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Wrongful termination and at-will employment

When a person is employed at-will, it means that they can be dismissed from their role without warning at any time. They will not be entitled to any form of compensation as a result of being fired, and they do not need to have done something wrong to be fired. Essentially, the employer can take action to fire them for no reason at all.

However, there are some exceptions to this rule. While an employer can fire an at-will employee for almost any reason, some causes for firing are prohibited. This is because employees are protected from wrongful termination law. This means that employers cannot fire employees due to discrimination or retaliation. The following are some of the most common forms of wrongful termination.

Understand the types of pregnancy discrimination

Many women in the workplace can fall victim to pregnancy discrimination, regardless of whether they are pregnant or not. This is because a person can be discriminated against if they are perceived to be pregnant, or if another person in the workplace believes that the person may become pregnant in the workplace.

While pregnancy and childbirth will undoubtedly affect a person's career in the short term, those who become pregnant or who may become pregnant in the future are legally protected from any type of unfavorable action made against them in the workplace due to their pregnancy. If you are concerned that you might have fallen victim to pregnancy discrimination, you must take the time to understand the law.

Your basic rights to privacy in the workplace

Workplace cultures can shift over time. While traditionally it was expected that employees make a strong distinction between their personal life and their working life, today many companies try to encourage employees to express aspects of their personal life, whether it's talking about family and social life with coworkers, or wearing clothes that make them feel more comfortable.

The shifting culture of a more intertwined personal and working life does not change your right to privacy in the workplace, however. All workers have basic rights to privacy, and if these standards of privacy are breached, they have the right to take action. The following are some of the basic standards of privacy that you have the right to in the workplace.

5 possible reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, there were nearly 3.8 million births in the United States in 2018. That means there were roughly 10,400 babies born every single day. Accordingly, whether you are a business owner, company executive or manager, there is a good chance that you will eventually have a pregnant employee on your team. 

Both federal and California state law prohibit many employers from discriminating against workers because they are pregnant or new mothers. To comply with applicable laws, you must make reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees. While there is no precise definition of what constitutes a reasonable accommodation, here are five possible options: 

Why is sexual harassment so common in restaurants?

As someone who makes a living working in a California restaurant, you may understand all too well just how common sexual harassment is within your particular line of work. If you work in a restaurant and are also female, African American or Latina, your chances of experiencing on-the-job sexual harassment in a restaurant setting are even higher.

According to USA Today, 40% of women working in restaurant settings report unwanted sexual attention or advancements on the job. Additionally, more than 14% of all sexual harassment claims reported across the nation come from the food service and hospitality sectors, highlighting just how much of a problem this form of harassment is industry-wide. Just what is it about working in restaurants that makes you more likely to be a victim of sexual harassment?

Can employers force workers to stay on site for meal breaks?

In California, employees must receive one lunch break of at least 30 minutes if they work a minimum of five hours at a time. Most businesses do not care if employees stay on-site or go out to eat as long as they come back within the requested amount of time. However, what should employees do if a boss requires them to stay on the premises no matter what during a meal break? 

This issue was the subject of a 2018 lawsuit titled Rodriguez v. Taco Bell Corp. In this case, employees alleged that Taco Bell did not allow them to leave the premises for meals. Instead, the company offered discounted food on the condition they stayed at the restaurant. Ultimately, the courts sided with Taco Bell. The reason was that the company did not forbid employees from leaving. The restaurant merely stated that if employees bought the discounted food, they had to stay in the restaurant to eat it. They could have gone out to eat elsewhere if they wanted. The purpose of this rule was to prevent the theft of discounted food, which employees theoretically could have given to other people. However, this does not mean employers can enforce rules on meal breaks in general.

Does reasonable accommodation include service animals?

People get hurt, physically and emotionally. Sometimes, these injuries are severe enough to qualify as a disability by medical and legal standards.

When you return to work after suffering an injury, you may need some adjustment in your duties. Perhaps you cannot live the same way without assistance. For psychological injuries and disabilities, service animals are becoming an acceptable form of ongoing treatment. Does your employer have to allow you to bring a service animal to work, or could you lose your job?

Employment contracts serve employer and employee fairly

Perhaps you are launching a new business, or perhaps your company is expanding, and you need more staff. You want to offer an employment contract that provides the appropriate work-related details for the employee and, at the same time, protects both you and your company from potential legal issues.

The employment contract should serve both parties fairly, and the language used is very important. The wording must be simple and clear so that the prospective employee has no trouble understanding what is meant in any of the sections. Here are five elements to include.

Common blunders that may lead to employee claims

As a business owner, you like to run a tight ship. However, you also understand that you still have a lot to learn as far as dealing with employee relations and all the rules and regulations that govern your business.

You worked hard to get this far, and you do not want to watch it all go up in smoke over employee relation problems. It is a good idea to step back and evaluate the practices and procedures you have in place that you may need to revisit. Steer clear of some of the most common missteps small business owners make that lead to employment law troubles.

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