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Scottsdale Employment Law Blog

Can you be fired for speaking a foreign language at work?

Arizona workplaces are more diverse than those in many other states. It's not uncommon to have multiple people working in a business whose first language isn't English.

Some employers are more comfortable with employees speaking another language with colleagues or customers than others. In fact, in Arizona businesses open to the public, such as restaurants and stores, it's often helpful to have employees who are fluent in Spanish.

Is your boss failing to pay you for overtime?

Love it or hate it, your job is how you pay your bills, protect your future and buy the things you want and need. Your time is valuable, and it is not fair or legal for an employer to ask you to sacrifice your time without due compensation. Nevertheless, if you are unfamiliar with your rights under federal and Arizona employment laws, you may be at risk of losing money you deserve.

While most employers are careful about providing a just wage to their workers, you may be dealing with a boss who is willing to save the company money at your expense. Unless you know how the law protects you, you may not recognize when someone is taking advantage of you.

Have you been the victim of age discrimination in the workplace?

Employment discrimination of all kinds often involves some level of ignorance about what impact certain characteristics have on people's ability to do a job. That's often the case with age discrimination. In a society that seems to worship youth, people who have hit 40 or older are too often not considered as capable of doing a job as a younger person.

Today, when so many jobs don't require quickness, strength or stamina, age shouldn't be a factor as long as someone has the skills and knowledge to perform the necessary tasks. At a time when people are able to work into their senior years (and often need to for financial reasons), the problem of age discrimination is a serious one. In 2016, almost 19 percent of people over 65 were still working. By next year, people who are 55 and older are expected to make up a quarter of the U.S. workforce.

What is CANDO?

Substance abuse, whether it involves alcohol and/or drugs, is indisputably at frightening levels in this country. Those in the nursing profession are at particular risk for abuse, in part because of their highly-stressful jobs and also because of their access to prescription drugs.

Untreated substance abuse can be dangerous not only for the nurses suffering from it, but for the patients in their care. A mistake that causes harm or worse to a patient or even places them at risk can endanger a nurse's license and the career that nurse has studied and trained so hard for.

11 Nike executives out amid harassment, discrimination claims

You'd think that an iconic international company like Nike would have so many systems in place to prevent inappropriate and illegal workplace behavior that it would be rare. However, nearly a dozen executives have recently left the company amid widespread allegations of harassment and discrimination directed at women in the company.

Among the executives who have left in the wake of a widespread internal investigation are those responsible for some of the most high-profile departments and business categories for the iconic shoe and apparel maker. One of them had even been seen as a potential successor to the current chief executive, Mark Parker.

Court ruling on salary history could minimize gender disparity

In 1963, the Equal Pay Act was signed into law to mandate that people should be paid the same amount for doing the same job, regardless of gender. In the ensuing 55 years, many factors have perpetuated gender wage disparity. Statistics vary, but a recent report indicated that the average woman earns 80.5 cents for every dollar earned by men. Men on average earn more than $10,000 a year more than women.

One factor that contributes to what could be seen as a vicious cycle of wage disparity is the ability of potential employers to ask applicants about their salary histories. A recent ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (which includes Arizona) addresses that problem. The court ruled that an employer can't justify paying a woman less than a man for the same work based on her salary history.

Did you sign an unreasonable non-compete agreement?

When you first landed an interview for a job in your chosen career field, you may have felt excited and apprehensive. You, and most other working-age individuals, understand that job searching can prove time consuming and difficult, especially when looking for a position in a specific industry. Because of your excitement and readiness to start a new job, you may have agreed to stipulations without giving them much thought.

If your employer wanted you to sign an employment contract with a non-compete clause or a non-compete agreement on its own, you may have signed without considering the impact it could have on your future. After all, you were focused on landing the job in front of you, not thinking about more job searching in the future.

Does your employer have the right to demote you?

You likely know that it's illegal to terminate people's employment due to their race, religion, gender, disability and other protected statuses. You also can't be fired as retaliation for reporting illegal activities or sexual harassment in the workplace. However, it's also illegal to demote an employee for any of those reasons.

Of course, proving that either a demotion or termination was carried out for reasons forbidden under the law can be challenging. Most Arizona workers are "at-will" employees. That means that most people can be fired or demoted for essentially any reason besides the ones just discussed. Some people, however, have employment contracts that protect them from demotion and/or give them the opportunity to appeal a demotion.

How do you know if an interviewer's questions are illegal?

You landed an interview for your dream job. You've got the experience and skills to excel. Then the person interviewing you asks some questions that make you uncomfortable and seem irrelevant to whether you're a good fit for the position. How do you know if these questions are permitted? If they aren't, how do you gracefully refrain from answering them without jeopardizing your chances of being hired?

Questions about specific attributes are illegal under federal and/or state law. Sometimes, interviewers can try to get at the answers without asking a question outright. That doesn't make the inquiry any more permissible. Let's look at some common off-limit topics:

Be cautious trading your signature for severance

Whether you have spent decades at your job or only a few months, receiving notice that management is terminating you can come as a blow. Few people have jobs they don't depend on to meet their basic needs - rent or mortgage, car payments, and daily expenses like gas and groceries. To be suddenly out of work can throw the most solid budget into a tailspin.

If your company is offering a severance package, you may be tempted to snatch it and shake the dust from your shoes. While there is no law that regulates what an employer may or must offer in a severance package, having legal advice when you receive your offer may allow you to obtain a fair agreement without losing your rights.