News & Analysis

Proposed CA wage law is a shame

Assembly Bill (AB) 1209, currently on Governor Jerry Brown's desk, proposes the addition of Section 2810.6 to the Labor Code to require large employers to gather information related to gender differentials in certain employees' wages. If the governor signs the bill, Section 2810.6 will require employers with more than 500 employees in California to submit specific wage information to the secretary of state, who will then make it publicly available on the Internet.

Governor Brown is considering family leave bill for small California employers

Small businesses across California may soon be required to provide up to 12 weeks of leave to care for a new child under legislation sent to Governor Jerry Brown. October 15 is the deadline for the governor to sign or veto the bill.

Mistakes in wage statements can cost employers under PAGA

In an unfavorable opinion for California employers, a California Court of Appeal recently ruled that (1) employees seeking damages in an action arising under Section 226(a) of the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA) needn't sustain any injury to bring the action, (2) the employer's violations need not be "knowing and intentional" to subject it to liability, and (3) the fact that the violations were mere errors is no excuse. Instead, the court expressly distinguished the requirements for obtaining "civil" versus "statutory" penalties, explaining that employees may recover civil penalties under the PAGA to benefit the general public without experiencing an injury.

Verdict for LAPD officers overturned because jury considered victim's race

While discrimination is generally wrong and unlawful, to prevail in an employment discrimination case, an employee must prove that her employer specifically discriminated against her because of her race or some other protected characteristic. The fact that an employer considered factors that may touch on issues such as race or relations with the broader community isn't unlawful as long as the employer doesn't treat the employee differently than other similarly situated employees.

Employer avoids bias claim even though it didn't follow own policies

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (whose rulings apply to all California employers) recently considered whether an employer could avoid an age discrimination claim even though it failed to follow its own policy when selecting the employee to be laid off. The court concluded that it could because the employee's evidence was insufficient to show that its stated reasons for his selection were a pretext (or cover-up) or that age discrimination was a substantial factor in its decision.

Avoid these 5 mistakes in your FMLA policy

Despite the fact that it's coming up on its 25th anniversary early next year, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) continues to cause grief to even seasoned HR professionals. From relatively simple tasks like keeping up with the latest U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) forms, to the trickiest issues of tracking intermittent leave or handling suspected leave fraud, employers large and small can struggle to get it right.

The Shawshank rejection

There's a new protected class in California employment law. The legislature has just passed, and sent to the governor for his expected signature, a new law that limits most employers' ability to learn about or act on job applicants' felony convictions. The bill is one more example of how public policy drives employment law, especially in California.

State investigations of workers' comp misclassification going strong

In 2015, the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DOLWD) made a splash when it announced new efforts to combat worker misclassification for purposes of workers' compensation insurance. The DOLWD's efforts have been largely out of the news since then, but it remains active in its investigations. Now is a good time to consider whether you are working with an independent contractor the department would consider an employee and whether you are responsible for workers' comp insurance.

Employer avoids bias claim even though it didn't follow own policies

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (whose rulings apply to all Alaska employers) recently considered whether an employer could avoid an age discrimination claim even though it failed to follow its own policy when selecting the employee to be laid off. The court concluded that it could because the employee's evidence was insufficient to show that its stated reasons for his selection were a pretext (or cover-up) or that age discrimination was a substantial factor in its decision.

Don't get tripped up by these common hurdles when determining overtime

With all the emphasis and effort that has been placed on employment law over the last decade, it's surprising how many employers still don't have a basic understanding of their overtime obligations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). It's easy to overlook a number of tricky scenarios in which you may not even realize you owe an employee overtime.