The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

A former customer service rep at Health Net Inc., a nationwide health maintenance organization based in Woodland Hills, is suing the company for requiring off-the-clock work … and she’s trying to turn the Fair Labor Standards Act suit into a class action that could involve hundreds of workers.

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A former customer service rep at Health Net Inc., a nationwide health maintenance organization based in Woodland Hills, is suing the company for requiring off-the-clock work … and she’s trying to turn the Fair Labor Standards Act suit into a class action that could involve hundreds of workers.

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An enrollment counselor is suing the online University of Phoenix for unpaid overtime, and wants to expand her lawsuit to include everyone else who worked as enrollment counselors in California over the past three years. Diane Adoma claims the university deliberately underpaid for overtime hours.

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Recently, the largest class-action lawsuit in U.S. history was given the go-ahead. Employers nationwide are waiting with bated breath to find out what happens to Walmart. While the exact number of employees who may find themselves part of the lawsuit is still unclear, it could reach well over 1 million women employed or formerly employed at 3,400 Walmart stores across the country.

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It’s hand-to-hand combat between video gaming giant Activision Publishing and two former executives of its Infinity Ward software development studio subsidiary. At stake in the courtroom war: Tens of millions of dollars in damages and untold millions in profits from Activision’s lucrative “Call of Duty” war gaming franchise.

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There’s hope for employers victimized by competitors who attempt to poach corporate all-stars. If some other organization tries to unethically steal your best employees, you may have a remedy—even if you haven’t made employees sign noncompete agreements (which aren’t usually enforceable in California anyway).

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In addition to paying damages such as lost wages, employers that lose discrimination cases often have to pay the winning side’s litigation costs. But the same isn’t always true when an employer wins the lawsuit. Courts are reluctant to make employees pay when they lose, fearing that doing so may dissuade other employees from taking a chance at litigation.

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The California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) has issued an opinion letter stating that, although employers may not deduct from exempt employees’ salaries for partial-day absences, they may make deductions from employee leave balances in accordance with the employer’s bona fide leave policies.

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A federal judge in Northern California has granted preliminary approval to a settlement reached between U.S. Remodelers Inc. and 270 current and former workers who sued the company for wage-and-hour violations.

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Just when you think a lawsuit will be resolved, something happens that starts the whole process over again. That’s why it’s so important to prevent lawsuits in the first place.

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