The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

Here’s a simple risk-reduction measure for employers that require employees to wear a uniform they need to put on before the start of a shift. You can reduce your chances of being on the losing end of a wage-and-hour lawsuit by giving employees the option to suit up at home.

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Unions are stepping up their organizing activity, and smart employers are preparing by making sure their rules on solicitation, distribution and access to private property meet legal requirements. If you don’t have a “no solicitation/no distribution” policy, adopt one now. It can help regulate two types of conduct that unions depend on when trying to organize a workplace.

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Lately, employees have been winning when they sue over profit-sharing or retirement plans based on company stock that rapidly lost investment value. In the wake of the Enron bankruptcy scandal, juries sympathized with workers who paid the price for lousy (or illegal) management. Now, employers are gaining the upper hand again, as courts recognize that companies are often in a no-win situation when it comes to providing stock information.

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The little things employees end up doing while getting ready for work can add up to a big overtime bill later. That’s because courts often see such preparatory work, even if it benefits the employee, too, as work that must be compensated. Consider this recent case involving making the morning coffee and breakfast before the start of a shift.

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The little things employees end up doing while getting ready for work can add up to a big overtime bill later. That’s because courts often see such preparatory work, even if it benefits the employee, too, as work that must be compensated. Consider this recent case involving making the morning coffee and breakfast before the start of a shift.

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There are many good reasons to regularly review your employee handbook. But here’s another good reason to review and update your policies: A poorly written or overly broad handbook could result in unfair labor practices charges from the National Labor Relations Board. That’s true even if your workforce isn’t unionized.

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Sixteen of the firms on Fortune magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list are headquartered in California, the most in the nation. Texas came in second on the Fortune list, with 13 companies.

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Sixteen of the firms on Fortune magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list are headquartered in California, the most in the nation. Texas came in second on the Fortune list, with 13 companies.

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Some disabled employees seem to believe they can get whatever accommodation they want. That’s not true. In reality, California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act gives employers great leeway to choose accommodations that suit their businesses. That can include telling the employee to take medical leave until she is well enough to return.

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Employees with multiple medical problems may need to be off work at unpredictable times. That can be a problem if a no-fault attendance policy requires terminating an employee with too many absences. If you don’t want to fire an otherwise good worker, it’s perfectly reasonable to accommodate him by excusing him from the attendance policy—as long as he can provide a doctor’s note.

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