The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

A Silicon Valley security services company has been fined $4,000 for failing to provide a private space for one of its employees to express breast milk. California regulators fined International Security Services, based in Santa Clara, after receiving a complaint from a new mother …

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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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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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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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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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Sometimes, employees who are having performance problems think that filing discrimination complaints will help protect their jobs. Word has gotten around that employees can win retaliation cases even if the discrimination claims they make are flimsy. But employers won’t lose a retaliation case if they can show that the employee really did deserve the discipline that followed the discrimination complaint …

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The California State Assembly has passed a bill that would allow private-sector employees who don’t have employer-based pension plans to open individual retirement savings accounts with the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) …

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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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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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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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