In an important step for California, Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 188 into law on July 3, 2019. SB 188 or also known as, the CROWN ACT, “Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair,” clarifies the definition of race for the workplace and educational institutions to include, but not limited to, hair texture

Is obesity a disability under California law? Are a supervisor’s alleged “fat remarks” sufficient evidence of disability discrimination?  On December 21, 2017, a California Appellate Court published an extensive decision regarding obesity as a disability under California law and issued further guidance on both counts.  To read the rest of this blog, please visit this

New California regulations declaring that “[e]mployers have an affirmative duty to create a workplace environment that is free from employment practices prohibited by” the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and that “[e]mployers have an affirmative duty to take reasonable steps to prevent and promptly correct discriminatory and harassing conduct” will go into effect on April 1, 2016.
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The California Court of Appeal reversed a $1 million judgment against the City of Los Angeles in a racial discrimination, harassment and retaliation case brought by a firefighter under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. Jumaane v. City of Los Angeles. After 12 years of litigation and two jury trials, the Court ruled that the firefighter’s claims occurred outside the one-year statute of limitations period and that the “continuing violation” exception to the statute of limitations did not apply.
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Effective January 1, 2016, an employee’s request for an accommodation for a disability or for religious reasons is considered to be “protected activity” for a retaliation claim under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”).

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When settling employment disputes, employers and employees often seek to go their separate ways and avoid crossing paths in the future.  Settlement agreements often include a “No Re-Hire” clause in which employees agree they will not be eligible for re-hire; however, what happens when a former employee challenges the “no re-hire” clause as an unlawful restraint on trade?  And what happens when the employee seeks to invalidate the entire settlement agreement on the basis that the “no re-hire” clause was a material term of settlement?
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The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently reversed summary judgment for an employer, finding that a former employee’s self-serving declaration and deposition testimony regarding alleged disability discrimination were sufficient to create a triable issue of fact. The Ninth Circuit also held the employer’s denial of the accommodation the employee requested “chilled” the exercise of the employee’s right to request an accommodation. The plaintiff suffered from ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease that causes long-lasting inflammation and ulcers in the digestive tract. After being terminated, the plaintiff brought suit against his employer pursuant to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, claiming that it: (1) discriminated against him because of his disability; (2) declined to accommodate his disability; and (3) did not engage in an interactive process to determine possible accommodation for his disability. The plaintiff also alleged that his employer terminated his employment in violation of California public policy. The employer successfully moved for summary judgment before the District Court, and the plaintiff appealed.
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In a recent opinion affirming an arbitrator’s judgment in favor of an employer on various employment law claims, the California Court of Appeal held that an employee agreed to arbitrate all claims against her former employee when she signed an arbitration policy contained in an easy-to-read document distinct from any other document the she signed at the time of her hiring.  In doing so, the Court clarified important aspects of the test for enforcing an arbitration agreement signed by a company’s employees. 
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An employer cannot be held liable for failure to prevent sexual harassment under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) if there is no actionable sexual harassment, the California Court of Appeal has ruled. Dickson v. Burke Williams, Inc., No. B253154 (Cal. Ct. App. Mar. 6, 2015). Likewise, a jury’s finding that an employer is not liable for sex discrimination precludes liability for failure to prevent discrimination.

Background

Domaniqueca Dickson, a massage therapist at a spa, sued her employer, Burke Williams, Inc. (“BWI”), for alleged sexual harassment by two customers. She asserted claims for sexual harassment, sexual discrimination, and the failure to prevent sexual harassment and sexual discrimination under the FEHA, among other things.


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Affirming summary judgment in favor of an employer on an employee’s disability discrimination claims under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”), the California Court of Appeal has ruled that the employer was not required to eliminate essential functions of a position as a reasonable accommodation. Nealy v. City of Santa Monica, No. B246634 (Cal. Ct. App. Feb. 13, 2015). The Court further held that reassigning the employee to a position for which he was not qualified and granting him an indefinite leave of absence until a suitable position became available also were not reasonable accommodations. As to the employee’s retaliation claim, the Court held that a request for a reasonable accommodation alone was insufficient to establish the employee engaged in protected activity.
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