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Los Angeles California Civil Rights Law Blog

Does a badge supersede accountability?

Many people believe a parent should never have to bury their child. Yet, no matter how old someone is when they pass away, it is always painful to lose someone you love.

Sometimes police involvement escalates matters. And in cases of alleged police brutality, you might have even more questions about someone’s death than you ordinarily would. But what happens when you can’t get answers?

Women face backlash for sexual harassment complaints

Even as the #MeToo movement has drawn attention to sexual harassment and abuses of power in the California entertainment and tech industries, many women still fear to report unwanted advances on the job. They may be concerned about retaliation, including firings or denials of promotions or raises. When people hear about media reports of harassment, they often question why the victims did not report the incidents at the time. However, research shows that women's fears are well-founded: harassment reports can change the way people are perceived even absent a motivation for direct retaliation.

One study examined how people would react to various hypothetical situations involving a female employee. They were given different scenarios and asked to rank her suitability for promotion. In all cases, study participants were given the same information about the fictional employee's salary, work habits, achievements and education. However, in some cases, they were informed that she had reported sexual harassment to the company's HR department; in other cases, they were told that she had reported nonsexual harassment. In still other cases, no complaints were mentioned.

Why drowsy driving is so dangerous

Although most California drivers understand the dangers of driving while sleepy or drowsy, a survey from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety suggests that a major problem with fatigue persists. Nearly a third of respondents stated that they had nearly fallen asleep while driving at least once in the previous month. While drowsy driving may be impossible for some to avoid, it can increase the risk of accidents, many of which could be fatal.

One major contribution to drowsy driving could be prescription sleep aids. According to a 2018 Consumer Reports survey, one in five drivers said that they had driven a vehicle within seven hours of having taken a sleeping aid. This is extremely concerning as most sleep aids explicitly direct individuals to only take them when they can sleep seven to eight hours afterward. This is to reduce any leftover grogginess that could be caused by the sleep aid.

Car accidents are a common cause of broken ribs

Your mind races after a car accident. After the actual accident happens, you probably take a quick inventory of your physical health. Your head, back and legs may be the first places that you begin checking but you shouldn’t forget your chest. Your chest protects many vital organs, including your heart and lungs, and is vulnerable to your vehicle’s airbags, center console and steering wheel in an accident.

Broken ribs are a common injury from car accidents and pose many potential health concerns. When a rib breaks, the bone is often jagged and can puncture organs like a lung or kidney, as well as blood vessels.

Employment discrimination case decision overruled by 2nd Circuit

Employers in California and throughout the country are not allowed to terminate workers based on their national origin. However, one employee at the Kings County Hospital Center in New York claimed that this is what happened to him. He claims that he was labeled as fully competent for the first four years that he worked there. His suit claims that the discrimination started in the fifth year after he got a new supervisor.

Specifically, it says that the supervisor was overheard saying that he knew how to get rid of the "stupid Egyptian guy." A district court granted summary judgment to the employer before its decision was overturned by judges from the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. The district court said that there was proper documentation of poor performance that backed the hospital's claim that this was the reason he was let go.

Insurance survey reveals worrying distracted driving trends

A recent study from an auto insurer suggests that cellphone use by drivers is becoming an epidemic road safety problem in California and around the country. The poll of American drivers conducted by a Virginia-based research company on behalf of Root Insurance found that motorists spend about 13 minutes every day looking at smartphone screens instead of watching the traffic around them. Almost two in five drivers surveyed told researchers that they do not put their cellphones down even when they see a police car.

One of the challenges facing road safety advocacy groups is that drivers tend to overestimate their behind-the-wheel abilities. This often leads them to engage in behavior they would otherwise feel is extremely dangerous. An overwhelming 89% of the motorists polled on behalf of Root Insurance said that they would give a Lyft or Uber driver a poor rating if they used their phones while driving, but an even larger number told researchers that they were more skilled than those providing ridesharing services.

Letter prompts investigation into DOJ policies

Employees in California and throughout the country are generally protected from discrimination or harassment based on sexual orientation. This is true for Department of Justice workers as well. A group calling itself DOJ Pride sent a letter to the attorney general asking that he investigate discrimination against homosexual and transgender workers. The letter said that FBI trainees are not allowed to become agents if they are not deemed masculine enough.

Furthermore, the letter states that they are evaluated using different criteria. DOJ Pride also said that the Bureau of Prisons made it hard for transgender or gay men to find success. Ultimately, the discrimination caused low morale among workers who perform a crucial role in society, the letter concluded. In response to the letter, the attorney general said that he was bothered by the prospect that these allegations could be true. He then ordered an investigation into the claims made by the group.

Why pedestrian deaths are increasing

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, there were 6,227 pedestrian deaths in 2018. That was an increase of 250 from 2017, and it was the highest level since 1990. The report states that smartphone usage as well as an increase in larger vehicles are partially to blame for this increase. Pedestrian deaths account for 16 percent of all annual traffic fatalities in California and throughout the country.

When a person is struck by an SUV or a larger vehicle, they're more likely to be injured or killed. This is because the vehicles are heavier and they tend to strike with more force. Between 2013 and 2017, fatalities involving SUVs increased by 50 percent. Those who are using smartphones while walking or driving may be less aware of their surroundings. Ultimately, this leaves an individual more vulnerable to a collision.

HR company polls workers about sexual harassment

A new poll suggests that workers throughout California and the rest of America only speak up about half of the time after hearing colleagues make inappropriate comments to people of the opposite sex. When asked what could be done to improve the situation, about three-quarters of the 1,227 workers surveyed by Georgia-based Randstad US said male workers should be supportive allies and take the lead.

The poll reveals that most workers do not know how to behave in such situations, and only about one in two employers has mentorship or leadership programs in place. The responses also reveal that sexual harassment remains a thorny workplace problem. Almost a quarter of the women surveyed said that they had suffered career setbacks after refusing the sexual advances of a senior male colleague.

Signs of possible age discrimination at work

Workplaces should treat all employees equally and based on merit. Jobs shouldn't rely on preference or discrimination towards a group of people.

Unfortunately, ageism can be a common issue in companies. Sometimes it happens without anyone even realizing it. Here are a few signs your employer could be discriminating based on age:

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