Author: Trina M. Clayton
Federal and California fair housing laws, most notably the Fair Housing Act (42 U.S.C. 3601, et seq.) and the Fair Employment and Housing Act (Cal. Gov. Code §§ 12900, et seq.), prohibit discrimination in housing rental or conditions based on specific protected classes, such as race, sex, religion, disability, and (the subject of this blog post) familial status.
Familial status refers to any household with children under the age of 18. It applies whether the minor is a biological child, adopted, a foster child, or legally under the custody or guardianship of an adult tenant. It applies to both traditional and non-traditional families. It also applies to pregnant women, as well as families that are in the process of securing legal custody of children through adoption, foster care, or divorce. It is illegal to discriminate against a prospective or current tenant because there is a child, or will be a child, in the home.
It is important to understand that familial status discrimination may occur at any stage of property rental. This blog will explore some of the pitfalls a landlord might run into, during the pre-tenancy period.
If you are a landlord, you might find yourself in violation of fair housing laws even just based on advertising for your available units. When advertising for your property, you should try to describe property attributes and/or amenities, not what you are (or are not) looking for in a resident. If you promote your unit or complex as a “quiet” or an “adult” community, “perfect for singles,” or “ideal for a student,” you could be sending the message to prospective tenants that children are not welcome.
It is important for landlords to review their rental applications and leases to ensure they do not contain overt, or inadvertent language which could be read as discriminatory to applicants with children.
Pre-tenancy interviews and screening are other areas in which landlords might find themselves inadvertently in violation of anti-discrimination laws. Asking a potential applicant if they have children or if they are pregnant could be construed as discriminatory – a better approach is to inquire into the number of occupants (though unreasonably restrictive occupancy limits can also be discriminatory). Other statements such as “there are no other kids here” or “there is no place for children to play” are also considered discriminatory.
It is imperative a landlord abide by federal, state and local laws regarding Fair Housing. For specific legal advice on familial status or other types of housing discrimination, please contact Ad Astra for guidance.
Author: Trina M. Clayton
When hiring a new employee, many employers find it valuable to observe a candidate perform essential job skills, to help them select the right applicant. An employer may ask a candidate to demonstrate how they would actually perform the job – for instance – having a delivery driver lift heavy boxes, having a cook demonstrate food preparation skills, or having an office worker perform a typing test. Employers should be mindful, however, that depending on what the applicant is asked to do during an interview, and how much time it takes, they may need to pay the applicant for this “try-out” time.
According to the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), there are three principal factors to consider when determining whether “try-out” time needs to be paid.
Author: Michael S. Dorsi
Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. And California civil procedure has an answer to the need for immediate orders from a court: you can, on one day, file your case, make your first motion, obtain a temporary restraining order, and have the court set a date when the defendant is ordered to show cause why a Temporary Restraining Order should not be granted.
What is the trick to winning such a big, early victory for a client?
First, the relief must fit the facts. That the defendant owes a lot of money is typically not going to be enough for an early court order. A court can order the defendant to pay later. The Opening Day TRO requires something more than just monetary damages.
Second, you, the attorney, should get to know the courtroom. Different counties have different procedures. Marin County assigns cases to a single judge, so that same judge hears your ex parte application, your noticed motions, your case management issues, and your trial. San Francisco assigns several judges to civil trials full-time, while two different courtrooms handle motions (Department 501 for cases dealing with real property and housing, Department 302 for everything else). And while some judges take the bench, others send out a clerk to talk to the parties and report back with the papers. Having experience in the specific courtroom is best, but if you don’t have that, at least show up and watch ex parte applications in the appropriate courtroom.
Third, cross your t’s and dot your i’s. The easiest way for a court to deny an ex parte application is for failure to follow procedure. Sometimes that means delivering a courtesy copy of your papers even before you file them at the clerk’s office. Don’t worry if it seems strange, you will be more successful if you just do what the court wants.
Author: Michael S. Dorsi
California law permits plaintiffs to file a complaint and seek a temporary restraining order on an ex parte basis the day the plaintiff files the complaint. This is not for every case, but it is an important procedure when time is of the essence. Sometimes judges attempt to cajole the parties into an agreement that will hold until the judge can decide a fully briefed preliminary injunction, and sometimes judges will issue a TRO on the papers submitted on day one.
But to get to a day-one temporary restraining order, you must get past the clerk’s office.
San Francisco Superior Court adopted rules that make getting past the clerk difficult. For most civil cases, parties represented by an attorney file their complaint in hard copy, then all subsequent filings must be online via the e-filing system. This includes papers for ex parte appearances.