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The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

Here’s some good news for em­­ployers facing a clearly frivolous lawsuit: The employee bringing the lawsuit may find himself on the hook for the employer’s legal fees. That only seems fair since ­employers often have to foot the bill for an employee’s successful lawsuit.

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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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When an employee requests time off for an FMLA-related reason, you should inform her she may be eligible and provide information on how to request leave. But sometimes, the employee may not want to use FMLA leave. Don’t force her.

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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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