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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 May 25, 2015

Los Angeles To Increase Minimum Wage To $15 An Hour By 2020
Wed, 20 May 2015 20:34:12 - Pacific Time

Los Angeles, the nation’s second-largest city, voted to increase its minimum wage from $9 an hour to $15 an hour by 2020. The increase was passed by the City Council in a 14-to-1 vote. Several other cities, including San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle and Oakland, have already approved increases, and dozens more are considering doing the same. In 2014, a number of Republican-leaning states like Alaska and South Dakota also raised their state-level minimum wages by ballot initiative. The effect of the minimum wage increase is likely to be particularly strong in Los Angeles, where, according to some estimates, almost 50 percent of the city’s work force earns less than $15 an hour. Under the plan approved Tuesday, the minimum wage will rise over five years. Read more here.

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Exploration and Production Companies Sued by EEOC for Alleged Pay Discrimination
Mon, 18 May 2015 21:07:19 - Pacific Time

Ten associated exploration and production companies operating in 12 states allegedly violated federal law by paying female employees lower wages than men, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has charged in a lawsuit. According to the EEOC, the Casper, Wyo.-headquartered True Oil, LLC and its associated companies allegedly paid a class of female accounting clerks lower wages than it paid to their male counterpart who was doing substantially equal work under similar working conditions. The lawsuit seeks lost wages and liquidated damages, as well as injunctive relief. Read more here.

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U.S. Supreme Court Rules Employers Can Be Sued Over High Fees In Retirement Plans
Mon, 18 May 2015 20:55:33 - Pacific Time

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that employers can be sued if their retirement plans offer employees mutual funds with unnecessarily high fees. In a 9-0 decision, the Court revived a lawsuit against Edison International and said the company had a "continuing duty to monitor" the investments offered to its employees. Several employees had sued Edison alleging they were offered "retail-class mutual funds" with high fees in their 401(k) plan, even though lower-priced "institutional" funds were available. They cited federal law (ERISA), which says retirement funds should be operated in trust and with "prudence" for the "exclusive" benefit of the employees. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals had dismissed most of the suit because it was filed more than six years after the disputed mutual funds were first offered to the employees. Read more here.

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Employer To Pay $120,000 For Allegedly Refusing To Hire Applicant Because of His Dyslexia
Wed, 13 May 2015 03:51:32 - Pacific Time

McPhee Electric Ltd., a construction company with offices in Connecticut, and Bond Brothers, Inc., a construction management and design company with an office in Connecticut, will pay $120,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC charged that McPhee and Bond refused to hire an applicant as a carpenter because of his disability, dyslexia, which substantially limits his ability to read. The applicant had 15 years of experience as a carpenter. He also had numerous construction safety training certifications and a clean safety record. However, Bond and McPhee allegedly refused to hire him after learning about his dyslexia while asserting that the applicant would present a safety risk. Read more here.

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EEOC Takes First Steps in Digital Charge System
Wed, 13 May 2015 03:40:52 - Pacific Time

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that 11 of its 53 offices will begin a pilot program called ACT Digital to digitally transmit documents between the EEOC and employers regarding discrimination charges.  This is the first step in the EEOC's move toward an online charge system that will streamline the submission of documents, notices and communications in the EEOC's charge system.  This system applies to private and public employers, unions and employment agencies. The EEOC receives about 90,000 charges per year, making its charge system the agency's most common interaction with the public.  The EEOC's ACT Digital initiative aims to improve customer service, ease the administrative burden on staff, and reduce the use of paper submissions and files. The first phase of ACT Digital allows employers against whom a charge has been filed to communicate with the EEOC through a secure portal to download the charge, review and respond to an invitation to mediate, submit a position statement, and provide and verify their contact information. The newly designed EEOC notice of a charge will provide a password-protected log in for the employer to access the system in the pilot offices. Employers will also have the option of opting out of the pilot program and receiving and submitting all documents and communications in paper form. Read more here.

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Source One Staffing to Pay $800,000 to Settle Multiple EEOC Discrimination Claims
Tue, 12 May 2015 16:24:45 - Pacific Time

A Chicago-area staffing agency will pay $800,000 under a consent decree resolving two discrimination lawsuits filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC's two lawsuits alleged multiple violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Specifically, the EEOC charged that Source One Staffing: (1) assigned female employees to a known hostile work environment; (2) retaliated against two female employees who reported that their supervisor was making sexual advances toward them; (3) categorized jobs as "men's work" or "women's work" and assigned employees accordingly; (4) asked impermissible pre-employment medical questions in violation of the ADA; and (5) failed or refused to assign employees to certain jobs because of their race and/or national origin. Read more here.

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California Supreme Court To Decide Whether Employers Can Require Employees To Be “On-Call” During Rest Periods
Tue, 05 May 2015 21:11:36 - Pacific Time

The California Supreme Court has granted review of Augustus v. ABM Security Systems, Inc. (hereafter ABM), a case in which the California appellate court held that employers may require employees to remain “on-call” during rest periods. In the Augustus case, Jennifer Augustus and other individuals worked as security guards for ABM. They filed a class action lawsuit against ABM, alleging that the company failed to provide rest periods as required by California law because the company did not relieve security guards of all duties during rest breaks, and instead required its guards to remain “on call” during breaks. In the course of discovery, ABM admitted that during rest breaks it requires its security guards to keep their radios and pagers on, to remain vigilant, and to respond when needs arise or an emergency situation occurs. The trial court concluded an employer must relieve its employees of all duties during rest breaks, including remaining “on call.” The court then granted approximately $90 million in statutory damages, interest, penalties and attorney fees. On appeal, the 2nd District Court of Appeal reversed, holding that merely being “on-call” does not constitute performing “work.” The Supreme Court will now decide the issue. Read the appellate court decision here.

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Uber Driver Injured By Passenger In Attack Sues For Workers Comp
Tue, 05 May 2015 17:28:11 - Pacific Time

An Uber driver, Abdo Ghazi, whose nose was broken after allegedly being attacked by a passenger is now suing the company for workers compensation. Mr. Ghazi filed the lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court on April 28, seeking workers compensation insurance coverage from Uber Technologies. The complaint stems from an incident back on November 23, when a passenger, 26-year old David Lin, allegedly jumped into the front seat of Ghazi's car and punched him in the face without any provocation. Ghazi suffered a broken nose and puncture wounds to the mouth and chin from a sharp object used in the attack, according to the San Francisco Business Times. However, because Uber has classified its drivers as independent contractors, they do not provide any benefits or workers compensation—although another lawsuit has been filed alleging that Uber misclassified its drivers as independent contractors, when they should be classified as employees. Read more here.

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