The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

These days, unions are using tough tactics, including targeting nonunion employers with postcard campaigns that urge the public to boycott nonunion products and services. Some of those mailings may be misleading—or flat-out lies. You could sue for defamation, but that’s an uphill battle …

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California lawmakers—and courts—don’t like noncompete agreements because they limit employee mobility and career growth. Most employers understand that they can’t enforce such agreements if an employee leaves. But what about an informal “gentlemen’s agreement” between competitors to refrain from hiring employees who signed agreements?

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You may not realize that employees can sue for retaliation if they’re punished for taking action to enforce the ADA against another organization. If the employee can show the action led to the punishment, he has a case.

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In a recent article, we explain how the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is struggling to clear a backlog of cases after a huge Supreme Court decision invalidating many prior decisions. Now the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has added to the NLRB’s burden by kicking a case back to the board rather than deciding it in court.

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Some employees think that every complaint they make to their employers is a protected whistle-blowing complaint. That’s just not true. Case in point:

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California is a great state—for employees who want to sue their employers. Even the wage statements employees get with their paychecks can lead to lawsuits. Advice: Have your attorney take a look at those pay stubs to make sure they comply with California wage-and-hour laws.

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Some local California governments have to give preference to minority- or female-owned contractors. Now in an odd twist, the California Supreme Court has said that such preferences are legal only if the local government can show it does in fact discriminate. That could end such preferences.

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On Aug. 1, a union representing postdoctoral researchers at the University of California reached a tentative collective-bargaining agreement. The five-year pact between the university system and Postdoctoral Researchers Organize/UAW (PRO/UAW), which represents 6,500 postdoctoral researchers in the UC system, calls for pay increases of at least 3% per year from 2010 to 2015 for researchers earning less than $47,000.

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California-based members of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) have ratified a two-year labor agreement with the California Department of Personnel Administration (DPA).

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Six California metropolitan areas ranked in the top 50 on Forbes magazine’s 2010 list of the nation’s best cities for working mothers. Forbes rated the cities against criteria that considered women’s income, cost of living, availability of pediatricians, safety, employment opportunities and spending on education.

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