Update: Disability Discrimination

Well, that didn’t take long. As soon as I write an article about disability discrimination, the law changes. The EEOC issued guidance today making it clear that pregnancy discrimination is illegal. This means that employers can’t discriminate against you because you are pregnant. If they put workers with injured backs on light duty, they have to put pregnant employees on light duty too.

This is a good step towards protecting the rights of pregnant employees, and it also makes clear that temporary impairments (like those related to pregnancy) are disabilities under the ADA.

Employment Law: Stopping Problems Without Litigation

Workplace discrimination and harassment often result in employees being fired or quitting to escape the hostile environment. If this happens to you, recovering damages is great, but it won’t help you pay your bills during the litigation process. Sometimes litigation is unavoidable, but early actions can help prevent problems before they start. Here’s my quick guide to helping you end discrimination and harassment before they cost you your job.

Step 1 – Take Notes
Start taking notes now. Write down details of what’s happened to you including dates, people involved, things said, etc. This will eventually come in extremely handy because employers usually start denying or “forgetting” things that happened once you complain about them.

Step 2 – Follow the Manual
Now, if you were given one, go find your employee manual. This is the document your employer gave you you were hired. If your employer knows what they’re doing, you’ll have one, and it will tell you what to do if you need to make a complaint. OK, here’s the important bit, FOLLOW THE PROCEDURE IN THE MANUAL. This step should clear everything up. If the problems continue, you should prepare yourself for things to get a little rougher.

Step 3 – Improvise
So what if you don’t have a manual? First, go to your supervisor and complain. If it’s coworkers that are the problem, your supervisor is in the best position to stop things from going further. If it’s your supervisor who’s the problem, you still might want to consider talking to him or her. Sometimes all it takes is someone saying “Hey, I don’t appreciate those comments” for things to change. If you don’t want to do that, try going to your supervisor’s boss. This can be risky, but if you don’t have other options, you should probably try it.

Step 4 – Talk to a Lawyer
So, if you’re still with me, the complaint procedure didn’t work, and things have probably gotten a little frosty at work. At this point you probably want to see an employment lawyer. Even if you complain to an agency or file a law suit, a letter from a lawyer can add power to your complaints. It lets your employer know that this isn’t going away and they can’t just ignore you.

If that doesn’t work, a lawyer can help you navigate complaint procedure in the Colorado Civil Rights Division (CCRD) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). If that still doesn’t solve your problems, you may have to sue your employer, and you’ll definitely need a lawyer for that.

Employment Law: Overtime Pay

Image by @Saigon httpbit.ly/1mfuJXb
Image by @Saigon httpbit.ly/1mfuJXb

Most people know that employers are required to pay overtime to employees who work extra. But, few people know the details of when employers must pay overtime and how much employees are entitled to. This article will take you through the basics of who is entitled to overtime, when they’re entitled to it, and how much they’re entitled to. Continue reading “Employment Law: Overtime Pay”

Employment Law: When can your employer take money from your paycheck.

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The first step to protecting your rights is knowing them. This article will tell you what employers can and what they can’t take out of your check.

What Employers Can Take Out
Here’s the short answer: employers can deduct anything allowed by the law, anything allowed by an agreement with the employee, or anything needed to cover the value of things taken by the employee. Continue reading “Employment Law: When can your employer take money from your paycheck.”

Why “Networking” Doesn’t Work

Network, Network, Network.  That’s what we’re all told about how to find career success.  It’s great advice, of course, but the way most people think about “Networking” pretty much guarantees it will fail. To be great networkers, we need to change our mindset; instead of thinking about “Networking”, we need to start trying to make friends.
For a lot of people, Hell will look a lot like a “Networking” reception. After all, they’re pretty much just play dates for adults only with more people scrambling around handing out business cards trying to tell as many people as possible their name and what they do. But think about this, does anyone really remember people they meet at these events? Do people really know enough about those people to send their friends and colleagues their way when they need lawyers. I say no. People don’t refer anyone to someone who threw a business card at them during the 15 minute “Networking” reception at a CLE, people refer people to their friends.

So how do you start making friends? Changing environments is a good way to start. You can’t make good friends at a “Networking” event. You have to put more effort in than that. Go out to lunch, to coffee, to a ball game. Get to know people personally rather than just as colleagues. Hell, once you get to know someone, have them over for dinner. But most important, change your mindset. Stop thinking of people as means to an end; think of them as people you want to get to know; think of them as potential friends.

What if I Can’t Afford a Lawyer?

There is no denying that lawyers can be expensive.  Many people think that they are on their own because there is no way they can pay someone to fight for them.  If you’re in this position, you need to ask yourself two questions: can I really not afford a lawyer and if I really can’t, how can I fight for myself. Continue reading “What if I Can’t Afford a Lawyer?”