New Proposed Overtime Rules – Potential Effects on California Employers

There has been much discussion about the Department of Labor (DOL)’s proposed changes to federal overtime rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). California employers may have mostly ignored the federal overtime rules because California’s rules are more protective of employees and have a higher threshold for overtime exemptions. However, if these rules go into effect, California employers will have to make some adjustments. Failure to properly classify employees as exempt vs non-exempt and follow overtime rules could be costly for employers. What Are the Proposed Changes to Federal Overtime Rules? Under FLSA regulations, an employee is exempt from the right to overtime pay if s/he meets the following 3 requirements: Paid on a salary basis regardless of the number of hours worked; Receives a salary of at lease $455/week or $23,660/year; and Satisfies the duties tests for exempt employees (executive, administration, professional, computer, and outside sales regulations). The DOL proposed increasing the salary threshold from $455 per week to $970 per week ($50,440) annually. The salary threshold for the highly-compensated employee exemption would increase from $100,000 to $122,148 per … Continue reading

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Holiday Party Checklist for Employers

When you host a holiday party, how do you walk the tightrope of wanting your employees to have a great time without getting sued for sexual harassment, wage and hour claims, or workers’ compensation liability? Each company has its own work culture, which generally defines their party culture as well. I’ve attended holiday lunches sans alcohol as well as those where alcohol was free flowing. Although the presence of alcohol tends to make the event more festive and the conversation free-flowing, it’s usually at those parties that I’ve looked over and asked myself “did I really just see that?” Here are 10 Things to help your company host a holiday party without getting sued. 1. Skip the Mistletoe   This one is self-explanatory. 2. Address employer-sponsored social functions in your handbook Your harassment policy should specifically address company-sponsored social events. In particular, consider providing specific examples of unacceptable behavior at these functions. If you do gift exchanges, remind employees that risqué or adult-themed gifts should not be exchanged with co-workers. 3. Host the holiday party at a restaurant or other off-site location … Continue reading

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Job Application Questions – Arrest and Criminal Records

I’ve received a number of calls from colleagues who are California criminal defense attorneys whose clients have run into employment problems because of their criminal arrest records. As an employer do you know what job application questions you can and can’t ask when it comes to arrests and criminal records? California Labor Code section 432.7 makes it illegal for any employer to request job applications to disclose, or considering as a factor in determining any condition of employment, information concerning: An arrest or detention that did not result in a conviction; Referral to, or participation in, a pretrial or posttrial diversion program; Conviction that has been expunged, sealed or dismissed; Marijuana possession convictions two or more years old; or Misdemeanor convictions for which probation was completed or otherwise discharged and the case has been dismissed. Employers may ask an employee or applicant for information about arrests for which the employee or applicant is out on bail or on his own recognizance pending trial. There are additional exceptions for a health facility employer to ask applicants who will work with patients … Continue reading

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10 Business Events that Should Trigger a Call to Your Lawyer

As an owner of a small business, I understand the external demands faced by small and medium-sized business owners.  Sometimes we think we can do it all . . . until we realize that we can’t.  At some point, a business owner wonders “when should I contact a lawyer?”  Unfortunately, many businesses wait until a problem that would have cost a few hundred dollars to fix turns into a $10,000 problem before finding a lawyer. Here is a list of when to call a lawyer for a quick consultation. As Desiderius Erasmus said, “prevention is better than cure.”  This is not an exhaustive list and the prevention is not absolute ,but at the very least, it will minimize your potential risks.  1.  Before hiring your first employee The Prevention: Violations of federal and California anti-discrimination laws; Misclassification of exempt and non-exempt employees; Violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act and California laws on backgrounds checks and consumer reports; and Violations of federal and California employment laws on overtime pay, meal and rest breaks, and pay stub violations. 2.  Before firing an employee … Continue reading

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

California Lawsuits – Anatomy of a Lawsuit Part III

This series applies to California lawsuits only. For rules regarding your state’s civil litigation procedure, visit the website for your state’s judicial branch. It’s been while since I wrote a post for the Anatomy of a Lawsuit series but I’m back. So far, we’ve discussed Statutes of Limitations and Where to File a Lawsuit. Today I will give you a broad overview of the trajectory a lawsuit. In the following weeks, I will discuss each part in greater detail. Filing a Lawsuit If you are considering filing a lawsuit or have been served with a summons and complaint and wondering “What to do after being served,” I would be happy to help you navigate through the complicated legal process.  Feel free to contact me here to call (949) 529-0007.   Next up, learn about Filing a Lawsuit in California.  Sign Up for Monthly Updates For Email Newsletters you can trust. Please read our disclaimer.

In: Anatomy of a Lawsuit, California Civil Litigation, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Paying Employees for On-Call or Standby Time in California

Having employees on-call or on standby allows you to serve your customers 24 hours a day. A great business model if you are paying your employees correctly but could have expensive consequences if you don’t. Failure to properly pay employees could be considered “wage theft” in California. Are you paying employees correctly? In California, an employer is obligated to pay the wages of a non-exempt employee for all time that the employee is under the control of the employer. The predominant factor in determining whether employees are under an employer’s control is their ability to engage in personal activities. The information below applies to your non-exempt employees but whether you are classifying employees correctly is another matter. Let’s assume that you did. Are your employees under your control and entitled to pay? Employees are required to be on-call or on standby at the work site. Yes.  They are under your control and must be paid for that time even if they are just watching Office Space, taking a nap, or on Facebook, waiting for something to happen. Employees are on-call or on … Continue reading

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The Basics – Paying Employee Commissions

Happy New Year, and may 2012 be a year full of innovation, success, and happiness for you and your business.  With the new laws that went into effect this month, employers have been (or should be) busy reviewing and revising their employee handbooks, offer letters, and employment policies to ensure compliance with the new California laws.  Since you are knee deep in the process, I will spare you another post on the new laws that go into effect in 2012. Instead, we’ll do a Q&A on the basics of paying employees on commission.  Also, by January 2013, commission-based employment agreements for services provided in California must be in writing. 1.  Who could be paid on commission? Employees who are involved in selling a product or service; AND Commission earnings are a percentage of the price of the service or product sold; AND Employees’ sales duties must not include making the product or rendering the service. 2.  Is it o.k. for employers to deduct commissions paid from future commissions? It is permissible for an employer to have a commission policy that provides that … Continue reading

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California Workplace Leave for Organ Donation and Bone Marrow Donors

Earlier this month, the Governor approved a new senate bill amending and clarifying California law on organ and bone marrow donation leave.  Here is a quick summary: •         Employers with 15 or more employees must provide paid leave to employees undergoing organ or bone marrow donation procedures. •         Employee requesting leave must provide employer written verification that s/he is a donor and that it is medically necessary. •         Employees are entitled to the following paid leave in a one-year period: – Organ donation – up to 30 business days (not calendar days) – Bone marrow donation – up to 5 business days. •         Employees on leave must be treated as actively working.  The leave provided may not be considered a break in service for purposes of salary adjustments, sick leave, vacation, paid time off, or seniority. •         Organ and bone marrow donation leave is in addition to FMLA or Moore-Brown-Roberti Family Rights Act and cannot be taken concurrently. •         Employers may require that the employee take earned but unused sick leave, vacation, or paid time off: – Organ donation – … Continue reading

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