What is Wrongful Termination?

Employment is At-Will with Exceptions The vast majority of employers and workers in California have heard the term “at-will” employment.  Employers often interpret at-will employment to mean that employees could be terminated at the employer’s will.  Workers often interpret it to mean it that employers may not terminate an employee without a reason or notice or for unfair reasons. The legal standards are somewhere in the middle. In California, “at-will” employment means that an employer may terminate the employment relationship for any reason or for no reason at all.  On the flip side, employees may also quit for any reason or for no reason at all with or without notice.  However, on the employer side, there are certain restrictions or exceptions to the “for any reason or for no reason at all.”  That is, employers may not terminate (or make conditions such that an employee has no other choice but to quit) for a wrongful reason.  In other words, employers may terminate the relationship so long as the reason for the termination is not discriminatory, in breach of a contractual … Continue reading

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Emoji and Deciphering Intent in the Digital Age

[Originally published as Emoji and Deciphering Intent in the Digitial Age, by Tanya Kiatkulpiboone and Andrea W. Paris, in Orange County Lawyer Magazine, June 2017, Vol. 59 No.6 on page 42.] An emoji known as “Face with Tears of Joy” was named the Oxford Dictionaries’ 2015 Word of the Year. See Figure 1. Caspar Grathwohl, President of Oxford Dictionaries, explained that “Emoji are becoming an increasingly rich form of communication, one that transcends linguistic borders[.]” Katie Steinmetz, Oxford’s 2015 Word of the Year Is This Emoji, Time (Nov. 16, 2015, 2:08 PM), http://time.com/4114886/oxford-word-of-the-year-2015-emoji/. Nevertheless, Oxford Dictionaries have yet to add any emoji to the dictionary, not even their Word of the Year, thereby acknowledging their expressive abilities without defining them. What Are Emoji? Emoji are small images or icons used to express emotion, ideas, or things in electronic communications. They were created in Japan in the 1990s by Shigetaka Kurita, who worked for one of Japan’s largest mobile phone operators. The name originates from the Japanese terms for picture (“e”) and written character (“moji”).  Frequently Asked Questions: Emoji and Pictographs, … Continue reading

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April Edition of the Employment Law Blog Carnival

I am delighted to host this month’s edition of the Employment Law Blog Carnival but was tearing my hair out trying to choose a theme.  I finally settled on a non-religious Easter traditions theme. Growing up in a Buddhist country like Thailand very few people celebrated Easter so I just didn’t get the whole Easter bunny that laid colorful eggs thing.  I am taking this opportunity to do some research on the non-religious Easter traditions here in the United States. According to the University of Florida’s Center for Children’s Literature and Culture, the origin of the celebration — and the origin of the Easter Bunny — can be traced back to 13th-century, pre-Christian Germany, when people worshiped several gods and goddesses.  The Teutonic deity Eostra was the goddess of spring and fertility, and feasts were held in her honor on the Vernal Equinox.  Her symbol was the rabbit because of the animal’s high reproduction rate.  Spring also symbolized new life and rebirth; eggs were an ancient symbol of fertility. Speaking of fertility and reproduction, Steve Peltin at Washington Workplace Law … Continue reading

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Genetic Information Now Protected from Discrimination

Last week, California’s Governor Jerry Brown passed SB 559, which amends the Unruh Civil Rights Act and the Fair Employment and Housing Act to include “genetic Information” as an impermissible basis of discrimination. “Genetic information” is defined by the law as any of the following information regarding an individual: (i)  The individual’s genetic tests. (ii)  The genetic tests of family members of the individual. (iii)  The manifestation of a disease or disorder in family members of the individual. (iv) any request for, or receipt of, genetic services, or participation in clinical research that includes genetic services, by an individual or any family member of the individual. However, an individual’s age or sex is not considered “genetic information.”  But we already know that you can’t discriminate on the basis of age or sex. Some of us may ask, who goes around asking employees for their “genetic information” any way?  SB 559’s declarations noted that this form of discrimination was evident in the 1970s, which saw the advent of programs to screen and identify carriers of sickle cell anemia, a disease that afflicts African Americans.  This … Continue reading

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