The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

Fired employees have nothing to lose by suing a former employer. And employers have no way of know-ing what frivolous claim a former employee may file. That’s one good reason to make sure you document poor performance.

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Employees don’t qualify for un­­employment benefits if they’re fired for misconduct. After all, it’s their own fault they were fired. Mis­­conduct generally includes actions that violate a so-called “reasonable employer” rule. However, employees who violate an employer’s reasonable rule because of a good-faith error in judgment can still collect benefits.

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Some employers favor arbitration agreements as a way to cut down on expensive and time-consuming litigation and avoid rogue juries that often sympathize more with workers than big, bad employers. But the reality is that arbitration agreements often cause more litigation, not less.

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Simply comparing the average age of workers before and after a RIF can make it look like age bias played a part in deciding who kept or lost their jobs. Laid-off employees’ attorneys routinely do that math. But employers can beat such statistical arguments by showing that their decision-making processes weren’t based on age, but on other legitimate business reasons.

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Think twice before shutting down one of several related businesses just to stop the spread of pro-union sentiment. It’s likely to prompt a lawsuit, and a court may well take organized labor’s side.

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Ordinarily, civil servants have qualified immunity for actions arising from their official duties as government workers. But punishing a subordinate for testifying in a civil rights lawsuit clearly destroys that immunity.

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A federal court has refused to open up yet another avenue for employees who want to directly sue their em­­ployers.

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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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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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The Court of Appeal of California has ruled for the first time that a partner who reports sexual harassment is protected from retaliation under the Fair Employment and Hous­­­­ing Act (FEHA).

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