Many are questioning whether, under the Trump Administration, the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered) community will be given the same protections provided to it during the Obama administration. The most accurate (and surely frustrating) answer to this question is, “it depends.”
Overtime pay, or the alleged lack thereof, is an issue we regularly see pop up in the California courts. While California employers generally recognize that non-exempt employees (e.g. many hourly employees) who work overtime must receive overtime premiums on their base pay, not all are aware that these premiums may also be required on other, “supplemental” aspects of compensation to nonexempt employees. A common example? Bonuses.
Under the California Labor Code, employers are required to adhere to various wage and hour requirements for benefit of employees. Indeed, employers must provide employees with specific information concerning the wages they are paid, and failure to do so may result in legal penalties, including a potential wage and hour class action.
The California Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) authorizes aggrieved employees to file lawsuits to recover civil penalties on behalf of themselves, other employees, and the State of California for alleged Labor Code violations. In other words, PAGA gives a private citizen the right to pursue fines that would normally only be available to the State of California, thereby allowing a private citizen to act as an “attorney general”. Defending these claims can be time consuming and costly for employers, and a California appellate court recently made things even more challenging for business owners across the state when it affirmed that arbitration is not permitted for PAGA claims. Indeed, arbitration clauses are undergoing a change up in employment agreements across the state, read more here.
Thanks to technology, employers are essentially now able to track an employee’s every move. Whether it be on the internet, on sales routes, or in a production center, technological advancements have made it easy to monitor an employee’s movements in ways that could only be imagined a couple of decades ago. As we have discussed in the past, there are benefits and risks to tracking an employee through GPS software.
Benefits of Employee Monitoring
Since Election Day, speculation about the impact the Trump Administration will have on existing business and employment laws and regulations has abounded. Now that President Trump has taken office, what can we expect? Read on for my thoughts on how the Department of Labor, the EEOC, and the President’s own executive actions may have bearing in the areas of workplace disability and leave law.
Most California employers seem to be cognizant of their legal responsibility to implement, if not vigorously consider, reasonable disability accommodations when an employee submits a related request. According to the EEOC, a reasonable accommodation is “any change in the workplace or the way things are customarily done that provides an equal employment opportunity to an individual with a disability.” So what happens in the instance where the employee never asks? The employer might be expected to be a mind-reader, per a recent appellate court decision out of the Eighth Circuit.
California has several new employment laws on the books, at least one of which may affect employers issuing employment agreements now deemed “against public policy.” Assembly Bill 465, effective January 1, 2017, adds a new section to the Labor Code that prohibits employers from compelling employees to resolve employment disputes outside of California. Such provisions are now void as against public policy.
California business owners: Have you taken a look through your employee handbook in a while? Thanks, in part, to the numerous recent updates to state and federal employment law, it is probably time.
The new year is an ideal time to update employment policies. Maintaining current employee handbooks ensures that employees are aware of their rights—and those of their employer—under the law. For example, California law (in certain circumstances) allows employees to take time off work without retaliation. Additionally, as we discussed in this post on employees and the election, employees are allowed time off to vote and to serve on a jury. Most employees are also allowed unpaid, job-protected leave if they are disabled by pregnancy or other medical challenges. The employee handbook is a standard and effective means of sharing relevant company information with employees, and your attorney can help you update your handbook so it complies with both California and federal law.
The distinction between exempt and non-exempt employees can, at times, be unclear for many employers. State and federal law may apply regardless. Indeed, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires that employers classify jobs as either exempt or nonexempt, so misclassifying an employee, even unintentionally, can result in serious legal trouble.