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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 Oct 22, 2014

California’s DIR Sets New Computer Professional Exemption Rates
Tue, 21 Oct 2014 17:40:13 - Pacific Time

California’s Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) has set the new exemption rates for 2015. Labor Code Section 515.5 provides that certain computer software employees are exempt from the overtime requirements stipulated in Labor Code Section 510 if certain criteria are met. One of the criteria is that the employee's hourly rate of pay is not less than the statutorily specified rate, which the department is responsible for adjusting October 1st of each year to be effective on January 1st of the following year by an amount equal to the percentage increase in the California Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers. Effective January 1, 2015, the rates are as follows: the computer software employee's minimum hourly rate of pay exemption has been increased from $40.38 to $41.27; the minimum monthly salary exemption has been increased from $7,010.88 to $7,165.12; and, the minimum annual salary exemption has been increased from $84,130.53 to $85,981.40. Read more here.

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Employer to Pay $82,500 for Alleged Sexual Harassment
Tue, 21 Oct 2014 17:09:40 - Pacific Time

California based Braun Electric Company will pay $82,500 and furnish other relief to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Braun Electric provides industrial electrical services for the oil and gas industry throughout California's San Joaquin Valley. According to the EEOC's suit, a male manager at Braun's Belridge, California, location continually subjected female workers to a hostile work environment since 2010. According to the EEOC, the manager made daily grotesque remarks of a sexual nature to female subordinates and made explicit sexual propositions on a continual basis. Braun's management failed to adequately address reports of harassment, and supervisors failed to report incidents of harassment they witnessed.  One female employee was forced to quit as a result of the ongoing hostile work environment, according to the EEOC. Read more here.

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EEOC to Hold Live Twitter Chat On Disability Employment in the Federal Sector
Tue, 21 Oct 2014 17:01:03 - Pacific Time

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will hold a live Twitter chat on Tuesday, Oct. 28, from 2:00 to 3:00 pm (EDT). In commemoration of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), the interactive online forum will focus on the federal government as a model employer of people with disabilities. EEOC Chair Jenny Yang and Commissioner Chai Feldblum will answer questions during the hour-long chat. Members of the public are encouraged to participate by submitting questions using the hashtag #EEOC4NDEAM. The EEOC invites queries regarding the hiring, promotion and retention of people with disabilities in the federal government and suggestions on how agencies can increase the number of people with disabilities in the federal workforce. Read more here.

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EEOC Sues FedEx for Alleged Nationwide Disability Discrimination
Fri, 10 Oct 2014 18:29:58 - Pacific Time

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a lawsuit against FedEx Ground Package System, Inc., (FedEx Ground) alleging that the company discriminated against a large class of deaf and hard-of-hearing package handlers and job applicants for years. According to the EEOC, FedEx Ground failed to provide needed accommodations such as American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation and closed-captioned training videos during the mandatory initial tour of the facilities and new-hire orientation for deaf and hard-of-hearing applicants.  The company also allegedly failed to provide such accommodations during staff, performance, and safety meetings.  Package handlers physically load and unload packages from delivery vehicles, place and reposition packages in FedEx Ground's conveyor systems, and scan, sort and route packages.

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Court Holds Arbitration Agreement Did Not Authorize Class Arbitration
Fri, 10 Oct 2014 17:32:23 - Pacific Time

The California Court of Appeal, 4th District has held that an arbitration agreement did not provide for class arbitration because it did not demonstrate a clear intent to arbitrate such claims. The case involved Network Capital Funding Corporation (Network Capital) (the employer) who filed a declaratory relief action alleging its arbitration agreement with Erik Papke (the employee) required Papke to arbitrate his wage and hour claims on an individual basis rather than the classwide basis as he sought in his pending arbitration proceeding.  Papke petitioned the trial court for an order compelling the employer to submit its claims to arbitration, arguing that the broad language in the parties’ arbitration agreement required the arbitrator, not the court, to decide whether the agreement authorized class arbitration. The trial court disagreed, holding it must decide the issue of  class arbitration. The trial court then held the agreement did not allow class arbitration.  .

Principal of Beverly Hills High School Sues for Alleged Race Discrimination
Thu, 09 Oct 2014 21:14:51 - Pacific Time

The principal of Beverly Hills High School -- the inspiration for “90210”—has filed a lawsuit against the school board alleging race discrimination. Carter Paysinger alleges that the all-white Beverly Hills School Board has targeted him because he's Black and that one member told him, "One of the problems that you have is that you don't look like what a principal of Beverly Hills High School should look like." According to Paysinger, another member once said, "It would be easier if he had lighter skin ... and he looks more intelligent when he wears glasses." Paysinger has worked for the district for 4 decades, as a longtime football coach who became principal in 2010. However, Paysinger was investigated by the L.A. County D.A. for wrongfully taking money from students who attended a summer sports camp. The camp was privately funded but was held on campus.  Paysinger said he had been taking a fee for 15 years and everyone knew and no one complained. Ultimately the D.A. rejected the case. Paysinger alleges that Board has made a decision to rid the school of all minorities. Read more here.

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Walmart Cuts Health Benefits to Part-time Employees
Thu, 09 Oct 2014 20:56:52 - Pacific Time

Walmart has cut health benefits to part-time employees who work less than 30 hours per week. The employees will receive a “personal letter” explaining their options, including the possibility of a government plan, private health insurance, or coverage through a spouse’s plan, if available. All current part-time health care benefits will remain intact until the end of the year. According to a Walmart spokesperson, “In 2012, after passage of the Affordable Care Act, we required new associates work 30 hours or more per week to be become eligible for our health care plan….At that time, we continued offering coverage to previously eligible associates who worked fewer than 30 hours. But today, the health care landscape has changed, there’s a much wider selection of affordable quality health care options in the marketplace.” Read more here.

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Kaiser to Pay $75,000 for Allegedly Failing to Provide Free Job Coach
Thu, 09 Oct 2014 17:53:54 - Pacific Time

Kaiser Permanente, the largest managed care organization in the United States, will pay $75,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC alleged that a food service worker at Kaiser's San Diego facility suffers from hydrocephalus, a medical condition which causes difficulties with memory, dizziness and concentration.  Upon hire, the worker requested additional training time and the assistance of a temporary job coach to effectively learn the job and perform the required job duties. A non-profit organization in San Diego specializing in assisting people with disabilities - Toward Maximum Independence (TMI) - was available to provide the temporary job coaching services free of charge to Kaiser. However, according to the EEOC, Kaiser terminated the worker rather than grant the reasonable accommodation request. Read more here.

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