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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
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    Default Having a Hard Time Finding an Attourney

    My question involves labor and employment law for the state of: California

    I've been trying to find an attorney to at least consult with due to issues at work. What I find is everyone I've contacted is looking for a fairly clear cut case. If my employer is in violation of discrimination against protected categories, is engaged in wage theft, or anything else that you might read on an advertisement, they'd be willing to help, but none have gone farther than screening for those clear violations.

    At work I have a manager who hired his nephew, a clear violation of a rule in this municipality. Additionally, myself an others face severe discrimination and a hostile work environment and it seems that there should be something to do about this. The discrimination, however, is not over protected categories. The manager doesn't like certain people he manages he makes up stories about them, he makes fun of them, he does broach the protected categories sometimes. In a sense it is pervasive, he makes fun of black people, he talks about scratching his balls in front of women, he would call the pregnant black lady at work "the waddler" because her pregnancy made her walk weird. He's made up stories to try to get people fired. The main thing though is he discriminates against people if they are not loyal to him, partly because he has secrets to hide, like his relationship to his nephew. My favorite is after someone he didn't like cleaned up a bathroom, he peed all over it (lots and lots of pee). A perfect example of how he operates, when I approached him about the pee, he said he was a bad aim. That's all he needed to say, he's off the hook now. Its a weekly performance like that and its designed to make us miserable, and it works.

    I went to Human Resources and bared all. I told them specifically that most of the problems started after the nephew was hired. The manager knows that no one is going to do a "family tree" background check, and it seems like he's right. HR has just sat on it, I inquired about an update and they said they'd get back to me.

    This actually happened to me before about 17 years ago I worked for an employer, the manager hired her husband. I talked to HR and they acknowledged the relationship and that it was a violation and they did nothing about it. There's a good reason for that rule, it creates a permissive environment where its the family against the department. In that case the husband eventually became violent because employees wouldn't take orders from him directly (he wasn't a manager), and he got fired.

    My point is, rules are being violated, it seems like there should be legal protection. However, no attorney seems interested when I go through the typical screening. Is this expected? Is it really a dead end to pursue legal options?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
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    3,349

    Default Re: Having a Hard Time Finding an Attourney

    It isn't illegal to discriminate against you if it isn't based on one of the protected classes.

    If the manager hired a family member in violation of some rule, that is between him and the employer.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    17,288

    Default Re: Having a Hard Time Finding an Attourney

    Quote Quoting scrypppps
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    My point is, rules are being violated, it seems like there should be legal protection. However, no attorney seems interested when I go through the typical screening. Is this expected? Is it really a dead end to pursue legal options?
    What rules? Unless you are in civil service with statutory rules and regulations, the rules are what the boss makes them at any given moment. If your manager is also the owner or is the right hand man to the owner, HR is about as useless at tits on a bull because HR works for the bosses and not against them. Your manager is apparently at the top of the food chain since nobody says boo about him hiring his nephew. And you are at the bottom of the food chain.

    Your best option is to seek employment elsewhere and get out of there as quick as you can. Probably should have done it already.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
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    7,462

    Default Re: Having a Hard Time Finding an Attourney

    Is this a government agency or private employer? That makes a big difference. If it is a private employer then no federal or state law prohibits a private employer from hiring relatives of the owners or managers. And so far as I know, no city or county in California has such a law either. Indeed, it is quite common for small businesses to be run by families, and that would not be possible if the law prevented businesses from having family members employed. It may be that the employer has a rule against it, but if it is just a policy of the employer then it is up to the employer what to do about it.

    Similarly, most non physical harassment at work is legal unless it relates to a protected characteristic (e.g. race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, etc). So the manager may make fun of his employees or favor some employees over others so long as the reason for doing it is not due to a protected characteristic. If the manager were to punch an employee or otherwise physically abuse them, that's a different matter. That's a crime.

    So the bottom line is that if it is just company policy/rules that are being violated then that is an internal company matter and not a legal issue that the courts could help you with. In that situation if you are having problems with the manager then it is probably a good sign that you need to look for work somewhere else.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
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    2

    Default Re: Having a Hard Time Finding an Attourney

    Quote Quoting adjusterjack
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    What rules? Unless you are in civil service with statutory rules and regulations, the rules are what the boss makes them at any given moment. If your manager is also the owner or is the right hand man to the owner, HR is about as useless at tits on a bull because HR works for the bosses and not against them. Your manager is apparently at the top of the food chain since nobody says boo about him hiring his nephew. And you are at the bottom of the food chain.

    Your best option is to seek employment elsewhere and get out of there as quick as you can. Probably should have done it already.
    It is a major municipality in California and the rule is specifically set out in the civil service commission of that municipality with regard to employee relations at work. Other rules being violated would just be rules included department policy with regard to maintaining a healthy work environment. The easy answer is always to look elsewhere for work, however, employment isn't always the easiest thing to come by. In particular this position I have is very difficult to get, is a lifetime appointment with a pension, and very few openings elsewhere. With that said, I do have another job lined up that will hire me within two years as another person retires. However I thought it would be worth pursuing options, it confuses me that a work environment would be so hostile, have effect on so many employees, and its perfectly legal. Yet if that is the answer, then that is the answer.

  6. #6
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    Mar 2013
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    17,288

    Default Re: Having a Hard Time Finding an Attourney

    Quote Quoting scrypppps
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    It is a major municipality in California and the rule is specifically set out in the civil service commission of that municipality with regard to employee relations at work.
    Would have been nice if you said civil service at the beginning. There may be procedures to escalate your grievances to a higher level than just your municipality.

    However, you want to think twice about that. There are laws protecting you from retaliation but the reality is that bad people will find a way to skirt those laws and get rid of you down the line. Then you'll be faced with having to litigate when you have no income.

    This might sound cynical but there is a lot wrong with the legal system in today's America so, if you aren't prepared to quit, you might want to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to what is happening and go about your business without making waves for the next couple of years.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    24,132

    Default Re: Having a Hard Time Finding an Attourney

    HR is not all-powerful and if the upper management refuses to act on their recommendation, well, there we sit.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    California
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    20,415

    Default Re: Having a Hard Time Finding an Attourney

    Quote Quoting scrypppps
    View Post
    It is a major municipality in California and the rule is specifically set out in the civil service commission of that municipality with regard to employee relations at work. Other rules being violated would just be rules included department policy with regard to maintaining a healthy work environment. The easy answer is always to look elsewhere for work, however, employment isn't always the easiest thing to come by. In particular this position I have is very difficult to get, is a lifetime appointment with a pension, and very few openings elsewhere. With that said, I do have another job lined up that will hire me within two years as another person retires. However I thought it would be worth pursuing options, it confuses me that a work environment would be so hostile, have effect on so many employees, and its perfectly legal. Yet if that is the answer, then that is the answer.
    Municipal nepotism laws can be a tangled web. It all depends on what the local muni code actually says on the subject. It may well be that the nephew is well qualified and was hired appropriately. In some cities/organizations I have worked in, the prohibition is usually that the relative cannot work in a department directly supervised by the employee. In others, NO relative can be hired in the city at all ... though there has been some litigation to this effect in CA over the past 3 decades limiting such a total ban. (I was once turned down for hire at a city police department because my uncle was the City Manager even though he did not exert any influence over the process with me and was not even a reference or mentions by me. Such absolute bans have since been mitigated I understand.)

    As others have stated, if things are so bad that you are unhappy, perhaps it might be best to seek other employment while you cvan leave with a (hopefully) positive recommendation and reputation.
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

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