The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

California Labor Code provisions specifying when and where employees should take their meals don’t apply to public employees, only to private-sector employees.

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A three-judge panel of the California Court of Appeal for the 2nd Appellate District has upheld a lower court’s decision to dismiss a lawsuit against an accounting firm working for a celebrity-owned restaurant. The court held that the firm, Gumbiner Savett, can’t be accused of negligence for allegedly overreporting the incomes of servers who were forced to pool tips while working for Ago Restaurant.

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Now that it’s finally back in business, the NLRB has issued several controversial and decidedly anti-business decisions. You may recall that the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that NLRB decisions made while there were just two board members are invalid. Those old cases and all new ones are now being heard by a new set of board members, three of whom are former union lawyers.

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Most often, sexual harassment involves a man’s inappropriate behavior directed toward a woman. But that doesn’t mean you can ignore female-on-male harassment. Simply put, both sexes are entitled to a workplace free of sexual harassment—and employers are obligated to stop such harassment when they find out about it.

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Nonexempt employees are entitled to be paid for all the hours they work. Before issuing a performance appraisal that hails hourly employees for coming in early and staying late, make sure they were appropriately compensated. Otherwise, your praise may come back to haunt you.

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Sometimes, the employee not hired is the one who causes the most legal trouble. A San Francisco law firm is facing a discrimination lawsuit after it declined to hire a young lawyer who had interned there. Her suit alleges that Howard Rice discriminated against her on the basis of gender, national origin and race when it decided to defer and later rescind her associate contract.

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Employees who claim they were terminated or otherwise punished for whistle-blowing often have several potential claims. Fortunately for employers, employees can’t file both a federal administrative claim (and then not appeal the agency decision) and file a state court claim later.

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The California Supreme Court has ruled that employees don’t have a private right to sue their employers for alleged tip violations.

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The Court of Appeal of California has refused to expand the time a former employee has to file a claim under the Fair Employment and Housing Act.

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It’s frustrating to be sued, especially when it looks like the litigation could become a class-action lawsuit. But warn supervisors: It will only make matters worse if they threaten potential members of the class. Courts want employees to freely choose whether to participate in class actions. If courts suspect that intimidation is a factor, they’ll step in.

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