Maria from San Francisco writes, “Chris, Susan Fowler’s account of her harassment at Uber seems far too typical of what women in tech experience. Why is it that so many women in tech are discriminated against? What should we do?”
A reader who wishes to remain anonymous writes, “Chris, I worked in the accounting department of a health care provider. Last year, my company discovered it had been using the wrong billing code for a key service when submitting Medicare reimbursement requests. This resulted in the government paying substantially more for the service than it should have. My supervisor directed me to compile a list of the overcharges for senior management. The company remedied the error for new reimbursement requests but never informed the government of the overpayments.
Two weeks ago, I sent an email to my supervisor asking why the company had not reported the billing error. I was told the matter had been resolved and not to raise the issue again. I would know if the company reimbursed Medicare for the overcharges. No payment was made. Last week, I was laid off without notice. I believe it was because I complained about the Medicare overcharges. I did not have a contract and they refused to give me any severance pay. What can I do?”
Software engineer Susan Fowler posted on her blog on February 19, 2017, a detailed and lengthy account of sexual harassment by her former direct supervisor at Uber, and how the company ignored her accusations after she reported them to the human relations department.
Cristy from Albany writes, “Chris, my wife and I are excited to have our first child in the Spring. The pregnancy has been challenging, however. I may need extended time off from work both before and after my baby is born. I am confused as to the amount of leave I am entitled to. Could you please clarify the law for me?
Thank you for your message Cristy and congratulations to you and your wife on your great news.
Janet from the East Bay writes: “Chris, at my firm holiday party my supervisor and I drank too much. We were playfully teasing each other when he suddenly he took my hand, told me how sexy I looked, and kissed me on the lips. I was stunned and didn’t reciprocate. I became very uncomfortable and left the party.
After the party my supervisor has texted me three times on my company cell phone during work hours asking me to go out after work. I was disturbed by his texts and, following the first one, I texted back no. I was hoping he would stop and I have not responded to the other two texts although he has asked me to ‘give him another chance.’ Other than texting me he has not said or tried to do anything suggestive. I’m anxious though every time I’m in the same room with him and concerned about what may happen in the New Year. What should I do?”
This week’s question comes from James Q., in Orinda who asks; “I voted for the legalization marijuana in the last election. I want to know about what the rules are? How much can I have? How much can I grow? Can I be fired for smoking pot off the job? I can drink while I’m not on duty. Can I smoke or can they still drug test me and fire me?”
James, Proposition 64, officially known as the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act, is a complicated set of new regulations. Many people assumed it simply authorized the sale and use of marijuana. While that is true, there is much more to the law only a bit of which I can cover here.
I received the following communication from an individual who wishes to keep his identity confidential:
“Chris, I’m a salesperson at a major corporation that puts tremendous pressure on us to meet monthly quotas. While not explicitly stated, the clear message we receive from management is do whatever it takes to meet your quota or you will be fired. I’ve observed other sales representatives repeatedly lie to customers to close deals. Their supervisors do nothing when customers complain. I want to quit my job but I also can’t stand what the company is doing to its customers. I read about the verdict you obtained for a person in a similar situation. What should I do?”
Rebecca from Foster City writes,” My daughter is in need of a surgery and I would like to take time off to spend with her while she is in the hospital and while she recovers at home, but my boss said that I don’t have enough sick time in the books to take any more time off. Am I entitled to take the time off?”
Rebecca, I am sorry to hear that your daughter is sick. My thoughts are with you and your family. To start with, you should be aware that there are many types of leave laws in California, and sometimes they can be confusing. At times, company human resource representatives are not fully aware of the employee’s rights to take leave and the requirements and obligations of the employer to allow it., so it is important for each employee to understand their rights.
Today, I will address a few questions that I have received by email or have been posted on the Dolan Law Firm’s Facebook page, and tell you about a scholarship program we have launched.
With the Presidential and statewide election set for next Tuesday, I have been asked how does California’s Time Off To Vote Law work.
Amanda from San Francisco asks, “I work for a fast growing company with offices in San Francisco and San Jose. We have been extremely busy. My manager told me I am excellent in my position but recognized my department needed help to handle the workload. I was ecstatic. My manager even asked me to meet with the job finalists and offer my opinion on whom we should hire. I like the employee the company hired and gladly trained him over the past few weeks.
Everything was fine until I discovered that my employer is paying my new co-worker more than me, by several thousand dollars. We have the same duties and responsibilities. Since I helped with the interviews, I know I have more experience in our industry than him. We both have college degrees.
He works out of our San Jose office and I work in our San Francisco office. Other than office location, the only difference I can see is that he is a man and I am a woman. Are they allowed to do this? I want to complain to my manager but I’m also worried that I will get in trouble because I inquired about my co-worker’s salary.”