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The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

Some employees think that any unfair treatment is grounds for a lawsuit under either federal law or California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Fortunately for em­­ployers, mundane workplace gripes aren’t enough to support a lawsuit.

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Employees who complain to their employers about discrimination are usually protected from retaliation. But they must at least mention the sort of discrimination at issue. Simply protesting that an evaluation wasn’t fair won’t do the trick.

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Disabled employees may ask for a transfer to a job closer to home to ease a difficult commute, but the ADA doesn’t obligate employers to help.

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The Court of Appeal of California has ruled that an arbitration agreement hidden deep in the recesses of an employee handbook can’t be en­­forced. The provision didn’t stand out, didn’t require a signature and could be changed by the employer at any time. The court said that rendered it unconscionable.

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A San Francisco civil grand jury has concluded that 38 restaurants built into their prices the cost of providing city-mandated employee health coverage—and then never offered the benefits to workers. The grand jurors’ suspicion: That restaurateurs pocketed a substantial portion of the money.

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Extended Health Care Private Duty Nursing, a Los Angeles-area home nursing agency, has agreed to pay $654,082 to settle a Fair Labor Standards Act complaint that followed a federal probe into its pay practices.

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The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has given a government employee another shot at a discrimination lawsuit. The case highlights how complicated the litigation process has become, since apparently even the EEOC doesn’t know the rules.

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Employers experiencing economic difficulties can cut positions if need be and not worry that it cost the job of an employee who was out on maternity leave. But beware! If the decision to cut the employee was based on her having taken leave, she can sue.

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The Court of Appeal of California has upheld an arbitration agreement included in an employee handbook. The difference between this case and the arbitration case in “Don’t bury arbitration agreement in handbook”: The agreement was clear and obvious.

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There are some things employers just can’t do, no matter what a senior manager may want. For example, you can’t punish a good employee for pointing out potential legal violations.

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