Silicon Valley Employment Law Blog

Officer gets settlement; retirement for employment discrimination

An African-American police officer who has been employed by the same department for approximately 29 years is now being forced into retirement as part of a settlement agreement. The man filed an employment discrimination lawsuit concerning racial slurs against the internal affairs division of the city's police force. Though this dispute did not occur in California, this type of discrimination is not limited to any one geographical area.

The officer at the center of this particular case filed a complaint over racially charged graffiti that had been inscribed in the department's rest room. In addition, he stated that a fellow officer made racially offensive remarks concerning another African-American officer. The man was recently offered a settlement for his case with the condition that he retire.

Former detective head in payment dispute placed on leave

Recently, one former head of the detective branch of a city's police force in another state was forced to accept paid leave over a dispute concerning overtime pay. Though this did not take place in California, it could be of interest to workers residing here. According to a police union representative, the man submitted a payment request in connection with overtime hours he put in on a regularly scheduled off-duty day last October, after purportedly providing supervisory telecommunications support to his fellow detectives. The captain then submitted his payroll slip to his chief, who initially approved the overtime wages. Thereafter, a payment dispute erupted. 

The lawyer for the city later stated that the captain violated a policy that requires an employee to physically check in before any overtime pay can be approved. The captain allegedly did not clock in or provide the supervision from the station. As a result, he has been placed on leave until the matter can be fully explored and resolved. It is supposedly expected that the former captain will seek retirement later this month.

EEOC claim over veteran's discrimination headed to court

In the past, those who served their country and returned with emotional distress from their experiences were often left to try and cope with their issues on their own. Now, there have been many improvements in how these veterans are assisted, which may include the use of therapy animals. There are many California employers who recognize the value of these animals and are making accommodations for workers who need them since not doing so could lead to an EEOC claim over possible discrimination.

Recently, a case involving the need for one of these animals has been scheduled for trial. According to the case, a veteran applied for a position as a long-distance truck driver. During the application process, which was begun in 2015, the veteran asked that accommodations be made for his emotional support dog. He alleges that he requires the animal for his post traumatic stress disorder as well as for support for a mood disorder. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission took up the case after the man reported that his offer for employment was rescinded after he pressed the issue of the animal's importance.

Emergency responders out in the cold with no employment contracts

One of the most overlooked benefits of living in a larger city or town is the public service amenities, including those provided by first responders. While no one can deny the valuable service that these dedicated individuals provide, these workers may feel unappreciated when they are left out in the cold with no current employment contracts in force. It is not unusual for California towns to attempt to negotiate the terms of these contracts, but the providers may feel undervalued when they feel forced to provide care for residents without having a valid agreement in place.

One current dispute has been ongoing since last fall. According to a union representative, the two sides failed to reach an accord over salary. The emergency responders in this town are purportedly receiving pay that is well below the rate for other emergency providers in their city as well as in the surrounding locales. Union officials had requested a 2 percent pay increase for the next several years until the pay became more comparable to others providing similar services to their communities. 

Security guard files suit against Giants over employment dispute

The professional baseball season typically runs from early April until late October. When the season is over, it is likely that the average fan does not consider what happens to the support staff of a team. Recently, a security guard, who is employed by the San Francisco Giants, filed a suit against the team over an employment dispute. The California Supreme Court has decided to weigh in on this particular case.

According to the man's complaint, when the season ends each year, he and the other support staff are effectively unemployed until the following season. His suit is based on the California employment laws that require an employer to issue the final pay at the time a worker is discharged. The Giants have typically waited until the end of the following pay period before issuing checks. The suit alleges that this two-week delay is in violation of the laws. 

Former security of hospital files wrongful termination suit

The majority of patients likely do not consider all of the aspects that go into making a hospital safe for employees and patients. As California residents are aware, violence can break out anywhere, including in health care settings. These institutions are charged with providing a safe environment, and to take shortcuts can place all involved at risk. That is purportedly the reason one former security director recently filed a wrongful termination suit against his former employer.

According to the civil suit, the former director of security at Mercy Hospital was in charge of ensuring the safety of staff and patients at all of the hospital's locations for the last 48 months of his employment. The suit alleges that the problem began in 2012 when the former director's superior initiated changes to the way security staff was trained. This, along with both budget and staff reductions, purportedly led to a less secure environment for staff and patients.

Teachers win protracted court case over employment contract issue

Those who elect to devote their careers to education often invest a great deal of time and emotional energy in exchange for a set wage. While the vast majority of teachers strive to provide a quality education to their students, employment contract issues often take both a financial and motivational toll. Many California educators have found themselves caught up in these types of disputes with their local government officials.

Recently, one state's Supreme Court finally issued a ruling on a case that spent no less than seven years in litigation. At the heart of the matter was a stipulation in teachers' contracts -- and also applied to other school personnel -- that required a three percent contribution of their salaries to their retirement funds. The contribution was collected over a three-year period. At some point, unions and other education professionals challenged the requirement in the state's civil courts.

Man files wrongful termination claim after fired due to a rally

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the Untied States grants the right of citizens to free expression of speech and personal beliefs if done so in a peaceable manner. In spite of this constitutional right, there are times when an employer has fired workers for holding their own viewpoints on social issues. California workers who have been fired for a similar reason may have the right to file a wrongful termination claim.

Recently, a man who had held the same position for an estimated 32 years was terminated reportedly because of his own personal beliefs regarding the perceived symbolism of certain statues. The man attended a rally in his town on his personal time in support of keeping a statue of Jefferson Davis, who once served as the president of the Confederate States during the Civil War era. He was not representing his employer at the time, which is a public utility company.

Former officer alleges wrongful termination and weighs options

When one invests time, energy and passion into a chosen field, being accused of improper conduct can cause many undesirable consequences. If those allegations lead to an individual losing his or her job, then there may be basis for a wrongful termination claim. California workers who are facing this scenario do have the right to seek a suitable resolution.

In August of this year, one veteran peace officer found himself on the wrong side of allegations. It was believed that he violated departmental policy regarding allegedly filing false reports concerning call responses. The man was terminated from his position as an officer. He has filed appeals disputing the allegations and his firing but, thus far, both the city commission and the Civil Service Commission in his city have upheld his termination.

Many federal workers may be affected by payment caps for overtime

The past year has brought multiple natural disasters that have taken a toll on many of the resources available, including the hours put in by emergency responders. Now, there are several hundred FEMA workers who may be asked to give even more as they may have exceeded the salary caps that dictate payment for excessive hours worked. If this becomes a requirement, it may affect California residents who work for the federal agency.

According to a memo that was issued to hundreds of federal employees, they may have exceeded the amount of pay that the caps have established. An estimated 500 workers may now be required to make arrangements to repay the amounts that were purportedly overpaid. While there are waivers that can be applied, it is unknown whether FEMA officials will seek these waivers for the affected workers.

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