The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

San Miguel Homes for the Elderly, an assisted-living facility in the Bay Area, has ended its militant opposition to U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (WHD) enforcement efforts and agreed to pay $425,000 in back wages to 26 caregivers.

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The owners of Hibachi City Buffet in Palm Desert, Calif., will pay more than $128,000 in back wages and penalties following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.

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If you pester an employee who is suing you with expensive pretrial tactics, you may wind up on the hook for his legal bills.

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Clearly document any economic reasons for discharging older employees. Be especially careful if you are keeping younger workers who may earn more than the older employees.

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Most of the people who work for you are probably classified as at-will employees, but some high-level employees may work under written employment contracts that cover such issues as trade secrets and the employee’s right to compete with you after termination.

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We say it over and over again: Document, document, document! But perhaps a little more clarity is in order: Document accurately, so there can be no doubt that you clearly recorded the details of violations that led to discipline.

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Arbitration agreements are enforceable in California only if they are conscionable. Courts are likely to uphold arbitration agreements written in plain language that is easy for employees to understand.

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One of the nation’s largest dried fruit processors, Z Foods in Madera, Calif., has agreed to pay $1,470,000 to settle sexual harassment and retaliation charges leveled in an EEOC lawsuit.

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Remind employees that attempting to access computer records after they terminate employment may land them in prison—even if they do so with the willing assistance of a current employee.

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If you use an arbitration clause to cut down on expensive litigation, make sure your attorneys know as soon as an employee sues. Otherwise, you may end up waiving your right to compel arbitration.

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