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The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

On July 19, the University of California agreed to pay a former UC Berkeley women’s swim coach $3.5 million to settle her gender-discrimination claim. Karen Moe Humphreys, an Olympic gold medalist who was a 26-year employee of the university’s Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, argued that she was laid off while less qualified males were hired and retained without regard for the university’s seniority system …

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California employees have a right to a work environment free of sexual harassment, and employers are obligated to prevent harassment. But that doesn’t mean that every comment, gesture or look that may be perceived as sexual can be considered harassment …

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Does your organization have top-down policies that tacitly create incentives for hourly employees to work extra hours without pay? If so, you may be risking a class-action wage-and-hour lawsuit. That’s what happened to one large employer when a disgruntled hourly employee claimed the company practically forced him to work extra hours in order to keep his job …

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Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, employers that don’t reasonably accommodate disabilities may be liable for both actual and punitive damages. And those punitive damages can add up, frequently exceeding the amount of actual damages. Train all managers and supervisors on the consequences of being perceived as intentionally ignoring the law …

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On Aug. 2, the California Labor Commission convened a public forum on the topic of meal and rest-break rules to address concerns from employees and employers that the current regulations create confusing and conflicting requirements …

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The University of California Berkeley Center for Labor Research issued a research report on July 11 to determine the impact on businesses’ operating costs of two state health care proposals that aim to expand health care coverage in California. The findings: The effect will be negligible …

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The EEOC recently issued enforcement guidance declaring that disparate treatment of employees who care for children, parents or other family members violates federal law. “Disparate treatment” generally means an employer intentionally treated employees differently because of a protected factor such as race, gender, age or—in this case—their need to care for family members …

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A study in the July issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that workplace violence training for hospital employees occurs more frequently in states where the law requires such courses …

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Recently, a Superior Court for San Diego County issued a temporary restraining order to stop the city of Vista from releasing the personal information of employers registered to employ contingent workers. The decision came after Vista passed an ordinance requiring registration of anyone who hired day laborers from “uncontrolled locations” …

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A California Superior Court jury recently awarded a city firefighter $6.2 million in a lawsuit claiming race discrimination, sex discrimination, harassment and retaliation under the Fair Employment and Housing Act …

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