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The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

Here’s a good reason to make sure your supervisors aren’t targeting some employees for poor treatment: If they boast about their attitude outside of work, those statements may be used against them—and the company.

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San Diego-based Fashion Graphics has agreed to pay back wages and penalties while voluntarily stopping all shipments until the $171,000 is paid to its current and former employees. The screen printer supplies such retail chains as Macy’s, Walmart, Kohl’s and Hot Topic.

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What’s an employer to do when it becomes clear employees want to vote on a union? One strategy may surprise you.

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Employers that want to use arbitration to avoid protracted legal battles can include arbitration agreements in their applications and require applicants to sign as a hiring condition. That’s provided the agreement isn’t entirely one-sided.

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Sometimes, employees end up on unpaid leave after complaining about discrimination. Then the employee’s lawyers try to negotiate a settlement that includes returning to work. If you turn down such terms, make sure you get clarification on whether the worker will return even if you don’t meet her demands.

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Recently, lawyers representing former employees have been pushing the envelope in thinking of new ways to make employers pay big bucks. Fortunately, courts aren’t accepting some novel arguments, like the one in the following case.

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Do you offer a store credit card to your employees? If so, you likely want any balance due repaid if the employee quits or is fired. You may be able to get the employee’s agreement to repay the balance on termination out of his or her vacation or sick account balance.

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Employers that always have a clear and solid business reason for discharging employees seldom lose discrimination cases. That’s because even if a protected class member is affected, it’s very hard to counter the employer’s claim it terminated the employee for legitimate nondiscriminatory reasons.

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Good news if you’re worried about firing an employee who has filed a sexual harassment complaint. If your investigation concludes the complaining worker was also partly at fault, he won’t be able to win a wrongful discharge case—unless he can prove that his underlying complaint was a “substantial motivating reason” for his termination.

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Fortune magazine has tallied the 100 best companies to work for in 2014 and 17 California firms made the list. Five of the top 10 are based in Cali­­fornia—and one heads the list.

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