New California Law: Wage Notice Requirement and Increased Exposure for Employers

AB 469, which is titled the “Wage Theft Prevention Act” is aimed at ensuring the collection on judgments against employers for violations of wage laws. Increased Exposure for Employers Who Violate Wage Statutes 1.  The new law will make it a misdemeanor if an employer willfully violates specified wage statutes or orders, or willfully fails to pay a final court judgment or final order of the Labor Commissioner for wages due. 2.  The new law will extend the time limit for the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement to commence a collection of a statutory penalty or fee against an employer from 1 year to 3 years after the penalty or fee became final. 3.  The new law will extend the time required for an employer who has been convicted of a subsequent wage violation or who has failed to satisfy a judgment to maintain a bond for 2 years (up from 6 months).  The bond is necessary in order for the business to continue operating. New Wage Notice Requirement Additionally, this new law will require an employer to provide each … Continue reading

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New California Law: Employee Credit Report

  The recent deadline for California Governor Jerry Brown to pass or veto the bills on his desk resulted in a long list of new laws passed in California. Like we don’t have enough right? In an effort to share the legal updates without totally overwhelming you, I will try to post one new law a day for the next week or two so check back daily. We’ll start with requesting an employee credit report today. Assembly Bill 22 prohibits an employer or prospective employer, with the exception of certain financial institutions, from obtaining a consumer credit report for employment purposes unless the position of the person for whom the report is sought is: (1) a position in the state Department of Justice, (2) a managerial position, (3) a sworn peace officer or other law enforcement position, (4) a position for which the information contained in the report is required by law to be disclosed or obtained, (5) a position that involves regular access to specified personal information for any purpose other than the routine solicitation and processing of credit card … Continue reading

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Steve Jobs Tribute

The design by Jonathan Mak Picture: jmak.tumblr.com Steve Jobs’s passing yesterday at the age of 56 deeply affected me.  Here was a man who dropped out of college, pursued what inspired him, and changed the world. I felt a tremendous sense of loss.  But on the other hand, I hope that as his story and personal journey is told and retold, it will inspire others to take chances and follow their passions.  I know that I have been inspired.      

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Update to Right to Unionize Posting Requirement

The effective date of National Labor Relations Board‘s (NLRB) new requirement that employers post a notice of employees’ right to unionize has been extended to January 31, 2012, instead of the original November 14, 2011 date.  The NLRB states that the postponement was to “allow for enhanced education and outreach to employers, particularly those who operate small and medium sized businesses.” The new requirement has met with much resistance from the business community which fears that the posting requirement will promote unionization among employees.

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Do I need to file in small claims court? – Anatomy of a Lawsuit Part II

This series applies to California lawsuits only. For rules regarding your state’s small claims procedure, visit the website for your state’s judicial branch. So you’ve figured out the Statute of Limitations issue.  Now where to file your lawsuit – small claims or civil court? What is small claims court? Small claims court is a civil court lite to deal with dispute amounts (claims) that are relatively small. The disputes are resolved quickly, informally, without a jury or lawyers.  However, even though you are not allowed to have a lawyer represent you at the small claims hearing, you could get a lawyer’s help before or after the hearing. What is the claim limit in small claims? Individuals – Generally, you may not ask for more than $7,500. Corporations or other entities – Generally, you may not ask for more than $5,000 What are the types of Claims you can file in small claims? Some common types of small claims cases are related to: • Property damage or personal injury from a car accident; • Landlord/tenant security deposits; • Damage to your … Continue reading

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Exempt vs Non-Exempt Employee – $17 million Suit for Misclassifying Employees

On September 26, 2011, the California Labor Commissioner filed a $17 million suit against ZipRealty for violations of minimum wage and overtime pay of its real estate agents. The premise for lawsuit is that ZipRealty misclassified its agents as exempt “outside salespersons” when they were in fact non-exempt employees.  The significant fact here is the allegation that the real estate agents spend less than 50% of their time away from the office. If the ZipRealty loses, it would be liable for 4 years of unpaid wages, meal and rest break premiums, unpaid overtime, plus other penalties and interests. Yikes. What is the difference between exempt vs non-exempt employees? We’ll take a look at who qualifies as an exempt outside salesperson. According to Wage Order Nos. 1-2001-16-2001, §2, an outside salesperson is a person age 18 or older who customarily and regularly spends more than half of his or her working time away from the employer’s place of business selling tangible or intangible items or obtaining orders or contracts for products, services, or use of facilities. What the lawyers will spend a … Continue reading

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Disability Accommodation – The Interactive Process

What is the interactive process and why should I care? If you are a disabled employee, you should care because unless your disability is obvious, it is incumbent upon you to initiate the conversation with your employer regarding your limitations and necessary accommodations. As an employer, California law requires you engage in this thing called the “interactive process” with your disabled employees and failure to do so subjects you to liability separate from the failure to reasonably accommodate itself. Now on to the nitty gritty. The law Both the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) require employers to engage in a “timely, good faith, interactive process” to determine effective reasonable accommodations with an individual who has a known disability or medical condition and requests accommodation.  However, liability exists only if a reasonable accommodation is in fact possible. Since California generally afford employees more protection than federal law, under California law, an employer’s duty to engage in the interactive process with and reasonably accommodate extends to employees and applicants who do not actually … Continue reading

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Guest Blogger – Things to Think About When Considering Bankruptcy

As the economy continues to move sluggishly and unemployment rates remain high, business owners and employees alike have asked “should I file for bankruptcy”?  Since I have no idea where the nearest bankruptcy court is, I enlisted the help of Irvine bankruptcy attorney Jeffrey Hsu to guest blog here today. “When should an individual file for bankruptcy?  That is a difficult question to answer because the decision to file for bankruptcy is specific to the individual contemplating bankruptcy relief. The decision to file bankruptcy should always be one of last resort.  That means other options should always be completely exhausted before one decides to file bankruptcy.   Most importantly, filing bankruptcy is fact specific and depends on the issues a person is facing. The most common factors for those filing bankruptcy include issues related to credit card debts, lawsuits, wage garnishments, or tax liabilities.  When an individual faces such issues, the likelihood of filing for bankruptcy is still not certain.  Factors that can influence the decision to file for bankruptcy include, but are not limited to: Property the individual may lose as non-exempt … Continue reading

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Anatomy of a Lawsuit – California Statute of Limitations

This is the first post in a new series called “Anatomy of a Lawsuit” where I will explain the process, some legal terms, and considerations that go into a lawsuit.  Comments and questions are appreciated so that I can provide information that is most useful to readers. We’ll start with “when to file a lawsuit?” Today’s topic is the statute of limitations (SOL), which is a fancy word for deadline to file a lawsuit. It’s a simple equation.  Missing the SOL = you’re SOL. Different types of lawsuits have different deadlines to file a lawsuit (statute of limitations).  If you blow this deadline, you could forever lose your right to sue. Below is a non-exclusive list of the deadlines to file some of the most common types of lawsuits in California.  You should confirm with counsel what category your dispute falls under and whether there are special statutes of limitations that apply to your case. What if I want to sue a public entity such as a city, county, school district, or state university? There are additional requirements for suing … Continue reading

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Hostile Work Environment – Lessons from Project Runway

Let’s do something fun today. Today’s post will discuss 3 reasons why cliquish work environments cost businesses money using last week’s episode of Project Runway appropriately titled “Can’t We All Get Along” as a practical example. The 3 reasons are: 1. Drop in Productivity – Employees who are excluded from the group at large or not considered part of the “in-crowd” at work generally dread coming to work, are less likely to contribute to the company, and the presence of cliques divides the company into groups that usually don’t work well together. This causes a drop in productivity and the company to miss out on some great ideas that excluded employees may have shared otherwise. 2. Individual stress to employees – The cost here is two pronged: a. Employees who are excluded at work generally suffer from stress-related issues such as headaches, hypertension, and other physical manifestations of stress (real or imagined) that lead them to call in sick. Which circles back to the drop in productivity discussed above. b. Should the cliquish work environment rise to one that is … Continue reading

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