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Washington D.C. Employment Law Blog

What DC maternity leave rights do employees have under the FMLA?

Many working DC women who also plan on having children want to know what kinds of employee rights they have relating to maternity leave. As society continues to see social progress with equality and blurring of the lines between gender roles, many propsective fathers have questions about paternity leave, as well. The good news is that regardless of any employer-specific policies, federal law protects the rights of new mothers and fathers to take maternity or paternity leave.

The federal law relating to paternity and maternity leave is the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). In addition to covering maternity and paternity leave, it also applies to taking leave from work to care for a family member suffering from a serious health condition or taking leave from work to care for the employee's own health condition. The benefits guaranteed by the FMLA are up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave that can be used in certain situations. The employee's job is protected during the leave and the employee is able to return to his or her job at the end of the leave period.

The essential elements of DC employment at will

Although most people think they understand the concept of employment at will, many people actually misunderstand what employment at will really means. First of all, it is important to understand that the concept of employment at will also encompasses the concept of termination at will. Both employment at will and termination at will is the general law in all states except for Montana.

The concept of employment at will embodies three essential elements. First, it means that employers can dismiss an employee at any time and no cause is needed. Second, it means that an employee can leave his or her position at any time with or without reason, without suffering any legal consequence. Third, it also encompasses the principle that an employer can change the essential terms of an employee's employment contract without notice or consequences. These changes can include wage decreases, a reduction of paid time off, a termination of benefits, schedule changes, etc.

DC firefighters' wage and hour dispute coming to an end

Disputes between employees and employers are not uncommon. These disputes can take many forms, ranging from violations of workers' rights to sexual harassment to wrongful termination. One of the most common types of disputes that occurs between employees and their employers is wage and hour disputes. Many workers are entitled to overtime pay but are frequently denied this compensation.

In Washington, D.C., a year's long dispute over overtime pay may finally be coming to an end as the result of a decision by the highest court in the District ruling. The dispute is between firefighters and the District government. The issue began in the 1990s when a financial control board attempted to balance the budget, in part by overturning some collective bargaining agreements of city employees'--agreements that also had implications for overtime pay.

Attorneys can help after workplace discrimination

Despite laws that are intended to protect against it, workplace and employment discrimination are all too common. One reason that workplace discrimination is so common is that it can take so many different forms: age discrimination, discrimination based on sexual orientation, religious discrimination and gender-based discrimination are just a few. The manner of discrimination can also differ. In some cases, it may be outright mistreatment and harassment, while in other cases it may be subtle and take the form of disparate or unfair wages or consistently being passed up for a promotion.

Regardless of the specific details, if you are the victim of unlawful employment discrimination, your civil rights are being violated and you may have a case for compensation or other forms of restitution under the law. Knowing that you are being discriminated against is quite different from proving it in a court of law, however. In order to effectively prove your case and convince a jury that you deserve compensation, you need the help of a skilled and experienced attorney who not only understands the specific elements of the law but also knows what the jury and the judge are looking for in terms of proof.

Does the law protect against sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is commonly discussed in the media, but many employees may not have a complete understanding of what kinds of actions constitute sexual harassment or the laws that protect against sexual harassment. Under the law, any kind of harassment that is based on or due to a person's sex is classified as sexual harassment and is unlawful.

Sexual harassment can take many forms. Some of the most commonly discussed types of sexual harassment include requests for sexual favors and unwanted sexual advances, as well as other physical actions or verbal comments that are sexual in nature. Offensive sexual comments that make a person feel uncomfortable--such as comments relating to a person's appearance or body or other sexual topics--fall into the category of sexual harassment, but so do more generalized comments about a person's sex, such as derogatory comments about women.

Understanding the Fair Labor Standards Act

In the workplace, the employers tend to have the upper hand. Employees need to maintain their employment in order to pay their bills, provide for their basic needs and take care of their families. Employers, knowing how much employees rely on and need their employment, may attempt to take advantage of employees in certain situations. For this reason, the federal government has passed certain laws, such as the Fair Labor Standards Act, that help protect employee rights.

The Fair Labor Standards Act is one of the most important pieces of legislation related to employee rights. In general, its provisions relate to the minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping and youth employment standards. The FLSA applies to private sector and government employees in the state, local and federal levels. The latest minimum wage provided for in the FLSA was established in July 2009. It mandates that all employees must be paid, at a minimum, $7.25 per hour. Individual states can set the minimum wage higher. In Washington, it's currently $9.47 for adult employees.

Statistics about pornography and sexual harassment at work

When many Washington, D.C. residents think about sexual harassment, they may not think about sexually explicit materials that may constitute harassment. This could be many things, but generally, sexually explicit materials are photos, or anything similar, -- of pornographic nature. These images are not allowed in the workplace. Despite this, some employees do engage in inappropriate online activity during work hours.

When an employee is engaging in inappropriate activity, this behavior could result in another employee feeling sexually harassed. This may happen intentionally, such as when an employee shows another employee pornographic content. Or, it could happen unintentionally. For example, an employee walked by and witnessed another employee viewing pornographic content on his or her computer.

Victory for senior executive in wrongful termination case

In the employment context, employers generally hold the majority of the power and have the upper hand. This does not mean that employees do not have rights, but enforcing those rights sometimes requires a legal battle, as is often the case with wrongful termination. Although employers have a great deal of discretion in hiring and firing decisions, they can take actions that constitute discrimination or other forms of wrongful discharge and their allegations justifying the termination should be supported by evidence.

As reported in the Washington Post, Alan Lescht & Associates recently enjoyed a victory in connection with their representation of a senior executive in the General Services Administration. The client, James Weller, had been fired in 2012 for his participation and involvement in a conference that was later determined to be an example of extreme government waste. At issue in the case was the knowledge held by Weller with regard to the event's planning and funding. The administrative judge initially found for Weller on the grounds that Weller did not have adequate knowledge of the problematic aspects of the conference for his participation to constitute misconduct warranting termination. Although the General Services Administration appealed that ruling, the appeal board upheld the lower court's ruling on the grounds that the GSA did not provide any evidence to support its claims that Weller was guilty of misconduct.

New year of office socials is coming. Are you ready for issues?

The holidays are over. How did you fare? As we have noted previously, holiday times can create some tricky situations, especially when it comes to office partying. Considering that 2015 with all its holidays is upon us, and that office social events may not be limited to celebrations just around those times, perhaps it might be a good time to revisit the issue in a bit more depth.

The crux of the problem is that office parties present us with what amounts to a juxtaposition of social constructs that have a way of butting up against each other. This is not just the case in Washington, D.C. 

Employees have rights in wage and hour disputes

In many workplace situations, the employer has the upper hand. The employer is often the one who decides when and if the employment will end and the employer has the power of pay over the employee. However, there are wage laws, including minimum wage, that help protect the rights of employees. Before an employee can effectively exercise those rights, however, the employee must be aware of those rights.

You, as an employee, likely have a strong feeling that indicates whether or not you have been wronged at work but you may not fully understand why or how. Maybe you have been forced to work overtime and then denied your overtime pay. Or maybe you have been the victim of wage theft -- when an employer fails to adequately pay you for the time you have worked. There are many different ways that your rights may be violated when it comes to wages and hours. Wage and hour disputes may include disputes over contracts or the misclassification of employees.

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"'Exceptional' is the term that best characterizes the performance of Attorney Alan Lescht in my employment dispute with a major public agency."
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Alan and his associates provided an exceptional service throughout my case. They ensured all my questions and concerns were answered and properly addressed in a timely manner and I was kept abreast of the process. Their legal advice resulted in a positive outcome for me. I recommend Alan's law firm to anyone that needs legal counsel or representation.
Alan and his associate provided me the information and advice I needed, in a very timely fashion, to make my decisions. They then actively implemented our agreed to path forward, resulting in the negotiated conclusion I had hoped for.
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