The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

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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A July 25 report issued by the Public Policy Institute of California has found that day laborers make up only a small percentage of the state work force. According to “Day Labor in the Golden State,” only about 40,000 people are working or looking for work as day laborers each day in California …

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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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Remind supervisors, managers and HR staff: Don’t brush off or make light of sexual harassment complaints. Doing so can just add more fuel to the fire. When employees are ignored, they may begin to see every slight that comes their way—getting the cold shoulder at meetings or missing out on promotions—as retaliation for voicing their concerns about sexually hostile behavior. And that can make them much more likely to file lawsuits against your company …

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California’s unemployment compensation law requires employers to pay into the system for all employees. Independent contractors, on the other hand, are on their own. That might make it tempting to redefine some employees as independent contractors. Don’t do so without careful guidance from your attorney! …

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Do you keep a close record of all company job openings, how they’re posted and who responds? You should. Good records are the best way to show you didn’t purposely exclude from a promotion opportunity anyone who was qualified—or to show that they never applied in the first place …

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California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for an employee’s known mental disabilities. Under FEHA, something as simple as a new employee telling her manager that she has a learning disability and had taken special education classes triggers the employer’s responsibility to consider accommodations …

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As if you don’t have enough to worry about. Now a federal court interpreting California law has concluded that supervisors and managers may be personally liable if they don’t provide a harassment-free work environment or if they harass a disabled employee …

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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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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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