The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

Employers and disabled employees are supposed to engage in an interactive process to decide on reasonable accommodations. It should be a two-way conversation. If you suggest possible accommodations and the employee either turns them down or doesn’t follow through, make sure you create a solid, contemporaneous record of the discussions.

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Given their druthers, courts would just as soon rule that employment arbitration agreements are valid—and send them back for an arbitrator to settle. But employers must help by making those agreements easily understood, fair and not entirely one-sided.

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Don’t make a common employer mis­take and assume that someone who is declared 100% disabled under a workers’ compensation claim can’t also be entitled to reasonable accommodations for a different job.

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Most employees can’t be fired for their legal, off-duty activities. But that’s not true for some government employees. For example, police officers, judges and teachers have a higher duty to the citizens they serve, and they can be terminated for off-duty conduct.

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Timing is everything. Suggesting retirement before any decision has been made to terminate an employee may show age discrimination. Discussing it after informing the employee that he’s been terminated doesn’t.

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The nonpartisan California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) has urged state law­makers to consider rejecting some or all of six new collective bargaining agreements negotiated with state employee unions in March.

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After a five-day strike, registered nurses have started returning to their jobs at Children’s Hospital in Oak­land. The nurses, represented by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, walked out on May 5 over a dispute about health care benefits.

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A report recently issued by Worksafe, a California advocacy group, found that California Hispanic workers are more than 50% more likely to die at work than non-Hispanic workers.

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John Muir Health agreed to settle bias charges brought by the EEOC, claim­ing the East Bay hospital system dis­­criminated against job applicants ­perceived to have latex allergies.

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On April 27, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Federal Arbitration Act protects a company’s right to include a class-action waiver in its arbitration agreement even though a state law bars such provisions as unconscionable. The case involved a retail consumer transaction, but it could have important implications for employers that use arbitration agreements.

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