The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

Employees who believe their employers may be forcing them to participate in a tip pool and may be diverting part of the tips to owners or managers who aren’t entitled to them may or may not have a right to sue on their own behalf.

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According to a recent report, 286 of Fortune 500 companies provide equal benefits to same-sex couples. What’s more, the better the company performs, the more likely it is to offer benefits that serve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) workers.

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Sometimes, employees who want to sue their employers don’t have the cash for up-front fees lawyers demand. If the employee has little money, she may ask the court to find free legal representation. But that will work only if she’s already looked hard for an attorney herself—and the EEOC or another agency has concluded her case has merit.

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For several years, California courts have confused employers whose employees receive tips from customers. The question: What sort of tip pools can employers mandate? Iit wasn’t clear whether bartenders and others who don’t directly approach diners could share in the tips. Now, the answer is in from the Court of Appeal of California.

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If a defendant pleads nolo contendere, the criminal court system treats that as a conviction, even though a nolo contendere plea means the person neither contests the charges nor admits they are true. But then there’s the quirky realm of school employment, in which a wrinkle in the legislation governing who may work at schools means a no-contest plea isn’t necessarily a conviction.

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The nonprofit California HealthCare Foundation (CHF) has concluded that California’s minimum nurse-to-patient requirement has had little direct effect on the quality of care. The goal of the minimum staffing ratios, implemented in 2004, was the improvement of patient outcomes.

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Watch out! Some tests you use to see whether employees or applicants are suitable for a job could screen out individuals with disabilities. You could wind up in court defending against an ADA claim.

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Sometimes, an employee is so disruptive that it doesn’t matter how well she is performing her job. Constant arguments, tension and other elements of a personality conflict can poison the work environment and drag down other employees’ performance. She’s got to go!

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A former lawyer at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP has filed a lawsuit against the law firm for terminating his employment after he wrote a performance evaluation that criticized another associate and partner.

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Remind managers not to punish or otherwise retaliate against employees who report suspected drug use by fellow employees. Such tip-offs may constitute protected activity, and retaliation may lead to a lawsuit.

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