In a win for employers throughout California and across the country, a recent court decision shows that an “honest belief” continues to be an effective defense for employers responding to employment discrimination claims. In an employment law context, the “honest belief” rule focuses on what a decision-maker honestly believed the facts to be and whether that belief provides a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for an employment decision and not on the accuracy of the underlying facts asserted by an employer.Details
A trade secret is a formula, practice, process, design, instrument, pattern, commercial method, or compilation of information that is not generally known or reasonably ascertainable by others, and by which a business can obtain an economic advantage over competitors. Many businesses survive on their ability to keep their trade secrets, well, secret. For this reason, ensuring that confidential information stays within the company is crucial, and protecting trade secrets from employee theft needs to be a high priority. To ensure the safekeeping of confidential information, employers need to reiterate employee obligations regularly, including during onboarding and exit interviews, and have a plan of action for responding to insider breaches of trust.Details
It’s political season and everyone seems to have something to say, including (not surprisingly) the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). According to the EEOC, wearing a hat that states “Don’t Tread on Me” to work could potentially be a form of racial harassment. The phrase comes from the Gadsden flag, which is a historical American flag with a yellow field depicting a rattlesnake coiled and ready to strike. Positioned below the rattlesnake are the words “DONT [sic] TREAD ON ME”.Details
Many business owners feel as though operating within the City of Los Angeles is not an easy task and, unfortunately, the City has recently made it even more challenging. As of July 1, 2016, employers covered by both the California Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (more on that here) and the City Ordinances will need to comply with the more generous provisions of the Ordinances. The end result? Employees working in the City of Los Angeles will be entitled to up to 48 hours of paid sick leave per year, nearly twice the amount currently required under California law.
Additional ways in which the Ordinances augment existing California law requirements include:Details
Employers in California must be increasingly cognizant of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as it applies to employees and prospective employees. Title 1 of the Act specifically prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating against workers who have a disability. An individual with a disability is a person who:
· Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities;
· Has a record of such an impairment; or
· Is regarded as having such an impairment.Details
An employee wellness program, also called a “worksite wellness program”, is intended to promote and support employee health, safety, and well-being and “increase productivity, boost morale, and reduce stress”. Following a handful of discrimination lawsuits relating to these programs, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently issued two new rules under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA) that offer parameters for employers.
One parameter is the requirement that employers provide employees with notice concerning the purpose of, and limits on, the wellness program. The notice must outline what information will be collected, who will receive it, how it will be used, and how it will be kept confidential. Employees must receive the notice before providing any health information and with enough time to decide whether to participate. Not surprisingly, the EEOC indicated that these notices will be closely scrutinized and can be used in litigation when an employee claims that they were unaware that a particular test was part of a wellness program. Employers would be well-advised to obtain written acknowledgment of receipt of the notice from employees, the details of which can be discussed with experienced legal counsel.Details
In an unusual unanimous ruling, the United States Supreme Court recently upheld a whistleblower’s claim (Universal Health Services v. U.S. ex rel. Escobar). With the ruling, the Court affirmed the “implied certification theory” of liability under the False Claims Act (FCA), which permits contractors to be liable for fraud when they fail to disclose material non-compliance with regulatory requirements. The False Claims Act, also referred to as the “Lincoln Law”, is a federal law that imposes liability on persons and companies (typically federal contractors) who defraud governmental programs. Side note: the Act received its presidential nickname because it was enacted during the Civil War to combat the fraud perpetrated by companies that sold supplies to the Union Army.Details
With November 8, 2016 (also known as Election Day), closer than you think, California employers need to be prepared for the presence of politics in the workplace. Under California law, employers play a part in protecting employee voting rights and other political activity.
The topic of bathroom use by transgender individuals is a hot one, and that includes in the realm of employment law. Indeed, the California Fair Employment and Housing Council (FEHC) is in the process of drafting new regulations that define employment practices which constitute discrimination against transgender applicants and employees. As an employer in California, it is crucial that you stay current with these legal developments.Details
Summer has arrived and for many California employers, that means summer internships. Internships can be a benefit to both the student and the employer, but if not approached properly, can land the employer in legal hot water.
Do we have to pay our company’s summer intern? Maybe.Details