Editor in Chief

Bernadette M. O'Brien is an attorney at law in California.

She is the author of the popular Lexis Nexis publication Labor and Employment in California; A guide to Employment Laws, Regulations and Practices Second Edition which has been in publication since 1992. The book covers an array of employment related issues including discrimination, sexual harassment, wage and hour, family Medical Leave Act, and Privacy in the workplace.

She is of counsel with the Law Offices of Floyd, Skeren & Kelly, LLP in the firm's Sacramento office.

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Rene Thomas Folse, JD, Ph.D. is an attorney at law and licensed psychologist in California.

He has practiced workers' compensation law for 35 years. His focus of practice involves claims of mental health injury where forensic psychology is involved in the evaluation of the claim. He has been an instructor and lecturer for many organizations and educational institutions and teches continuing education courses for attorneys, physicians and psychologists.

The EmploymentLawAcademy is pleased to offer our users FREE access to California Unemployment Insurance and Disability Compensation Programs - Online Version by David W. O'Brien, California Unemployment Insurance Administrative Law Judge (Retired). The paper version of this text contains nearly 1000 pages of information and law covering the California unemployment and disability Insurance claim. The online version may be searched by keywords, or you may navigate from chapter to chapter.

Recent Employment Law News for Jun 30, 2015

DOL Releases Proposal To Raise Salary Threshold For Exempt Employees
Tue, 30 Jun 2015 19:56:00 - Pacific Time

The Department of Labor has released its proposal to raise the salary threshold for exempt employees to $50,440 ($970 a week). The current federal threshold is $23,660 a year ($455 a week). According to Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, the change could provide an additional $1.3 billion in wages for exempt workers every year. Read more here. 

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U.S. Supreme Court Rules Same-Sex Couples Have a Constitutional Right to Marry
Fri, 26 Jun 2015 14:48:37 - Pacific Time

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the U.S. Constitution provides same-sex couples the right to marry. The Court ruled 5-4 that the Constitution's guarantees of due process and equal protection under the law mean that states cannot ban same-sex marriages. With the ruling, gay marriage will become legal in all 50 states. Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing on behalf of the court, said that the hope of gay people intending to marry "is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization's oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right." Read more here.

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Supreme Court Allows Nationwide HealthCare Subsidies
Fri, 26 Jun 2015 14:35:18 - Pacific Time

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled, in King v. Burwell, that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) allows the federal government to provide nationwide tax subsidies to help individuals buy health insurance. The 6-to-3 ruling means it is likely that the PPACA will survive after Mr. Obama leaves office in 2017. For the second time in three years, the PPACA has survived a challenge to its enforceability before the U.S. Supreme Court. According to Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., who wrote for a six-justice majority, “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them.” Read the decision here.

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City of San Francisco Loses Appeal on Pension Cuts
Thu, 18 Jun 2015 02:16:32 - Pacific Time

The California Supreme Court has issued a decision allowing thousands of San Francisco city employees and retirees to regain increases in future pensions that voters had sought to eliminate.  A lower-court ruling had restored the increases for employees who retired after November 1996 and for future retirees, and the court on Wednesday denied the city’s appeal. The Court also denied an appeal by a lawyer for the workers, who had wanted a ruling that eliminated the cutbacks for earlier retirees. The lawyer said the ruling as it stands would help about 23,000 employees who have retired since 1996. The reductions were part of Proposition C, a November 2011 ballot measure sponsored by Mayor Ed Lee and backed by labor unions. Read more here.

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Court Rules Woman Who Claimed Gender Discrimination Liable for $276K in Legal Costs
Thu, 18 Jun 2015 02:02:37 - Pacific Time

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Harold Kahn has ruled that  Ellen Pao, a woman who lost a high-profile gender discrimination lawsuit against a Silicon Valley venture capital firm, is liable for about a quarter of the roughly $1 million in legal costs the company is seeking. A jury in March found that Kleiner Perkins did not discriminate or retaliate against Pao. Kleiner Perkins is seeking more than $970,000 in legal costs from Pao, much of it for experts the company called to testify at trial. Pao's attorneys have called the amount excessive. Kahn said the company is entitled to $276,000 because the fees for experts that Kleiner Perkins is seeking should be scaled down to reflect Pao's more limited financial resources, specifically, the judge stated, "There is no doubt that KPCB has 'vastly' greater economic resources than Ms. Pao." Read more here.

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Workplace Culture Key to Preventing and Rectifying Retaliation
Thu, 18 Jun 2015 00:24:08 - Pacific Time

Addressing retaliation is good for businesses and for workers a panel of experts told the Commissioners of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) during a recent meeting.Claims of retaliation are the most frequent charges filed with the EEOC, accounting for almost 43 percent of all claims filed in 2014. Raymond L. Peeler, EEOC senior attorney advisor said, "retaliation is the linchpin for all civil rights enforcement. If employees fear the repercussions of filing a charge or complaint, then their rights are unlikely to be enforced." According to Commissioner Charlotte A. Burrows, "When retaliation makes employees too afraid to report discrimination, it creates a climate in which discrimination can thrive, affecting businesses' bottom lines and undermining the basic right to equal employment opportunity.” Read more here.

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FedEx Agrees to $228 Million Settlement in Independent Contractor Class Action
Thu, 18 Jun 2015 00:13:14 - Pacific Time

Federal Express has announced settlement of a class action lawsuit, Alexander v. FedEx Ground Package, in which its drivers alleged they were misclassified as independent contractors and were instead employees. According to executive vice president and general counsel Christine P. Richards, “FedEx Ground faced a unique challenge in defending this case given the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals last summer. This settlement resolves claims dating back to 2000 that concern a model FedEx Ground no longer operates.” The Ninth Circuit had rejected FedEx’s argument that its drivers were independent contractors. California applies a “right to control” test to determine independent contractor versus employee status. Indicators of FedEx control over drivers included: setting regular schedules for the drivers; requiring drivers to wear FedEx uniform; and, requiring that vehicles were painted a certain color and marked with the FedEx logo. Read more here.

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California Labor Commissioner Rules Uber Drivers Are Employees Not Independent Contractors
Wed, 17 Jun 2015 23:39:06 - Pacific Time

According to a California Labor Commissioner’s decision, Uber drivers are employees not independent contractors, as currently classified by Uber. The decision could increase costs for the smartphone-based ride service and impact the closely watched start-up's valuation. The Labor Commission's decision could significantly impact the growing industry of providing services via smartphones, with potential implications for other “crowdsourced” services such as Uber’s rival Lyft, chore service TaskRabbit, and cleaning service Homejoy.

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