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4 issues that increase the risk of unfair labor complaints

On Behalf of | Mar 28, 2024 | Unfair Labor Practice Defense

As a California employer, you’re obligated to ensure safety in the workplace for your employees. In most cases, you must also purchase workers’ compensation insurance to provide benefits to workers who are eligible following on-the-job injuries. Another employer obligation is that you must provide proper training and equipment to keep your workers safe. Safety includes making sure the work environment is not hostile nor discriminatory. As an employer, you’ll want to carefully review the state’s unfair labor practices regulations and learn how to avoid complaints.

The old saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure definitely applies to California employers regarding unfair labor practices. The more you do ahead of time to ensure fair labor practices, the less likely it is that you’ll face a complaint from a worker. There are several issues that often spark unfair labor complaints, which you will want to avoid at all costs.

Unfair labor practices associated with pregnancy and maternity leave

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 protects your pregnant employees from discrimination and unfair labor practices in the workplace. To avoid complaints, make sure you understand the implications of these laws and avoid doing anything that may constitute unfair treatment or discrimination of a pregnant worker.

For example, if a worker informs you of a pregnancy, then you terminate her position, you have placed yourself at risk for an unfair labor practices complaint. The same is true if you have denied a pregnant worker unpaid time off due to illness associated with her condition.

It is unfair to force an employee into retirement or to fire someone because of age

There is technically no such thing as being too old to do a job, meaning that you can’t fire a worker based on age. You cannot force someone to retire because of age. What you can do is fire someone due to lack of performance, productivity or numerous other legitimate reasons. In fact, you don’t even need a specific reason because California employers can basically hire and fire at will. What you cannot do, however, is discriminate against a worker because of his or her age. This constitutes unfair labor practices in the workplace.

Unfair labor practices regarding labor unions

Another issue that often sparks unfair labor complaints has to do with labor unions. As an employer, you can neither force a worker to join a union, nor can you fire workers for joining one or otherwise retaliate against or penalize them in the workplace.

Workers are entitled to file complaints

Whether you own a small company or a large California corporation, throughout the course of your career, it would not be uncommon to encounter challenges when a worker files a complaint regarding an issue like discrimination or unfair labor practices. In fact, employment laws protect the worker by allowing those who are unfairly treated in the workplace to file a complaint, especially if the worker has brought the issue to the employer’s attention and the problem has not been resolved.

Sometimes, a worker might file a complaint regarding an issue that affects the whole company. Maybe someone witnessed an executive doing something illegal or safety laws are being disregarded in the workplace. Coming forward to oppose such practices is known as “whistleblowing.” It is unlawful for you to retaliate, fire or otherwise discriminate against a whistleblower filing a complaint against your company. If such problems arise, it is always best to seek immediate legal guidance.