The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

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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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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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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The California Legislature concluded back in 1999 that employees should be able to use any sick leave their employers provide to care for sick family members—whether or not the employers’ policies allow them to do so. Employers can’t skirt that entitlement by not using the term “sick leave” or otherwise creating policies that are hard to pin down …

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Employees who fear their jobs are in danger often try to find some way to protect themselves from being fired. For example, the employee will suddenly report sexual harassment, take FMLA leave or claim he or she has a disability that needs accommodation. Don’t dismiss those claims without an investigation …

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California’s Economic Employment Enforcement Coalition (EEEC) has issued 42 citations following a California Labor and Workforce Development Agency sweep of 22 garment manufacturers in Los Angeles and Orange counties. In addition to citations, the EEEC issued fines totaling $457,000 …

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A California judge recently certified a class of about 250 to 300 technical writers employed by Sun Microsystems and SeeBeyond Technology who claimed they were misclassified as exempt from overtime pay and denied meal breaks …

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Good news for employers that ultimately bear the cost of workers’ compensation insurance and medical treatments: The Court of Appeal of California has refused to overturn legislation that limits the number of chiropractic treatments an employee can receive for any one industrial accident …

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Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez was a 17-year-old undocumented immigrant and pregnant when she died in May while pruning grapevines in 100-degree temperatures. It shouldn’t have happened, since California is the only state with a heat-illness standard for agricultural workers. Her employer, Merced Farm Labor, had already been issued three citations for violating the standards …

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