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San Francisco Employment Law Blog

Moschino accused of racial discrimination in California

In an eye-opening wrongful termination lawsuit against the luxury retailer Moschino, a former employee of its West Hollywood location alleges that her manager pulled out all the stops when it came to showing her racial biases.

The employee, a black woman of Haitian descent, details some startling abuses in her complaint. For example, she was upbraided for having "kinky" hair that was deemed unprofessional, treated with all manner of verbal abuses, referred to as a thief and called "ghetto" by her boss. Her boss even made reference to the employee's "voodoo," an apparent slur aimed at her Haitian heritage.

How do you tell your employer about your psychiatric disability?

Some disabilities are obvious to the world -- while others are very much "hidden" conditions that observers can't automatically discern just by looking at someone.

Psychiatric disabilities often fall into that category of "hidden" conditions. Consequently, the people who suffer from them are often uncertain about when -- or if -- they should tell their employers about their condition. If you're struggling with a psychiatric disability, here are the things you should know about telling your employer about your condition:

New California laws address sexual harassment in the workplace

Whether you're an employee working in California or you happen to employ others for your business in the state, it's important to know that there are some significant legal changes that go into effect Jan. 1, 2019.

Sexual harassment is being addressed in several ways in the new laws.

Cameras are catching sexual harassers in the act

Let's be perfectly clear: You can't go around recording private conversations without permission, so don't start trying to catch sexual harassment on film unless you're completely sure it's legal to record.

That being said -- you may not have to deliberately try to catch a harasser in the act on camera for it to happen. Gone are the days that every sexual harassment case boiled down to a matter of "he said, she said." Now, there's a strong possibility that an act of harassment will get caught on tape.

Is your employer just awful or acting illegally?

There's a big difference between a bad boss and one that is acting illegally. It's important to know the difference before you decide that you're going to quit and sue.

There's no law that says an employer has to be a nice person or even treat his or her employees reasonably. In general, just because something is unfair doesn't mean it's illegal. There are, however, laws in place that prevent an employer from acting in a way that discriminates against you based on your status as a member of a legally protected class.

Is there colorism in your workplace?

What exactly is "colorism" in the workplace? While racism is a topic that frequently hits the news, not much is said about colorism. Yet, colorism can be just as pervasive -- and may affect darker-skinned people just as much -- as racism.

Colorism is discrimination based on an individual's skin tone, irrespective of that person's race. People of darker skin tone are usually treated in a discriminatory manner -- while people with lighter skin are not. It can occur between races (such as when a white person treats light-skinned black people better than darker-skinned black people) or within racial groups (such as when light-skinned blacks discriminate against blacks with darker skin).

How to handle comments about natural black hair at work

Your natural hair has absolutely nothing to do with your fitness for a particular position at work, but you'd be hard-pressed to prove that based on the reactions that a lot of corporations have to black hair.

The natural hair movement has encouraged women of color to love their hair just the way that it grows -- without resorting to chemical straighteners, heat and other arduous methods of making black hair more Caucasian-friendly. The new way of handling black hair can best be summed up with the words, "Let it grow and let it show!"

Female-owned company accused of pregnancy discrimination

The Wonderful Company, which produces Pom Wonderful pomegranate juice and Wonderful pistachios, is co-owned by a self-made woman. However, the billionaire entrepreneur, once a struggling mother of two herself, is accused of being notoriously unfriendly to her pregnant employees.

While the co-founder publicly espouses family-friendly policies and working to end the "wage gap" women experience in the workplace, former employees say that pregnancy put them on the firing line and cost them their jobs. Employees were obliged to sign a binding arbitration clause as a condition of their employment when they were hired. That's largely kept these cases out of the public eye.

Vivint Smart Home named in harassment suit

Some stories of workplace discrimination are hard to fathom.

Four litigants — all men of color — have filed lawsuits in California alleging that they suffered a string of offensive events while working at a company owned by Vivint Solar, which is controlled by the same parent company as Vivint Smart Home. According to the suit, the men are all seeking compensation over racially-based harassment, racial discrimination, retaliation and wrongful termination.