Employee Rights Update: Discrimination and Misclassification

In this segment of our ‘Employee Rights Update’, we aim to provide our employee subscribers with timely educational information from recent cases and laws.

(1) Racial Discrimination against a White Male: A California jury awarded $3.25 million to a former City of Los Angeles gardener who sued under racial discrimination.  The white Plaintiff, James Duffy, worked for the city for 20 years and alleged that he was forced to retire when his Hispanic supervisors and coworkers allegedly discriminated against him.  In turn, the City of Los Angeles filed the appeal Friday.

This was an example of racial discrimination involving a non-minority member of society.  Mr. Duffy, a white male was a member of a majority in society but was actually a part of the minority in a given work place.  Further, Mr. Duffy repeatedly complained to his Hispanic supervisors that he was harassed, but no record showed that anything was done.  To make matters worse for the city, the Plaintiff also suffered an on the job head injury which resulted in short-term memory problems.  The unanimous verdict favored the Plaintiff on counts of disability, racial discrimination, and retaliation.
(James Duffy v. City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Superior Court, Central , BC454369)

(2) Misclassified Employees: Also on Friday, FedEx inked a $228 million settlement to resolve a class action brought by over 2,000 of its delivery truck drivers who claimed they were misclassified as independent contractors rather than employees.  The drivers claim that they were employees and should have been paid higher wages that included benefits.

Under the California Labor Code (Sec. 226.8), willful misclassification is defined as voluntarily and knowingly misclassifying an employee as independent contractor.  When someone is misclassified as an independent contractor, he or she does not receive minimum wage and overtime protection, has no workers’ compensation coverage if injured, and forfeits his or her right to family leave, unemployment benefits, and protection against retaliation and discrimination. California has stepped up its prosecution of misclassification for the aforementioned reasons as well as because it results in payroll tax revenue to the state.

If you believe that you have suffered an employment law matter such as discrimination or misclassification, prompt action to preserve your rights is critical.  Contact the experienced employment law attorneys at Stephen Danz & Associates for a free consultation to discuss your circumstances and legal options.  See these other Blogs for more information on discrimination.