The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

If your company is classified as a motor carrier, don’t expect the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 (FAAAA) to protect you from misclassification claims. That’s the lesson learned by one motor carrier after a recent Cali­­for­­nia Supreme Court decision.

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A DOL lawsuit claims that Los Angeles-based Cement Masons South­­ern Cali­­for­­nia Administrative Cor­­p. illegally fired an em­­ployee for cooperating with a federal investigation. The corporation managed assets for five Cement Masons employee benefits trusts in southern California.

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It’s not just harassment from co-workers and supervisors that can become the basis for a hostile environment claim. When a subordinate harasses his boss and the em­­ployer doesn’t intervene, the supervisor has a claim. That’s why it’s important to address all har­­assment, whatever its source.

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If you use an arbitration clause in your application or require employees to arbitrate claims, try to get the case moved to arbitration as soon as possible after the employee files a wage claim with the Cali­­for­­nia Department of Indus­­trial Rela­­tions.

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There are some jobs where the employee’s sex is a “bona fide occupational qualification”—but not many. For the vast majority of positions, employers can’t exclude people of one sex and only hire members of the opposite sex. After a recent appellate decision, it seems unlikely that one-sex hiring will survive legal scrutiny.

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Remind supervisors and managers that they shouldn’t assign jobs or duties based on a worker’s gender. Nor should anyone in management make comments that could be interpreted as sexist or as assumptions that certain roles are best assigned to either men or women.

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For the most part, courts don’t want to second-guess employer discipline. As long as you have reasonable rules in place, let employees know what those rules are and en­­force them consistently, most judges will uphold your disciplinary decisions.

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Eleven former exotic dancers at San Jose’s Pink Poodle strip club are suing, claiming they were misclassified as independent contractors and thus failed to receive minimum wages and overtime pay. Additionally, they claim the misclassification deprived them of health insurance.

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Custom Built Personal Training in Modesto, Ca. will have to whip its pregnancy-leave policy into shape after the EEOC threw its weight behind a fired employee’s lawsuit.

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USERRA provides job protection for military-connected employees once they re­­turn from extended military service. Employers shouldn’t fire covered workers without good cause and solid reasons. Be prepared to show you would have taken the same action whether the employee served or not.

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