Drafting an AI Policy for Small Businesses: Why It Matters and How to Get It Right

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash As artificial intelligence (AI), and more specifically, generative AI, increases in capability, use, and acceptance, it becomes increasingly vital for all businesses, even smaller businesses to establish an AI policy. It’s not just tech giants that need to concern themselves with the implications of AI; small businesses are equally accountable and have just as much to gain – or lose – from its potential. The Importance of an AI Policy in the Workplace As a small business owner, you might be tempted to ignore the role of AI in your operations. You might even question the necessity of an AI policy at all. But the reality is that AI has penetrated all facets of the business world and is not limited by size or sector. Whether it’s customer service chatbots, data analytics tools, or HR systems screening potential hires, AI is likely already embedded in your business processes. Then there are the tech savvy employees who may be using ChatGPT or Bard to draft a letter, create content, or make their work easier in … Continue reading

In: Employment Law, Starting a Business, Uncategorized, What to Do | Leave a comment

Disney Lawsuit and the California Equal Pay Act

Photo by Thomas Kelley on Unsplash Female mid-managers at the Walt Disney Co. recently requested class certification in a lawsuit against Disney entitled LaRonda Rasmussen, et al. v. The Walt Disney Co. et al. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit seek $150 million in damages on behalf of themselves and other female mid-managers who worked for the Walt Disney Co. throughout the United States. The lawsuit against Disney alleges that the company discriminated against women who worked for them in that “across all of its business segments and at all levels of the company, Disney routinely underpays its female employees, passes them over for promotion, piles on extra work without additional compensation, and does not supply sufficient support staff to allow women to succeed at their jobs.” This is a violation of California’s equal pay laws. At the heart of this and other discrimination lawsuits is whether an employer treats its female employees differently than their male counterparts.  One of the plaintiffs in this case alleged that each of the six men holding the same title as her (“Manager, Product Development”) … Continue reading

In: Discrimination, Employment Law, Equal Pay, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

2023 Employment Law Updates

Welcome to 2023.  New Year,  New You,  New California Employment Laws! Here is a quick overview of the most significant new laws that went into effect on January 1, 2023. This is not an exhaustive list but one that will apply to most small to medium-sized business owners in California. PRACTICAL TIP: Make sure your documents reflect that you are implementing changes that are applicable to your business. For example, update your written notice to employees of the terms of their employment to reflect the new hourly rate if you have employees who make minimum wage. Update the language in your employee handbooks to reflect the ability to designate non-family members for CFRA and paid sick leave.  PAY Minimum Wage Increases/Exempt Pay Increases The California state minimum wage in 2023 is now $15.50 per hour for all employees, regardless of the employer’s size. However, some cities and counties have even higher local minimum wage requirements. Employers should check the minimum wage requirements for all cities and counties where their employees work.  Some cities with higher minimum wage requirements include Los … Continue reading

In: California Leave Law, Employer Postings, Employment Law, New Laws, Starting a Business, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Post-COVID or Long-COVID As a Disability

What is Post-COVID condition? According to the CDC, although most people with COVID-19 get better within weeks of illness, some people experience post-COVID conditions. Post-COVID conditions are a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems people can experience four or more weeks after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. Even people who did not have COVID-19 symptoms in the days or weeks after they were infected can have post-COVID conditions.  This prolonged after-effects of COVID may have different names such as long COVID, long-haul COVID, post-acute COVID-19, long-term effects of COVID, or chronic COVID. Regardless of the name, the effect is the same; that is, for some people the road to recovery from COVID-19 will take longer than the anticipated 2 weeks.  Some of the reported symptoms include: Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath Tiredness or fatigue Symptoms that get worse after physical or mental activities Difficulty thinking or concentrating (sometimes referred to as “brain fog”) Cough Chest or stomach pain Headache Fast-beating or pounding heart (also known as heart palpitations) Joint or muscle pain … Continue reading

In: California Leave Law, Employment Law, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Do I Need a Lawyer? What to Look for When Hiring a Lawyer

You didn’t see it coming and it knocked the wind out of you.  You were furloughed.  You were fired. Your employee sued.  You did exceptional work and your client refuses to pay. Someone took advantage of your kindness, your flexibility, your willingness to help.  You were sexually harassed.  You were fired.  You were treated poorly, taken advantage of, and it shook you to the core. Your emotions cycle between confusion, hurt, and anger. You may even feel shameful and embarrassed that you found yourself in this situation. At some point you wonder if it’s your fault and how could you have kept this from happening? But then you realize it’s not your fault and that you should do something; you need to do something.  But you don’t know what to do.  Someone you trust, perhaps your father, your spouse, sibling, or a friend, said you should talk to a lawyer. But you’ve never hired a lawyer before and you don’t see yourself as the type of person who hires a lawyer. It feels so aggressive and just the thought of … Continue reading

In: California Civil Litigation, Employment Law, Hiring a Lawyer, Starting a Business, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

2018 Holiday Party Checklist

We’re in the last month of 2018, which may feel like mayhem for many business owners.  It’s a difficult time. There are fewer work days, yet the client and customer deadlines remain; you’re evaluating employees and business year-end goals; you’re finalizing 2019 goals and strategies to meet those goals; and then there are the parties.  There are parties you’re attending and the one you’re putting together for your employees. As you recognize (that’s why you’re throwing one) holiday parties are valuable. According to the Center for Management & Organization Effectiveness, a holiday office party could improve company culture in the following ways: It represents the preferred company culture in a light way; It unites office subcultures; It provides opportunities for recognition; It gives a morale boost; and It allows employees to interact with executives and upper management. But as a business owner, you walk a tightrope.  You’re worried about putting on an office holiday party that is enjoyable for employees and positively contributes to the company culture on the one hand and making sure that things don’t get out of … Continue reading

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New California Employment Laws 2019

This is the time of year that Californians, especially California businesses, learn of the slew of new laws that will go into effect in the coming year.  This year is not any different and the new laws are reflective of the social discussions around sexual harassment over the course of the last couple of years. California employers now have a number of laws that will require changes in your documents, training requirements, and how you do business, to name a few.  Below is a list of new laws that I thought were the most interesting and relevant by category, although there is inevitably some overlap. Contracts 1. Employers will be prohibited, with certain exceptions, from requiring an employee to execute a release of a claim or right under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) or to sign a nondisparagement agreement or other document that purports to deny the employee the right to disclose information about unlawful acts in the workplace, including, but not limited to, sexual harassment.  This is applicable when the release is provided in exchange for a raise … Continue reading

In: Contracts, Employer Postings, Employment Law, New Laws, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tip Pooling Distribution Restrictions Upheld by Ninth Circuit

Tip pooling is a common practice in the restaurant industry but the legal back and forth of how much and to whom the pooled tips could be distributed has lead to much confusion within the food services industry. Restaurants May Not Require Wait Staff to Share Pooled Tips With Back of House Staff Last month, in the case of Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association et al. v. Perez et al., the Ninth Circuit upheld the Department of Labor’s rule barring employers from collecting tips given to waiters or other service employees and distributing to back of house staff not in the chain of service (i.e. cooks and dishwashers). Since California is within the Ninth Circuit’s jurisdiction, the Court’s decision in this case will lead to increased litigation against restaurants for unpaid wages.  Highly successful restaurants have closed their doors as a result of these wage and hour claims. PRACTICAL TIP: Enterprises with tip pooling practices should have a written tip pooling policy that specifically outlines how tips are pooled and shared. Such written policies should clearly state that pooled tips will not be … Continue reading

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New Year Plan for 2016: Checklist for California Businesses

I love this time of year because in addition to the holiday parties and good cheer, it’s a time of reflection, taking stock of what we did well, where we could improve, and creating a plan for next year’s targets. You are probably doing the same thing for your business. Here is a checklist for business’s New Year Plan to help your California business prepare for 2016. Hiring Employment Applications – Check for compliance with California’s laws related to questions about arrest and criminal records. San Francisco is one of the 100 cities and counties that has implemented a “ban the box” law prohibiting those questions entirely. Interview and Hiring Protocols – Review your interview questions and hiring protocols to ensure that your hiring decisions won’t give rise to discrimination claims. Systemic discrimination is a hot enforcement area. Salaries – assess your starting (and incumbent) salaries to make sure that you can justify any pay discrepancies between people who perform similar duties. California’s new, tougher equal pay law goes into effect on January 1, 2016. Policies and Procedures Employee Handbook Review – make … Continue reading

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Post-Labor Day: Employment Law Blog Carnival

For many of us, Labor Day marks the end of summer – the last hurrah as the kids go back to school – the last day you could wear white (who came up with that rule anyway?). But since this is an Employment Law Blog Carnival, I thought we’d learn a little about the history of Labor Day as we get our monthly employment law update. What is Labor Day? Labor Day, the first Monday in September, was created by the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. Speaking of the labor movement, Janette Levey Frisch at The EmpLAWyerologist Firm did a great job of breaking down the NLRB’s recent ruling in the post “What Did the NLRB Say in its Ruling on Joint Employment–and Why?”  Donna Ballman at Screw You Guys, I’m Going Home outlines the steps to starting a union in the post “Is It Time to Start a Union at Your Workplace?” The growth of labor organizations brought about increased protections for workers. Jana Grimm’s post at Employment Essentials on “Workplace … Continue reading

In: Employment Law, Uncategorized | 4 Comments