Do Breastfeeding Discrimination Cases Lead to Nursing Moms Losing Their Jobs?

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It doesn’t surprise many to be told that many employers fail to offer appropriate accommodations for breastfeeding. Even though the failure to do so, poses a health risk (and headaches) for nursing employees. Yet a new study that is the first one of its kind if bringing more clarity to this invasive workplace issue. The damages actually extend to the livelihoods of the mothers. According to researchers, a shocking two-thirds of cases alleging breastfeeding discrimination in the past decade eventually led to the employee losing their job.

Even the researchers themselves were shocked at the results. If you want to learn more about this workplace issue, start by defining breastfeeding discrimination.

Types of Breastfeeding Discrimination:

·      Denying break requests from employees who are in pain and/or leaking milk.

·      Firing employees for asking for breaks in connection to breastfeeding.

·      Refusing to provide privacy for employees who need to pump breast milk.

Sexual harassment of breastfeeding employees is also a common problem in the workplace.

Employers are supposed to provide breastfeeding employees with a clean place to pump (that is not a restroom), 15-20 minute breaks to pump breast milk, and a change in their job duties or a temporary assignment that accommodates their situation if it is necessary. For example, one of the study participants was a police officer who was unable to wear a bulletproof vest while she was breastfeeding. She was denied a temporary assignment to a desk job.

As a result of the predominantly negative perception of breastfeeding in the workplaces of America, working mothers are weaning their babies sooner than recommended by doctors, ending up with a diminished milk supply, or suffering from painful infections (a health risk that is often associated with lactation discrimination). The researchers went into the study aware of the health risks associated with the issue, but what really surprised them was the economic harm caused and the extent to which it pervaded the women’s lives. On top of the two-thirds of employees in breastfeeding discrimination cases who ended up losing their jobs (by being fired or forced to resign), three-quarters of the workers in the group experienced an economic penalty, such as reduced hours or being unpaid during their 15-20 minutes breaks for breastfeeding.

If you are struggling with breastfeeding discrimination or any other form of discrimination in the workplace, get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

Gender Pay Discrimination Allegations Made Against Hewlett-Packard Enterprises

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In the fourth quarter of 2018, R. Ross and C. Rogus of Santa Clara, California, filed a class action California unpaid wages lawsuit against Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE). The lawsuit describes a discriminatory pattern demonstrating gender-based pay discrepancies at the company. We’ve seen tech giants in the news before for similar practices and facing similar allegations, but this case does present a few interesting issues.

1.     Wage history perpetrating discrimination.

2.     Employer policies discouraging employees from talking about their salary as prevention of discovery of discrimination under California’s Equal Pay Act

3.     Using Secret Wage Classification and Promotion Systems to easily avoid meaningful reform.

In this California unpaid wages lawsuit, Hewlett Packard is accused of systematically paying female employees less than their similarly situated male co-workers and failing to advance them at the same rate as male employees performing similar work at a similar skill level. The business practices are apparently in place throughout all of California and are built on preexisting practices at Hewlett-Packard.

As of January 1st, 2018, employers in California are prohibited from asking job applicants about their salary history or using a salary history to determine what salary to offer a new employee. This was an effort to decrease the long-term effects of past salary discrimination. This law, however, does not offer protection to workers hired prior to that date or current employees who are seeking an internal promotion. Long-term workers who are seeking to make a career with a single employer will not find assistance for past pay discrimination in the law that went into effect January 1st, 2018. In the complaint against HPE, it is alleged that long-term employees tend to stay at the lower-paid job level 1 or 2. In comparison, new hires start at or quickly rise to a higher paid level 3.

Raises at the company are based on a percentage of the employees’ existing HPE salary, so they not only support the gender pay gap, but widen it. The longer a female is employed by HPE, the less she will be paid in comparison to her male counterparts even when fulfilling similar job duties at an equal or better rate. Gender discrimination paired with age discrimination combine to leave older female employees double affected.

Pay secrecy policies are still a common practice, particularly in the tech industry. Policies requiring silence about pay have been prohibited in most industries since 1935 by the National Labor Relations Act. Pay secrecy policies are also banned by California Labor Code section 232. Since 1985, the law has specifically prohibited the requirement of any employee to refrain from disclosing their wage or requiring an employee to waive the right to discuss their wage, or to discipline an employee for discussing their wage. Yet many employees are unaware of their rights and many employers still discourage (officially or unofficially) pay secrecy.

Similarly, when wage and promotion structures are not transparent, workers are prevented from acting on discriminatory behavior. Many employees are reluctant to act or share information with co-workers but find themselves suffering from vague or opaque employer pay scales and promotion structures.

If you are suffering from the effects of gender-based pay discrimination or you need help seeking equal pay in the workplace, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

$1.5 Million Awarded to Valley Med Chief Psychiatrist

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Dr. Jan Weber, former chief psychiatrist, was fired from his job with Valley Medical Center in 2014. This month, he was awarded $1.5 million in damages to resolve his California wrongful termination lawsuit.

What is Wrongful Termination? The legal definition of wrongful termination or wrongful dismissal is to be in a situation where an employee’s contract of employment is terminated by the employer in a way that breaches one or more terms in the contract of employment or is in violation of employment law.

Is There a Statue of Limitations for Wrongful Termination Claims? The statute of limitations is the time limit set by law during which an individual can file a lawsuit based on a claim. If you are an employee who was wrongfully terminated from your job, and you file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations has expired, the case can be thrown out. Statutes of limitations can be set by either state or federal law.

Dr. Jan Weber headed the hospital’s child and adolescent psychiatry division for over five years. In late 2014, he was let go by the county after he complained about unsafe work conditions and young patients at the institution who were being offered substandard care.

Dr. Jan Weber took notice of substandard care provided to youth patients at the facility throughout the five years he worked there as the chief psychiatrist. At the end of his term with the medical treatment center, Weber was 49 years old and was responsible for supervising approximately eight different psychiatrists in the Valley Medical Center’s mental health department.

The case ended with a three-week-long trial. The trial included testimonies from County Executive Jeff Smith and Dr. Michael Meade, Valley Med’s chair of psychiatry. The Clara County jury came back in favor of the plaintiff in the case. They held the county liable for Weber’s past and future financial loss as well as his emotional distress.

If you need help after being wrongfully terminated or if you are experiencing other employment law violations in the workplace, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLPas soon as possible.

FedEx Retaliation Case Results in Payout of Millions

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Three employees (one former and two current) at a LAX FedEx location were collectively awarded millions of dollars by a jury. The jury found that the employees were wrongfully disciplined by FedEx after they came forward to report allegations that the courier giant was prioritizing profits over safety in not maintaining aircraft in compliance with FAA safety requirements. The verdict was reached on October 19, 2018 after the Los Angeles Superior Court panel deliberated for over a week.

The California retaliation suit was filed by Brian, Gruzalski, FedEx aircraft mechanic, and Stanley Langevin and Mark Collins, FedEx employees.

Awards Received by Plaintiffs in the Case:

·      Gruzalski: $855,000 in compensatory damages and $3.8 million in punitive damages

·      Collins: $260,000 in compensatory damages and $2.75 million in punitive damages

·      Langevin: $144,000 in compensatory damages and $200,000 in punitive damages

FedEx claims that Gruzalski was fired for valid reasons, citing inappropriate language in the workplace, with some of it being racially charged. The company also claims that Langevin was demoted due to alleged moonlighting on company time for other airlines using FedEx equipment and that Collins’, as their supervisor, did not use his authority to call a halt to these behaviors.

FedEx claims that while FedEx jets are older than others in the fleet, they are all flightworthy.

Langevin is 69 years old and lives in Long Beach. He has over 40 years of experience as an aircraft technician and is an Air Force veteran. He claims he was retaliated against for complaining about the condition of the FedEx aircrafts. Langevin noticed that FedEx routinely and willfully returned aircraft to service that were non-airworthy due to the need for additional repairs/maintenance that would make them compliant with federal aviation regulations. The company pushed the aircrafts back into service quickly and cheaply in order to increase profits regardless of federal aviation regulation compliance. For example, FedEx regularly failed to repair corrosion that was extensive enough to result in cracking the aircraft’s outer frame prior to putting them back in the air.

Collins is 60 years old, a Navy veteran who fought in the Persian Gulf War during Operation Desert Storm and lives in Claremont. He claims he faced backlash in the workplace for defending Langevin and voicing similar claims in his support. This resulted in a demotion.

If you have questions about workplace retaliation or if you need to discuss wrongful termination, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

Pilots to Receive $19M Settlement from Southwest Airlines

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In order to settle a recent lawsuit, Southwest Airlines Co. will pay close to $19 million to pilots. The lawsuit alleged that Southwest Airlines did not grant benefits to their pilots who took short-term military leave.

The lawsuit against Southwest was filed by Jayson Huntsman in July 2017 and represented Huntsman along with his fellow pilots. The lawsuit claimed that when a Southwest pilot took short-term military leave, their paid sick leave did not accrue, and they did not receive matching retirement contributions. This lack of benefits applied to short periods of military leave lasting 14 days or less.

Southwest pilots taking short-term military leave of 14 days or less were denied these basic benefits even though benefits were provided to pilots who took other comparable forms of leave (i.e. bereavement, union duty, jury duty, etc.)

Southwest Airlines will provide pilots 100% of their sick leave benefits that they did not receive for this type of short-term military leave from 2008 to the date of preliminary approval. They will also receive 77% of the average sick leave benefits for those affected between 2001 and 2007, which is expected to be valued at more than $13 million according to settlement documents.

According to the settlement, a $5.8 million fund will be created to offer retirement benefits for 401k payments for the years 2001 through 2013. Southwest Airlines will also agree to pay $1,000 to each of the pilots who were affected, but who are no longer employees with the ability to make use of sick leave. The airline will also change the sick leave policy so short-term military leave will no longer be excluded from leaves during which pilots can accrue sick leave from this point forward. This change will provide millions of dollars in future benefits to the class members. Southwest also agreed in the settlement to provide pilots with more information about retirement credit and contributions received for periods of short-term military leave.

If you are being denied benefits by your employer or if you need information on how to join a class action, please get in touch with one of the experienced employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.