The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

The Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General has issued a blistering report on departmental practices.

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Here’s good news for employers facing litigants acting as their own attorneys. The Court of Appeal of California has concluded that low-income ex-employees are not entitled to free counsel under the Shriver Act, which calls for legal counsel to “represent low-income parties in civil matters involving critical issues affecting basic human needs.”

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Here’s a bit of positive news on the litigation front: An employee who is in the very first stages of litigation can’t demand the court force his employer to provide a list of names and addresses for all its employees. Instead, the employee has to first provide some proof of his own, individual claim before he can invade other workers’ privacy.

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If an employee dies of an accidental prescription drug overdose, you’d think it would be hard for the family to claim workers’ compensation death benefits. But as the California Supreme Court shows, if an employee can claim the injury was work-related, an overdose on the resulting medications could trigger a workers’ comp claim.

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It may be natural for supervisors to be upset when one of their key employees goes out on workers’ compensation or FMLA leave, but make sure managers know not to lash out.

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Nobody likes a serial litigator, but don’t fall into the trap of punishing an employee for repeatedly filing lawsuits.

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As of July 1, California colleges, universities and post-secondary schools are required to bolster their compliance with new state laws regarding policies concerning sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking. This new law requires schools to enter into agreements with local law enforcement and report crime statistics.

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Federal employees have a much shorter time frame than other employees in which to complain about discrimination. In fact, they must go to their equal employment opportunity (EEO) officer within just 45 days of the alleged discrimination. But that time limit doesn’t apply if the employee has no way of knowing she was the victim of it.

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When the high school football coach at St. Patrick-St. Vincent High School in Vallejo, California learned that some of his players were hazing underclassmen, he reported it to his superiors. The high school investigated and expelled five students. It also fired the coach who reported the hazing. He sued the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento for retaliation.

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Are you considering settling an ADA accommodations case by paying a lump sum? Do you think the employee could do his job with an accommodation? Then keep good records of your accommodations process, the medical records you used to consider possible accommodations and other information about the employee, his job and his abilities.

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