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The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

Here’s a warning for your super­­visors and managers: If an em­­ployee complains that other em­­ployees are making fun of his wardrobe choices or other manner of dressing, act fast to stop the teasing.

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Track each request for ADA reasonable accommodations, along with your response. An employee’s right to sue over the denial begins as soon as it becomes obvious that her employer refused to accommodate her, and won’t be extended just because she keeps asking for an accommodation.

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A California Court of Appeal has held that an employer does not have to endure two trials on whether its workers are employees or independent contractors. The decision was based on the legal principle of collateral estoppel, since the company had already litigated the issue with a state agency.

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In April 2013, a California Court of Appeal decided that automobile service technicians, who were paid on a “piece-rate” basis, must also be paid at least the minimum hourly wage for the time that they are required to wait between their piece-rate-paid repair jobs. On July 19, the California Supreme Court refused to review the appeal court ruling, making it binding law.

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For years, many California courts refused to enforce class-action waivers, exposing California businesses to class-action liability regardless of any agreement with employees or customers to forgo class litigation. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion was supposed to change all that. It didn’t.

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Courts are losing patience with employees who are overly sensitive when it comes to joking and off-color comments in the workplace, and are tossing out flimsy lawsuits because it’s not their role to manage workplaces.

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When you buy a business, the employees generally don’t automatically transfer. Typically, the new owner decides which employees to keep on the payroll. Before you exclude any existing employees from consideration, make sure that rejecting them won’t look like a failure to hire because they have previously filed discrimination litigation.

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San Diego Mayor Bob Filner has resigned after settling sexual harassment claims against him.

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Before you jump for joy when an employee acts as her own lawyer in a federal lawsuit, consider this: Courts give pro se litigants lots of leeway, as this case shows.

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In an important decision on whether employers can limit an employee’s access to an administrative hearing on wage claims, the California Supreme Court has ordered the parties to file supplemental briefs in light of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision. In American Express Co. v. Italian Colors Restaurant, the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed its long-standing rule that arbitration clauses under the Federal Arbitration Act will be enforced.

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