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The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

In order for an employee to claim he or she suffered retaliation, some form of protected activity has to have occurred to precipitate the unlawful punishment. What constitutes protected activity depends on the specific law under which the employee claims protection. It’s not enough to merely complain about working conditions.

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Under the disability discrimination provisions of California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, employers are required to offer extended leave as a reasonable accommodation for disabled employees—as long as the employee provides an estimated return date.

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Workers whose obesity has physiological causes are protected from discrimination and harassment under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. Super­­visors who discriminate against those workers may face liability.

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A California employer didn’t violate the California Family Rights Act when it allowed a worker to return to light-duty work following an on-the-job light injury.

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Courts are particularly unlikely to consider an arbitration agreement binding if it appears the employee did not understand what he was signing.

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A company that operates residential care facilities in Mission Hills and Laguna Niguel has settled federal charges it violated the Fair Labor Standards Act.

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On Jan. 4 this year, employees voted 248-44 in favor of joining NewsGuild, a union that represents more than 25,000 news workers across the country. Missteps by the Times’ parent company, Tronc Inc., may have tipped the vote toward unionization. 

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The Trump administration has released a new report on the rulemaking efforts U.S. administrative agencies intend to pursue in the near- and long-term. The Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions contains items that, if enacted, could affect employers’ immigration programs.

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In order to claim a worker is exempt under the administrative exemption of the California Labor Code, an employee must do work directly related to management policies or general business operations of his employer or employer’s customers. Mere support work doesn’t count.

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Here’s a decision that may complicate matters for employers that use arbitration agreements to keep employment disagreements out of federal courts.

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If you are certain you can justify your action, don’t be afraid to discipline a worker who has filed a discrimination charge or otherwise opposed alleged discriminatory actions. Generally, courts give employers leeway to discipline as long as they believe they acted in good faith.

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Employers that want to arbitrate all employment-related disputes have won support from California’s state appellate court system, which ruled it acceptable to create different arbitration agreements for different employment-related purposes, each with different terms and conditions.

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Some recently fired employees looking for reasons to sue their employers have started grasping at the gunwales of a “political correctness” lifeboat. Nice try but no dice was the verdict in a recent 9th Circuit Court of Appeals case.

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What managers say during the hiring process can spell trouble later if anything they say sounds like a promise that induces a candidate to accept a job offer and the employer fails to follow through.

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Under California’s pregnancy discrimination protection laws, new mothers returning from pregnancy leave are entitled to return to their previous jobs, much as they are under the federal FMLA. However, there are real and practical limits to that right to return.

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Courts don’t want to dissuade employees from filing lawsuits by ordering workers to pay the employer’s legal fees. However, that’s not the case when an employee obviously lies.

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Strataforce, a staffing company that operates in four states including California, has settled charges its hiring procedures violated the ADA.

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The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health—known as Cal/OSHA—is issuing more citations to employers that violate a General Industry Safety Order requiring employers’ first-aid materials to be approved by a consulting physician.

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California law AB-450, which went into effect Jan. 1, makes it unlawful for employers to consent to give access to “any nonpublic area of a place of labor” to an immigration enforcement agent without a search warrant signed by a judge, or to give access to employee records without a subpoena or a search warrant.

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Confidential sexual harassment settlements will cost more under tax reform legislation enacted at the end of December.

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