Thursday, February 26, 2015

Unbearable Working Conditions: Understanding Constructive Discharge

Hearing the words “you’re fired” or receiving the pink slip are the two things that are commonly associated with termination. Unsurprisingly, this is one of the most inevitable episodes of one’s employment, especially if the individual is found to have violated one or many of the policies of the company. Frequent absences or excessive tardiness, poor work performance, and other similar reasons often result in an employee getting terminated.

However, there are instances wherein the reason for an employee’s termination is considered illegal under the prevailing employment and labor laws. Even with the “at will” employment doctrine applied, in which an employee can be fired at any time with or without reason, a covered employer must not make the decision based on what is prohibited under such laws as the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and others.

Wrongful termination is what happens in these kinds of instances. An employer is guilty of such if its decision to fire an employee is based on what is deemed illegal under the law or under certain policies which are considered within the society as morally wrong. For the most part, the decision is carried out to the employee either verbally or in writing.

But then, there is also another form of wrongful termination that is very much different in the way it is carried out. Instead of handing it down to the affected employee via verbal reminder or in writing, the employer subjects him or her to unbearable working conditions, also popularly known as “hostile work environment.” This is called constructive discharge.

Here, the employee is forced to quit his or her job because of the hostile working environment within the workplace. The employer, who should have been responsible in addressing the workplace situation, kept it as it is until it grew worse to the point that the employee has no other recourse but to resign from his or her job position.

No matter how many times an employee wants to have his or her employer to put an end on all of this, the discrimination, harassment, or retaliation continues on until the employer quits. Because it is technically not voluntary, it is considered termination, without the employer uttering the words “you’re fired” or even handing the individual a termination letter.

But just like any other victim of wrongful termination, someone who has been subjected to constructive dismissal in employment is entitled to file legal claims against his or her employer. However, it is important for the individual to understand certain instances which warrants a claim for constructive discharge. These include the following:

  • Sexual harassment by the boss, manager, supervisor, or any other immediate superior;
  • Continuous maltreatment of an employee on the basis of his or her age, race, sex, national origin, religion, disability, or any other protected characteristic defined under federal and state employment and labor laws;
  • Employer retaliation as a result of an employee’s exercise of protected activity such as filing a discrimination or harassment complaint with the appropriate agency or filing a complaint of an employer’s illegal activity with a government or law enforcement agency; or
  • Change in duties or continued maltreatment because an employee filed for a leave of absence under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or any other similar state laws.

Meanwhile, if you quit your job because of an alleged hostile work environment, it is important that you seek legal assistance immediately. Speaking with a Los Angeles wrongful termination lawyer helps you determine if you have a constructive discharge claim against your employer.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Minimum Wage Increases: The Battle for Inclusive Growth of the Country

The minimum wage is the lowest hourly, daily, or monthly remuneration that employers are bound to play their employers for the work they have rendered. Several states in the country may implement their own minimum wage laws, with rates depending on various factors that affect certain states. Additionally, the federal government implements a nationwide minimum wage to ensure that employees all around the country receive wages that are enough to cover their daily needs.

The Dilemma of Minimum Wage Earners
Sadly, living in North America has been having harder every day. More and more American families have been falling below the poverty line because of the failure to increase the federal minimum wages. These causes more and more people to have problems trying to put food on their tables which causes malnutrition to more and more American children. This also makes it difficult for some pared their children to school. 

Calls to Raise the Federal Minimum Wage
A group of mayors from different states in the country also raise the following points to US President Barack Obama to act on the issue about the federal minimum wage as the current $7.25 minimum wage isn’t enough. According to the group, the federal government should start awarding a $10.50 per hour rate as this would have been the ideal amount of minimum wage should the annual inflation rate is factored in. Moreover, these experts believe that these employees deserve to receive up to $18 per hour if only the minimum wage rate was based on and kept up with worker productivity. That is why the need to raise the federal minimum wage is critical, as this can help these individuals give their families a better life.

Higher Wages, Better Savings for the Government
More than being able to provide a better life for their family the resolution also pointed out various benefits of the local and national government because these higher wages. First and foremost, a higher minimum wage allows for better earning for the public, allowing them to have better purchasing power which can stimulate economic activity. This would also help the government save money as a significant amount in as far as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program federal minimum wage is concerned. These benefits doesn’t just help each American family but the government as well.

This is the reason why calls for the increase in the minimum wage are getting stronger as the benefits clearly outweigh the setbacks caused by such increases. And so these mayors are pushing for the increase of the minimum wage laws including US President Barack Obama himself.

However, there are also a lot of issues that are needed to be resolved when it comes to the issue of minimum wages. For example, there are many firms that commit minimum wage law violations. Some of these companies happen to get away from persecution as some employees fear retaliation for stepping out and fighting such violations. By raising the minimum wages and ensuring that the workforce receives these added wages, nobody gets left behind and inclusive growth can truly be felt.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Wrongful Termination Claim: When Must It Be Filed

Wrongful termination is not an uncommon issue in the realm of employment in California. Most of the times, such incidents go against the exceptions to the at-will employment rule (i.e. employers can fire workers with or without any reason). Indeed, an employee is said to have been wrongfully discharged from work if any of the following exceptions take place:

·         Public policy violation. An employee who files a worker’s compensation claim or refuses to take part in an illegal activity cannot be terminated for doing so. Otherwise, it is a violation of public policy.

·         Implied contract. An employee who is told verbally about long-term employment with his or her employer has an implied contract. Terminating him or her at will goes against the said contract, thus can be a grounds for wrongful dismissal.

·         Written contract. An employee who has signed a written contract with the employer can only be fired in accordance to the terms and conditions stated within the contract. Any decision to terminate him or her is a violation of the written contract’s terms and condition, thus allowing him or her to establish a claim of wrongful termination.

·         Covenant of good faith. An employee who is fired despite him or her performing well in his or her job is a breach to the covenant of good faith, and thus a form of illegal dismissal.

·         Constructive discharge. Getting fired doesn’t always mean receiving termination papers. There are instances wherein an employee who feels that the hostile and abusive working conditions or environment is too much for him or her to handle that he or she has no other choice but to resign. This is called constructive discharge, and it can be grounds for filing a claim.

If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated, it is important that you hire an employment attorney so that you may be able to establish a lawsuit. Because the victim of such an unfair workplace treatment usually carries a burden of proof, you need an expert lawyer to establish that proof and present evidence in your claim.

Meanwhile, here are some other things to consider aside from taking:

·         If your employer did terminated you on illegal grounds, then you need to first exhaust administrative remedies before you could retain legal counsel from a reputable wrongful termination lawyer. In particular, you need to file a complaint with an agency who handles employment cases, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).

·         While you are dealing with your claim with either agency or with your attorney, you need to find a new job. It may not be required, but it helps if the damages you incurred are reduced.