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The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

Pepsi Bottling Group has agreed to settle an EEOC lawsuit filed on behalf of a truck driver at the company’s Hayward facility who claimed he was fired after requesting time off during a medical emergency.

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Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation that spells out insurance and time-off requirements related to California’s new law that guarantees paid leave for employees who donate organs and bone marrow.

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If you intend to use arbitration as a way to manage employment discrimination claims and avoid court, make sure the agreement is reasonable. The more one-sided the agreement appears, the more likely a court will rule it unconscionable and unenforceable.

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Arbitration agreements with onerous terms are sometimes struck down under California contract law. But in some cases, courts will grant arbitration anyway.

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Employees are entitled to their wages—and they can’t be forced (or persuaded) to turn over tax refunds to an employer.

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Government employees have a few rights that private-sector employees lack. One is the right to “some sort of” hearing before being terminated. A public employee essentially gets the right to challenge the decision to terminate him before it is final. But what happens if the employee signs on to a so-called last-chance agreement?

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Even if an arbitration agreement is fair and evenhanded enough to meet California standards, employers still have to clear the hurdle of showing that employees knew about the policy and agreed to it. That means making sure that employees actually read the document—or at least sign off that they did or had the opportunity to do so.

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Two gay customers have filed a 10-count lawsuit against California’s Great America amusement park, alleging sexual harassment, discrimination, invasion of privacy and infliction of emotion distress.

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It’s a blow to companies intent on acquiring another business and replacing current employees with new workers: The California Supreme Court has ruled that local governments can pass “retention ordinances” that require new owners to keep existing employees, at least temporarily.

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Employees who are sexually har­assed at work can feel quite vulnerable, especially if they think they have been singled out for such treatment. When an employee finds out others have been treated just as badly, she may sue. Naturally, the employer’s attorney will try to exclude from evidence any incidents that occurred at other times or to employees other than the plaintiff. But now a California appeals court has permitted such “me-too” evidence.

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