Could UPS Have Saved $96,000 with a Well-Written Job Description? Maybe

The end of the year is fast approaching, which means that it is time for California employers to evaluate their policies and procedures to ensure compliance with new California laws that go into effect in January 2012.  While you’re cleaning house, don’t forget to review each job description at your company. Here’s why. Last month, United Parcel Service (UPS) was ordered to pay more than $96,000 in damages after the company fired an employee because of her disability.  The Fair Employment and Housing Commission (Commission) determined that UPS unlawfully terminated the employee who was able to perform the essential functions of her job. UPS hired the employee in question in 1997 primarily as an Operations Management Specialist.  Her essential duties were to handle customer calls and complaints on shipments.  Although she occasionally located packages in a warehouse, handling packages was not part of her job.  In 2007, the employee had knee surgery and took a leave of absence to recover.  She continued to carry out the essential customer service functions of her job.  She had some restrictions, such as limited standing, … Continue reading

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California Pregnancy and Parental Leave Laws

A few weeks ago I discussed a new California law requiring employers to continue providing benefits to employees on pregnancy leave.  Since then, I have received questions on parental rights in California.  In response, today’s post will discuss 3 bodies of law that affect California employees’ parental leave rights. California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) California Family Rights Act (CFRA) Contractual Rights California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) California Government Code section 12945 makes it unlawful for an employer to deny reasonable leave, up to four months, to a female employee who is disabled by pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. The leave may be intermittent (e.g., for doctor’s appointments or sporadic episodes of pregnancy related disability) up to a total of four months. The employee shall be entitled to utilize any accrued vacation leave during this period of time. The employee has a right to reinstatement to the same or substantially similar position.  If the employee requests that the guarantee to reinstatement be in writing, the employer must do so. (Cal. Code, Regs., tit. 2, § 7291.9, subd. (a).)  However, an … Continue reading

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Do Interns Have to be Paid in California?

Anyone who has dipped their foot into the job market in the last few years will attest to the fact that it is an employer’s market. New graduates, current students who want to get a leg up, and even not so new graduates are increasingly willing to work for free in hopes of getting their foot in the door and landing a full-time job or just to have something to fill a growing gap in their resume.  Many employers are more than happy to take advantage of the free labor. But should you? California and federal law requires payment of minimum wages and other protections to employees.  These protections are not extended to independent contractors or trainees and interns.  However, misclassification of independent contractors and interns could be extremely costly to employers. Do interns have to be paid?   It depends on whether the person working for you constitutes an intern exempt from minimum wage laws. An opinion letter issues by the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) outlines 6 criteria used to analyze whether a worker is an … Continue reading

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Commission Agreement Law in California

Governor Brown signed AB 1396, which requires that as of January 1, 2013, a commission agreement for services to be provided in California must be in writing. The writing must set forth the method by which the commissions are to be computed and paid.  An employer is required to give a signed copy of the contract to the employee and obtain a signed receipt for the contract from the employee. TIP:  Although the AB 1396 does not go into effect until 2013, it is a good practice for employers to enter into a commission-based agreement in writing to ensure that each party clearly understands how commissions will be computed and paid. If you have any questions regarding this or any of the new California laws that were recently passed, feel free to contact us or call 949.529.0007.

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New California Law: Continued Health Benefits While on Maternity Leave

We continue on our review of the new California laws that go into effect on January 1, 2011.  The bill of the day is SB 299. As of January 1, 2012, employers will be required to continue group health coverage for up to 4 months for female employees who take pregnancy disability leave (maternity leave).  Currently, employers are only required to provide group coverage for up to 12 weeks while employees are on pregnancy leave. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) and the California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”) require employers to allow female employees to take up to 4 months of unpaid maternity leave for a “pregnancy-related condition.”  The pregnancy disability leave is in addition to the 12 weeks of “maternity leave” which is allowed for parental bonding. With the new law, employers must continue the healthcare benefits of an employee on leave for pregnancy disability for up to 4 months on the same terms and conditions as before the pregnancy leave.  For example, if the arrangement was for a 50/50 split on the premium, that arrangement must continue … Continue reading

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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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