Thank you very much for clarifying your question. I definitely understand where you and your girlfriend are coming from and your concerns are very legitimate.
I need to be very up front with you about the law because there is a rather simple answer to your question. Contrary to what many people believe, there is no law generally requiring that employees be treated fairly or with respect in the workplace. Such conduct is typically only illegal if the motivation for it is an employee's race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, marital status, sex, age (over 40), or sexual orientation. This would constitute actionable discrimination. Unfair treatment or harassment for any other reason is not typically illegal.
Absent an employment contract guaranteeing employment for a specified period of time, employment in the state of California is presumed to be "at will." More specifically, California Labor Code Section 2922 provides that: "employment, having no specified term, may be terminated at the will of either party on notice to the other."
What this means is that an employer is free to terminate, discipline, or transfer employees for any reason whatsoever
, even a reason that is entirely unfair, unless the underlying motivation is discriminatory or otherwise in violation of California law. The law permits employees to be fired or disciplined based upon false allegations of misconduct. California courts will not intervene in such instances and have made this fact clear through decades of case law.
As noted above, "harassment" is only legally actionable if it occurs due to an employee's race, religion, gender, etc., and even then, the burden is on the claimant to prove that was the reason for the mistreatment. This is rarely an easy thing to demonstrate.
In regard to compensation for increased expenses, this too is not an option because employers are not required to reimburse employees for the cost of getting to their work site. Employers are only responsible for reimbursing employees for costs they incur once they arrive at work. Put into practice, this means an employee is not entitled to reimbursement for gas to get
to work, but would be entitled to reimbursement if they used their car to make a delivery to the post office during
work. This leads to the unfortunate result in your girlfriend's circumstance where she is transferred to a farther worksite unfairly and on top of that must bear the burden of the additional expense to get there.
Please understand that I am in complete agreement that these things are not fair. However, I would be doing you a disservice by providing you with anything other that an accurate legal response to your question, which is of course why you are here.
If your girlfriend believes that this treatment is in any way related to her gender or one of the other "protected characteristics" described above, an individual in her circumstance should document all comments, remarks, emails, or anything else that would tend to indicate that is the case.
If she wishes to file a lawsuit for discrimination (bearing in mind that such suit can only be brought if the reason for the mistreatment is gender, race, religion, etc.) she must first file a formal complaint of discrimination with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Either the EEOC or the DFEH will issue an authorization to sue after they investigate the claim. A claimant need to file with both agencies. Finally, if an individual in girlfriend's circumstance decides to sue, they must not miss their deadline. Under federal law in California, a claimant has 300 days from an act of discrimination to file a complaint.
For information on how to bring a claim through California's DFEH, visit this link: http://www.dfeh.ca.gov/Complaints.htm
For information on how to bring a claim through the EEOC, visit this link: http://www.eeoc.gov/employees/charge.cfm
Again, I am truly sorry that the law is not more favorable in regard to your girlfriend's situation, but I trust that you will appreciate my effort in providing an accurate summary of the relevant law and options.
I sincerely ***** ***** this information helps you and I wish you the best.
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