Archives for November 2020

What Employees Should Do If a Sexual Harassment Complaint Goes Unaddressed?

Sexual harassment is a serious issue in the workplace and must be taken seriously when an employee reports it. Upon receiving a complaint, the employer has a legal obligation to investigate it thoroughly without delay.

This isn’t a situation where the employer can bide their time and decide what option would be in their best interests. The employer has a duty to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation.

Despite this rather clear obligation, some employers may hesitate or give an appearance of doing something when really they are doing nothing at all.

The employee may be told that management and human resources are looking into the matter, but weeks and months pass by with minor or no developments. This is a process that does take time, but it should shoot to the top of every involved individual’s list of priorities. The employee may eventually be told the complaint has no merit.

Consult with an Attorney

If you feel that a reasonable amount of time has passed since you made your report and your company has taken no action, refuses to inform you of what’s going on, or has decided your claim has no merit, you should consult with an attorney..

If by chance you are reading this before reporting an incident to your employer, consider speaking with an attorney first who can advise you through this process. Securing legal representation as soon as possible can help you understand what should be going on and how long is “too long” for your employer to thoroughly investigate your claims and take action to protect you.

Reach Out To Us For a Free Consultation

If you need to report sexual harassment or think your employer isn’t taking your complaint seriously, reach out to Haeggquist & Eck, LLP for assistance. Our employment law firm often represents clients who need to fight for fair and just compensation after experiencing sexual harassment at work. We can help you hold your employer accountable and get what you deserve after your rights have been violated.

Reach out to us today to schedule a free initial consultation. You can get in touch with someone who can help by calling (619) 342-8000 or by contacting us online.

5 Key Laws That Protect Women At Work in California

It wasn’t until relatively recently that women throughout the United States received the workplace rights and protections they should have had from the beginning. That said, women in California may be uniquely protected compared to other states. While each law we’ll discuss below exists on a federal level, California has – in some cases – built upon what federal laws provide to give women extended protections throughout the state.

Please read on below and reach out to Haeggquist & Eck, LLP if you believe your rights at work have been violated. Our firm’s employment law practice stands up for women in the workplace and the unique issues that affect them. We offer a free consultation that you can use to learn more about legal options we can help you take advantage of and pursue fair and just compensation.

Contact us online or call (619) 342-8000 to speak with someone who can help you arrange your complimentary consultation with one of our lawyers.

1. Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act

Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act – a federal law – prohibits, among other protected classes, sex-based discrimination against employees and job applicants. It also lays the groundwork necessary to define certain business practices and treatment at work – such as paying women less than men or sexual harassment – as prohibited sex discrimination. As a result, laws have been passed and U.S. Supreme Court cases have been decided using Title VII as a precedent to expand or affirm certain women’s rights.

2. The California Equal Pay Act

The California Equal Pay Act has prohibited employers for decades from paying its employees less than employees of the opposite sex for equal work. However, in 2015, Governor Brown signed the California Fair Pay Act, which strengthened the Equal Pay Act in a number of ways. For more details on the California Equal Pay Act, and differences between it and the federal Equal Pay Act of 1963, see our previous article.

The California Equal Pay Act prohibits an employer from paying its employees less than employees of the opposite sex, or of another race, or of another ethnicity for substantially similar work. It also provides that employees don’t have to be working the exact same job to be paid the same, they just need to be performing “substantially similar work.” Lastly, employers are prohibited from using prior salary to justify any sex-, race-, or ethnicity-based pay difference.

3. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 & California Pregnancy Disability Leave Act

Although, there are many federal and state laws that address pregnancy, including the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Americans with Disabilities Act, we will jfocus on the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 and California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave Act.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

The Act prohibits employers nationwide from making any decisions regarding someone’s employment based on:

  • A current or previous pregnancy
  • Potential or intent to become pregnant
  • A medical condition related to pregnancy
  • A decision to have/not have an abortion

Under the FMLA, employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for pregnancy and childbirth. In California, pregnant employees can potentially use both FMLA leave and pregnancy disability leave.

The California Pregnancy Disability Leave Act provides employees the following:

  • Four weeks of leave prior to birth
  • Six weeks of leave after vaginal birth; eight weeks after caesarean section
  • Temporary disability insurance benefits
  • California Paid Family Leave benefits

4. California Family Rights Act

The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) is essentially the state’s version of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), discussed earlier. Like the FMLA, CFRA offers pregnancy and new-child bonding as qualifying reasons to take a certain amount of unpaid, job-protected leave. A new version of the California Family Rights Act was signed into law in 2020 and takes effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

Here are some of the new CFRA’s provisions as they pertain to pregnancy:

  • Up to 24 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave
  • Employers with five or more employees are covered by this law
  • Bonding leave expanded such that two parents working for the same employer may each take 12 weeks of parental leave
  • Someone who is considered a key employee – is among the highest earners in the company – is protected, potentially protecting women in managerial and executive positions

5. Whistleblower Protection Act

Although not specific to women’s rights or issues that impact women, the Whistleblower Protection Act, and other laws that prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who report unlawful behavior, are crucial. Such laws protect those who report unlawful business activities or mistreatment, including that based on gender.

Do You Need Legal Help?

At Haeggquist & Eck, LLP, we advise and provide legal services for employees who have experienced violations of their rights at work. If you feel as if your rights are being violated, schedule a free initial consultation with one of our attorneys to discuss your situation.

After learning more about your concerns during this complimentary meeting, we may be able to provide options for how you can move forward with your claim.

Schedule your free consultation today by calling (619) 342-8000 or by contacting our legal team online.

New California Law Requires More Diversity on Corporate Boards of Directors

Starting next year, all public companies headquartered in California will be legally required to diversify their boards of directors. This includes diversifying by race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity. The move comes after years of criticism that corporate boards throughout the United States remained homogenized. Below, we cover the specifics of California’s new law and how it can impact corporations headquartered in the state.

What Does Assembly Bill (AB) 979 Require?

Assembly Bill (AB) 979, which was signed by California Governor Gavin Newsom on September 30, 2020, requires companies to have at least one board member from an “underrepresented community” by the end of 2021. It requires at least two or three — depending on the board’s size — by the end of 2022.

Who Is Considered a “Director from an Underrepresented Community?”

People from underrepresented communities are defined in the bill as anyone who self-identifies as Black, African American, Hispanic, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, Native Hawaiian, or an Alaska Native. The definition also encompasses anyone who self-identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.

Of the 279 top executives at the nation’s 50 largest companies, only 5, or 1.8%, were Black, including two who recently retired, according to an analysis by USA Today. Many of these corporations are still led by all-white executives in the top 5 slots, which include the, CEO, CFO, and 3 other top-paid positions.

“This new law represents a big step forward for racial equity… This is a win-win as ethnically diverse boards have shown to outperform those that lack diversity,” one of the bill’s authors, Assemblyman Chris Holden, said in a statement. “While some corporations were already leading the way to combat implicit bias, now, all of California’s corporate boards will better reflect the diversity of our state.”

The new law is likely to establish a new minimum threshold for corporate diversity across the country, much like California’s 2018 law requiring a minimum number of women directors. Haeggqist & Eck, LLP has previously written about this law.

Are There Reporting Obligations?

The California Secretary of State may adopt implementing regulations, but it is expected that corporations will be required to report on their compliance with this new law. Compliance information is likely to be made public. Currently, the California Secretary of State is required to publish an annual report on March 1 of each year providing certain information on the board gender diversity law.

What if a Corporation Does Not Comply with AB 979?

Corporations that do not comply with the requirements of AB 979 are subject to fines, ranging from $100,000 for a first violation or a failure to timely file the required information with the Secretary of State to $300,000 for second or subsequent violations. A “violation” occurs when a director seat required to be held by a director from an underrepresented community is not held by such a director for at least part of the calendar year.

In addition to the punitive fines, corporations may face public criticism as a result of their failure to comply. Given that AB 979 only requires a single seat to be given to a member of an unrepresented community in 2021, companies who fail or refuse to observe the regulations could face significant backlash that has the potential to damage the corporation’s reputation and trigger a public relations crisis.

What Can You Do?

If you have questions or concerns about AB 979, especially if a company you have invested on does not plan to comply, you should take immediate action. We encourage you to contact attorney Amber Eck at (619) 342-8000 or reach out by email at ambe

To schedule your free initial consultation, contact us online or call (619) 342-8000 today!

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