The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

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 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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Here’s something to keep in mind when you are tempted to give an employee a choice between termination and early retirement: He may allege that the retirement option was really a constructive discharge.

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A federal judge recently approved an $8 million settlement between UPS and approximately 38,000 current and former California employees. The workers alleged the company failed to provide meal and rest breaks and did not pay terminated employees their wages on a timely basis.

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Employees who blow the whistle on their employers’ alleged illegal actions are protected from retaliation. But that protection has important limits. One of those is that the retaliation must take place while the employee is still working for the employer.

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Employers sometimes can’t get arbitration agreements to stick in California. Now an appellate court has finally upheld such an agreement.

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Judge Charles Hayes of the California Superior Court for the County of San Diego recently denied class certification to a group of taxi drivers who claimed they were improperly classified as independent contractors rather than employees.

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California finished better than just three states in the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council’s (SBEC) Business Tax Index for 2009. The only ones ranking lower than California: Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey and the District of Columbia.

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