The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

Here’s some good news for those handling discipline and wondering whether your decision will stand up in court: You don’t always have to be exactly right, just fair and honest.

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WirelessCom, a small San Jose re­­seller of phone services, will pay $97,000 to settle a sexual harassment complaint filed by a then-19-year-old employee.

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If you use a time clock, you probably also use a rounding method so employees who clock in a little early or clock out slightly late are only paid for their scheduled time. The presumption is that over time, employees will clock in both early and late. Fortunately, a recent California appeals court decision sanctions this common-sense practice.

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Do you have a draconian FMLA leave policy that requires automatic termination for employees who use up their entitlement before being cleared to return to work? If so, you’re playing with fire.

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Most people want to do meaningful, satisfying work. But many jobs are just routine, boring and not particularly inspiring. Employers have no obligation to provide a perfectly harmonious workplace in which everyone is satisfied and fulfilled.

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San Francisco-based First Republic Bank will pay $1,009,644 in overtime back wages to 392 employees in California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Oregon. A DOL investigation revealed the bank incorrectly classified workers as exempt from the FLSA.

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Want to stop unfair competition from former employees? Have them acknowledge that customer lists that they may have access to are considered trade secrets and that they can’t solicit customers from those lists after leaving.

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There’s one or two in every workplace: a first-level supervisor who yells and screams at everyone. Bullying probably isn’t the best way to get the most out of employees, but that doesn’t make it illegal.

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Most of the time, an employer needs only to honestly believe the reason given for a termination. However, that’s not true in cases involving the FMLA or California family leave.

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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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