The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

Here are seven hot-button topics that California HR leaders should stay on top of. Practical advice will help you comply with a shifting employment law landscape.

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C&H Collins-Hartwell Programs, a Southern California provider of medical day care, must pay 32 employees $344,000 in back pay and damages after the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found it only paid straight time to workers who worked more than 40 hours in a week.

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Employees of the Seafood Peddler restaurant in San Rafael have netted $185,000 after a jury determined the restaurant and its owner retaliated against them for cooperating with a U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division investigation into the eatery’s pay practices.

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It’s not always possible to accommodate an employee’s disability. Employers do have to consider possible accommodations that allow a disabled employee to retain his job. However, it is unreasonable to expect the employer to entirely eliminate an essential job function.

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A lawsuit filed in California alleges that Handy, the sharing economy’s version of a cleaning service, is playing dirty with its workers. Like its brethren—Uber, Taskrabbits and others—the company uses independent contractors instead of employees.

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San Jose-based Electronics for Imaging (EFI) will have to pay $40,156 to eight workers it brought in from India. A U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division investigation found the company required workers to put in as many as 122 hours per week and paid as little as the equivalent of $1.21 per hour in Indian rupees.

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Here’s a warning for new supervisors who want to replace long-term employees with individuals of their own choosing: They could be courting a discrimination lawsuit if the replacements belong to a different protected class and aren’t as qualified as those being replaced.

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Federal government employees who want to bring discrimination and harassment charges must complain to their agency’s equal employment opportunity officer within 45 days of the alleged event. However, when it comes to so-called continual violations, even one incident occurring within that 45-day period will bring earlier incidents into play.

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Some employers provide rental housing so employees can live near their work sites. If you do, be aware that employee injuries that happen near that housing can open a legal can of worms that will leave you wishing you only had to deal with a workers’ compensation claim.

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Ever felt déjà vu when an employee claimed she was suffering retaliation because of a prior discrimination or harassment complaint? If what the employee describes sounds familiar, watch out. You may have a serial retaliator on your hands, and those earlier incidents may end up being used to prove retaliation has occurred again.

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