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San Francisco Employment Law Blog

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.

Report: Racial discrimination creates a feedback loop

The impact of racial discrimination in the workplace is vast and continuous, despite legal protections. Even workers who do get hired find that it can be far harder to keep those jobs.

Some have even gone so far as to say that African-American workers must be "twice as good: twice as smart, twice as dependable, twice as talented."

Employee perks for tech companies face challenges

San Francisco wants to end a much-touted perk that tech company employees have long been accustomed to enjoying: a free lunch.

Many tech companies started their own in-house cafeterias to feed their employees. When many of the tech companies were located in far-flung suburbia, that was a logical necessity. Now that many of the tech companies are moving into cities, however, there's less of a necessity.

Behavior Outside The Workplace May Play A Role In Discrimination Cases

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Some days it seems like people know just enough to avoid serious consequences. Discrimination and harassment may be subtle enough inside the workplace to make it difficult to prove. It's real, and it's creating a hostile work environment, but collecting enough evidence of it at the worksite may be challenging.

However, people are often less restrained after they clock out of work at the end of the day. They may be extremely discriminatory against people of color or use harsh ethnic slurs, for example, when they think their employer cannot do anything about it. But just because the most overt instances of discrimination or harassment happen outside the workplace does not automatically mean that employees will escape professional consequences.

How do you respond to sexual harassment at work?

Given the number of news stories that keep surfacing about sexual harassment in different industries throughout the country, sexual harassment is still a big problem in the nation's workforce.

Are you prepared to handle it, if it happens to you? Being the victim of sexual harassment doesn't mean you have to be powerless. By thinking about how to respond to inappropriate acts or comments in advance, you may be able to take charge of the situation and stop the harasser in his or her tracks.

San Francisco settles toxicologist's wrongful termination suit

San Francisco has agreed to settle a lawsuit by the man who had once been its chief toxicologist for $100,000.

The toxicologist filed a lawsuit for wrongful termination after he claimed that he resigned rather than participate in an unlawful act as his employer instructed. In effect, he argued that he was the victim of a constructive discharge.

Recognize these signs that you're about to be fired

You have the right to report unsafe or illegal activity in the workplace, including things like safety violations or discrimination -- but not all employers behave benevolently when they're alerted to a problem.

In fact, reporting a problem does have the potential of putting a target on your back. If you've recently made waves at work over something that was wrong, you need to watch for the following signs that you're about to be fired:

To stop racist comments, confront the racism head-on

Allowing a racist remark to go unchallenged conveys the subtle message that whatever is being said is somehow acceptable.

That's not good. Racism won't stop until enough people take a stand and offer a negative response to every racist remark they hear.

Bystanders have the power to halt sexual harassment

What can you do to stop sexual harassment if you're neither the harasser nor the victim?

Plenty. Sexual harassment is something that frequently arises out of a company's culture. It won't stop until there's a cultural shift that makes abusers realize that such actions simply are not acceptable nor tolerable.

What does 'privilege' mean in terms of discrimination?

There's a lot of conversations going on about the concept of privilege in America.

Unfortunately, there isn't always a clear understanding of what privilege means. People who are told that they are privileged because they are white, heterosexual, cisgendered, male or anything similar often react with frustration -- and sometimes anger. You may even hear something like, "I'm not privileged! I've had to work for everything I have!"