The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

Courts are losing patience with employers that ignore sexual harassment instead of dealing with it right away.

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The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) have announced that they recently reached a tentative agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the largest Hollywood producers’ group.

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The Wilshire Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles will pay more than $1.3 million following a National Labor Relations Board ruling that it engaged in unfair labor practices during contract negotiations with a hotel workers union.

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The EEOC has published its final regulations implementing Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA). They take effect on Jan. 10. The new regulations clarify when employers may be liable for acquiring genetic information.

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Sometimes, supposedly disabled employees try to play their employers by piling on new, incessant demands for reasonable ADA accommodations. For better or worse, it’s often best to just go along, especially if the accommodation won’t cost much. It could keep you out of court.

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When the California Legislature reinstated rules requiring overtime pay for work in excess of eight hours per day back in 1999, some employers thought their labor budgets would skyrocket. Some hospitals found ways to reduce OT costs, either by eliminating 12-hour shifts altogether or simply reducing the hourly pay for those nurses that worked the extended shifts. After more than a decade, a lawsuit over the reductions has been decided.

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It’s expensive to train employees, especially if the content is highly specialized. Smart employers protect their investments by getting employees to agree to repay training costs if they leave soon after receiving the valuable benefit. Just don’t mess with the employee’s final paycheck.

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News to note if you work in a unionized workplace: Health benefits are still a legitimate bargaining chip. Members of the University Professional & Technical Employees Union recently agreed to shoulder more of the health insurance burden in exchange for better performance-based pay.

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The state Office of the Attorney General has filed a lawsuit charging eight Southern California car washes with stiffing workers out of wages, failing to pay the minimum wage, reneging on overtime pay and denying legally mandated breaks.

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Many employers still don’t realize it: If one of your employees is called to active military service that lasts 180 days or more, you can’t summarily terminate that employee once he is back at work. Even if he left as an at-will employee, for one year he can only be discharged for cause.

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