Finally, overtime coverage for all domestic workers in California!

Finally, overtime coverage for all domestic workers in California!

BVHRFetCIAA_z1k.jpg-largeBy Hina Shah

After nearly 75 years of exclusion from federal and state labor protections, domestic workers have finally scored two important victories in their fight for equal treatment.  Late last week, Governor Brown signed AB 241, extending California overtime protections to domestic workers who spend a significant amount of time caring for children, elderly and people with disabilities.  One week earlier the federal Department of Labor finalized new rules that significantly extend federal minimum wage and overtime protections to domestic workers who care for the elderly and people with disabilities.  Together, these actions extend overtime coverage to all domestic workers in California.

These historic changes are a direct result of domestic workers organizing on the local, state, and national level.  Over the past eight years, the California Domestic Workers Coalition has built a grassroots, worker-led, statewide movement in California that includes allies from labor, faith groups and employers.  Similar efforts by domestic workers in New York and Hawaii have also resulted in legislative victories.

The struggle for equal treatment of domestic workers dates back to the beginning of the regulated workplace.  Domestic workers organized a massive letter writing campaign in the 1920s and 1930s. Highlighting slave-like working conditions, they petitioned President Franklin and Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, as well as Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins, to cover them under the Fair Labor Standards Act, to no avail.  Thirty-six years later, when Congress amended the FLSA to include most domestic workers in minimum wage protections and overtime pay, it exempted live-in domestic workers from overtime and excluded casual babysitters and companions for the elderly or people with disabilities entirely.

In California, a similar letter writing campaign was instituted to get the Wage Board to regulate employment in the home as early as the 1940s.  However, when California finally adopted a Wage Order for Household Occupations in 1976, it exempted domestic workers (called “personal attendants”) who spent a significant amount of time caring for children, elderly and people with disabilities.    Personal attendants finally gained minimum wage protection in 2001 and have only now gained the right to overtime.

These gains, while significant, are not secure.  Because the federal regulations do not take effect until 2015, there is fear that they may be reversed with a change in administration.  The California statute is set to expire in 2016, unless the legislature acts to extend it.

One reason for these time limitations is the fear that home care will become unaffordable for many modest to low-income recipients.  Available evidence is to the contrary.

Currently, fifteen states provide minimum wage and overtime protection to home care workers and twenty-one states provide minimum wage. According to the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute, institutionalization rates are not higher in states that provide home care workers with minimum wage and overtime.  Furthermore, there is significant cost to high turnover rates (estimated at between 44 and 65%) that is a direct result of low wages and poor working conditions.

While neither AB 241 nor the federal rules are a panacea, domestic workers in California have much to celebrate this month. Today’s home-care industry is staffed by trained professionals. These workers are their families’ breadwinners.  The removal of these historical exemptions at both the federal and state level is an important first step in valuing their labor as real work, and recognizing the dignity of those who care for our loved ones.

Hina Shah

About Hina Shah

Hina B. Shah is an Associate Professor of Law and Co-Director at the Women’s Employment Rights Clinic (WERC) of Golden Gate University School of Law, addressing employment and labor issues faced by low wage and immigrant workers.

It’s none of their business, or is it? 3

It's none of their business, or is it?

By Daniel Velton

About 100 years ago, Ford Motor Company had a “sociological department” of investigators who monitored Ford workers’ off-duty conduct to ensure those employees didn’t drink too much, kept their homes clean and “properly” spent their leisure time.

About two weeks ago, an employer in San Francisco announced a new policy prohibiting the use of all tobacco products on its property by employees, even while on break and even while in their personal cars. With the new rule comes the introduction of a team of “tobacco-free ambassadors” to advise workers of the prohibition. It’s not the first employer to implement a tobacco-free policy, and probably not the last.

The new policy, like the old one at the turn of the last century, is apt to reignite a debate over workers’ right to privacy and the freedom to do what they want in their free time. Unquestionably, the goal of tobacco free-policies in the workplace is noble. Thousands die of smoking-related illnesses every year, cigarette butts litter smoking areas, and most find that smoke just plain smells bad. Even more important, the workplace at issue here is effectively a hospital environment with numerous medical patients. In announcing its new policy, the hospital itself acknowledges that nicotine forms an addiction as bitterly painful as any to break. (To its substantial credit, UCSF will provide free nicotine replacement gum to help with cravings).

Employer regulation of off-duty conduct has led to numerous laws across the country. In California, for example, Labor Code section 98.6 prohibits terminating or in any way discriminating against an employee because he or she engaged in “lawful conduct occurring during nonworking hours away from the employer’s premises.” Whether smoking in one’s car during a lunch break qualifies as protected off-duty conduct remains to be seen. Either way, those taking part in the inevitable debate over this issue should be mindful of the important interests on both sides. Successfully striking a balance between employee freedoms and patient/coworker rights to a smoke-free environment is going to be as difficult as going cold turkey ever was.

Daniel Velton

About Daniel Velton

Daniel Velton began his career with the largest labor and employment law firm in the world. Using that experience, he brings valuable knowledge and perspective to his current practice, in which he exclusively represents employees in individual and class action discrimination, wrongful termination, harassment, wage and hour, and other employment cases.

Is franchising the new frontier for wage theft? 1

Is franchising the new frontier for wage theft?

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-headline-franchise-opportunities-image24730347

By Monique Olivier

The woman who empties your trash in your office, moving quietly around you at your desk as you finish that late night project – did you know there is a good chance she “owns” her own cleaning business?

At least that is what companies like Jani-King, Coverall and Jan-Pro would have you believe, and want the courts to believe as well.  Their business model relies upon the fiction that these janitors — having paid thousands of dollars in cash up front to buy the right to clean — will reap the rewards of being entrepreneurs.

In fact, these janitors do not even control their own wallets, let alone their professional destinies.  A key distinction between a “janitorial franchise” and, say, a McDonald’s is that the janitors have no right to control the stream of income they recognize.  Franchisors like Jani-King hold all of the cleaning contracts and grant or refuse permission to franchisees to clean particular accounts.  They also dictate the terms of the accounts – when a janitor will clean, what a janitor will clean and how much the janitor will be paid for each cleaning job.

Sound suspiciously like the janitors are employees?  Several courts and experts think so, and cases decided in the realm of cleaning franchise litigation are being closely watched by business and workers alike.

A case against Jani-King currently pending in the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Juarez v. Jani-King International, may provide guidance as to whether these so-called “franchisees” are, in fact, employees under California law.  In Massachusetts, a federal district court already ruled in favor of similar workers, deciding that classifying them as independent contractors instead of employees was against the law.  Another Massachusetts court, in a case filed against Coverall North America, not only concluded that its cleaning worker “franchisees” were employees  under the Massachusetts Independent Contractor Law, but pointed out the similarity between its self-described “franchising business” and a Ponzi scheme.

Boston University’s David Weil agrees.  According to his excellent research, janitorial franchisors’ profitability (which can be upwards of 40%) depends on a steady stream of fees from new “franchisees,” regardless of whether there is sufficient work to sustain the ones it already has.

Recently, the National Employment Law Project weighed in on other widely recognized abuses by so-called “franchise” cleaning companies in the commercial cleaning industry. In a friend-of-the-court brief filed in the Juarez case on behalf of a coalition of workers’ rights organizations, NELP reviews the janitorial industry’s abysmal scorecard on fair pay and working conditions, arguing that janitorial franchising schemes enable rampant non-compliance with basic labor standards.

Even the U.S. Department of Labor has gotten into the act.  Its 2012 proposed budget targets misclassification of workers as an important enforcement priority, noting that the janitorial industry has a higher rate of violations than many other industries.

What it comes down to is this – sophisticated corporations, dissatisfied with earning money the old-fashioned way, are tricking unskilled low-wage workers into paying  thousands of dollars for the privilege of cleaning America’s office buildings in the futile pursuit of a fake American Dream.  The time is now for the courts and the government to rein in these abuses.

Monique Olivier

About Monique Olivier

Monique Olivier is a partner at Duckworth Peters Lebowitz Olivier LLP where she represents individuals and classes in employment, civil rights and consumer cases at the trial and appellate levels. She frequently speaks on and writes about class action and employment issues. She also makes a mean pulled pork.

Getting a job should not require giving up an important constitutional right 1

Getting a job should not require giving up an important constitutional right

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-contract-image29003522By Nicolas Orihuela

Imagine if a private individual, paid by the wealthier or well-connected party in a dispute, got to decide if the government had the right to curtail your free speech, or if an employer could terminate you because of your religious beliefs, or if the police had the right to abuse your fellow citizens, would you want this system of justice?  Of course not — the deck would be stacked against you at the start.

That’s what happens to employees who are forced to sign an arbitration agreement, which is that buried clause in the employment contract that requires all employment disputes to be resolved through arbitration as opposed to the traditional civil justice system.  In a recent study concerning employment arbitrations before the American Arbitration Association, one of the largest arbitration service providers in the country, the win rate of employees was a meager 21.4% (compared to a win rate of 36.4% in federal court and a win rate of 59% in California state court).  That same study revealed that in arbitration employees tend to obtain smaller awards compared to employees who prevail in jury trials.  Also, as the paying customer of these arbitrators, employers tend to improve their win rates in arbitration by using the same arbitration service provider multiple times (known as the “repeat player” effect).  Under one analysis, the win rate among employees drops from 23.4% to 12.0% when there is a repeat employer-arbitrator pairing.

In today’s world where arbitration agreements are becoming ubiquitous, getting a job now often means signing away your Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial.  The founders of our country, who knew this right was vitally important to a democratic republic, wrote it into the original Bill of Rights, along with the right to freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, and the right to an attorney in a criminal case.  The Seventh Amendment was no accident.  The right to have your peers sit in judgment of your civil case was considered indispensable to a functional democracy and a powerful check on the government and the well-connected.

In the courts, employees are not going down without a fight.  Many battle their employers for the right to be heard in civil court.  But victory is not assured..  The question of whether the courts will respect the Seventh Amendment or side with employers’ one-sided agreements is still undecided.  The question may soon come to a head in the California Supreme Court.

Recently, the California Supreme Court granted review in two cases that exemplify what is wrong with arbitration agreements forced upon employees.  In Leos v. Darden Restaurants, Inc., a female employee was subjected to workplace sex harassment.  When she filed a complaint in civil court, the employer argued that an arbitration agreement forced upon her at the beginning of her employment required her to submit her claims to arbitration.  As is typical of many, it favored the employer, who retained the right to amend or modify the agreement at any time, placed barriers on the employee’s ability to obtain information essential to reveal evidence of wrongdoing, and exempted arbitration claims that only the  employer could  pursue against the employee.  While the Court of Appeal agreed that the arbitration agreement was unfairly forced upon the employee, it still concluded that the employer was entitled to enforce it.  If this is not unfair, then what is?

Leos is to be decided together with Baltazar v. Foreover 21, Inc., a sexual and racial harassment case involving a similar forced arbitration agreement: The employee was told, “sign it, or no job.”  As in Leos, the agreement  covered only claims that an employee is likely to bring  (e.g., discrimination claims, wage and hour claims, etc.).

Both Leos and Baltazar represent the typical scenario that employees face on the first day of a new job. These court of appeal rulings represent a troubling trend towards overlooking the real world disparities in power that produce unfair arbitration agreements.  While both courts agreed that the  agreements were unfairly forced upon the employee, they still held that they  were enforceable contracts.

In both cases what is at stake is much larger than contract interpretation and defenses to contract formation.  What is at stake is preserving  employees’ Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial and preventing the unfair and biased process of forced arbitration.

It’s now up to the California Supreme Court finally to say what is obvious — forced arbitration agreements are an abuse of power that violate employees’ constitutional rights — and to act accordingly, by refusing to enforce them.

Nicolas Orihuela

About Nicolas Orihuela

Nicolas Orihuela is a founding partner of the employment law firm of Hurwitz, Orihuela & Hayes, LLP and has been practicing since 2002. He represents employees in race discrimination, sex harassment, wrongful termination and disability discrimination related cases. He also handles wage and hour cases.

Swipe paycard, have wages swiped

Swipe paycard, have wages swiped

By Daniel Velton

When you make minimum wage at $8 an hour, you expect it to actually be $8 an hour. Not $7, not $7.25, not $7.99.

Reinforcing that obvious principle, federal consumer protection regulators last week issued a bulletin warning employers that they cannot force workers to accept wages on pay cards, many of which later lead to surprise fees for withdrawing the money those workers have already earned.

Across the country almost 4 million households have someone who receives their wages on a payroll card, according to a recent survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The cards, often issued to workers without a bank account, have led to numerous complaints about undisclosed fees those employees encounter when trying to access the funds.

In June, a Pennsylvania woman filed a class action lawsuit against the McDonald’s franchise where she worked based on alleged minimum wage violations caused by a pay card system that charged her and other workers to withdraw their earnings. In her case, the pay cards allegedly charged between $1.50 and $5 for each withdrawal.

Why all the noise over a few bucks here or pennies there? First, minimum wage workers rely on every last cent of their income to make ends meet, and paying fees on a regular basis to receive that income adds up. Second, the payroll industry is a $25-45 billion sector. Processing pay stubs and physical checks for companies with thousands of employees costs a lot of money. In other words, cutting out those processes (for example, by implementing mandatory pay card systems) results in tremendous cost savings and a net benefit on the corporate bottom line. Banks, who charge the withdrawal fees on pay cards, win big too. There is only one loser in this picture.

Nevertheless, pay cards can be put to good use. In principle, they provide easy access to wages for workers without bank accounts, preventing them, among other things, from having to make regular trips to a check cashing business that charges transaction fees.

California lawmakers have tried to regulate the use of pay cards. A couple years ago, Senate Bill 931 passed in spite of fierce opposition from business and banking interests. The Governor, however, did not sign the bill, stating that it would impose numerous and costly new requirements on pay card providers. At the same time, he recognized that “reasonable protections are needed for those who use pay cards” and vowed to work with legislators on a regulatory solution.

With the growing use of pay cards across the country, lawmakers who revisit this important issue should keep in mind that people already work hard for their wages. They shouldn’t have to pay for them too.

Daniel Velton

About Daniel Velton

Daniel Velton began his career with the largest labor and employment law firm in the world. Using that experience, he brings valuable knowledge and perspective to his current practice, in which he exclusively represents employees in individual and class action discrimination, wrongful termination, harassment, wage and hour, and other employment cases.

Abercrombie & Fitch doesn’t get it when it comes to diversity

In 2010, Abercrombie & Fitch fired a 19-year old Muslim stock clerk who wore a hijab to work with the permission of her local manager.  In answer to her EEOC charge of religious discrimination, the company argued  that any deviation from its “Look Policy” would place an “undue hardship” on its California beach inspired Hollister brand.  Federal District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers didn’t buy it.

In her recent op ed in the Sacramento Bee, CELA VOICE contributor Charlotte Fishman explains how its adherence to a rigid appearance code ran afoul of federal and state law mandating religious accommodation in the workplace.

Charlotte Fishman

About Charlotte Fishman

Charlotte Fishman is a San Francisco attorney with over 30 years of experience handling employment discrimination cases on the plaintiff side. In 2005 she launched Pick Up the Pace, dedicated to overcoming barriers to women’s advancement in the workplace through legal advocacy and public education. She has authored amicus curiae briefs in major cases before the United States and California Supreme Court and writes and speaks to a wide audience on cutting edge employment issues affecting women.

Raising the minimum wage 1

Raising the minimum wage

By Elizabeth Kristen

Last night the California legislature approved Assembly Bill 10 (Luis Alejo (D-Salinas)) to raise the California minimum wage to $10 by 2016,  with Governor Brown indicating he will sign the bill.

When enacted, AB 10 will raise current California minimum wage from $8 to $9 on July 1, 2014 and then to $10 on January 1, 2016.

While California’s minimum wage at $8 per hour has been significantly higher than the federal rate of $7.25, the legislature had not increased California minimum wage since 2008.  To counter the effects of a stagnant state minimum wage, some cities like San Francisco and San Jose have passed on their own higher minimum wages (at $10.55 and $10), respectively.

This summer has seen significant activism to raise the minimum wage.  July 24th was the National Day of Action to Raise the Minimum Wage, marking the four-year anniversary since the federal minimum wage was raised to $7.25 per hour.  In the last 30 years, Congress has voted to raise the minimum wage just three times. The current value of minimum wage today is nearly a third lower than it was in 1968.  Meanwhile, chief executives at the nation’s top corporations have seen a median wage increase of 16 percent in the last year alone.

It is no surprise that income inequality has risen nationally, but few realize that California ranks third worst in the country when it comes to the income gap between rich and poor.

AB 10’s minimum wage increases would go a long way toward closing this gap.

Raising the minimum wage will benefit working families.  According to the Economic Policy Institute, women constitute 55% of the workers who benefit from raising the federal minimum wage.  In the restaurant industry, women make up 66% of the workers paid the federal sub-minimum wage.  More than 25% of those who would benefit are parents.  The burden of low wages also falls disproportionately on people of color who are 42% of minimum wage earners despite being only 32% of the total workforce.

In addition to improving the lives of workers, increased wages will increase consumer spending, benefitting the economy overall.

At the national level, pending legislation would raise the minimum wage to $9.80 in three phases and then index it to inflation.  The federal legislation would also raise the sub-minimum wage paid for tipped workers (which has not been raised since 1991) from $2.13 in 85 cent increments until it reaches 70% of the minimum wage.

Recent community actions have drawn greater attention to this issue of low wages. For example, workers at places such as McDonalds and Taco Bell have been staging one-day walkouts to protest their low wages.  The New York Times described a worker, Ana Salvador, whose job is at a fast food restaurant inside the Smithsonian Institution’s Air & Space Museum, did not pay enough to support her four children.  She had to rely on food stamps and Medicaid to help her family.

While AB 10 is great progress for California, federal lawmakers need to raise the minimum wage and at all levels policy makers must institute meaningful change to wage policies to ensure workers nationwide can support themselves, their families and the economy.

Elizabeth Kristen

About Elizabeth Kristen

Elizabeth Kristen is the Director of the Gender Equity & LGBT Rights Program and a senior staff attorney at Legal Aid at Work.  Ms. Kristen began her public interest career as a Skadden Fellow at Legal Aid.  Ms. Kristen graduated from University of California at Berkeley School of Law in 2001 and served as a law clerk to the Honorable James R. Browning on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.  In 2012-13, she served as a Harvard law School Wasserstein Public Interest Fellow.  She has been a lecturer at Berkeley Law School since 2008. Legal Aid at Work together with the California Women’s Law Center and Equal Rights Advocates make up the California Fair Pay Collaborative dedicated to engaging and informing Californians about fair pay issues.

50 is not the new 30 when you need a job 5

By Scott R. Ames

I’m turning 50 on Saturday, and my wife and friends tell me that “50 is the new 30.”  There’s even a blog named after this phrase.

While gyms and trendy cafés are filled with these “50 are the new 30 year-olds,” the job market tells a much different and more sobering story.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, when older workers lose their jobs, the re-employment rate for individuals between 55 and 64 is 47 percent (dropping to 24 percent for those over 65), compared with a 62 percent re-employment rate for 20 to 54 year-olds.  The average length of unemployment for older workers is 46 weeks, compared with 20 weeks for younger workers.  When older workers find new employment, their median salary loss is 18 percent compared with a 6.7 percent drop for 20 to 24 year-olds.

This data doesn’t match the rosy picture my wife is painting about me turning 50.  And it gets worse.  In 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court issued Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc., 129 S.Ct. 2343 (2009), making it harder to win age discrimination claims brought under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act than claims brought on race, sex, and other bases covered by Title VII.  Under California law, the standards are the same but some courts seem to require more evidence of age-related comments and age-bashing than they do for other forms of discrimination.

For example, in Sandell v. Taylor-Listug, Inc. 188 Cal.App.4th 297 (2010), a San Diego Superior Court judge dismissed 60-year old Robert Sandell’s age and disability discrimination lawsuit  before trial, despite being provided with evidence that Mr. Sandell was replaced by a younger employee, that the company’s President stated at meetings that he wanted to replace older workers with younger employees, that employees over 50 were being replaced with substantially younger new hires, and that the company’s founder told Mr. Sandell that he “is old” and is “getting up there.”  Fortunately, the Court of Appeals reversed the San Diego Superior Court’s decision and allowed Mr. Sandell’s case to go before a jury, but this case highlights the uphill battle employees face when bringing claims based on age discrimination.

Finally, the social, emotional and financial impact on older workers who lose their jobs can be  devastating.  People are living longer and are having children later in life, and many cannot afford to “retire” or be forced out of work in their 50s, 60s or even 70s.  In addition, an employee over 50 may have worked for the same employer for many years, so that losing a job results in the loss  of an integral social network.

As I approach 50, my professional commitment to advancing the rights of older workers has become a little more personal.  Jokes about “Having a senior moment” no longer sound so funny or hit a little too close to home, because in the job market 50 is definitely not the new 30.

Scott Ames

About Scott Ames

Scott Ames has been litigating wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, family and medical leave, breach of contract, wage and hour violations, unfair competition and trade secret matters, and other employee rights cases for over two decades. Mr. Ames’ demonstrated record of success has resulted in him being named among the Top 100 Attorneys in Southern California in 2012 and 2013, a “Southern California Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine from 2007 through 2014, and a “Best Lawyer in America” from 2006 through 2014. Mr. Ames is also active in his community, and has served on a number of committees and boards of non-profit organizations which seek to improve the lives of the disenfranchised or working poor.

Celebrating Labor Day 3

Celebrating Labor Day

By Joan Herrington

What does Labor Day mean to you?  A day to sleep in, to fire up the BBQ, to organize school supplies, or to hit the sales?  How about a day to remember the Pullman strike?  The what? Why?

Labor Day was established in 1894 after federal troops killed workers during the Pullman strike.

Pullman railroad workers lived in company towns, rented company houses, and bought their goods in company stores…all at company-set prices.  They were fired if they tried to unionize.  When George Pullman slashed his railroad workers’ pay by 25%, they could no longer afford to live in Pullman Town.  To protest their non-living wage, Pullman employees went on a “wildcat” strike.  Over the next six days, to show solidarity for Pullman workers, over 100,000 railroad union members cross-country refused to service trains with Pullman cars.  At George Pullman’s request, United States Attorney General Richard Olney obtained a federal court injunction against the strikers, and federal troops were sent in to enforce it.

After federal troops killed some of the workers on strike, the trains started running again.  But scandal erupted when the public learned Olney was also a director of Pullman’s railroad.  In other words, Olney, the head of a taxpayer-funded federal agency obtained a federal court order and used federal troops to protect his own and corporate interests against striking workers.  Outraged at this abuse of power, rioters spread from city to city, causing 30 deaths and millions of dollars in damage.  To restore calm, within the next week, a bill establishing Labor Day as a national holiday honoring “the strength and spirit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” was rushed through Congress and signed by President Grover Cleveland.

The battle for a living wage continues to this day.

This Labor Day, some 15 million American workers struggle to live on minimum wage earnings. Just last week, fast food workers went out on strike for a living wage. 

Earlier this year, Acting Secretary of the United States Department of Labor Seth Harris travelled around the country to hear testimony in support of the proposed Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour by 2015.  He listened to: a store clerk who doesn’t know how she will support herself and her five-year-old son since her employer cut her hours of work; a homeless shelter worker who often lives without power because she can’t afford to pay her bill; a solo father who sells his own blood so his two children won’t go to bed hungry.

Reflecting on the people he met, Harris stated:

I’ve met workers of every age, race, ethnicity and background. In superficial ways, they could have not been more different. But what unites all of them is this: the desire to work hard and the opportunity to make life better for themselves and their families. Too many of them are stuck at a wage that forces them to depend on the generosity of community organizations, family, friends or government just to stay above water. I haven’t met anyone who is looking for a handout. To the contrary, they just want a fair wage so they don’t have to rely on others.

The bill to raise the minimum wage is still stuck in Congress.  Why not honor this Labor Day by contacting your Congressional representative and ask him or her to support The Fair Wage Act of 2013?

Click here to find contact information for your Congressional representative or here for more information on The Fair Wage Act of 2013.

Joan Herrington

About Joan Herrington

As a former Administrative Law Judge with the California Fair Employment and Housing Commission, Joan focuses on protecting employment rights. Joan helps the Department of Fair Employment and Housing enforce the Fair Employment and Housing Act by representing employees in lawsuits, such as discrimination and harassment based on race, national origin, color, pregnancy, sex, sexual orientation, disability, medical condition, age, and religion. Joan also focuses on protecting employees and whistleblowers from unlawful retaliation. As a qualified and experienced mediator, Joan also helps resolve employment disputes.

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