Employee Rights

Pumping at Work What Are My Employer’s Obligations

What Are My Employer’s Obligations When I am Pumping at Work August is National Breastfeeding Month, with a theme of “Support Changes Everything.”  The United States Breastfeeding Committee developed this campaign in conjunction with breastfeeding coalitions, member/partner organizations, and individual supporters to generate advocacy for necessary policy and practice changes and “build a landscape of… read more

Visiting Angels Lawsuit

Visiting Angels Lawsuit Rukin Hyland & Riggin is currently investigating potential employment violations by Home Care company Visiting Angels. Over the last few years, multiple home care, hospice care, and senior care corporations have come under the spotlight for abusing home how employees are classified and paid. California labor and employment laws are put in place to protect… read more

Girls in Tech x Gainsight: Know your Legal Rights in the Workplace

The #MeToo movement has put workplace sexual harassment in the spotlight, with numerous high-profile sexual harassment and assault allegations against powerful leaders in multiple industries. #Metoo has helped shed light on, and create a public conversation surrounding workplace issues that often go unreported. As more and more people step forward to share their stories, and… read more

New California laws frown on Secret Settlements

Confidentiality clauses of one sort or another have been ubiquitous in the workplace for years. They are found in employment contracts, severance agreements, proprietary information agreements, and stand-alone non-disclosure agreements. Some require the employee to keep the terms of any settlement confidential. Others are limited to the protection of trade secret information or purport to… read more

I think I’m being sexually harassed at work. What should I do?

First, you should know that you’re not alone.  Unfortunately, as the #metoo movement has demonstrated, sexual harassment in the workplace is all too common.  In 2015, almost one-third of the charges received by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)—the federal agency that administers and enforces federal civil rights laws against discrimination—were harassment claims.  And a… read more

If I Come Out As #Metoo, Could I Get Sued?

The reports of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct set off a cascade of sexual harassment and assault allegations against well-known men in politics, the arts, academia, and Hollywood.  Women posted their personal accounts of #metoo on social media.  Spurred by solidarity and accountability, women who long remained silent about harassment and abuse they experienced stepped forward… read more

California Fair Pay Act: Equal Pay Is On The Way

Have you ever felt that you were not paid fair wages due to race, ethnicity, or salary history? On January 1, 2017, the state legislature added two provisions to the California Fair Pay Act to address these concerns regarding equal pay.  California Fair Pay Act: Revised Previously, the Fair Pay Act stated that workers conducting… read more

What You Need to Know About the New Parity in Pay Ordinance

San Francisco’s Parity in Pay Ordinance Yesterday, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee signed the Parity in Pay Ordinance, which prohibits employers from inquiring about or relying upon a job applicant’s salary history. Specifically, the Ordinance prevents employers who are required to do business in the City, including City contractors and subcontractors, from considering a job… read more

March 8th: International Women’s Day

The first “National Women’s Day” was observed in the United States in 1909, to recognize the 1908 garment workers’ strike in New York.  A year later, Women’s Day was recognized internationally at a conference in Copenhagen, where over 100 women from 17 countries created a worldwide day of celebration to advocate for women’s rights. In… read more

Confidentiality Agreements: The Growing Need to Take a Closer Look

In a case filed just last month in San Francisco Superior Court, a current employee of Google asserts claims against the company based on its allegedly overbroad confidentiality agreement that Google requires all employees to sign and its policies regarding the use and disclosure of confidential information.  (John Doe v. Google, Inc.; San Francisco Superior… read more

Employers Ignore the SEC’s Commitment to its Whistleblower Program at their Peril

Severance agreements have once again drawn the ire of the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission.   This time, the SEC fined an Atlanta –based company, BlueLinx Holdings, Inc., $265,000 for maintaining unlawful severance agreement provisions.  It seems that many companies are having a hard time complying with the SEC rule that makes it unlawful for an… read more

Will the New Federal Overtime Regulations Put More Money in Your Pocket?

A change to the federal overtime regulations that will come into play at the end of 2016 will likely have a significant impact on workers. The U.S. Department of Labor recently promulgated new overtime regulations which increase the national overtime salary threshold, thereby dramatically increasing the number of workers eligible for overtime. While hourly-paid workers… read more

California Employment Background Checks: Know Your Rights

For years, employers have used background checks in making hiring and promotion decisions.  Since the advent of the internet, and particularly since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, more and more employers are requiring background checks as a condition of applying for employment—and they are increasing their reliance on such checks. Moreover, the internet has provided the… read more

New California Law Calls for Equal Pay for Women: Understanding Your Rights

From Robin Wright making news for demanding the same pay as her ‘House of Cards’ co-star Kevin Spacey to the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team filing an EEOC charge for pay discrimination, equal pay is having a moment–and California’s equal pay laws are no exception. On January 1, 2016, California’s Fair Pay Act took effect to strengthen the… read more

EEOC Announces Pay Data Rule to Combat Workplace Pay Discrimination

There is good reason that Bay Area residents readily bandy about slang terms such as “tech bro” and “brogrammer”—terms that evoke a distinctive image—a tech scene made up of young male employees. Although the wage gap persists nationwide, recent reports have shown that both hiring and pay disparities are particularly pervasive in Silicon Valley, from… read more

The Critical Case Recap: Week of October 13, 2014

Dynamex v. Superior Court (California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate Division): What It’s About:  Employer Dynamex appealed the trial court’s denial of its motion to decertify, arguing that the court improperly adopted the definition of “employee” from IWC Wage Orders to determine the status of class members, instead of using the common law definition of… read more

U.S. Supreme Court to Consider Scope of Religious Accommodation in Abercrombie & Fitch Hijab Case

The U.S. Supreme Court recently announced that it would review the Tenth Circuit’s decision in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch.  731 F.3d 1106 (10th Cir. 2013).  In that case, the Tenth Circuit held that an employer is not liable under Title VII for failing to accommodate an applicant’s religious dress unless the applicant explicitly notifies… read more

The Critical Case Recap: Week of October 6, 2014

Ybarra v. Apartment Investment and Management Company (California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District): What It’s About:  The Court of Appeal vacated and reconsidered its prior order reversing the trial court’s order denying the defendant’s motion to compel arbitration.  In light of Iskanian, the Court of Appeal held that the representative action waiver in the… read more

I was 1099’d: Employer Liability for Independent Contractors in the Service Sector

The Problem With Misclassifying Independent Contractors As the economy improves, there has been an increased focus on the problem of independent contractor misclassification in the service sector (the part of the economy in which employees provide services and information, in contrast to producing manufactured goods, mining, or farming). Since August 2009, employment by staffing agencies has… read more

California Becomes Second State To Require Paid Sick Leave

California Governor Jerry Brown yesterday signed into law the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (AB 1522), which requires employers to provide paid sick leave to most California employees.  According to the Legislature, sick leave benefits are good for both employers and employees, as sick leave lowers health care costs, increases productivity and prevents… read more

The Duty to Reimburse in the Digital Age

Reimbursing Tech Expenses in California As discussed in my companion post, “You Want Me to Pay for What?”  California law has long required employers to reimburse their employees for expenses reasonably incurred while working, so as to prevent employers from passing on their operating expenses to employees.  A recent California Court of Appeal ruling helps… read more

San Francisco Unreimbursed Expenses Lawyer

The news is littered with stories of executives who use company funds to pay for lavish dinners, family vacations, and entertainment. But employees who are uncertain of their rights or don’t want to rock the boat may hesitate to request reimbursement for the small, everyday expenses they incur while working. California employees should know that the… read more

Ninth Circuit Affirms Class Cert Grant to Claims Adjusters

Yesterday, the Ninth Circuit gave plaintiffs an important victory in off-the-clock overtime cases when it affirmed the district court’s grant of class certification to a class of auto, property, liability, casualty, and special investigations claims adjusters in Jimenez v. Allstate .  The Court first rejected Allstate’s argument that the common questions identified by the district… read more

You Say Franchisor, I Say Employer.

CA Supreme Court opinion on franchise law Yesterday, the California Supreme Court addressed the circumstances under which a franchisor may be deemed to be the employer of a franchisee’s employees for purposes of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).  The case, Patterson v. Domino’s Pizza, LLC, (Cal., Aug. 28, 2014, S204543) 2014 WL 4236175,… read more

Rhea v. General Atomics

In Rhea v. General Atomics, 14 C.D.O.S. 8201, the California Court of Appeal on Tuesday reaffirmed an earlier decision holding that an employer can require (or allow) an exempt employee to use vacation/paid time off (PTO) for partial day absences without compromising the employee’s exempt status.  The Rhea Court further held that an employer can… read more

My coworkers are harassing me. What are my rights?

Many people often ask me, “Is it harassment if my coworker makes racist remarks?”  The answer: maybe. Not every mean or rude comment qualifies as harassment. On the other hand, many employees suffer long periods of unlawful harassment or sexual harassment from their fellow employees but are unaware of what they can do about it…. read more

Overtime Pay Nuts and Bolts

Who is entitled to overtime pay in California? Both federal and California law requires that employees be paid the minimum wage for all hours worked and that nonexempt employees be paid the proper overtime pay rate for overtime hours worked.  Stating the rule is the easy part.  How is it applied in practice? First, one… read more

Criminal Records in the Hiring Process

Should an employer have the right to disqualify applicants based on criminal convictions?  If so, should the law impose any limitations on this right?  There exist strong arguments on either side of the debate.  From the employer’s perspective, uniform application of a policy excluding candidates who have a criminal conviction – i.e., application of the… read more

When is a Salesperson Entitled to Overtime Pay in California?

The default rule is that California employers must pay all their employees overtime. Employees who work overtime are entitled to 1.5 times their normal hourly pay, or “time and a half” for each hour worked over 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week.  Lab. Code 510, subd. (a). However, there are several categories… read more

The Critical Case Recap: Week of June 30, 2014

Ayala v. Antelope Valley Newspapers (California Supreme Court) What It’s About:  Newspaper home delivery carriers claiming they had been misclassified as independent contractors, brought a class action for overtime wages, unreimbursed business expenses, and other employment benefits.  Affirming a Court of Appeal decision, the California Supreme Court found that the trial court had erred in… read more

Supreme Court to Clarify Employers’ Duty to Provide Pregnancy Accommodations Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act

Two days ago, the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear the appeal of a former United Parcel Service employee’s claim that the company violated the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) when it refused to provide accommodations for her lifting restrictions during her pregnancy, despite the fact that it provides accommodations to non-pregnant employees with… read more

White House Summit on Working Families: Possible Changes to Federal Leave Laws

According to the United Nations, out of 185 countries and territories with available information, the United States is one of the only three countries in the world, along with Papa New Guinea and Oman, lacking paid maternity leave.  Most developed countries provide both paid maternity and paternity leave, and paid family and sick leave.  Countries that… read more

Salas v. Sierra Chemical: California Supreme Court Upholds Undocumented Immigrants’ Rights to Bring Suit Under State Laws

Yesterday, the California Supreme Court decided Salas v. Sierra Chemical Co., affirming that the protections of California employment law are available to undocumented immigrants. In 2002, the California Legislature enacted Senate Bill 1818 in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. v. NLRB limiting the ability of undocumented employees fired… read more

When Are Leaves of Absence a Reasonable Accommodation for Disabilities?

When employees are diagnosed with serious illnesses or injuries, they often need to take time off to seek treatment and recover. If the employee’s condition qualifies as a disability under the American Disabilities Act (ADA) or the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), then an employer may be required to provide the employee with… read more

Coming Soon: Renewed Confusion Over California Paid Family Leave Benefits Law

California PFL In 2004, California’s Paid Family Leave (PFL) law took effect.  This law provides wage replacement benefits from the state disability insurance program for employees who take a leave of absence to care for a seriously ill child, spouse, parent, or domestic partner, or to bond with a minor child within one year of… read more

What to Expect From Your California Employer When You’re Expecting

This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the bestselling pregnancy manual What to Expect When You’re Expecting. The most recent edition of What to Expect includes some general information about the legal rights of pregnant employees under federal law alongside practical advice about how to tell your boss you are pregnant and tips for staying safe and healthy on… read more

US Department of Labor Ramps Up Family and Medical Leave Investigations

“We don’t really investigate FMLA violations.”  This was the candid message that an investigator with the U.S. Department of Labor shared with me last year, in explaining that wage and hour violations, not violations of the Family Medical Leave Act, were the agency’s priority.  But change is coming, and fast.  As FMLA Insights reported in… read more