The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, it is unlawful for an employer to harass an employee based on the employee’s age. And employers are strictly liable for workplace harassment if the harasser is a supervisor. As a practical matter, that means HR must make sure no supervisor or manager makes any kind of comment that suggests any kind of age bias …

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Employees who claim they suffered emotional distress because of illegal disability discrimination under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act don’t have to rely solely on the workers’ compensation system to adjudicate their claims. They can go to court instead, suing for negligent infliction of emotional distress under state common law …

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An overwhelming majority of nursing home workers at 10 Sava Senior Care facilities in Northern California ratified a new contract in July. It will cover more than 1,000 workers who are members of the Service Employees International Union United Healthcare Workers-West (UHW) …

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Good news for California employers that pay their employees time-and-a-half for holiday work: You don’t have to cough up additional pay for overtime hours worked on a holiday …

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Two recent cases involving arbitration clauses in employment demonstrate the danger of relying on arbitration agreements to avoid litigation. Federal courts decided one case, while California’s appellate courts decided the other. Both found unconscionable the arbitration agreements employers used. Therefore they were invalid …

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California’s hands-free cell phone legislation went into effect on July 1. Employers that don’t yet have a policy addressing driving while using a cell phone should create one now. Here’s why: If an employee is involved in an accident while breaking the law—by driving and using a cell phone without a hands-free device—the employer may be liable for any damages …

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Sometimes, employees who are having performance problems think that filing discrimination complaints will help protect their jobs. Word has gotten around that employees can win retaliation cases even if the discrimination claims they make are flimsy. But employers won’t lose a retaliation case if they can show that the employee really did deserve the discipline that followed the discrimination complaint …

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A Silicon Valley security services company has been fined $4,000 for failing to provide a private space for one of its employees to express breast milk. California regulators fined International Security Services, based in Santa Clara, after receiving a complaint from a new mother …

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California employees of several supermarkets and drug stores will receive their share of a $15 million settlement in a class-action wage suit. Approximately 200,000 employees of Albertsons, Lucky Stores and Sav-On Drugs will each receive up to $350 if their employment ended between Sept. 29, 1996, and Dec. 31, 2004 …

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The California State Assembly has passed a bill that would allow private-sector employees who don’t have employer-based pension plans to open individual retirement savings accounts with the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) …

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