Silicon Valley Employment Law Blog

Court affords miners first victory in ongoing employment dispute

In 1946, coal miners were guaranteed the right to have pension and health benefits for life. Throughout the intervening years, this right has been protected, though recent threats to that right have resulted in the union and miners being involved in a protracted employment dispute with the company that provides these benefits. While this particular battle does not primarily apply to California workers, the final decision could have an impact on future battles over benefits for other industries.

A judge in federal court recently ordered that an injunction be granted against CONSOL Energy in its attempts to end a health insurance benefit that would have an adverse affect on retired miners. Since 1950, the pension and health benefits for these workers has been provided under one blanket policy. Though the funding is often in a precarious position due to government budget problems, it is still projected to be provided for through the summer of this year. The company who provides the policy recently contacted the miners and the union to inform them that it was planning to drop the current coverage at the end of 2016.

Constructive termination may be a matter for litigation

Ever since you pointed out that mistake your co-worker made, your work days turned into a nightmare. You were insulted, slighted and you believed your work was unfairly critiqued on a regular basis. It got to the point that you could not possibly endure one more day and you had to resign. This might be considered a constructive termination, and in California, you may be able to fight back.

There are different types of unlawful employment actions, and feeling that you had no choice but to quit your job can fall under this heading. A wrongful termination is being fired under illegal grounds, even for an at-will employee. However, if you were not terminated but still felt that continued employment under certain circumstances was not a viable option, then you may be entitled to seek recourse for the choice you felt compelled to make.

Passengers grounded in the middle of employment contract dispute

The majority of the time, when an employee and a company cannot come to terms, no one outside of the conflict is impacted. However, there are situations when California residents are directly affected by the fallout of an employment contract dispute. Such may be the case in the current disagreement between pilots and Spirit Airlines.

According to the airline, approximately 300 flights and 20,000 customers have been directly affected by the dispute in just one week. Airline officials are blaming the decisions of the pilots to refuse to take flights for the recent need to cancel many scheduled flights. It also alleges that the work slowdown is having a negative impact on the company's reputation. Accordingly, Spirit has petitioned a judge to order the pilots to return to the job as scheduled.

Flight attendants frustrated over payment dispute with American

When companies merge and absorb the employees, they often make concessions to those workers in order to facilitate a smooth merger. However, not every company will honor those verbal agreements, and workers may find themselves in a payment dispute with the new management. Since California is home to so many new companies, it is likely that workers here have found themselves in their own disagreements over pay or other issues that were difficult to resolve without the assistance of professionals.

In 2014, as part of the merger with US Airways, American Airlines purportedly entered into a collective bargaining accord that included a payment negotiation. The union for flight attendants worked to ensure that these employees would receive an 8 percent pay hike. However, when the two sides were unable to reach a workable accord, the issue went to arbitration. There it was decided to award flight attendants a 1.6 percent pay raise.

Mattress company agrees to fines and changes after EEOC claim

Sealy Mattress is often synonymous with a restful night. However, after an investigation into an EEOC claim, the company is looking at making some changes in the way employees are treated. California companies may also face these claims in the event that an employee has been the victim of discrimination in one form or another.

The bedding manufacturer was accused of subjecting two racial groups to harassment practices. According to the complaints that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received, other employees engaged in demeaning and hateful practices, especially toward Hispanic and black employees. Some of those cruel practices involved the use of hoods and other implements associated with members of the Ku Klux Klan. Approximately 27 employees suffered harassment.

Emergency dispatchers caught up in employment contract dispute

One of the worst outcomes imaginable could result if a person experiencing a true emergency isn't able to reach help when calling 9-1-1. However, when these critical employees are caught up in an employment contract dispute, this could possibly happen if no one is left to answer these pleas for assistance. Every county in California, as well as every other state, has a center that employs these dedicated workers.

One county in a northern part of the country is now attempting to resolve a dispute with its emergency dispatchers. Two of the employees at this center, who have dedicated themselves to this stressful and demanding occupation, lament that they are on the verge of leaving their jobs due in part to the pay system. One woman stated that this particular center has experienced a tremendous turnover because wages are too low for the new hires to make a living.

Tomi Lahren files wrongful termination suit against Glenn Beck

Television and radio commentators may often be expected to fit a certain image that their followers have formed of them. When one goes off script, so to speak, the backlash can harm his or her reputation and career in the various forms of media.  Though the case was not filed in California, it was announced recently, that Tomi Lahren has filed a wrongful termination suit against Glenn Beck and the Blaze.

According to court documents, the television personality had a guest appearance on the talk show "The View" last month. During the course of the on-air discussion, she purportedly made some personal statements concerning her opinion on a social issue. Right after that guest spot, Ms. Lahren stated that she was informed that her show was being suspended for seven days. However, at some point, presumably during that suspension, she was informed that she was being terminated.

Segment of AT&T workers went on strike for payment dispute

AT&T is one of the world's largest telecommunications companies, employing tens of thousands of workers in its many division locations. Recently, approximately 17,000 union workers went on strike to protest several issues including a payment dispute. While the strike was resolved in relatively short order, customers in California may have experienced delays in some service requests.

The workers were protesting several issues, including the lack of a working contract for close to a year. Furthermore, workers claimed that their job responsibilities increased while their pay has decreased comparatively. The workers who went on strike were hired to install and maintain certain television services, but they are also expected to work on landline phone infrastructure, though they purportedly are not compensated equitably.

Labor company, Manpower, sued for wrongful termination

Every worker who resides in California has the right to seek justice if he or she believes that an employer violated one's rights in one way or another. A woman recently filed a wrongful termination suit against her employer. She claims her employer failed to protect her rights to lawful accommodations.

The woman had worked for Manpower of WV for approximately 20 years at the time of her termination. She filed her lawsuit after claiming she had been fired just hours after she expressed concerns through electronic mail that her workplace was now a hostile workplace and that her employer failed to ensure that her rights were protected. She stated that she had never experienced any reprimands on the job and that she had always scored satisfactory marks on her performance reviews.

Missing Oxford comma crucial factor in payment dispute

When employers and employees fail to agree on important matters, the issue may be difficult to resolve without workers taking the matter to the courts. When the issue involves a payment dispute, it may be even more likely that the workers will fight for their right to fair compensation. California employees can seek professional assistance whenever they believe that their rights are being circumnavigated.

Recently, dairy truckers in a northeastern state came together to fight for their rights to overtime compensation. After reading the applicable laws regulating pay for overtime, they believed they were entitled to receive such monies. The dairy industry, however, refused to do so, claiming that it falls under agricultural exemptions. The drivers took their fight to the courts where they recently won their battle on appeal.

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