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Baton Rouge Employment Law Blog

Woman alleges she was fired for hairstyle

Louisiana residents who apply for and accept jobs should be able to feel that their employers respect them and ensure their rights are protected. Unfortunately, in some situations, workplace environments can become hostile and filled with discrimination. Even worse, there are times when management staff contribute this. Such is the case at one gym in Louisiana according to allegations put forth in a lawsuit filed recently.

According to Club Industry, a fitness trade publication, a woman had worked for a California-based fitness company for four months before she was fired. The woman was told by her direct manager that her hairstyle, which was an afro, did not meet the company's standards. It is not clear if the company has any published requirements for employee hairstyles or even if any such requirements would be legal.

What is racial harassment?

You may remember an incident that made national news several months ago, during which law enforcement was called on two African American men who were waiting for another person in Starbucks without having ordered anything yet. The incident sparked outrage about how people of color are commonly treated in America. While these men were customers, many employees in Louisiana and elsewhere are harassed and discriminated against at work for their race.

According to the Houston Chronicle, racial harassment is behavior and treatment toward people of certain races that can make them feel embarrassed, ridiculed and threatened. Like sexual, gender and disability harassment, racial harassment is meant to belittle others and often leads to anxiety both in the workplace and out. Your co-workers might participate in teasing and banter that is directed at your race or other groups, which they might feel is harmless, but if you are offended or hurt by the comments and behavior, it qualifies as racial harassment. Additionally, some types of harassment are not harmless or difficult to recognize. These are deliberate attempts to single people out based on prejudices or a need to exert control and domination over others.

Understanding a hostile work environment

Most employed people in Louisiana are likely aware that there are laws in place intended to protect people from discrimination or harassment based on a variety of issues. These include gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, race and more. As explained by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, acts that are deemed to be harassment may violate one or more of three laws in place to protect workers.

These include the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination Employment Act and the Civil Rights Act. Behaviors are said to be illegal if they meet one of two criteria. The first is when a person's ability to keep their job becomes contingent on their ability or willingness to endure ongoing behaviors. The second is when such behavior contributes to a hostile work environment

Pregnant and working? Keep this information in mind

Women have fought discrimination and harassment in several forms for a long time. As they gained more rights, other issues would arise that required addressing by federal and state governments. In 1978, pregnancy needed the attention of governments.

Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act that year as an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It makes it illegal for employers to discriminate, harass or retaliate against women due to pregnancy, pregnancy-related medical conditions, childbirth and childbirth-related medical conditions. If you work for a company with 15 or more employers, the act protects you. In addition, since 2008, employers are also required to provide you with reasonable accommodations during your pregnancy under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

What are the work hour laws for minors?

Teens often want to get a job so they can be more independent. Having their own money allows them to pay for items they want and also helps them learn about responsibility when it comes to money. When your child decides to get a job, it is helpful if you understand the employment laws for minors in Louisiana. These laws are different for minors than for adults to provide additional protection.

According to the Louisiana Workforce Commission, the laws differ for working minors under the age of 16 and those who are 16 or 17. Under 16, your child cannot work later than 7:00 p.m. or begin work prior to 7:00 a.m. during the period from Labor Day to May 31. During the period from June 1 to Labor Day, the hours they cannot work past 9:00 p.m. The starting time remains the same. For those age 16, the latest they can work is 11:00 p.m. They cannot begin before 5:00 a.m. If your child is 17, he or she can work until 12:00 a.m. The starting time is the same as 16-year-olds.

EEOC sues Del Taco store employees for sexual harassment

New of sexual harassment lawsuits in Baton Rouge or throughout the rest of the U.S. may often involve cases that occur in professional office settings between working adults. This may give the false impression that recourse for such harassment is limited to only those situations. In reality, any harassment that occurs at any level is wrong. Even teenagers working entry-level jobs in the service industries are protected from having to work in hostile environments. 

A recent sexual harassment case filed on behalf of a group of teenage girls in California serves as a reminder of this. The girls worked in a local Del Taco restaurant, where they were reportedly subjected to lewd comments and sexually suggestive talk from their male coworkers. Two of the girls also said that supervisors in the store made repeated advances towards them, some escalating to inappropriate touching and requests for sexual. The girls claimed that complaints about the harassment led to retaliations against them, and all ultimately ended up quitting due to uncomfortable atmosphere the behavior created. 

Military family leave under the FMLA

Most people in Louisiana may know that there is a federal law mandating their ability to take unpaid time away from work for qualifying events. During this leave period, they are legally entitled to have their jobs preserved and equivalent employment available to them upon return to work. This extends to those persons who are assisting members of the U.S. Armed Forces. The rights to these people are unique.

As explained by the United States Department of Labor, leave may be granted for two different reasons. One of these reasons is to allow a person to provide care to a military person. For this, a person may take up to 26 weeks of leave in a 12-month period. The care may be provided to someone injured or ill while on active duty as well as to a veteran who left service within five years of the leave. For veterans, an injury or illness connected to their service but that did not manifest until after they left service may qualify one for leave.

Understanding retaliation in the workplace

People in Louisiana who read or hear about allegations of harassment, discrimination or other violations of a workers' civil rights often also hear about potential retaliation related to these situations. While harassment and discrimination are illegal in the workplace, so too is retaliatory behavior or actions on the part of an employer. Understanding what this may look like is important for all employees.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission clarifies that it is expressly against the law for any employer to retaliate against an employee for not complying with unwanted advances, helping another employee resist unwanted advances, participating in any EEO case, talking with a superior about potential discrimination or harassment or not complying with instructions from a manager that would result in discriminatory acts.

Sexual harassment lawsuit settled

People who are employed in Louisiana and are concerned about the ongoing challenges of sexual misconduct and harassment in the workplace should know that they have the right to speak up and make sure they are protected. This is the case regardless of what sector or industry they work in, what line of work they are employed in and what their particular gender or sexual orientation may be.

One woman who had been employed in the Louisiana Secretary of State's office decided to pursue her rights after enduring what she indicated were years of unwanted sexual advances from the then Secretary of State. As reported by WAFB, the woman filed a lawsuit against the man after she was unable to stop the behavior and also after she said she was retaliated against for initially speaking up about the problem.

Good executive contracts address these 3 important issues

Companies often search far and wide for the right person to fill executive positions. At the same time, people may take their time and search for a company they can call home. Regardless of which side of the table you are on, negotiating an executive contract will probably be the next step.

Just about every agreement has standard confidentiality and non-compete clauses, but when it comes to the nitty-gritty, most people think of compensation packages, severance packages and termination clauses. Negotiating these aspects of an executive contract could set the tone for the relationship between the two of you for the foreseeable future.