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Sacramento Sexual Harassment Law Blog

Trans people are still fighting for their rights in prison

For transsexual individuals, the battle for equal rights is being fought on many fronts. However, while many people in California think of this mostly in the workplace or in marriage rights, the reality is that one forgotten area is also very important: prison.

One of the cases that best sums up this struggle is that of a transsexual person who is being held by the Georgia Department of Corrections. In her time there, she has not gotten the health care that she needed, specifically as it relates to hormone therapy. She has also been assaulted in the male prison by other inmates, as not enough has been done to protect her.

The way you complain can change your retaliation protections

Whistleblower laws were designed to protect employees when they feel the need to report wrongdoing in the workplace. They could be reporting fraud, a breach of safety regulations or reporting on employment issues like sexual harassment or discrimination. In any case, they need to be free to take appropriate action without fear of losing their jobs, which is why these laws were passed in California.

Did you know, though, that the way that you complain sometimes determines whether or not you are protected from a boss's retaliation? It's very important to follow the letter of the law so that you don't accidentally invalidate those protections and end up getting demoted or fired.

Fighting sexual harassment and hostile work environments

Sexual harassment and a hostile work environment can affect people in every line of work. As we discussed here last week, low-wage workers are more likely to suffer from these problems for a variety of reasons. It is important to remember that just because someone is considered a low-wage worker, that doesn't mean that they should have to deal with a hostile work environment or sexual harassment.

Uncomfortable behaviors in the workplace aren't conducive to top-quality work. In fact, if you are being sexually harassed or if you have to deal with a hostile work environment, you might find that your productivity suffers. You might not feel comfortable at work. You might always have to look over your shoulder. Your supervisors might be putting too much on your plate. In all of those cases, you might not be able to do the work you are capable of doing.

Low-wage workers likely to suffer from harassment at work

A hostile workplace can affect any worker; however, low-wage workers often have a more difficult time proving sexual harassment and other similar issues in court. This is because the court often upholds a very narrow definition of which employees are classified as supervisors.

In some cases, a supervisor is someone who is in charge of other workers. That definition, however, is often narrowed by adding in the stipulation that only the employees who are in charge of other workers and who can hire and fire employees are supervisors. With that narrow definition, harassment by low-level supervisors is often overlooked.

How is wrongful termination handled for union workers?

Wrongful termination is something with which no worker wants to deal. Many jobs can end without any notice or reason; however, there are cases in which the loss of a job can be classified as wrongful termination. When it comes to union workers, there are special considerations that must be taken into account when the worker is being terminated.

How is termination different for union workers?

What should I know about a hostile work environment?

Nobody wants to work in a place that is hostile; however, some employees are subjected to conditions that make the workplace hostile. While there aren't any federal laws against a hostile workplace, there are some instances in which a hostile workplace might fall under other laws.

What causes a workplace to be hostile?

The firing process and your legal protections as a whistleblower

If you notice health and safety violations at your place of employment, it could mean two things: that your rights to a safe workplace are being violated and that both state and federal laws are being broken. Knowing this, you may decide to become a whistleblower to let the government know what is going on. However, are you worried to raise the alarm because you think you'll be fired?

What you must know is that many laws are in place to protect you. You cannot be fired under federal law for being a whistleblower. Your employer may not terminate you simply for bringing attention to the violations.

What are some examples of wrongful termination?

When an employee is fired, he or she might start to wonder if the termination is legal. In some cases, termination might be illegal. The types of termination that are illegal vary greatly, but knowing them might help someone who has been terminated to determine if the termination is legal or illegal.

Is retaliatory termination legal?

How the Department of Labor offers protection for whistleblowers

The Department of Labor supports whistleblowers and offers specific protections for them in many industries. The main act that provides this protection is the Occupational Safety and Health Act, but there are also specific provisions for certain industries, such as the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) or the International Safe Container Act (ISCA).

Through these acts, the government has established that whistleblowers who report on unsafe workplaces, sexual harassment and other such issues cannot be discriminated against in the workplace simply for making these reports. They cannot be fired from their positions on those grounds. They must be treated fairly.

Whistleblowers deserve to be protected from backlash

Last week's blog post discussed how some people who were working for the Veterans' Affairs office shed light on how some paperwork was swept under the rug for years. If you recall from that blog post, one person was reassigned when she spoke up against the problem she saw in the office. That reassignment might be construed as retaliation because she opted to blow the whistle on the problem.

Whistleblowers are usually people who can't stand to see issues, misconduct and safety issues at work. These brave people opt to speak up about those problems even if means they might face backlash from it. Here's the thing: whistleblowers have protection from retaliatory measures that employers might take.

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