The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

In recent months, the National Labor Relations Board has been busy. So have courts that oversee its activities. Two courts handed down employer-friendly decisions invalidating or at least delaying the implementation of new rules instituted by the NLRB.

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On March 29, the EEOC issued a final rule amending its regulations regarding the “reasonable factors other than age” defense under the Age Discrimination in Employ­­ment Act (ADEA). The final rule will make it more difficult for employers to defend age-bias claims brought under the ADEA.

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Here’s something to consider the next time you authorize discipline or discharge: It pays to independently investigate management’s underlying reasons for the action. Do that even if the employee in question doesn’t belong to a traditional protected class.

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Some employees think all criticism equals harassment—the slightest insult triggers an angry response and a formal complaint. When that happens, investigate the claim. If there’s nothing to it, say so and move on. You may be sued, but chances are the case will quickly be dismissed.

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A federal judge has ordered Sunnyvale-based Crazy Buffet to pay its workers $404,000 in damages following a U.S. Department of Labor investigation. The Chinese-food buffet restaurant had a policy of not paying wages to workers, although it allowed them to keep their tips.

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Cal/OSHA has cited Lamont-based Community Recycling and Resources Recovery for 16 workplace safety violations after two brothers died from hydrogen sulfide gas exposure while working in a storm drain.

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A federal court has upheld a Cali­for­­nia state requirement that nurses who want to renew or apply for a professional license must submit a set of fingerprints along with their applications. The prints are needed to conduct criminal background checks.

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In a case that’s already being appealed, a federal district court has ruled that a federal agency must enroll an employee’s same-sex spouse in the employee’s health care plan.

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Determining the amount of overtime pay depends on employees’ hourly rate of pay for the first 40 hours. That can sometimes be more complicated than it sounds, especially for employers that pay their hourly employees a set amount for their entire workweek, including overtime.

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Some employees make a hobby out of suing employers. The next time you face a serial litigant, ask your attorney to try to persuade the court to ban further filings. More and more courts are willing to agree.

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