Employer Rights

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

Don’t Let Your Startup Blow Up

Over the years, we have observed a familiar pattern that catches many start-ups off guard and can prove costly and distracting. Worse yet, these companies could easily have avoided the problems. One of the Biggest Mistakes Start-Ups Do Companies in the early stages of growth predictably generate buzz and excitement that feeds the hopes of… 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

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

New California Law Expands Harassment Training Obligation

The subject of bullying in schools and in the workplace has over the past several years attracted nationwide attention and generated significant discussion.  California recently took its first steps toward addressing the problem of workplace bullying. New Law Aims to Prevent Workplace Harassment On September 9, 2014, Governor Brown signed AB2053.  This new law amends… 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

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

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

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

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

Is An Employer Required to Provide Employement References?

Employers are not under any obligation to provide employment references for former employees. Providing employment references may leave former employers open to legal liability from the former employee and the prospective employer. For example, if the employer makes disparaging comments about a former employee and as a result, the employee is not hired for the… read more

Does Your Employee Have A Medical Condition or a Poor Performance Problem?

Generally, employers are under no obligation to determine whether or not an employee’s substandard performance may be caused by a disability. However, if the employer has received notice that the employee has a disability protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the employer may have an obligation to work with the employee to find… read more

Accommodations For Employees With Disabilities: Your Employer’s Responsibility

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled employees who need them to complete their job duties. An employee who needs a reasonable accommodation should notify the employer. The notification does not need to be in writing, and the employee can request a reasonable accommodation at any… read more

Accommodations for Religious Practices in the Workplace

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes discrimination based on certain characteristics in employment decisions illegal, including an employee’s or job applicant’s religious practices. Thus, employers may not choose whether or not to hire an applicant based on his or her religion, nor may they make other employment decisions, such as raises… read more

What Responsibilities Does Your Employer Have Under the FMLA?

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires covered employers to provide qualified employees with 12 unpaid days of leave from work during a 12 month period for certain purposes, such as the birth or adoption of a child or caring for an immediate family member with a serious health condition. Who Does the… read more

Employer Liability for an Employee’s Bad Acts

In some instances, employers may be held liable for the injuries and damages caused by those they employ. Generally, it will have to be proven that the employer knew or should have known that employee’s conduct could result in injury to a third party before an employer can be held liable for an employee’s acts…. read more

Know Your Family and Medical Leave Rights

What is the Family and Medical Leave Act? Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), a private employer with at least 50 employees is required to give qualified employees 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year for certain medical and family reasons, such as the adoption or birth of a child or to care… read more

The Importance of Formal Performance Reviews

There is no legal requirement that employers perform formal performance reviews of employees, just as there is no general requirement that an employer have just cause to fire an employee. An employer may, however, be required by the terms of an employment contract, employee handbook, or collective bargaining (union) agreement to review an employee annually,… read more

An Employers Responsibility After a Harassment Complaint

An employer who receives a harassment complaint on the basis of sexual orientation, gender, race, national origin, age, religion or disability has an obligation under federal and state law to take immediate steps to investigate the complaint and then take prompt, appropriate remedial action. In most cases, this means the employer has a duty to… read more