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People in California sometimes have disputes in the workplace. It’s normal for this to happen once in a while. Mediation can help to resolve workplace disputes.

Tackle the dispute head-on

When employees have a dispute, it’s important to tackle it head-on. Don’t wait to address the matter. The sooner you try to resolve it, the better it is for the employees involved, other employees, production and the company as a whole. Waiting can only make things worse until it affects everyone.

Explain the goal of mediation

Clearly explain to everyone involved in the dispute the goal of mediation. You want to give everyone a chance to be heard while aiming to come to a solution that works for everyone.

Meet with everyone involved in the dispute

Meet with all the employees involved in the dispute. Everyone should get together for the meeting at the same time so that everyone’s views can be heard. Give each person an equal chance to explain their side of the matter. However, remember that you’re there not to take sides but to hear everyone out as a neutral party to resolve the situation.

Stay calm

Mediation is a process that requires you to stay calm throughout. It’s normal for the employees involved to become heated and emotional, but your goal is to be level-headed the entire time. Maintain an optimistic outlook and show empathy toward each party.

Look toward the future

With workplace mediation, you want to focus on resolving conflicts so that you can have peace in the future. Everyone wants to reach a common goal, so it’s important to explain that to each party. Stress to the employees that they should move past the dispute after you’ve resolved it.

Workplace mediation is often a better option than the alternatives.

Workplace discrimination is a serious issue. Unfortunately, it is all too common in California and throughout the United States. In fact, the most recent report by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) shows that more than 67448 workplace discrimination claims were filed, and only 17.4% of them were successful. They included:

Gender discrimination

When an employer fails to hire and promote, sideline, underpay or penalize someone for being persistent or aggressive while rewarding a colleague of a different gender, they are breaking the employment law. Gender discrimination goes beyond being male or female; it could also include pregnant mothers or gays and lesbians.

Race discrimination

This occurs when an employer treats an employee or applicant differently because of their race or skin color. It can also happen when an employer has policies or practices that have a negative impact on people of a certain race, even if those policies or practices are not specifically intended to discriminate against them.

Age discrimination

EEOC receives increasing reports of discrimination claims from baby boomers nearing retirement. This comes in many forms. For example, people over 40 years find it very difficult to get a job, are constantly harassed, overlooked during promotions, and underpaid. However, you should note that some instances may appear as discrimination, but in reality, they are not. For example, if a job requires a certain level of experience, it may rule out some applicants who are too young or too old for the position.

Disability Discrimination

Federal and state laws protect employees from discrimination based on disability. Employers cannot discriminate against employees or applicants with disabilities, and they must provide reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the business. Reasonable accommodations may include:

  • Making the work environment accessible to people with disabilities.
  • Modifying equipment or devices.
  • Providing interpreters or other auxiliary aids.
  • Making changes to workplace policies or practices.

If you have been the victim of workplace discrimination, it is important to know that you have rights. You may be able to file a claim with the EEOC or the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). Remember that few of these claims are successful; therefore, it’s in your best interest to gather sufficient evidence to build a strong case against your discriminatory employer.

Employees in California are entitled to a workplace that’s free of hostility. Unfortunately, in spite of the illegality of it, workplace bullying happens. It can carry various negative effects.

What is workplace bullying?

Everyone has heard of children being bullied, but adults can also suffer bullying. Workplace bullying is a type of aggressive behavior exhibited toward an employee by another worker, supervisor or boss. These behaviors can include anything that makes employees uncomfortable such as harassment, emotional abuse, exclusion or uncivil treatment. When workplace bullying occurs, it happens over a prolonged period of time.

What are the signs of workplace bullying?

Workplace bullying can signify different behaviors. When someone is being bullied, they are the target of insults, unwanted comments and intimidation. The bully often berates someone, makes nasty remarks, excludes people, makes threats or criticisms and even takes credit for someone else’s work.

The signs of bullying in the workplace aren’t always obvious. Sometimes, they might be subtle or passive aggressive to the point where the victim isn’t even sure that they’re being bullied.

What are the effects of workplace bullying?

When a person is bullied in the workplace, it can result in various physical and psychological problems. Many victims experience chronic headaches, anxiety, depression, neck pain, post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, problems sleeping such as insomnia and even suicidal thoughts.

Workplace bullying also has an effect on the person’s work performance. Those who face bullying often doubt themselves and no longer want to even go to work. They might call in sick more often and worry for their jobs. It’s common for the victim’s work performance to suffer as well.

If you’re facing workplace bullying, it’s important to immediately report it to your supervisor or human resources department.

Throughout California and the rest of the country, more employers are realizing how beneficial it is to have diverse groups of employees. Here are several advantages when employers go out of their way to include a diverse workforce.

Employers hire great workers and retain them

When employers have a diverse workforce, it’s easier to hire and retain top talent. This is because many people, especially younger adults, have learned the importance of diversity and being inclusive throughout their lives. These same people will likely consider how diverse a company is before deciding to work for it.

Companies become more innovative

In a workplace, people need to come together and solve problems. Employers might not get the best results if everyone in an office has the same life experiences. Fortunately, companies can solve this problem by focusing on diversity and inclusion. With a diverse team of employees, a company can better come up with innovative solutions.

Employees enjoy enriching work experiences

Another important benefit of diversity in the workplace has to do with a company’s current employees. When these people work in diverse environments, they can gain value and information from interacting with individuals from all walks of life. In time, learning about others’ experiences can help teach employees a lot more about business and help them serve clients and customers from various backgrounds.

Having a diverse workforce is beneficial for many reasons, but not every business or employee gets to experience all of these benefits. Discrimination on the job is a potential obstacle to reaping the advantages of a diverse workforce. If an employer violated your rights as an employee or failed to protect you from discrimination, you may want to consider speaking with an employment law attorney.

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.

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 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.

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