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 Sep 30, 2014

Employer Sued for Failing to Accommodate Employee’s Permanent Restrictions
Tue, 30 Sep 2014 19:21:58 - Pacific Time

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a disability discrimination lawsuit against the Kroger Company of Michigan, a grocery chain, for allegedly failing to provide a reasonable accommodation to an employee with a disability and then terminating her. According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Kroger allowed an employee, who was hired as a stock person, and who had a back impairment, to work as a cashier as a reasonable accommodation. However, a few months later, after it found out the employee’s restrictions were permanent, the employee was terminated. The EEOC is seeking monetary compensation for the employee, including back pay and compensatory damages for emotional distress, in addition to punitive damages. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) places an affirmative duty on employers to work with employees to find accommodations for their restrictions. Read more here.  

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CalChamber Opposes Heat Illness Regulations
Mon, 29 Sep 2014 19:50:40 - Pacific Time

Representatives from the California Chamber of Commerce and a coalition of businesses have raised concern to the Division of Occupational Safety & Health (Cal/OSHA) Standards Board on proposed regulatory changes to California’s unique heat illness prevention regulations. The group, known as the Heat Illness Prevention Coalition, is comprised of almost 100 organizations. It is concerned that the proposed changes are unnecessary, overly burdensome, and would be disruptive to employers already complying with the current requirements. According to the CalChamber, “Cal/OSHA has neither demonstrated the need for such a far-reaching revision of the heat illness prevention standard nor provided any evidence of necessity to justify these proposed changes. There is no supporting data from enforcement activities, citations, injuries, or illnesses. There is an absence of any indication that a problem has arisen that is directly related to each proposed rule change. The agency has not identified specific provisions of the existing regulation as deficient based on field experience or data where the current regulation was demonstrably inadequate to prevent a heat illness or fatality.”  Read more here.

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New Rule Reduces Veterans’ Reporting Requirements for Federal Contractors
Mon, 29 Sep 2014 19:35:31 - Pacific Time

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has published a final rule that reduces reporting requirements for federal contractors and subcontractors who hire and employ veterans under provisions of the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974. The final rule revises the VETS-100A Report and renames it the VETS-4212 Report. The VETS-100 Report will no longer be used. The VETS-4212 Report requires contractors to report specified information on protected veterans in their workforce in the aggregate, rather than for each category of veterans protected under the statute, reducing the required reporting elements by almost half, from 82 to 42. Under VEVRAA, the term "protected veterans" includes: disabled veterans, veterans who served on active duty during a war or campaign for which a campaign badge was authorized, veterans who were awarded an Armed Forces Service Medal and recently separated veterans. Read more here. 

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EEOC Sues Employer for “Systemic Sexual Harassment”
Mon, 29 Sep 2014 18:21:02 - Pacific Time

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has sued VXI Global Solutions, a provider of call center services for major nationwide companies, for alleged “systemic sexual harassment” for failing to stop the “widespread sexual harassment of both female and male workers by company supervisors,” in its call center. According to the EEOC, a class of female and male call center staff endured an extremely hostile work environment perpetuated by a male floor manager and other supervisors. Females were allegedly subjected to “unsolicited groping and touching, constant sexual propositions, and grotesque comments of a sexual nature.” The EEOC also alleges that a “female assistant supervisor made repeated advances toward male staff with foul descriptions of proposed sexual activity, unwanted lap dances and physical rubbing. Male employees who refused to participate were subjected to unlawful gender stereotyping in that they were accused of being gay because of their objection to the harasser's behavior.” Attempts to report the harassment to human resources personnel were inhibited by their alleged lack of availability.  When VXI Global's supervisors and/or human resources personnel were eventually advised of the harassment, several of the employees were allegedly disciplined and terminated. Read more here.

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New Digest of EEO Law Issued by EEOC
Mon, 29 Sep 2014 17:54:19 - Pacific Time

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has announced the latest edition of its federal sector Digest of Equal Employment Opportunity Law. This quarterly publication, prepared by the EEOC's Office of Federal Operations (OFO), features a wide variety of recent Commission decisions and federal court cases of interest. Additionally, it contains a special article entitled, Failure to State a Claim: An Overview of the Law & Three Areas of Concern. The spring 2014 edition of the Digest contains summaries of noteworthy decisions issued by the EEOC and features cases involving attorneys' fees, compensatory damages, dismissals, findings on the merits, remedies, sanctions, stating a claim, settlement agreements, summary judgment, and timeliness. Read more here.

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EEOC Files Lawsuits Alleging Transgender Discrimination
Mon, 29 Sep 2014 17:28:44 - Pacific Time

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed the first lawsuits in its history alleging transgender discrimination. In the first lawsuit, the EEOC has charged that Detroit-based R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc. discriminated on the basis of sex by allegedly firing a funeral director/embalmer because she is transgender and was transitioning from male to female. The employee allegedly had satisfactorily performed her job duties but was terminated after notifying the employer that she was undergoing gender transition and would soon present as a female. In the other case, the EEOC has sued Lakeland Eye Clinic, a Lakeland, Florida-based organization of health care professionals, for allegedly violating Title VII, by firing an employee because she is transgender. According to the EEOC, Lakeland's employee had performed her duties satisfactorily throughout her employment; however, after informing them she was transgender and intended to start presenting as a female, she was terminated. Read more here.

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FSK’s 2nd Annual Northern California Employment Law Conference
Mon, 22 Sep 2014 19:30:20 - Pacific Time

On Thursday, November 6, 2014, Floyd, Skeren & Kelly, LLP will hold its 2nd Annual Northern California Employment Law Conference. The conference will take place at the Hilton Garden Inn located in Emeryville, CA. The conference will cover important workplace topics related to the Interactive Process, Disability Leave, Pregnancy Leave, the Affordable Care Act, Workers’ Compensation and the crossover issues related to the Fair Employment Act, and much more. The Keynote Speaker will be Phyllis W. Cheng, Director of the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Other speakers include Bernadette M. O’Brien, Managing Attorney of Floyd, Skeren & Kelly’s Employment Law Department, and Dona Lee Skeren, Assistant Managing Attorney of Floyd, Skeren & Kelly’s Employment Law Department. Some of the topics will be: “Every Employer’s Nightmare: Managing Employee Leaves of Absence;” “An Overview of Proposed Regulatory Changes to the California Family Rights Act;” “Guidance on Preventing a Straightforward Workers’ Compensation Case from Turning into a FEHA Nightmare;” “Mastering the Complexities of Pregnancy Leave: How Much Time is Required by Law and Why it Could be More Than 7 Months;” and “An Affordable Care Act Update for Employers: Preparing for January 1, 2015.”

MCLE & CE Credits are available for this conference, with HRCI credit pending. For more information about the conference and to register, please visit FSK HR Training.

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Governor Brown Signs Mandatory Paid Sick Leave Bill
Mon, 22 Sep 2014 04:48:27 - Pacific Time

California Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr., has signed into law a bill, AB 1522, requiring employers in California to provide at least three days of paid sick leave a year to their employees. The decision was cheered by labor unions, but opposed by business groups concerned about rising costs. Business groups raised fears that the legislation would increase their costs of doing business and reduce their flexibility to schedule employees. California became the second state in the nation, after Connecticut, to adopt a paid sick leave law. Pursuant to AB 1522, employers are mandated to provide sick pay for an employee who works 30 or more days in a single calendar year. Employees will earn a minimum of one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. The bill, authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, is scheduled to go into effect in July 2015. Read more here.

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