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San Francisco Employment Law Blog

Restaurant employees keep getting cheated out of fair wages

Just this month, another news story broke about how restaurants are trying to skirt wage and employment laws. A popular Los Angeles restaurant has been fined $2.1 million for a variety of labor violations.

The California Labor Commission's investigators performed an audit of the Genwa Korean BBQ restaurant's books and practices after complaints were filed by employees. Among their findings:

  • Servers were required to attend staff meetings without pay -- even on their days off.
  • Half of the employees were never given itemized wage statements (effectively preventing them from being able to see they were being cheated).
  • Overtime was not paid properly or at all to about half the employees.
  • Over half of the employees were denied minimum wages.
  • None of the employees were given their meal breaks or rest breaks at work -- although they are legally required to have them.
  • Full-time staff members were forced to clock out as often as three times a day over the course of 11 hours.

How to talk to your employer about chronic pain

When you have a chronic condition that makes it difficult for you to work, you have every reason to ask your employer to make reasonable accommodations, so you can continue working.

However, getting your employer to understand what "chronic" means when you're dealing with any debilitating and painful condition can sometimes be difficult. While slightly more than 20% of Americans are estimated to suffer from chronic pain, the other 80% of people can be very obtuse about what that entails.

Could you be discriminated against due to your service animal?

There is a lot of controversy surrounding the use of service animals by some disabled people. Part of the problem is because so many nondisabled individuals try to pass off their pets as service animals or emotional support dogs. They make life harder for the truly disabled folks who need their service dogs to lead normal lives.

But the other problem is that far too frequently, the service animal's disabled owner experiences discrimination when going about their daily lives at work. To fully understand the issue, let's examine what the law states about service animals for people with disabilities.

Fears of coronavirus contagion lead to discrimination

You can't look at the news without seeing the latest update on the Covid-19 or "coronavirus." To add to the panic, there's a lot of misinformation going around on the internet.

There's also a lot of racism and ignorance surfacing. In fact, discriminatory and outrageous reactions to the virus are spreading faster than the virus itself. For example:

  • A New York woman was assaulted and accused of being diseased simply because she was wearing a face mask in public.
  • In Los Angeles, a man loudly denounced all Chinese people as "filthy" and claimed that all diseases originate in China.
  • In Indiana, two men were interrogated by a hotel employee because they were mistaken for Chinese and told they had to be quarantined.
  • Some Chinese restaurants are reporting that they've lost as much as 80% of their business in the wake of public panic over the virus.

San Francisco Police Department accused of racial bias

Is there a serious bias against blacks in the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD)?

An email from a city employee who was responsible for teaching anti-bias classes to officers alleges that the discrimination toward blacks in the department is both rampant and extreme. The email, which came from a former Department of Human Resources manager with the SFPD, was written after the employee saw a blog post aimed at an acting police captain. According to the complaint, the post was not merely critical of the acting chief but also "severely" racist in tone.

California Senate settles retaliation lawsuit for $310,000

Former Senator Tony Mendoza may have resigned his position in 2018 after a flurry of accusations involving sexual harassment, but his unfortunate legacy is still hanging over California. Another six-figure settlement has been made related to the senator -- but it's the taxpayers who have to pick up the bill, not the former senator.

This case is related to allegations that the senator retaliated against his legislative director for reporting the sexual harassment of a co-worker. According to the complaint, the legislative director informed both Senate officials and her direct supervisor about Mendoza's pattern of harassment, inappropriate actions and discrimination toward another female staffer in the office. The plaintiff was subsequently fired, an act that she claims was designed to punish her for speaking out. She was one of three employees handed termination letters during a meeting with human resources about the issues.

What sort of work accommodations can be made for migraines?

If you've ever had a genuine migraine, there's little chance you'll confuse it with an ordinary tension headache. Migraines can be utterly debilitating -- and an estimated 4 million adults in the United States suffer from a chronic form that affects them 15 days or more out of every month.

If you're a migraineur who is struggling with head pain, nausea and other symptoms, asking for reasonable accommodations from your employer can help you manage your condition and keep working.

California intervenes in Riot Games discrimination settlement

Video game developer Riot Games, the company that developed "League of Legends," has entered into a tentative agreement to pay $10 million to several former employees. The employees, all women, claimed they were victims of gender discrimination. The company received a lot of negative publicity over the allegations and -- rather quickly -- settled.

However, the state of California thinks the settlement is vastly unfair both to the plaintiffs and everyone who may follow in their shoes. The state is asking the company to pay $400 million to the women who sued -- and that's just for starters. The state also says that the settlement's non-monetary terms are inadequate to change the company's culture and enforce nondiscrimination policies.

What form does workplace discrimination take?

Workplace discrimination can affect you at all stages of your employment -- even though discrimination due to numerous factors, like your race, religion, national origin or gender, is illegal under both federal and state laws.

You may know that workplace discrimination is against the law, but do you know how to spot it when it happens? Many workers do not. Their lack of familiarity with the issue makes them doubtful about whether or not their employers have done anything wrong or if they even have a case.

California begins tracking sexual harassment claims

One of the reasons that sexual harassers thrive in the workplace is that there's never been any particular effort to track them. Indeed, since many employers are reluctant to admit that sexual harassment occurred behind their doors, many harassers can quietly move on to other positions in other companies -- where new potential victims await.

California would like to change that -- and it's taking active steps to do so. A new centralized system, designed to track both sexual harassment claims and discrimination lawsuits among state employees, "went live" on Jan. 1, 2020.