PAGA Claims: Arbitration Not Allowed

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.

Tracking Employees Offline

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

President Trump and Employment Policies to Watch

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.

Wage and Hour Class Actions and Smartphones

In today’s digitally-driven age, it seems that it would be surprising to have an employee who did not have a smartphone, tablet, or other similar device that allowed him to instantly ‘connect’. In fact, many California employers assume that it is a given that their employees own a smartphone and encourage them to also use it for work-related purposes. Unfortunately, doing so can land a business in legal hot water.

Is An Employer Responsible for Offering an Accommodation if an Employee Does Not Ask?

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.

CA Employment Arbitration Clauses See Big Changes in 2017

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.

Updating Employer Handbooks to Address New Domestic Violence Law

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.

California’s New Employee Retirement Program

At the present time, an estimated 7 million employees in California are not offered tax-qualified retirement plans through their employers. Starting Jan. 1, 2017, this is going to change. Under the California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program (Senate Bill 1234), employers who do not currently offer a tax-qualified retirement plan to employees will be required to offer the new California state-run retirement program to their employees. According to California Treasurer’s Office, this new law is the “most ambitious push to expand retirement security since the passage of Social Security in the 1930s”.

Who is Impacted by the New Law?

Definition of National Origin Expands

Perhaps in response to some of the questions posed by the media following the election of Donald Trump, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) recently released guidance on national origin discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). As many employers are aware, Title VII applies to any individual employed in the United States by a covered employer (employer with more than four employees), regardless of immigration status, as well as any foreign national outside the United States when they apply for U.S.-based employment.