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The HR Specialist: California Employment Law

After a five-day strike, registered nurses have started returning to their jobs at Children’s Hospital in Oak­land. The nurses, represented by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, walked out on May 5 over a dispute about health care benefits.

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A report recently issued by Worksafe, a California advocacy group, found that California Hispanic workers are more than 50% more likely to die at work than non-Hispanic workers.

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John Muir Health agreed to settle bias charges brought by the EEOC, claim­ing the East Bay hospital system dis­­criminated against job applicants ­perceived to have latex allergies.

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On April 27, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Federal Arbitration Act protects a company’s right to include a class-action waiver in its arbitration agreement even though a state law bars such provisions as unconscionable. The case involved a retail consumer transaction, but it could have important implications for employers that use arbitration agreements.

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Disneyland Resort workers have filed a lawsuit claiming the Walt Disney Co. is violating state law by encoding workers’ identification cards with their Social Security numbers. The workers say they’re worried that the encoded information on their ID cards could be accessed using barcode scanners such as the kind commonly available as smartphone apps.

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The Court of Appeal of California has ruled that employers are only required to make meal and other breaks available to employees. They don’t have to force employees to take those breaks or eat a meal. Your only obligation: Make sure that no work is required to be performed during scheduled break time.

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The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the Back Pay Act allows judges to order interest payments to federal government employees who win discrimination lawsuits if the employees were affected by “an unjustified or unwarranted personnel action which resulted in the withdrawal or reduction of all or part” of the employee’s pay.

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The International Union of Operating Engineers and Local 721 of the Serv­ice Employees International Union are suing the city of Los Angeles in the wake of last summer’s mandatory furlough of thousands of municipal employees.

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A recent Court of Appeal of California case clarifies that employers that fail to provide appropriate rest and meal breaks must pay a penalty—referred to as a premium payment—for each missed break each day. An employer had argued it only had to pay one penalty per day.

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Employers and employees can agree that up to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep time does not have to be paid.

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