The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

If you take prompt, remedial action and then monitor the situation for possible continued harassment or retaliation, chances are that a one-time incident won’t mean losing a sexual harassment lawsuit. Of course, you still have to investigate every allegation, even if your first impression is that there wasn’t behavior serious enough to constitute sexual harassment.

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Yes, employers are supposed to engage in an interactive process to arrive at reasonable ADA accommodations. But that doesn’t mean everything the employee wants, the employee gets. It’s up to the employer to determine which accommodation is both reasonable and best suited to its business needs.

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When you settle an employment discrimination complaint or lawsuit, you likely include a “no-rehire” provision. Essentially, you trade some settlement dollars for the former employee’s promise not to apply for work at your company in the future. It’s a way to prevent future failure-to-hire lawsuits. Until now, everyone thought such common settlement provisions were legally valid and enforceable. But now a recent case has cast doubt on that premise by looking at California’s broad prohibitions on restrictive covenants in the Business and Professions Code Section 16600.

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The California Supreme Court has agreed to review the California Court of Appeal’s decision in Gerard v. Orange Coast Memorial Center, which partially invalidated an Industrial Welfare Commission wage order provision allowing health care industry employees to waive one of two required meal periods on shifts longer than eight hours.

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A California Court of Appeal has upheld an arbitration agreement written in English and signed by employees with limited language ability.

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Sometimes, employees hold back on reporting sexual harassment out of fear, especially if the perpetrator is a supervisor. The first you hear about it may be during the termination meeting. If that happens, suspend the employee instead of firing him. That will give you time to investigate.

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The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled that so-called automobile service advisors are nonexempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

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When it comes to reductions in force, employers must make sure that they develop a fair, reasonable and explainable selection process. Be prepared to show that the selection was based on sound business decisions and that the layoff wasn’t an excuse to terminate employees who might otherwise have a legal discrimination claim.

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OSHA has ruled that Union Pacific Railroad violated federal whistle-blower provisions when it suspended a machinist who recorded a safety inspection and then forwarded it to the Federal Railroad Administration.

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There are compelling reasons to outsource or at least get legal help with a sexual harassment complaint. First and foremost, the investigation must be quick, thorough and reasonable. Employers that drop the ball and don’t punish what looks like a clear case of sexual harassment face a long, uphill battle in court.

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