The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has vetoed A.B. 482, a bill that would have prevented employers from using consumer credit reports when performing background checks on employees and applicants.

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A former clerical worker is suing a San Francisco Bay Area-based trucking company, claiming he was harassed and subsequently fired for asking about medical benefits for his same-sex partner.

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Employees who think they have been misclassified as exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act and the California Labor Code may sue on behalf of themselves and all similarly situated current and former employees. Generally, if the case is approved as a class-action lawsuit, those current and former employees will get a chance to opt into the lawsuit for the FLSA claims and opt out of the state case. How employers react can affect how the court handles the opt-out process.

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California employers may incorrectly assume that if they abide by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the California Labor Code, they have met their obligations to workers. That may not be true. Local municipalities can also regulate some aspects of wage-and-hour laws.

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California Labor Code provisions specifying when and where employees should take their meals don’t apply to public employees, only to private-sector employees.

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A three-judge panel of the California Court of Appeal for the 2nd Appellate District has upheld a lower court’s decision to dismiss a lawsuit against an accounting firm working for a celebrity-owned restaurant. The court held that the firm, Gumbiner Savett, can’t be accused of negligence for allegedly overreporting the incomes of servers who were forced to pool tips while working for Ago Restaurant.

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Now that it’s finally back in business, the NLRB has issued several controversial and decidedly anti-business decisions. You may recall that the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that NLRB decisions made while there were just two board members are invalid. Those old cases and all new ones are now being heard by a new set of board members, three of whom are former union lawyers.

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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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