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San Francisco Employment Law Blog

How do you cope with the emotional aspects of discrimination?

When you face racial, gender or some other form of discrimination at work, you may not be in an immediate position to react. As much as you'd like to file a complaint with Human Resources or quit, you fear that you don't have enough evidence to support your complaint or the financial means to just walk out.

So how do you cope? Workplace discrimination takes a toll on your mental health, elevating your stress levels with every incident. In between acts of discrimination, it's difficult to relax because you're always waiting for the incident.

What sort of workplace accommodations are common for autism?

There are plenty of people with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who can function fairly well in the workplace -- although some need reasonable accommodations to better manage their neurodivergent condition at work.

If you have an ASD, you should understand your rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) before you decide to disclose your condition to your employer and ask for accommodations. If your employer is subject to the ADA, you have legal protections in place that can help you achieve your goals.

What is your employer's duty once you report sexual harassment?

You've been putting up with sexual harassment for weeks or months now from a co-worker or supervisor. You've tried politely ignoring the harasser as well as directly asking them to stop. You've made your boundaries clear, but the message doesn't seem to be getting through.

Now, it's time to take things up the ladder, either to your supervisor or the Human Resources Department. What do you have a right to expect from your employer once you report the harassment?

Why sexual harassment victims get the blame

"Well, what was she wearing to work?" "How did she talk to him?" "Did she lead him on?" "Did she smile a lot?"

Those are the kinds of questions that people often ask when they hear that a female co-worker has been sexually harassed by a male co-worker or boss. They are questions that automatically imply that the woman -- somehow -- invited the harassment and is (at minimum) partially responsible for her own predicament.

Does skin tone make discrimination against Latinos worse?

What's a little difference in skin tone among family members, right?

Everything. Latinos report that they and their family members are often treated with more or less discrimination based entirely on their skin tone. The lighter the skin tone of the Latino, the less discrimination he or she is likely to face. The opposite, of course, is true for Latinos that happen to favor their darker-skinned relatives.

California churches shaken over wrongful termination lawsuit

Two different United Methodist churches in California are in turmoil and a preschool run by the one in Orange County has closed over allegations that a pastor behaved inappropriately toward the preschool's well-established director and the church's leadership fired her for reporting it.

The woman at the heart of the wrongful termination lawsuit that has rocked the congregation of the churches was the longtime director of the Palisades United Methodist Preschool. She complained to church authorities that a pastor in the church was inappropriate in a number of sexual ways, including staring at women's buttocks and making sexual comments about some of the women.

How do you approach your boss about racial microaggressions?

Nobody enjoys bringing up the victim of racial discrimination at work, but if you are -- whether it's subtle or overt -- you have a right to address the issue with your employer. You also have the right to expect your employer to take action.

Many people of color experience in the workplace experience micro-aggressions. These are subtle forms of discrimination that leave victims feeling offended and uncomfortable. Victims are often unsure of how to respond.

Don't tolerate a bully that's violating your rights as a worker

It's nice to think that all the kids who start out as bullies on the playground grow up and become decent people. However, the reality is that some people are just bullies all their lives. If your boss happens to be one of them, you may have trouble standing up for your rights as an employee.

What's the difference between a tough boss and a bully? A tough boss makes their expectations clear and demands results -- but generally treats employees with respect and fairness. A bully, however, may:

  • Set unrealistic deadlines and then punish you for not meeting them.
  • Blame you for failures that were actually their own or were simply out of your control.
  • Isolate you by "scapegoating" you to other employees, making you "office poison" for others to be around.
  • Spy on you, harass you, tamper with your personal items, snoop through your desk or otherwise invade your privacy.
  • Question your loyalty to the company and make unreasonable demands that violate your rights -- like asking you to work without breaks, do unpaid overtime or take work home with you to finish.
  • Intimidate you with threats, aggressive behavior, invading your body space and other means of gaining control over you.
  • Shortchange you when it comes to the hours you have worked or the pay that you are due and behave rudely and defensively if you dare question the issue.
  • Verbally abuses you by calling you names or issuing threats.

You don't have to tolerate ableism at work

When you have a disability -- whether visible or not -- you become consciously aware of just how much "ableism" there is around you.

What's ableism? It's a form of prejudice against people with disabilities. In many ways, ableism is ingrained in American culture in ways that many people don't understand -- until they experience a disability for themselves.

Suit against financial services firm alleges age discrimination

It's hard enough to get ahead in business without a factor beyond our control getting in our way. There are several factors that we choose, such as faith or hairstyle, along with many we do not that may change an employer's view of us. Fortunately, California does not allow managers to make hiring and firing decisions based on these factors. Attorneys can help protect the rights of workers suffering from discrimination.

The intellectual economy centered around the Golden State's tech sector allows for many types of people to make a valuable contribution to products, services and their communities. California law ensures that disabilities or other drawbacks unrelated to the performance of a job are not a reason for dismissal or other damage to a person's career.