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The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

California’s attorney general recently filed suit against a Southern California drywall contracting firm for what he called “a sophisticated and heartless scheme” to cheat its employees out of wages. Attorney General Jerry Brown sued Irvine-based Interwall Development Systems, claiming that it failed to pay its employees overtime …

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The California Supreme Court has ruled that an employer doesn’t have to accommodate an employee’s marijuana use even though he had a valid prescription. Employers can and should continue to use post-offer, pre-employment drug tests if having a work force free of impairment is an important safety consideration …

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 Nearly a quarter century after the Internal Revenue Service started releasing piecemeal proposed regulations on cafeteria plans, employers now have new, updated guidance on important topics such as nondiscrimination testing and debit card programs. They’re not final IRS regulations, mind you. But at least a new set of coordinated proposals is on tap to replace the old ones …

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Punishing someone who has filed EEOC or other discrimination claims is illegal. But that shouldn’t stop you from enforcing reasonable rules. Courts won’t ordinarily view as retaliation minor disciplinary actions that don’t cost employees any pay or benefits …

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You can’t legislate good taste. But that shouldn’t stop you from having and enforcing dress and grooming rules. How you enforce those rules, however, can make the difference between needless litigation and a productive workplace. Don’t joke around about an employee’s dress or style. Instead, call the person into a meeting and discuss the problem in private …

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Does your organization use an employment contract for some employees? If so, does that contract specify that either party can terminate the agreement for any or no reason at all? If not, insert that language right away. It will help you retain maximum control over the work force while benefiting from having the other terms and conditions in writing …

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The California Supreme Court has ruled that unions and their supporters generally are free to urge customers shopping in private malls to boycott retailers at that mall. The ruling builds on earlier decisions that held that free-speech rights granted to California citizens in the state constitution are broader than those in the U.S. Constitution …

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The National Labor Relations Board has concluded that employers are free to forbid employee use of their systems for “nonjob-related solicitations.” The long-awaited decision says that an employer has the right to restrict use of its e-mail system based on its property interest in the computer equipment …

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The owner of several Sonoma County McDonald’s restaurants has agreed to pay $1,155,407 to settle wage-and-hour claims brought by its workers. A class of approximately 1,000 workers claimed that DCT Inc. and Mendes Family Enterprises Inc. denied them overtime pay and breaks …

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The controversial San Francisco city plan to roll out universal health care coverage for residents won a huge victory when the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that the plan could go ahead. The court allowed the city to proceed with its plan to require all businesses with more than 20 employees to pay a fee to help cover health care costs …

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