The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

Courts have spent considerable time sorting out the impact of Title VII on defined-benefit pension programs. Does an employer have to equalize the total amount male and female retirees receive? The answer is no.

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A federal district court has ruled that the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution by prohibiting California same-sex couples from signing up for long-term care insurance through the California Public Employees’ Retirement System.

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A lawsuit prompted by a DOL investigation has resulted in a court order requiring Extended Health Care Inc. of Downey to pay $654,082 to 108 nurses who alleged they missed out on overtime pay in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

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Guardsmark Security will pay $25,000 to settle a national-origin and age-­harassment complaint filed by an employee working in San Jose.

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The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has taken on medical marijuana and the ADA, concluding that individuals who use marijuana, even if doing so legally under state law, aren’t ­protected from discrimination under the ADA. That means disciplining employees for using medical marijuana won’t violate the ADA.

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On June 28, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Afford­­able Care Act. But the decision does not mean that the validity of the ACA is settled once and for all. Future legal challenges, and, of course, the November elections, may determine the law’s ultimate fate, but for now, prudence is the wisest course of action. Employers should proceed as if the law is constitutional.

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When it comes to securing em­­ployees’ email accounts against internal hacking, leave nothing to chance. Make it clear that you forbid employees from illegitimately accessing co-workers’ email—and that it’s grounds for dismissal.

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In April, the Cali­­for­­nia Supreme Court finally issued its opinion in Brinker v. Superior Court. In a major victory for California employers, the court issued clear rules on how and when employee meal and rest periods must be provided.

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In a case that tested the limits of an employer’s attendance policy, a nurse who had requested an accommodation that would have excused her from her employer’s five un­­planned absences limit has lost her appeal and won’t have her case reinstated. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of the nurse’s lawsuit.

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A state Court of Appeals has ruled that Cal/OSHA does not have to produce 2,200 files covering several years in a lawsuit over enforcement of California’s regulations designed to safeguard workers from work-related heat illness.

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