The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

Employers often confuse the strict rules limiting the docking of exempt employees’ salary with different rules relating to partial-day deductions under vacation or paid time off policies.

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Here’s a warning for employers facing litigation: Don’t wait to check whether the employee filed EEOC or other administrative claims on time. Raise the issue early.

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Employees facing the end of FMLA or other medical leave are sometimes entitled to additional time off as a reasonable accommodation under the ADA. But they have to ask.

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If your company is classified as a motor carrier, don’t expect the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 (FAAAA) to protect you from misclassification claims. That’s the lesson learned by one motor carrier after a recent Cali­­for­­nia Supreme Court decision.

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A DOL lawsuit claims that Los Angeles-based Cement Masons South­­ern Cali­­for­­nia Administrative Cor­­p. illegally fired an em­­ployee for cooperating with a federal investigation. The corporation managed assets for five Cement Masons employee benefits trusts in southern California.

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It’s not just harassment from co-workers and supervisors that can become the basis for a hostile environment claim. When a subordinate harasses his boss and the em­­ployer doesn’t intervene, the supervisor has a claim. That’s why it’s important to address all har­­assment, whatever its source.

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If you use an arbitration clause in your application or require employees to arbitrate claims, try to get the case moved to arbitration as soon as possible after the employee files a wage claim with the Cali­­for­­nia Department of Indus­­trial Rela­­tions.

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There are some jobs where the employee’s sex is a “bona fide occupational qualification”—but not many. For the vast majority of positions, employers can’t exclude people of one sex and only hire members of the opposite sex. After a recent appellate decision, it seems unlikely that one-sex hiring will survive legal scrutiny.

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Remind supervisors and managers that they shouldn’t assign jobs or duties based on a worker’s gender. Nor should anyone in management make comments that could be interpreted as sexist or as assumptions that certain roles are best assigned to either men or women.

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For the most part, courts don’t want to second-guess employer discipline. As long as you have reasonable rules in place, let employees know what those rules are and en­­force them consistently, most judges will uphold your disciplinary decisions.

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