The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

In the wake of April’s worldwide H1N1 virus pandemic scare, now is the time to make sure your organization has an effective pandemic plan in place. Although this spring’s immediate threat seems to have abated, public health officials warn that the virus could re-emerge in the fall. There are 13 steps you can take to deal with H1N1:

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A state court of appeals recently ruled that Richmond-based Dicon Fiberoptics adequately pleaded its claim against California’s Franchise Tax Board in a case involving a tax credit for hiring disadvantaged workers.

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Sometimes, you have to make workplace changes because of outside factors. If those changes are going to affect a disabled employee’s job, proceed with caution. Make sure you can come up with a concrete, reasonable rationale for your decision—that shows it was unrelated to the employee’s disability.

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In what may be a classic case of “do as I say, not as I do,” a California appeals court has ruled that public employers in the state don’t have to follow the same state overtime and pay rules that apply to private employers.

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Most companies employ a broad range of workers with varying backgrounds. Those who are well-educated will have no trouble reading and understanding an application or employee handbook. Others may have a harder time understanding what they are reading. Still others may not speak or read English. That’s why it’s important to use plain language when drafting any documents your employees need to read.

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If you want to take advantage of the arbitration process to resolve workplace issues, make sure the arbitration agreement you give employees covers enough territory. Remember, for example, to include statutory claims in the language. If you don’t, employees will still be able to sue in court to enforce those laws.

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The California Supreme Court has ruled that California law doesn’t entitle granting of attorneys’ fees when employees successfully fight for specific medical treatments. It limited attorneys’ fee payments only to cases involving permanent benefit termination.

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The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has asked the California Supreme Court to rule on whether pharmaceutical sales representatives are exempt under the California Labor Code. Traditionally, they have been classified as exempt.

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Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.) recently introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would add mandatory coverage for second opinions on medical treatments under several laws, including ERISA.

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Yes, you read right. Four billion dollars. Billion—with a “B”! A California superior court recently confirmed an award of $4.1 billion against a Chinese company, its U.S. affiliate and its founder after an arbitrator found them liable in a compensation dispute with a former executive.

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