Here’s an important lesson for employers: Judges don’t want to hear any excuses from employers that fail to pay back wages when ordered to do so. In fact, they’re perfectly willing to throw you in the slammer if you do. Example: Recently, the owners of a cleaning service were jailed when they didn’t make court-ordered payments of back wages owed to 385 workers.
It’s a business imperative that’s especially important for HR: Make sure your computer systems allow you to retrieve critical information immediately on demand. That’s essential if you are ever sued, because long delays in providing documentary evidence can lead to needless litigation costs—and could even mean you’ll lose the case.
The Judicial Council of the 3rd Circuit recently released its opinion dismissing a porn-related misconduct case against 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Alex Kozinski. The complaint, brought by a court administrator, accused Kozinski and two other judges of disabling the court’s Internet filters to download illegal pornography and pirated music without being detected.
The Supreme Court of California has ruled that employers are free to develop incentive payment plans that reward loyalty by requiring employees to stay for a period of time before earning the full benefit.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, with jurisdiction over California employers, has ruled that the federal Rehabilitation Act covers discrimination claims brought by an independent contractor. The Rehabilitation Act applies to federal agencies, government contractors and organizations that receive federal funding.
California law makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees who are hurt at work. For example, if an employer requires those hurt at work to use vacation time for medical appointments while other employees can take sick leave, that would be illegal discrimination.
You may be liable for wage-and-hour violations involving people you don’t ordinarily think of as actual employees. That’s because California uses a long list of factors to consider when deciding whether someone is an employee. One of those factors: Who provides the individual’s paycheck and makes tax deductions? Another factor: Who gives directions to the worker?
Offering an employee a severance payment in exchange for releasing any legal claims won’t be used against you. Courts want to encourage dispute settlement—and if severance offers could be used against employers later in court, cases would rarely be settled.
Employees who sue for discrimination have to come up with some evidence before the case can advance beyond the initial stages—and before it gets progressively more expensive for employers paying the legal bill. Employers that fight back right away with statistics showing there was no discrimination can save big bucks in the long run.
Lawry’s Restaurants recently agreed to settle a gender discrimination class action alleging that the chain hired only women for its food server positions. The EEOC filed the suit after Lawry’s Las Vegas restaurant refused to accept a male busboy’s application for an opening as a food server.