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Santa Clara County Employment Law Blog

Understanding what constitutes a wrongful termination

In any industry in California, a wrongful termination can come about for a number of reasons. For example, individuals could be fired based on their race or their gender. It is not legal for employers to discriminate on the basis of either of these things, along with sexual orientation, age, disabilities and more.

On top of that, an employee could be wrongfully fired from his or her position if the employer asks the employee to do something that is illegal and the employee refuses. If the employer then retaliates by firing the individual from the job, based on nothing but the employee's adherence to the law, the employer has broken the law.

SpaceX allegedly didn't comply with California layoff laws

In California, employees have specific rights when it comes to mass layoffs. The Cal WARN Act says that a 60-day notice has to occur before mass layoffs. Employees at one company are filing a lawsuit saying that they weren't given notice under that act when a mass layoff occurred at the factory where they worked.

For the purpose of clarity, a mass layoff is defined as one that affects 50 or more employees in a 30-day period. Failing to notify employees of the layoff comes with certain costs. Employees are entitled to wages and back pay when proper notification of the impending layoff isn't given.

Layoffs plague Microsoft employees, California affected

When you think of technology jobs, such as those with Microsoft, you probably don't think about the possibility of layoffs. That belief, however, is far from the truth when it comes to Microsoft. The tech giant has announced that it will layoff 18,000 jobs. This is the largest job cut in the company's 39 years.

The chief executive officer of the company says that the move is necessary to keep the company agile. The unit of the company that is the main target of the layoffs is the Nokia mobile device unit. Around 12,500 jobs from that unit are on the chopping block.

Credit reports and California employment basics

A lot of jobs these days require that the applicant provide a Social Security number. Not only does this help the employers to determine the work eligibility status of an applicant, it also helps them to determine if the person has the creditworthiness to join the company. Yes, you read that correctly. Many companies are basing your employability on your credit report. This is on top of background checks, reference checks and other standard application procedures. Readers in California might be interested to learn about how employees are fighting back against these credit reports.

A June article in Law360 notes that the number of Fair Credit Reporting Act lawsuits are on the rise against employers. Part of the problem comes in when employers use the information in a credit report as the basis of terminating a current employee's position with the company or refusing to offer the employee a promotion that would have otherwise been given. 

Split decision from California court on wage and hour disputes

Employees who do a job for an employer expect to be paid. The pay they expect is what they are due based on employment contracts, state laws and federal laws. In some cases, employers don't give employees the pay they are due. When that happens, the employee might opt to take action against the employer in an attempt to recover those unpaid wages. Since the mid-2000s, the way that employees seek these unpaid wages has varied greatly.

In the mid-2000s, a California court ruled that arbitration clauses weren't valid. Then in 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that federal laws trumped state laws, so arbitration was back on the table.

Settlement likely for California workers 3 years after layoffs

Three years ago, the city of Oakland moved the operation of the Oakland Museum of California over to a non-profit to help save money. As a result of that move, 44 employees lost their jobs. While some of those did get their jobs back, they were offered fewer benefits and lower pay. Now, 21 of the former employees are likely to receive a settlement for the grievance they filed against the city.

The employees who lost their jobs were members of unions. A union representative argued that the transfer of the museum over to a non-profit was prohibited in the city charter, as well as the employees' contracts. As a result of this argument, the former workers are likely to share $3.1 million if the settlement is finalized.

Woman seeks wrongful termination charges in Californa

Surges of patriotism are to be expected when bad people do bad things against other countries. However, in the United States, as well as the state of California, it is illegal to subject an employee to religious discrimination or sexual harassment.

One female worker at Kaiser in Northern California, who worked as a supervisor, has filed a racial and religious harassment suit against her supervisors. The woman states she was let go due to falsified and erroneous charges, and the real reason was a constant barrage of improprieties at work.

Layoffs in California school district leads to lawsuit

A recent lawsuit in California is placing the spotlight on how the California Department of Education and the Inglewood Unified School District are handling layoffs. The lawsuit asserts that the school district lets go of African American employees in favor of hiring Latino consultants. Five employees have filed suit, which also claims the five were also subjected to age bias when they got notice of a layoffs slated to occur on May 18.

It is interesting to note in this case that the school district has been taken over by the state because the district is deep in debt. The man who was appointed as the administrator of the district has in fact made a statement about wanting the Latino complexion of the students to be reflected by the employees of the district. Despite that statement, the man claims that he isn't purging out black employees.

Car dealership sued for wage and hour disputes, retaliation, more

People who work don't expect to be harassed when they go to work. They don't expect that their pay records will be falsified. According to a recent lawsuit, those are two things that happened to employees of Lexus of Concord.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco on April 24. It alleges that the general sales manager threatened to kill employees and their family members. He would reportedly bring knives and guns to work. The lawsuit also alleges that the employees were subjected to racial slurs and sexist remarks. Claims of inflated pay that the workers didn't receive and claims of retaliation and wrongful termination are also included.

Settlement reached in California school district layoff case

A case against L.A. Unified that was filed in 2010 has finally been settled. The suit, which involved disproportionate layoffs during economic crisis, alleged that three campuses in the district lost about half of the their faculty simply because the teachers there had less experience than those who were working at other schools in the system. While the lawsuit has been settled, the settlement didn't address that issue.

What the settlement did do was provide $60 million in raises, staff and services at 37 schools in the system. Many of those schools have been hit hard by the layoffs of faculty members. These schools will end up getting more administrators, more training for teachers, and more counselors. Hiring bonuses for principals are also included in the fund. Teachers who mentor less experienced teachers will receive pay incentives and more time to help those other colleagues.

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