The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

Some employees do well for years, only to have their performance slip. There may come a time when you have to let the employee go. But what about all those glowing evaluations from years past? If you can prove that the employee’s performance has genuinely declined, those earlier evaluations won’t cause any trouble in court.

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A new law for 2013 requires Califor­nia employers that pay regular commissions to provide employees with a written contract detailing the formula for calculating commissions, as well as the method of payment.

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The San Francisco grocery store chain Casa Guadalupe and its owner have agreed to pay more than $120,000 to settle a wage-and-hour lawsuit filed by the DOL. The owner admitted to investigators that he willfully failed to issue time-and-a-half overtime pay to employees who worked more than 40 hours in a week.

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Treating a disabled employee even a little differently than others can spell big trouble. That even applies to seemingly minor differences such as telling one employee in advance about an automatic termination po­­licy, but not informing a disabled employee about the rule.

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A recent decision by the California Court of Appeal illustrates just how complicated and costly it can be to discipline an employee who is on protected leave.

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Employees who are temporarily unable to perform their jobs because of a disability are entitled to reasonable ADA accommodations. You’ll want to think about starting the interactive accommodations process as soon as a potentially disabled employee asks for more than the usual amount of leave.

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The California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement has slapped citations worth more than $1 million on a warehouse company in Chino, alleging that 865 employees were cheated out of overtime pay they had earned, and didn’t get required 30-minute meal breaks.

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If an employee is experiencing pregnancy complications, it may not be enough to provide four months of leave under California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave Law. For practical purposes, four months is the minimum leave employers are required to provide. You may owe more time off under the California FEHA, as long as it doesn’t create an undue hardship on your business operations.

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Do you administer make-or-break tests that everyone must pass? If so, make sure you test everyone under similar circumstances. Keep careful records of testing conditions and test results. That way, if someone claims the test was biased, you can at least show it was administered fairly and impartially.

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Not everyone wants to cooperate when an employer begins investigating discrimination or harassment charges. One solution is to tell all em­­ployees they must cooperate. Otherwise, they risk being disciplined. If that doesn’t work, you now have an option …

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