The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

Most often, sexual harassment involves a man’s inappropriate behavior directed toward a woman. But that doesn’t mean you can ignore female-on-male harassment. Simply put, both sexes are entitled to a workplace free of sexual harassment—and employers are obligated to stop such harassment when they find out about it.

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Nonexempt employees are entitled to be paid for all the hours they work. Before issuing a performance appraisal that hails hourly employees for coming in early and staying late, make sure they were appropriately compensated. Otherwise, your praise may come back to haunt you.

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Sometimes, the employee not hired is the one who causes the most legal trouble. A San Francisco law firm is facing a discrimination lawsuit after it declined to hire a young lawyer who had interned there. Her suit alleges that Howard Rice discriminated against her on the basis of gender, national origin and race when it decided to defer and later rescind her associate contract.

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Privacy laws are confusing. If you are unsure about whether you can release any employee information, check with your attorney. That may help you avoid the kind of drawn-out litigation one employer recently endured.

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Final rules are now in place for enforcing Executive Order 13496, the White House decree requiring all federal contractors and subcontractors to notify employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act. The following questions and answers cover some of the issues you may have to deal with.

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The California State Senate and State Assembly have approved a bill that would restrict the use of credit reports by employers that conduct background checks on job applicants and employees. But enactment isn’t a sure thing, based on the recent history of similar legislation.

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Employees who claim they were terminated or otherwise punished for whistle-blowing often have several potential claims. Fortunately for employers, employees can’t file both a federal administrative claim (and then not appeal the agency decision) and file a state court claim later.

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The California Supreme Court has ruled that employees don’t have a private right to sue their employers for alleged tip violations.

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The Court of Appeal of California has refused to expand the time a former employee has to file a claim under the Fair Employment and Housing Act.

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It’s frustrating to be sued, especially when it looks like the litigation could become a class-action lawsuit. But warn supervisors: It will only make matters worse if they threaten potential members of the class. Courts want employees to freely choose whether to participate in class actions. If courts suspect that intimidation is a factor, they’ll step in.

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