The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

Don’t let your organization fall into the retaliation trap. Make sure all supervisors understand that nothing should change for an employee after he files a discrimination complaint without prior approval from HR. Then, act only if it’s clear the proposed action has nothing to do with the complaint.

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Do you have a difficult employee you just know is going to sue you if you fire him? That’s no reason to treat him with kid gloves. Just make sure you have a rock-solid reason for the discharge. You may still be sued, but the case likely won’t go far.

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Benefits like vacation, sick leave, relocation payments and the like must be provided equally to all similarly situated employees. Don’t reward some with additional perks and leave others out—unless you’re willing to risk a lawsuit.

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Executives of Parrot Cellular, a Cen­­tral Valley and Bay Area cellphone retailer, have agreed to pay just under $4.2 million to the company’s em­­ployee stock ownership plan (ESOP) following a probe by the U.S. Depart­­ment of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA). Investigators found that company owners had the plan buy company stock at highly overvalued rates.

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A U.S. Department of Labor Em­­ployee Benefit Security Admin­­is­­tra­­tion (EBSA) investigation has revealed that Sunkist Growers and its fiduciaries improperly used retirement plan funds to pay salaries and benefits for several employees and managers.

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Employees who complain about discrimination or other problems by going to HR shouldn’t be punished for doing so. That includes the mere threat of punishment, whether or not that punishment is carried out.

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Want to arbitrate employment disputes rather than drag them out in state or federal court? Then make sure the arbitration agreement you use is fair to both sides and doesn’t include any obviously one-sided clauses favoring the employer.

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Ignorance of the law—and labor regulations—is no excuse. If your supervisors don’t understand that they need to give employees regular breaks and an uninterrupted meal period, they’re likely to trigger a class-action lawsuit.

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While having a union in the workplace may not be ideal, having a union contract in place clarifies many of the work rules your employees must follow, as well as how your disciplinary process must work.

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When an employee who would other­­wise qualify for unemployment benefits can’t work because she’s too ill, she loses her eligibility.

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