My relatives love to remind me of my favorite word as a child, “Bakit?” It’s the Tagalog word for “Why?” I questioned everything and followed every answer with another question until I was satisfied with the response. The law to me is what my young self was to my family–a challenge to my intelligence, eloquence, and reasoning.
I chose the law for the challenge and the fuel it provided to my competitive spirit, but what attracted me is the potential a legal career has to make an impact. Here at Stokes Wagner, I have the opportunity to help guide businesses within the hospitality industry through the maze of labor and employment laws. With clients scattered in different states and other clients in sectors other than hospitality, the work is as exciting as it is rewarding. The task is made even better because I have the privilege of working alongside mentors and colleagues who value genuine human interactions and are devoted to providing the best service to their clients.
Outside of the office, you’ll likely find me grappling on the mats, over-ordering in a new restaurant, or enjoying the company of my family and friends…or you may find me on top of a mountain or laying in the beach in a foreign country!
On January 14, 2020, the House Committee on Education and Labor voted to advance the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (H.R. 2694). The act aims to eliminate discrimination and promote women’s health and security by allowing pregnant women to continue working without jeopardizing their pregnancy. Although the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Americans with Disability Act provide some federal protections for pregnant workers, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will be the first federal law that explicitly guarantees all pregnant workers the right to reasonable accommodation.
The act ensures that both job applicants and current employees with known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions are provided reasonable accommodations unless it would impose an “undue hardship” on the operation of the employer’s business. The act also protects pregnant workers from the denial of employment opportunities, from retaliation for requesting a reasonable accommodation, or from forced leave when another reasonable accommodation is available.
Under the act, the rights and remedies available to pregnant workers are the same as those established under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which includes lost pay, compensatory damages, and reasonable attorneys’ fees.
Now, whether pregnant workers will be entitled to the rights under the act is up to the House.
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The California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”) grants new rights to California consumers, took effect on January 1, 2020. In response, businesses must take on new obligations.
What new rights do consumers have? Consumers now have the right to know what personal information is collected, used, shared, or sold, as well as the right to request the deletion of this personal information from businesses and a business’s service provider. Further, consumers have the right to direct a business not to sell their personal information. Lastly, the CCPA prohibits businesses from discriminating against consumers for exercising their rights under the CCPA.
Which businesses does the CCPA affect? The CCPA applies to legal entities that are organized or operated for profit, do business in the State of California, collect consumers’ personal information, and satisfy one of the following thresholds: a) have annual revenues in excess of $25 million; b) annually buy, receive for commercial purposes, sell, or share consumer personal information of 50,000 or more consumers; or c) derive 50% or more of its annual revenue from selling consumer personal information.
What does this mean for businesses subject to the CCPA? Before collecting consumer information, businesses must notify consumers of what personal information is being collected and the purposes of the collection. Businesses must also provide a way for consumers to exercise their rights under the CCPA, such as a mechanism to submit requests for personal information, deletion, or to opt-out. A toll-free number or a website address will suffice. Businesses must then comply with any verifiable consumer request received.
Why should a business, as an employer, care? The CCPA necessitates the creation and implementation of a procedure to organize and collect data to timely respond to consumer requests as part of a businesses’ privacy practice. The CCPA explicitly requires that all individuals responsible for handling consumer inquiries about the business’s privacy practices are informed of the requirements under the CCPA and know how to direct consumers to exercise their rights under the CCPA. Thus, employers should train consumer-facing employees on the requirements of the CCPA, any newly implemented data collection procedures, and how to respond to consumer requests and inquiries.
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