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Baton Rouge Employment Law Blog

Wages take center stage in health care

Residents in Louisiana who work in jobs that pay minimum wage may wonder how they can make ends meet some days. Around the country, all but five states have enacted legislation to raise the minimum wage. Louisiana is one of those states. Without a state law in place mandating a higher hourly rate for minimum wage workers, the current federal level of $7.25 remains in effect. This has been the federal standard minimum wage since 2009.

The rate of pay offered to employees is obviously important to workers but, for smart employers it is also important. Paying people well can be a strong competitive advantage for companies. It can also aid not only in the recruitment but also in the retention of employees. 

Understanding who handles retaliation enforcement

Being disciplined by your employer in Baton Rouge can leave you feeling powerless. While the law clearly states that retaliatory action by your employer in response to you (in good faith) reporting alleged violations that it has committed is illegal, the actual application of that law may be less cut-and-dry. Countless clients come to our team here at Robert B. Landry III, PLC wondering who is actually going to enforce the laws protecting them from retaliation. Knowing this very thing could help you in your decision to come forward is you believe your employer has committed any regulatory violations. 

Per Louisiana's Revised Statutes, you are to report retaliatory actions by your employer to the state's Board of Ethics (such a report can be made on your behalf by an attorney). It is that agency that will then conduct an investigation into your claims, and then subsequently mete out any penalties if your claims are found to have merit. Such penalties can include fines, suspension of contractual agreements, or even referrals to local district attorneys' offices if violations warrant criminal penalties. 

Did you experience disability discrimination at work?

Louisiana employees have the right to a workplace that is free from various types of harassment, including mistreatment due to a disability. If you are experiencing harassing behavior at work because of your condition, you do not have to stand for it. There is no excuse for this type of behavior, and you have the right to fight back against liable parties. 

Disability discrimination occurs when an employer, manager, supervisor or co-worker treats a person covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act in a negative manner because of his or her disability. This also occurs when a person experiences mistreatment in any form because he or she has a history of disability. Because of your disability, it may be beneficial for you to understand your rights and learn how to protect your interests.

FMLA employee notice requirements

Like other people in Louisiana, there may be times when your personal life requires you to take time away from your job. A good example of this is when you have or adopt a new baby. Maternity and paternity leave may be granted to allow you time to care for your new family member and to heal from a birth if you are the biological mother. Other situations that warrant time away from work might include the need to care for another family member or to tend to your own health needs.

When you must take leave from your job, you may be able to do so under the Family and Medical Leave Act. This law not only allows you to take unpaid time off from your job but protects your job while you are away as well. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, if the reason for your leave allows, you should formally request time away from work at least 30 days before you need the leave to begin. If an emergency arises, your request should be given as soon as possible.

You should be respectfully treated during your termination

If you have just received word that you are being terminated from your job, you are probably feeling all kinds of emotions. You may be confused, anxious and frustrated at the prospect of having to find new employment. At Robert B. Landry III, PLC, we have helped many people in Louisiana who have been wrongfully terminated from their job. 

You should never hear that you are being terminated from anyone other than your superior. If you begin hearing rumors through the grapevine, your employer is doing a lackluster job at protecting your wellbeing and keeping details of your employment private. According to Forbes Magazine, if you have previously received a performance evaluation where you were given criticism or recommendations for performance improvement, your termination should address these issues with an apparent reason for your employer's decision to let you go. 

#MeToo may increase harassment reports

People who live and work in Louisiana have no doubt been aware of the dramatic surge in media reports and public demonstrations surrounding allegations of sexual misconduct in the past year. The initiation of the #MeToo movement seems to have brought about a change in the cultural mindset and made more people willing to come forward with stories of their experiences than in the past.

Harassment at work can happen in any industry. As reported recently by WBRZ, four-year universities in the state of Louisiana have noticed a jump in the number of reports made about potential sexual assault, abuse or harassment. One woman who is said to have worked at Southern University for four decades recently filed a complaint against a coworker saying that the man attempted to kiss and touch her against her wishes. Following an investigation, the university indicates action was taken although details of that action remain unknown.

Detailing Louisiana's whistleblower protections

Many from Baton Rouge have come to members of our team here at Robert B. Landry III, PLC wrestling with the issue of whether or not they should report statutory and/or regulatory violations made by their employers. If you have witnessed such actions, your loyalty to your employer and the gratitude you feel for all it has done for you and your family may be what is holding you back. Yet if you are like most, your reluctance has more to do with the fear that you may be retaliated against if you come forward. 

Fortunately, the law protects you in such a scenario. Section 42-1169 of Louisiana's Revised Statutes says that it is unlawful for you to be targeted for disciplinary action by your employer (when you are a public employee) in response to you reporting a violation of the law or any other improprieties it may have committed. If you are fired, suspended or see your workflow reduced in retaliation, this law mandates that you be reinstated to your previous position and be compensated for any lost wages or benefits you may have missed. This statute also extends to contracted employees and entities. 

More employees are calling out companies for discrimination

Everyone deserves the same chance to succeed in his or her chosen profession. No employer should hold you back because of your race, gender, religion or other status protected by Louisiana and/or federal law. If you believe you suffered from discrimination due to one or more of these factors, you have the right to file a complaint.

Your employer cannot retaliate against you for doing so. If that happens, you may go outside of the company for relief. In fact, you would join many other people who now call out their employers for their discriminatory treatment of employees.

Men are also victims of sexual harassment

Sexual harassment in the workplace targets victims in many industries throughout the United States. In 2018, over 13,000 incidents of sexual harassment were reported to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the highest number in over 7 years. This number is thought to be even larger as many cases go unreported. Yet, not all cases involve women as victims. A growing number of men have reported being victims of sexual harassment at work by women managers or co-workers.

Sexual harassment towards men, as well as women, involves unwelcome physical advances, such as rubbing someone’s leg or giving a back massage. Yet, it also involves comments of a sexual nature, as well as propositions. In some cases, a female boss may tell her male subordinate that he cannot advance in the company unless he engages in certain activities. In one case, a female boss would continually ask her male co-worker to stay late and would require him to report to her office. She would ask him out after work, and after he turned her down, told him he would not get far in the company without her recommendation.

What impact has MeToo made on U.S. workplaces?

Whether you are male or female, you are likely aware that the topic of sexual harassment has gained a lot of media attention over the past year. This has happened not just in Louisiana but across the nation and is in large part due to what has been coined the MeToo movement. There have been laws in place that make harassment in the workplace illegal for some time now yet many people assert that sexual harassment or other types of sexual misconduct continue to be a problem.

As reported by Voice of America, the increased awareness surrounding this issue has been making a difference in many ways through society and business. Corporate culture may well be getting an increased level of scrutiny not just by employees of companies but by those people looking to make financial investments in businesses. Some investors have been identified as less willing to back a company that has active sexual harassment issues.