The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

Each year the Human Rights Cam­­paign rates Fortune 500 companies on how well they treat lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees. Thirty-six California firms couldn’t have scored any better, earning perfect 100s.

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Employers that decide to add an arbitration agreement to their conditions of employment often try to get every employee’s signature on the document. But what if some employees don’t sign? What will you do? Can you count on the agreement being binding anyway? That’s unclear.

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Amendments to Labor Code Chapter 2.5 implementing AB 1844 took effect Jan. 1. The amendments bar employers from asking employees or job applicants for any social media account information.

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Smart employers carefully track performance over the long haul—not just when a manager decides he’s had enough and wants to terminate an employee for poor performance. It’s important to lay the groundwork early on, especially if a new hire has obvious performance problems right after coming on board.

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Judges tend to bend over backward to help so-called pro se litigants—individuals who decide to represent themselves in court. Sometimes, an employer’s best bet is to settle for a small amount—or urge the former employee to find an attorney.

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Temporary workers can still sue even if they no longer work for you because their contracts expired and weren’t renewed.

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The start of the New Year saw the enactment of several new California employment laws, including one that requires accommodation of employees’ religious dress and grooming needs.

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California employees now enjoy ex­panded pregnancy rights after new Fair Employment and Housing Commission regulations took effect Dec. 30, 2012. The regulations bar employers from discriminating against employees for virtually any pregnancy-related condition.

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Anytime you settle an employment discrimination case, make sure someone is in charge of implementing all the settlement terms. Otherwise, that case you thought was over and done with could easily wind up back in court.

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An employee you’re about to fire says he’s being discriminated against. If you think he’ll sue if you terminate him, consider offering him a last-chance agreement—all he has to do is promise not to sue for discrimination.

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