The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

Don’t let a disabled employee get away with behavior you wouldn’t tolerate in other employees. There’s no reason to put up with threats and intimidation.

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Generally, employers have the right to choose which accommo­­dation they want to offer a disabled employee. That is, the employer—not the employee—gets to choose. But that right has limits.

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The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has found two California nursing homes failed to pay their employees the federal minimum wage.

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It is now illegal in the state to require employees to sign agreements waiving their rights under the Ralph Civil Rights Act (Civil Code 51.7) and the Tom Bane Civil Rights Act (Civil Code 52.1). Those civil rights laws prohibit hate violence and threats against citizens based on certain protected classes, such as political affiliation, sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability or medical condition, or on account of position in a labor dispute.

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Two California Court of Appeal districts have significantly ex­­panded employee protection for whistle-blowers. The cases highlight that employees don’t actually have to “blow the whistle” to be protected from retaliation.

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Six California cities scored perfect 100 ratings in the Human Rights Campaign’s annual assessment of American cities with local laws and policies that protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination.

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Last month, we provided background information on Cali­­for­­nia’s new Paid Sick Leave Law. This month, we follow up with critical information on how you need to implement the law.

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A worker who files a Fair Labor Stand­­ards Act lawsuit claiming unpaid wages must actually set out facts showing that he wasn’t properly paid. Mere allegations aren’t enough.

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A public school teacher who files an internal appeal over her pay or classification has three years after the final decision to file a lawsuit.

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Here’s a warning for employers thinking about turning employees into independent contractors to avoid paying benefits and payroll taxes: If some of the employees challenge the decision, you may be in for years of expensive, time-consuming litigation. That can easily turn a penny-pinching strategy into a money pit.

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