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Baton Rouge Employment Law Blog

FMLA guidelines for children

Most people in Louisiana are aware that there are laws granting them the right to take some amount of time away from their jobs in order to see to family matters. Many of these matters relate to children including the birth of babies and care of newborns. However, the law extends to more than just this and understanding it is important for all employees.

As explained by the United States Department of Labor, the Family and Medical Leave Act was passed by the U.S. Congress to protect a person's job while they take time to care for their health or the needs of qualifying family members. When it comes to children, both mothers and fathers are allowed to take as many as 12 weeks away from their jobs when they have a new baby. In addition, people who are foster parents may take FMLA leave when they accept a new foster child into their home. The same is true for adoptive parents upon receiving their new child.

Sexual harassment of men in the workplace

The issue of sexual harassment in the workplace has received a high level of prominence in Louisiana and around the nation over the past couple of years. However, the bulk of the attention has been given to women as the people who are subjected to this behavior. While this is definitely a problem, it is also a fact that men can be and are sexually harassed at work.

According to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the rate of complaints from men about sexual harassment at work rose from 16 percent in 2011 to 17.6 percent in 2013. A CNBC poll from December 2017 indicates that almost 20 percent of sexual harassment reports come from men. Ten percent of men say they have experienced some form of sexual misconduct or harassment at work.

Women can look to federal courts for equal pay

In a national political climate that favors equality among all races, genders and beliefs, you may be surprised to learn that Louisiana has yet to enact equal-pay-for-equal-work legislation. Earlier this year, members of both the state’s House and Senate killed proposals aimed at closing the earning gap between men and women, according to U.S. News and World Report. Along with the equal-pay measure, which would require state contractors to pay men and women equally for similar work, lawmakers also killed a proposal to raise the minimum wage. Similar attempts were made to introduce wage bills in previous legislative sessions, meeting with the same outcome.

Along with hearing from proponents of the bills, lawmakers also heard from national and state business organizations that wage hikes would add more regulations to an already cumbersome state-contracting process. And, while the House bill may have been more for effect than purpose (with a jump in the hourly minimum wage from $7.25 to $15), the Senate bill asked for a phased-in increase to $8.50 per hour.

Non-exempt employees deserve pay for every hour they work

The more time you spend on the job, the better you get at it. The better you get at your job, the faster you can move up in the company. Moving up in the company means more opportunities in business and in your personal life. Because of this, you are willing to come in early, stay late, work weekends and take work home with you. You regularly take texts from your boss at the dinner table and reply to work-related emails in the evening or while you eat breakfast.

All this extra time may add up to good experience, knowledge and skill, but does it add up to money? If you are a non-exempt employee, this means the federal regulations for fair pay for overtime hours affect you. If your boss allows you to work off the clock or insists you do work without pay, he or she may be in violation of federal law.

What sort of job will you come back to after FMLA leave?

Any number of medical conditions, health concerns or family reasons may prompt you to take an extended leave from your job in Baton Rouge. You can sleep soundly during your time away knowing that the terms of the Family Medical Leave Act ensure that you continue to have access to your employee benefits, be paid your salary (if you have accrued sufficient paid-time-off hours), and that your employment status is protected. Yet does that mean that you have to return to the same job that you left? 

Not necessarily. According to information shared be the U.S. Department of Labor, you must be allowed to return to either the same job or one that is equivalent. By "equivalent," the FMLA statute means a position that closely resembles your previous job in terms of: 

  • Pay
  • Benefits
  • Schedule
  • Location

Protections for transgender people in the workplace

Louisiana residents benefit from many types of workplace protections. Many of these come from federal regulations, such as OSHA's mandates on safety in the work environment. However, one might easily spot the difference in the way employers treat different classes of people, especially those who belong to a legally non-protected class, such as certain gender identities. 

There has been little good news for transgender rights on a national level in recent months. One major piece of news, as outlined in USA Today, was that the United States Department of Justice revised its position regarding protection of transgender people in the workplace. Even with this federal position, it is important to remember that the job of the DOJ is only to interpret and enforce laws at the federal level. The legislative branch of the federal and state governments are responsible for revising existing laws and creating new ones.

Federal laws on workplace harassment

Every person employed in Louisiana should know that there are laws in place designed to ensure they may perform their jobs in an environment that is fair to them and devoid of harassing and hostile behavior. Federal laws govern workplace harassment and understanding one's rights is important for every employee across the state.

As explained by the United States Department of Labor, harassment at work is illegal not only when directed at full-time or part-time employees of a company but also at contractors. There are a series of what are commonly called protected classes which means that harassment based upon these factors is against the law. These factors include sexual orientation, gender identity, gender, disability, national origin or race, color and more.

Analyst sues ESPN for wrongful termination

Few people ever head to work in Baton Rouge anticipating being fired. Yet employees are dismissed all the time, sometimes for reasons that many may view as being unwarranted. Most take great pride in their work, and would never purposefully do anything that would tarnish their reputations or jeopardize their employment status. There may be cases, however, were one's misinterpreted actions might be viewed as a fireable offense. If one feels as though the contextual misrepresentation of what he or she did was never considered in his or her dismissal, then he or she may be justified in contesting it. 

It was due to such a misunderstanding that led to the firing of an on-air tennis analyst by ESPN. That is what he is claiming in a wrongful termination lawsuit against the network. The man came under considerably scrutiny after using the word "gorilla" in reference to tennis star Venus Williams' play. He claims that he was not referring to Williams (who is African American) as a "gorilla," but rather saying she was employing "guerrilla"-style tactics in her match. Despite his explanation, ESPN fired him shortly after the match, and later requested that his lawsuit be dismissed. A judge, however, recently dismissed the network's petition and gave the lawsuit the green light to go forward. 

Should you sign a non-compete or non-disclosure agreement?

Advanced technology impacts the business world. Perhaps you work in an industry where intellectual property is a central component. Nowadays, it would be challenging to find a business that does not use technology. Since intellectual assets are key factors in many businesses, a prospective employer may have concerns about protecting certain information, systems, designs, etc., so competitors may not copy or use it to gain an upper-hand. During a job interview, your potential Louisiana employer may ask you to sign a non-compete clause or a non-disclosure agreement.

Even if you've already been working at a particular company for a while, your boss may, for some reason, request a meeting to discuss new procedures that include a request for you to sign these types of contracts. First, it's critical for you to understand the difference between the two agreements; it's also important to decide whether it's a good idea to sign one. If you're unsure or you've already signed and are now facing legal problems, there are support networks to help you rectify your situation.  

Understanding at-will employment

People in Baton Rouge who work for a living likely feel a modest sense of security in their employment given that most assume that their employers cannot fire them for no reason whatsoever. That is often what makes one being fired all the more devastating. The term "fire-able offense" has made its way into the American vernacular, with most believing that as long as they avoid such actions, they will never have to lose their jobs. The at-will employment doctrine can dash that sense of security. 

What is at-will employment? Simply put, it means that a company can fire its employees without having to provide a valid reason. Thus, staff cutbacks, poor performance or just a general difference of personality can all be cited as reasons for one's termination (and if said worker is indeed an at-will employee, he or she has no legal recourse to dispute such a decision). Per Section 2747 of the Louisiana Civil Code, the state does endorse the at-will employment doctrine. It not only recognizes an employer's right to fire an employee without providing any reason, but also the employees right to leave a company without having to do the same.