The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

Now is a good time to make sure your employees are being properly reimbursed for expenses they incur while performing their jobs. The problem: If they aren’t reimbursed for those expenses, their pay may fall below minimum wage. And if that’s the case, they can quit and sue, alleging constructive discharge.

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Here’s a warning for federal government employers: Just about any internal complaint about agency wrongdoing may be protected activity under the Whistleblower Pro­­tec­­tion Act (WPA).

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Vallejo-based Pace Solano has settled charges it violated the ADA when it withdrew an employment offer after discovering the applicant’s disability. Pace Solano provides services for Solano County citizens with developmental disabilities.

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Here’s a novel situation: What do you do if you learn that someone is undermining a manager or HR director’s efforts to stop sexual harassment by enforcing company rules? If you ignore the manager’s complaint, she may sue the company for allowing sexual harassment to flourish.

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The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), California’s civil rights agency, submits an annual report each calendar year to the governor and the state legislature. The latest report shows growing trends toward more filings related to disability, race and gender-based discrimination.

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Don’t let your organization fall into the retaliation trap. Make sure all supervisors understand that nothing should change for an employee after he files a discrimination complaint without prior approval from HR. Then, act only if it’s clear the proposed action has nothing to do with the complaint.

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Do you have a difficult employee you just know is going to sue you if you fire him? That’s no reason to treat him with kid gloves. Just make sure you have a rock-solid reason for the discharge. You may still be sued, but the case likely won’t go far.

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Benefits like vacation, sick leave, relocation payments and the like must be provided equally to all similarly situated employees. Don’t reward some with additional perks and leave others out—unless you’re willing to risk a lawsuit.

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Executives of Parrot Cellular, a Cen­­tral Valley and Bay Area cellphone retailer, have agreed to pay just under $4.2 million to the company’s em­­ployee stock ownership plan (ESOP) following a probe by the U.S. Depart­­ment of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA). Investigators found that company owners had the plan buy company stock at highly overvalued rates.

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A U.S. Department of Labor Em­­ployee Benefit Security Admin­­is­­tra­­tion (EBSA) investigation has revealed that Sunkist Growers and its fiduciaries improperly used retirement plan funds to pay salaries and benefits for several employees and managers.

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