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Washington D.C. Employment Law Blog

Age discrimination is unlawful discrimination

The workplace is likely where the majority of Washington D.C. residents spend most of their waking hours. For this reason, the environment and atmosphere in the workplace can have a profound effect on employees' mental states and overall health. Unfortunately, many people have to cope with a hostile work environment or job loss due to unlawful discrimination. One of the less commonly discussed, but nevertheless common, forms of unlawful discrimination is age discrimination.

In general, age discrimination does not refer to any kind of discrimination related to age; instead, it refers to discrimination against older workers, specifically those aged 40 or older. There is a specific law, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which expressly prohibits discrimination against people based on their being 40 or older. The ADEA is a federal law. Some individual states may have laws that protect against discrimination against younger workers, but generally the laws focus on older workers.

Supreme Court case focuses on employee rights of pregnant women

Employment is a central component of people's lives and ability to provide for themselves and their families. For this reason, federal and state governments have passed various laws intending to protect a wide range of employee rights. Some examples include laws protecting against wrongful termination or employer retaliation. Other laws focus on preventing or providing legal remedies for illegal workplace discrimination. One of the groups that continues to struggle for equal treatment and adequate rights in the workplace is pregnant women, as demonstrated by a recent Supreme Court case.

In 2006, a UPS driver became pregnant and provided her employer with a letter from her doctor recommending that she avoid lifting heavy packages. UPS did not agree to give the female driver light-duty work temporarily while she was pregnant, however. A lawsuit resulted that focused on the employer's obligations to accommodate light-duty work requests in such situations under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Although the company asserted that it only provided light-duty work options for specific groups of employees-those injured on the job, those with a condition covered by the ADA, or those who had lost the federal certificate needed to drive commercial vehicles-the attorney for UPS was unable to provide an example of a non-pregnant employee who had requested, but was denied, light-duty work when questioned by Justice Ginsburg. The Supreme Court should issue a decision in the case by June.

Washington, D.C., employee fired for alleged labor act violations

The National Labor Relations Act was passed to detail the rights of employees and employers with regard to union activities. Part of the act states that supervisors are not allowed to participate in union organization activities. According to Alta Bikeshare, which runs Capital Bikeshare in our nation's capital, a supervisor was warned about his activities in union organizing and was fired when he didn't stop.

Capital Bikeshare in Washington, D.C., has had great success this year. The concept is providing bikes for rentals around the city. When someone is done with the rental, he or she returns the bike at the nearest bike station. REQX Ventures has recently become Captial Bikeshare's new parent company.

Workers strike for increased minimum wage in Washington D.C.

Workers with Restaurant Associates are on strike in our nation's capital and have clear demands. They want a livable minimum wage and the right to unionize. The minimum wage for these workers is currently $10.10, which was set by President Obama in an executive order that mandated federal contractors to pay their workers at least that amount. The Washington D.C., workers on strike want at least $15.00 an hour.

Restaurant Associates is part of the British company Compass Group. A study from Demos in 2013 reported that U.S. taxpayers pay about $24 billion of the executives' pay. Restaurant Associates reported revenue of about $13 billion last year. When the government allows federal contractors to pay low wages to their employees that perform physical labor, the government quickly becomes "the largest creator of low-wage jobs in the country."

What is the minimum wage in Washington, D.C.?

The minimum wage, the least amount that most workers can legally be paid, is usually a source of controversy. Workers often fight for their state legislatures to raise the minimum wage. Naturally, employers tend to resist such efforts. This year, bills related to the minimum wage were introduced in 38 states, so the matter remains quite unsettled.

Readers may not realize that there are actually two levels of minimum wage. The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that the federal government currently sets its minimum at $7.25 per hour. Most states, along with Washington, D.C., have higher minimum wages for their workers. However, 18 states, plus two U.S. territories, have set their minimum wages right at the federal requirement.

NRLB says Facebook conversation about work was protected speech

The posts you find on your Facebook feed usually fit into one of a few common categories: photos of babies or food, social and political commentary, and self-promotion.

Another use of this social media site is to vent when you are feeling upset or angry. Sometimes, sharing your feelings with friends and family this way can help you put your problems in perspective and allow you to feel better.

Ex-firefighter says he was fired for trying to improve safety

When a whistleblower does what he or she believes is right, even if it goes against his or her employer’s wishes, there are often consequences. It is common for employers to take revenge against a worker who brings illegal or dangerous practices to management’s attention. Bosses often prefer to sweep those issues under the rug and punish the whistleblower, rather than improve their business standards.

Fortunately, it is against the law to fire or take other punitive action against a whistleblower. People in Washington, D.C. who are victimized in this way may be able to recover lost wages and other damages through civil litigation.

Family Medical Leave Act gives workers recover from illness

Arguably, one of the most important federal laws on the books is the Family and Medical Leave Act. This law, commonly known as the FMLA, gives all workers the right to take time off work to recover from a serious illness, or care for a sick family member. Employers generally must keep the worker’s job waiting for him or her until he or she is ready to come back, for up to 12 work-weeks.

Though the FMLA has been in place for many years, and many states have passed their own version of medical work leave, some employers try to deny their employees their rights in this arena.

Congratulations to our colleague Susan Kruger for completing yesterday's Marine Corps Marathon. Well done!

Susan Kruger participated and completed the 39th Marine Crops Marathon (MCM) yesterday, October 26, 2014. MCM is annually held in Arlington, Virginia and Washington, DC. The event was established to promote physical fitness, generate community goodwill, and showcase the organizational skill of the United States Marine Corps. MCM, also known as "The People's Marathon," is currently the third largest marathon in the United States.

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