Equal Pay Act and the Civil Rights Act How Are These Related To Each Other

Discrimination has many forms and offenders have different means of doing it. This sad state of things has continued to exist. There might be a perceivable drop in the incidence of different forms of discrimination in the workplace. However, there are some discriminating acts, such as giving irrational differences in the pay given to different employees that actually deserve to get more. This is a more serious problem in a way because of its subtle approach that causes real, tangible effects to the victims of it.

The Equal Pay Act

Originated in 1963, this United States federal law amended the Fair Labor Standards Act that aims to abolish wage disparity based on sex. With this law, one receives equal pay for equal work. While there is no need for jobs to be identical, as long as these are substantially equal. All forms of pay are covered by this law. It includes salary, overtime pay, bonuses, stock options, profit sharing and bonus plans, life insurance, vacation and holiday pay, cleaning or gasoline allowances, hotel accommodations, reimbursement for travel expenses, and benefits. If a case of inequality happens, a company can never lower or reduce the wages of either sex just to equalize their pay.

Filing a complaint under the Equal Pay Act

If you think that you are a victim of this inequality in the pay you are receiving, you must go directly to court. You do not need to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) first to be able to file the charges to the courts. However, there is a time limit for filing an EPA charge with the EEOC. Within two years of the alleged event of unlawful compensation practice. In case of a willful violation though, the time limit for filing a complaint is higher at three years. One must not forget though that the filing of an EEOC charge under the EPA does not extend the time frame for going to court.

The Equal Pay Act and Different Acts of Discrimination Connection

The Equal Pay Act and the different acts of discrimination are somewhat connected. People get unequal pays just because of their sex, age, race, ethnicity, religion, disability, and many other unethical reasons. Under the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Pay Act, these are clear violations and you can file charges against those responsible for such abuse. That is why these laws are very much interconnected to make sure that there would be no loopholes when these are implemented.

Everybody has rights. No matter what their color, age, sex, race, ethnicity, or religion, and even if they have disabilities. Everybody should be respected and be treated equally no matter what their looks or physical capability. And so, if you ever experience being harassed, discriminated against and looked down on you, never take things sitting down. File the necessary charges at one, present pieces of evidence to prove your claim and work with a good employment Lawyer and protect your rights now!

EmploymentAttorneyServices.com is a law firm based in Los Angeles, California. Our law firm has more than 15 years of experience in providing legal assistance to employers and aggrieved employees.

Don’t Follow Your Doctor’s Orders – Your Legal Rights As an Injured Worker

Rosalie is a bus driver. Before the end of her shift, on a particularly rainy day, Rosalie walked up and down the aisle to make sure that no personal belongings were left on the bus. She slipped in a puddle that had formed on the floor from the rain that had been tracked in from her route. Instinctually, Rosalie tried to break her fall by holding out her hands, which resulted in a fractured wrist. Fortunately, Rosalie did not hit her head, but she also strained her back when she fell. Because Rosalie had already returned to the bus station, she was able to yell for help and seek medical attention right away. It was obvious that Rosalie’s wrist was broken so she was sent to the emergency room right away which resulted in surgery to correct her fracture. While the surgeon told her that it would take about 6 – 9 weeks for her wrist to heal, she could start “light” duty at work and physical therapy after a couple of weeks depending on how well she was healing. After about 3 weeks, Rosalie returned to work and was given “light” office duty as she wouldn’t be able to drive bus for a while. When it was time for Rosalie to start physical therapy, she chose a doctor from the list of workers’ compensation doctors. At first, Rosalie struggled with physical therapy but she thought it was because it was new. After a week or two, Rosalie felt no change and she didn’t feel comfortable with some of her therapist’s methods. She chose a second doctor, from the list, who also seemed to do very little for her. After rejecting the company doctor, she found a different physical therapist (who was not a workers’ compensation doctor) and almost immediately saw and felt better results.

Because Rosalie chose a doctor other than from the Posted Panel of Physicians, her employer has warned her that the current cost of her medical expenses may not be covered, even though her injuries occurred while on the job. Rosalie had cooperated with her employer by choosing doctors from the posted panel, but felt like she needed to take action in her own hands, in order to stop suffering from the pain of her work related injuries. Rosalie does not want to lose her job or her doctor, so she has decided to seek legal advice.

What You Need to do if You are Injured at Work

If you are injured at work, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. In the State of Georgia, an injured employee must be given the opportunity to choose a physician from the Posted Panel of Physicians and should be explained the Employee’s Bill of Rights (as provided by law). An employer is responsible for such procedures, in addition to reporting the injury, as failure to do so may result in a number of issues including employer penalties and an employee’s delayed return to the workplace.

While it is important for the injured employee to work together and communicate with the employer, medical care and treatment is the number one priority. If a worker is unsatisfied with the care received from a Workers’ Compensation doctor, another can be chosen from the list of physicians. An injured-on-the-job worker should not be held accountable for any of the financial responsibilities related to the incident. If you, as an injured worker, are unsure about your medical care or financial responsibilities, it’s best to contact a legal professional who has experience with Workers’ Compensation Claims.

If you have suffered an on the job injury, your only worry should concern getting better and healing, not the financial stress and worry of who will cover your medical costs.

Stopping an Employee Working for a Competitor – Do Restrictive Covenants Really Work

This is an issue that rears its head very regularly. The employer has invested a lot of time and resources in training the employee and providing that employee with experience that ultimately would be attractive to competitors. The general approach to such covenants is that the narrower the restriction the more likely such covenants will bind the employee. To illustrate that point, if the period of the non-compete clause is six months, as opposed to twelve months, and refers only to a competitor in, say, a local town as opposed to the entire State, then it is more likely that the restrictive covenant will bind the employee. That can fairly be described as the general approach of the law, but of course much depends on the facts of each case, and two cases illustrate that point.

In a recent Irish case the judgment does in my view illustrate the difficulties for employers. In that case the employee worked for a telecommunications company and there was clause in the contract that restricted him from working for a competitor for a period of 6 months. He was offered employment by a direct competitor,and gave notice of his resignation to his employer. The employer told the employee that he was prohibited from taking up his role with its competitor for a period of six months, and correspondence ensued between their respective lawyers. Both telecommunications companies reached an agreement which meant that the non-compete clause would be reduced to a period of just over three months. In effect, the employee would not be paid a salary for a period just in excess of three months. In a rather unusual twist, the employee through his solicitors brought an injunction to restrain his former employer from preventing him taking up his new employment. One must realise that injunctions are granted rather reluctantly by the Courts, particularly in relation to employment contracts, and it is generally accepted that an injunction will not be granted if damages, or compensation, is a more appropriate remedy. The judge, however, decided that there was a fair case to be tried, even though the only loss to the employee would be three months salary. The point this illustrates in my view is that the Courts in Ireland are reluctant to enforce non-compete clauses, and one reason for that is that the employee has a limited ability to negotiate when entering into the contract of employment. The employer has clearly greater bargaining power at the point of employment, so the employee has no option but to accept the restrictive covenants. That being said non-compete clauses do in my experience have a persuasive effect on the employee, and do influence the decision as to whether to leave to work for a competitor or not. All things considered, it is better to include a non-compete clause particularly where the employee will be privy to sensitive information and practices which could be of value to a competitor.

A recent English case does potentially give employers more cause for comfort with restrictive covenants. In that case there was a restrictive covenant in the employment contract preventing the employee for six months after he left the employment from working with any existing customer with whom the employer had business dealings. In August 2013, the employer lost a valuable contract to a competitor, and the employee resigned and in effect began working for the competitor providing the same services they had provided while in their previous employ. The former employer wrote to the employee pointing out that he was in breach of restrictive covenants and threatened an injunction if the employee did not provide an undertaking, or a written promise, that he would honour the covenants. The employee took legal advice and gave his former employee this undertaking. The employee then tried to renege on his undertaking after the new employer agreed that it would meet any legal costs incurred if the former employer was to sue.

The former employer acted on their threat and subsequently applied to the High Court for an injunction. The final decision of the High Court was to refuse to grant the employer its injunction because the Judge decided it was a disproportionate response and it would serve no legal purpose, as the former employer had lost the contract to their competitor. What is relevant to this briefing is what the High Court decided in relation to the restrictive covenants.

The High Court noted in particular that the employee had entered into the undertaking after he had left the employment, so there was not the presumption of unequal bargaining power that exists between the employer and employee when the initial contract of employment is signed. It was also important of course that the employee had received legal advice before entering into the undertaking post-employment. The High Court noted that ordinarily when dealing with restrictive covenants the employer is required to prove that such clauses are reasonably necessary to protect legitimate business interests. In this case, the Judge reversed the burden of proof on the employees because they had signed the undertaking post-employment. The onus was on the employees to prove that setting aside the restrictive covenant was justified and the High Court decided that the employees had failed to do this.

While the High Court refused to grant the employer’s injunction which is broadly in line with the practice generally in Ireland and the UK, it does illustrate the benefit of getting employees re-affirm covenants when they terminate the employment, and this can be achieved by means of a settlement or termination agreement. It might not get the employer over the line if he should bring an injunction, but certainly should improve his prospects and again actively dissuade an employee from breaching the particular restrictive covenant.

Employment Law Advice for Small to Medium Businesses

For those of you who are starting a business or to existing business owners, the rules surrounding employment law can become very complicated when you are looking to employ other people. However, as difficult as it may be, it is important for you to become familiar with these rules in order to comply with you legal responsibilities as an employer. Different laws will apply to different countries, so it is essential to become aware of the laws that will be applicable to you so that you can protect your business and prevent any future litigation. Here are some main areas of employment law that you will need to be familiar with.

Contract of Employment

It will be necessary to provide your employees with a written statement of the terms of employment when they start their employment with you. The main topics you would need to account for within the terms of employment, include, the name of the parties to the agreement, job description, hours of work, details of pay, both employer and employee obligations, place of work and holiday pay entitlement. Although this list is not complete and you may want to add some extra terms that may be relevant to your business. This ensures both you and your employees are fully aware of the obligations under the contract of employment. Should any disputes arise in the future, you can always refer back to the contract of employment in support of your case.

Discrimination

It is important to become aware of discrimination laws, as damages awarded for unlawful discrimination can be high. As an employer you should do all that you can to prevent unlawful discrimination at your place of work. Do not discriminate against someone because of their race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or if they have a certain disability. This can also apply when you are advertising and interviewing candidates for job roles. You should select those candidates based on the specific skill required for that job. Try to ensure that you provide equal opportunities to all your workers.

Vicarious Liability

As an employer, you will be legally liable for the acts of all of your staff. So it is important to take any complaints of bullying or harassment from other workers seriously and investigate them thoroughly. Ensuring you have a grievance procedure in place for dealing with these sorts of issues will also be useful.

Minimum Wage

Within some countries, employers are under a legal duty to pay their workers the national minimum wage. Usually, this is worked out based on the workers age and what year they started employment with you. If you already have a contract of employment in place that pays below the minimum wage, the contract will not be legally binding, so it is always best to check if you are complying with these rules.

Health and Safety in the Workplace

It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure a safe, working environment is maintained for all workers and members of the public that enter the premises. It is therefore wise to carry out a thorough risk assessment of the work place as well as for each employee and comply with all health and safety regulations, to avoid any negligence claims. The assessments you chose to carry out will depend on the nature of your business, even simple tasks such as ensuring spillages are cleaned up, signs are placed clearly indicating any potential hazards, providing protective clothing and storing hazardous substances appropriately will help to avoid negligence claims.

Although employment law sounds like a minefield, being aware of the rules and seeking advice could go a long way to help protect your business. There are lots of resources online that may help you with this and if you are really confused, prevention is always better and seeking out advice from employment law specialists might work better for you.

Sayse Services provide a claims management service for employees who have been treated unfairly at work. The website contains a substantial amount of free information on employment law.

Do Privately Owned Companies Get Away With More FLSA and EEOC Violations

In the purest definition, privately owned companies do not need to meet the same strict Securities and Exchange Commission filing requirements as do public companies. This means they are not required by law (in most instances) to disclose detailed financial and operating information; they have much more latitude in deciding what types of information to make available to the public.

But what of other employment practices? Recruitment, hiring processes, retention and termination policies? Are privately owned businesses exempt from federal labor laws? The simple answer is no.

If you’ve found yourself working for a privately owned business that is engaged in wrongful labor practices you might be unsure of where to go and to whom to report your misgivings. Should you contact a private attorney? Is there an agency you can call and report your concerns?

Reporting FLSA Violations

The Fair Labor Standards Act [FLSA] is a federal statute of the United States. It is a compliance based statute that ensures companies are following federal labor guidelines. FLSA regulations could affect a wide range of your employment policy, including (among other areas) wages and overtime pay. So, do these compliance guidelines affect employees in the private sector, Federal, state and/or local governments? The answer is: All of the above.

In addition to FLSA compliance, privately owned companies must comply with laws regulating decisions with the NLRA, ADA, FMLA, protected groups at risk for discrimination (age, race, etc.) and certain hiring practices.

In fact, many employers and employees alike are surprised to learn that privately owned business are subject to the requirements of the NLRA even if they do not have any unionized employees. With only a few exceptions, the NLRA applies to all private employers who are engaged in interstate commerce.

National Labor Relations Act – NLRA

The National Labor Relations Act was passed in 1935 by Congress to protect the rights of employees and employers. One of the provisions of the act was to encourage collective bargaining and to curtail certain private sector labor and management practices. Simply put, the law guarantees basic rights of private sector employees to organize into unions; engage in collective bargaining; and take collective action. These unions, often trade unions, strive to orchestrate better terms and conditions at work.

Remember, these Acronym-laws (as I call them) were put in place to protect employees from mishandled and exploited labor regulations. There are currently no laws in place to restrain callous and unkind employment practices; this might mean simple teasing or isolated incidents that are not extremely serious. An uncomfortable work environment is not against the law.

But what if the callousness and unkindness turns to harassment? When does the law apply to the privately owned business? Answer: If the conduct is so objectively offensive as to alter conditions of the individual’s employment; If there is clear cut harassment or hostility directed specifically towards protected class workers; If there are compensation violations; If there are tangible and unlawful hiring or termination practices – or all things in between: demotion, failure to promote, etc.; If there are EEOC violations.

The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission

When prohibited labor practices are conducted, there are resources at your disposal. If you feel you are the victim of discrimination, for example, contact the EEOC. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits companies from making employment decision based on race, religion, sex (but not in all instances sexual orientation), pregnancy or national origin. Title I and Title V of the Americans with Disability Act of 1990 prohibits employment discrimination against those with disabilities. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 protects workers 40 and older.

Low-wage workers pay the price of nickel-and-diming by employers

The continuing push for higher minimum wages across the country has much to recommend it, but the campaign shouldn’t keep us from recognizing a truly insidious practice that impoverishes low-wage workers all the more. It’s known as wage theft.

Wage theft, as documented in surveys, regulatory actions and lawsuits from around the country, takes many forms: Forcing hourly employees off the clock by putting them to work before they can clock in or after they clock out. Manipulating their time cards to cheat them of overtime pay. Preventing them from taking legally mandated breaks or shaving down their lunch hours. Disciplining or firing them for filing lawful complaints.

Nickel-and-diming pays well, for the employer.

A study published in 2010 by a network of employment rights organizations calculated that employment and labor law violations cost low-wage workers in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles alone an estimated $56.4 million a week. In Los Angeles, where the survey was conducted by UCLA’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, the respondents lost an average of 12.5% of their pay — $2,070 annually out of average pay of $16,500.

“Companies can save a great deal of money by cutting labor costs,” says Michael Rubin, a San Francisco labor lawyer who last month filed three lawsuits against McDonald’s Corp. and its franchisees, alleging a raft of labor law violations at the chain’s fast-food restaurants. “When you own a hundred restaurants, even small amounts add up quickly.”

The fast-food chain’s response to the lawsuits: “McDonald’s and our independent owner-operators are each committed to undertaking a comprehensive investigation of the allegations and will take any necessary actions as they apply to our respective organizations.” The company didn’t respond to a request for an update on its investigation.

The creativity of workplace managers to squeeze dollars from their lowest-paid employees is almost unlimited.

According to a lawsuit filed against Wal-Mart and several of its contractors running its warehouses in Riverside County, the warehouses scrapped their hourly-pay system in 2001 in favor of a piece-rate system in which all the workers on a shift shared a set rate for every trailer they either completely loaded or unloaded.

If they didn’t finish the job, they got nothing. For non-loading tasks such as sweeping, they got paid nothing. Their ability to double-check the managers’ calculations about how many workers were on each shift was nonexistent. The suit that Rubin filed on behalf of several workers seeks more than $100 million, including more than $60 million in back wages from Wal-Mart and the contractors.

Wal-Mart maintains that it’s not the owner of the warehouses and thus isn’t responsible, but U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder rejected its motion to dismiss the case in January. A motion to certify the lawsuit as a class action covering 1,800 workers is pending.

One common scam is to classify low-wage workers as “independent contractors” to evade wage and hour rules. In 2009, then-California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown obtained a $14-million judgment against two cleaning companies for cheating 300 janitors out of wages and overtime this way.

“These workers aren’t running their own businesses,” scoffs Catherine Ruckelshaus, general counsel at the National Employment Law Project. “They’re not making capital investments or calling their own shots on when they work. The idea is for them not to be protected by any rules at all.”

Most wage theft techniques are less elaborate, if no less demoralizing.

“I’ve gotten fed up and tired of being treated horribly,” says Rhonesha Victor, 24, who has seen it all during her two years working at an Oakland KFC while attending a local community college full time. She’s been denied legally required break time, had her hours cut and cheated of overtime.

One week she worked 48 hours without a day off, but her pay stub showed only 38. When she complained to her manager, he applied the missing 10 hours to her check the following week — but without the eight hours of overtime she was due.

Harman Management Corp., which operates KFC’s franchises in Oakland, said its policy is to “strictly comply with all federal, state and local wage and hour laws,” according to an email from its chief executive, Jim Olson. “Any error in payment brought to our attention is immediately addressed.”

These practices can happen anywhere employers think they can get away with them — at the cash register of a fast-food restaurant or the corridors of an office building at night or under the lights of a National Football League stadium, as a number of Oakland Raiders cheerleaders have alleged in a lawsuit being followed by my colleague Robin Abcarian.

But they’re concentrated in labor-intensive industries in which employees are low-paid, often from other countries and, in many cases, predominantly female. Trouble spots are agriculture, retail, fast food, hotel housekeeping, janitorial services and construction.

Are the authorities up to the task of policing these violations? For the most part, no. Auditing tens of thousands of contractors and businesses would be a superhuman task even for well-funded regulators, much less our chronically underfunded labor agencies.

That’s unfortunate, because in many states, including California, the penalties for violating labor laws are high enough to be a deterrent — if the violators are caught.

After California raised the penalties for willfully misclassifying workers as independent contractors in 2011 to a maximum of $25,000 per violation, one prominent law firm warned businesses that the possible assessments could reach millions of dollars and advised them to take a very close look at their cadres of independent contractors.

The alternative is the civil lawsuit, like the ones brought by Rubin against McDonald’s and Wal-Mart.

Under California’s private attorney general act, individual workers can sue employers for labor law violations on behalf of themselves and other workers; if they prevail, their attorney fees are paid by the employer and they split the penalties with the state, which gets 75%.

Like government enforcement, these cases depend on complaints from workers themselves. That’s always an obstacle, especially during economic slumps when low-wage workers are especially worried about their jobs.

“When they’re vulnerable, no enforcement is going on,” Ruckelshaus says. But as the economy has slowly improved, Rubin says, workers are becoming more willing to step forward.

Despite that, some employers and managers still try to make their numbers by squeezing their lowest-paid workers for a few extra cents. Big companies like Wal-Mart continue to hide behind webs of contractors and subcontractors to pretend they’re not responsible, but there can hardly be any doubt that it’s their relentless demand for cost-cutting and high productivity that drives this behavior.

Until they’re penalized for demands that result in cheating the workers on the shop floor, it will continue. And workers like Victor will continue to be correct in observing, “It’s not right to work hard and be treated this way.”

Management/Employee Liabilities When to Call in a Coach

Management styles can differ between reasonable people. Some employees respond more effectively to a more forceful approach while some employees react better when individually empowered. When employers fail to employ proper motivational techniques, productivity and morale may suffer. Employers who do not understand the nature of the problem may exacerbate it with ham fisted approaches. It is in these situations where executive coaches can be useful.

Increasing Organizational Morale

Morale is important for any business. Poor organizational morale will lead to friction between the organization’s various departments and an unwillingness to voice concerns to management. Interdepartmental friction and poor communication between organizational strata will substantially reduce productivity and decrease the amount of valid information that managers have to make vital decisions.

Low morale can also lead to high turnover. New employees must be oriented, trained, and otherwise integrated into the organization while departing employees take their training and skills to competitors. Employee retention is a problem for many businesses. There is a tendency among certain managers to dismiss elevated turnover rates as seasonal fluctuations or attribute them to external factors. While a consultant can be brought in to identify current organizational issues, an executive coach can train managers to identify systemic problems and address them before the problems manifest themselves in economically, or legally, damaging ways.

Avoiding Harassment Charges

In certain situations, a poor management style can result in a lawsuit for wrongful termination arising from a hostile workplace. While disgruntled employees may throw the term around with abandon, a hostile work environment actually has a specific definition. A hostile work environment is present where workplace harassment based upon legally protected characteristics has reached the point where an employee is afraid to come to work in the morning.

Legally protected characteristics include, but are not limited to, gender, race, sexual orientation, age, and disability. Employers looking to improve morale will often attempt to become friends with their employees. This common technique can help to improve the flow of organizational communication and make employees feel powered, thus making them likely to take initiative. Unfortunately, what passes for an off-color joke between friends can constitute harassment in a professional environment. Executive coaches can help managers identify the line between friendly banter and workplace harassment.

Improving Productivity

In a troubled economy with added pressure from international competitors, every business is looking for ways to do more with less. Improving employee productivity can be challenging if employees are already working at high levels of performance. Finding a good adviser, such as online in an executive coach directory, can empower managers with the tools necessary to train employees to reach their full potential and collaborate to achieve departmental and organizational objectives.

Managers must also be productive in their own right. Hard data is always useful, but demanding reams of documentation to support employee proposals may result in missed opportunities and employees feeling disinclined to bring forth further proposals. Managers who are afraid to take calculated risks in favor of empire building will harm the organization as a whole as well as their own personal careers.

Businesses make decisions based upon quantifiable data and exist to enhance shareholder wealth. At the same time, management is an art, not a science. Managers must know how to identify opportunities, motivate employees, and make important decisions while avoiding legally over-stepping their rights. Many of these skills are not taught in business school; they must be learned in the real world. Managers who wish to improve productivity and morale should consider hiring an executive coach. Coaching reinforced with real-world experience will provide managers with the tools to face the challenges posed by our changing times.

Using an executive coach to bring in outside advice for a manager and their team, assists preemptive damage control of legal issues. Please consult an employment lawyer if you are looking at bringing in a coach.