreadlocks or instead forfeit his pending match. An attorney for the student proposed to the state’s Division of Civil Rights investigate why there was such a fixation on a young man’s hair that they would force him to not participate in school activities.

Is New York City leading the way?

The guidance in New York City is the first of its kind in the country. Only last year the United States Supreme Court rejected a request to hear a case regarding the discrimination of Chastity Jones, who alleged that an Alabama Company denied her a job because of her dreadlocks hairstyle. The New York City Commission on Human Rights is currently investigating seven cases where alleged natural hairstyle discrimination may have occurred, including a case where black employees were forced to but braided hair up or risk being terminated. Under the new guidelines, employers violating the policy can face fines up to $250,000, be forced to make policy changes, or even be forced to rehire terminated employees.

Have you ever been in a situation at work where you felt like you were unfairly treated due to factors outside of your control? Most notably, comments or actions because of your race, age, skin color, gender, disability or national origin. If this happened to you, then you may have been a victim of employment discrimination.

Employment discrimination can be tricky to pinpoint. If you were late to work one day and was verbally accosted for this action, but others have done it without these consequences, then your co-worker may be discriminating against you. Sometimes discrimination is not easy to detect. Familiarize yourself with some common signs of discrimination so you are ready to protect your rights.

The signs of discrimination

As an employee, you are protected from discrimination under the Fair Employment and Housing Act. Though you are protected, are you aware of everything you are protected from? Here are the signs of discrimination you may encounter at work that could indicate that you could be a victim of discrimination.

  1. Inappropriate jokes – Most people want their workplace to be a fun and easy-going place where they get along with their co-workers. This means people will tell jokes to lighten the mood. However, some people may tell jokes based on gender, age or race that they think are funny, but are hurtful. If you see a pattern of the same type of jokes being told, it may be a warning sign of discrimination.
  2. Lack of diversity in the company – If you notice that the same type of people are constantly being hired and certain groups or genders of people are being passed over, there may be a culture of discrimination.
  3. Positions or roles stay the same – When you see a certain type of person consistently being hired to do a job within the company, it may mean that your employer does not believe others can adequately complete the work. This can easily transfer to other parts of the company where there can be a feeling that only a certain gender or race can perform a particular job.
  4. Overlooked for a promotion – If you have been working at the company for some time and have seen several other employees move up the chain faster than you, this could be a sign of discrimination. This type of discrimination can significantly impact your financial well-being if you miss out of salary increases and career opportunities.
  5. Poor review – Did you receive a poor review when you believed you were going to receive excellent marks on your performance? Discrimination can come in the form of people taking other factors into account other than the quality of your work.
  6. Suspect interview questions – You may be able to pinpoint discrimination before you are even hired. If you receive questions about starting a family or when you want to retire, this can be a pre-cursor to an environment of discrimination. It is illegal to ask these questions and can show that other factors besides your ability to do the job are carefully watched by the employer.

If you believe that situations on the job have left you as a victim of discrimination, you should contact an employment law attorney as soon as possible. By getting an expert opinion, you can discuss the details of what you experienced and decide if legal action is warranted.