The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

California State University Fresno has settled a suit brought by a female former volleyball coach who accused the school of sex discrimination. The settlement was reached 18 months after a California Superior Court jury returned a $5.85 million verdict in the favor of Lindy Vivas …

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The Orange County Register recently agreed to pay $22 million to settle a class action brought by its paper carriers, who claimed the newspaper misclassified them as independent contractors rather than employees. The settlement will bring to an end a two-month trial against the newspaper.

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Workers who alleged they had to endure marathon schedules while working on reality television shows such as “Trading Spouses” and “The Bachelor” have agreed to settle their lawsuits …

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A government employee has won a jury trial against Contra Costa County, and the verdict may cost the county more than $1 million.

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The California Labor Code prohibits potential employers from asking about marijuana possession convictions more than two years old. But sometimes, federal law overrides state law—and that’s the case for employers that are hiring potential employees to work in pharmacies.

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Not every little lost privilege or benefit translates into a winning lawsuit for employees. Minor changes such as temporarily losing the use of a company car aren’t serious enough to constitute an “adverse employment action.”

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Fifteen companies headquartered in California have made the 2009 Fortune magazine “100 Best Companies to Work For” list. Why did so many California companies make the list? Great benefits seem to be the reason.

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Tell managers and supervisors not to embellish the reasons for discharging an employee. If they do, they risk the potential for a defamation lawsuit. That may be true even if the former employee is compelled to repeat the allegedly false information.

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If you’re serious about wiping out sexual and other forms of harassment in your workplace, consider adopting a zero-tolerance policy for failing to report suspected or known harassment. By readily disciplining those who ignore that rule, you can create a new climate in which employees really believe you take harassment seriously.

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Employees who suspect their employers are trying to get them to leave voluntarily instead of firing them outright sometimes do quit. Then they turn around and sue under the theory of “constructive discharge.” Essentially, they argue their employer made their lives so miserable they had no choice but to resign. Fortunately for employers, courts are fairly strict in how they view constructive discharges.

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