Los Angeles Employment Lawyers

You Work Hard… We Work Hard to Protect Your Workplace Rights

The workplace is like a family. In these busy times, we spend more time at work interacting with co-workers, associates, supervisors and managers than we do at home with our own family. So when something goes wrong at work, it affects us deeply. While an employer has the resources to seek legal advice, the wronged employee often feels lost and does not know who to talk to for answers to a myriad of questions. Many times, the employee does not even know that what went wrong is a violation of California law. Many times, the employee does not know that he/she has legal rights. If you have questions regarding workplace harassment, discrimination, retaliation or wage & hour issues, please do not hesitate to contact us for a free consultation by calling us at (310) 472-8073 or submit an online form. We are here to help.

Personal Attention and Aggressive Representation

With more than 58 years of combined legal experience and representing the rights of workers in Southern California, the Los Angeles employment lawyers at Hicks & Hicks have the knowledge and expertise necessary to aggressively and effectively pursue justice in the workplace.

We take pride in taking time to listen and to understand our clients' concerns and goals. Our clients know that, from the initial interview through resolution, all communications are directly between them and either Rick Hicks or Eugenia Hicks. Our Los Angeles employment lawyers believe that direct communication with our clients not only builds a strong attorney-client relationship designed to achieve the specific goals of each individual client but also strengthens our ability to effectively advocate for their workplace rights.

Sexual Harassment

The #Me Too movement has exposed the reality that, despite the fact that federal and state laws prohibit sexual harassment, an alarming number of women are harassed in the workplace. The Fair Employment and Housing Act specifically prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace. Sexual harassment creates a hostile, offensive, humiliating, distressing work environment, interferes and undermines the victim's self-esteem and personal sense of well-being, disrupts the victim's emotional tranquility and adversely affects her ability to competently perform his/her job.

Harassing conduct may include any of the following:

  • Verbal harassment, such as obscene language and gestures, demeaning comments, slurs, threats and/or unwelcome comments of a sexual nature about the Plaintiff or others; or
  • Physical harassment, such as unwanted touching, assault (attempting to touch an employee without her consent), or physical interference with normal work or movement; or
  • Visual harassment, such as using or displaying offensive objects, posters, cartoons, or drawings; or
  • Unwanted sexual advances; or
  • Excessive looking at someone's private body parts, smiling at someone's private body parts, or
  • Giving unwanted gifts/presents.

Not all conduct is considered "sexual harassment". In order for a sexual harassment claim to be legally viable, the sexual harassment needs to be either "severe or pervasive". This means conduct that alters the conditions of employment and creates a hostile or abusive work environment.

In determining whether the conduct was severe or pervasive, the trier of fact shall consider all of the circumstances and may consider any or all of the following:

  1. The nature of the conduct;
  2. How often, and over what period of time, the conduct occurred;
  3. The circumstances under which the conduct occurred;
  4. Whether the conduct was physically threatening or humiliating;
  5. The extent to which the conduct unreasonably interfered with an employee's work performance.

Employer liability depends on whether the harasser was a "supervisor" or an employee in a nonsupervisory position, such as a co-worker. Under California law, an employer is strictly liable for sexual harassment if the harasser was a supervisor. However, if the harasser was an employee who was not in a supervisory or managerial position, the employer will be liable only if the employer knew or should have known that the nonsupervisory employee engaged in sexual harassment but did nothing about it.

"Supervisor" is described as an individual who has the discretion and authority:

  • To hire, transfer, promote, assign, reward, discipline, or discharge an employee or to participate or recommend any of these actions;
  • To resolve complaints and/or grievances of other employees or to participate or recommend action or complaints on grievances; or
  • To instruct employees and direct their activities, such as determining work schedules, work hours, work placement, work duties, etc.

Once an employer has become aware of the sexual harassment, it has an obligation to take all reasonable steps necessary to make the sexual harassment stop and to take steps to prevent sexual harassment from occurring. This means the employer must conduct a prompt and impartial investigation into the sexual harassment complaint, and if it finds that the victim was sexually harassed, it must remedy the situation. The employer must also make sure that it communicates to its employees that it has a "zero tolerance" policy towards sexual harassment in the workplace by advising its employees of its strong disapproval of sexual harassment, informing its employees that they have the right to submits complaints of sexual harassment confidentially and without fear of retaliation, and instructing them on how to submit such claims.

Our law firm has litigated numerous sexual harassment cases. If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual harassment, do not hesitate to contact us for a free consultation to meet with you to discuss your concerns and provide you with legal options.

Sexual Orientation Discrimination and Gender Identity Discrimination

Sexual orientation discrimination occurs when an employee suffers an adverse employment action because of the person's sexual orientation (homosexuality, bisexuality, heterosexuality). For example, if an employee who is gay is treated differently than his co-workers -- is unfairly passed over for promotion, or is demoted, or has his/her work hours cut, or receives an unfair performance evaluation, or is excluded from meetings and training, or is suspended, or is fired -- that employee may have a viable claim for sexual orientation harassment if the reasons for the adverse employment actions were because of the employee's sexual orientation.

Sexual orientation discrimination can also occur when an employer perceives the employee is gay, even if he/she is not, and, based on the mistaken belief that the employee is gay, takes an adverse employment action against that employee. It is also unlawful to discriminate against someone who is associated with someone who is gay. For example, if an employee is the child of parents who are gay, he/she may have a claim against the employer if the employer knew and acted in a way that negatively impacted the employee's job because of the employee's association with someone who is gay.

A related type of unlawful discrimination is transgender discrimination. Some individuals do not identify as male or female. California law protects non-gender conforming individuals who do not identify with the sex they were assigned at birth and who express their identity through dress, behavior, voice and body language in a way which is not stereotypically associated with their assigned sex at birth. Transgender employees have the right to work in a work environment free of discrimination. For example, a transgender employee has the right to use a workplace restroom that corresponds to the employee's gender identity regardless of the employee's assigned sex at birth.

If you believe you have suffered discrimination in the workplace because of your sexual orientation or gender identity, you need knowledgeable and compassionate attorneys who will listen to you, discuss your legal options and provide you with aggressive advocacy.

Pregnancy Discrimination

The California Constitution and the Fair Employment and Housing Act protect women who are pregnant as well as new mothers who have recently given birth. Pregnant women deserve special attention because they are especially vulnerable in the workplace. If a woman loses her job while she is pregnant because of her pregnancy, it is extremely difficult for her to find substitute comparable employment. A fired pregnant employee undoubtedly experiences a great deal of stress as she has now found herself in the midst of financial uncertainty and is overwhelmed with concerns about the health care needs for her and her baby.

Pregnancy discrimination appears in many forms. A pregnant woman who is denied intermittent leave as reasonable accommodation for her pregnancy-related illness, such as severe morning sickness, may be the victim of pregnancy discrimination.

Similarly, if an employer refuses to provide a pregnant woman with the right to take a medical leave due to childbirth or due to a medical condition related to childbirth, the employer may have engaged in unlawful pregnancy discrimination.

If you are pregnant and have concerns about how you are being treated at work, you need an experience attorney who can help you navigate through the complex rules and regulations pertaining to pregnancy and pregnancy-related illness. Contact Hicks and Hicks. We are here to help.

Disability Discrimination

A disabled employee is a person who has a physical or mental impairment which makes one or more major life activities more difficult. California's Fair Employment and Housing Act defines disability very broadly and includes a wide range of disorders, diseases and conditions including but not limited to, back and spine conditions, respiratory disorders, cardiovascular disorders, immune system disorders, and chronic illnesses such as diabetes or hypertension.

Individuals with disabilities are entitled to equal access to employment. Although California offers a wide range of legal protection to disabled employees, disability discrimination in the workplace is a common occurrence. For example, when an employee is injured on the job, an employer may be tempted to terminate the injured employee because the company now perceives that employee as "damaged goods" and therefore expendable. If that employee, disabled by an injury suffered at work, is fired, the employer has engaged in disability discrimination and has violated California law.

What rights do disabled employees have? Disabled employees have the right to be free from disability discrimination in the workplace. In order to assert those rights, it is of utmost importance that the employee notify his employer (in writing) that he is suffering from a condition, disease or disorder because an employer cannot accommodate the needs of a disabled employee unless the employer knows that its employee is disabled. Similarly, if an employee has suffered an injury (on the job or away from the job) and has received medical treatment, the employee should immediately notify his employer about any diagnosis and work restrictions issued by his physician. Notification triggers the employer's obligation to inquire as to whether the employee requires reasonable accommodation in order to assure that the employee is able to perform the essential functions of his job. For example, an employee with a back injury may be medically restricted from heavy lifting at work. If heavy lifting is part of the employee's work duties, the employer and employee should engage in an interactive process to determine what type of reasonable accommodation is available to that employee. It may mean transferring the employee to a different position or restructuring his work duties to eliminate the heavy lifting requirement. What the employer is not permitted to do is terminate the employee because he is disabled or injured.

Similarly, if an employee has a disease, disorder or condition which necessitates a medical leave of absence (for surgery or to receive specific medical treatment), and the employer has notice of the reason for medical leave, the employer must allow the employee to return to work following the medical leave of absence. If the employer fires the employee while the employee is on medical leave or refuses to allow the employee to return to work, the employer may have engaged in unlawful disability discrimination.

Here to Help

If you have a disability, disease or disorder or have suffered an injury (at work or away from work) and have concerns that your employer is disregarding your work restrictions or is not allowing you to return to work following your medical leave of absence, you need an experienced attorney who can competently assertively fight for your right to be free from disability discrimination. Contact us for a free consultation.