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 22, 2014

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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Governor Brown Signs Bill Expanding Scope of AB 1825 Sexual Harassment Training
Mon, 22 Sep 2014 04:33:04 - Pacific Time

California’s Governor Edmund G. Brown has signed AB 2053, which expands the scope of AB 1825 sexual harassment training to include “abusive conduct.” The new law is in effect as of January 1, 2015.  AB 1825, applies to California employers with 50 or more employees and requires those employers to provide a minimum of two-hours of training, every two years, for managers and supervisors on the prevention of sexual harassment. Pursuant to AB 2053, “abusive conduct” refers to conduct of an employer or employee in the workplace, with malice, that a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive, and unrelated to an employer’s legitimate business interests. "Abusive conduct" may include repeated infliction of verbal abuse, such as the use of derogatory remarks, insults, and epithets, verbal or physical conduct that a reasonable person would find threatening, intimidating, or humiliating, or the gratuitous sabotage or undermining of a person’s work performance. A single act shall not constitute "abusive conduct," unless especially severe and egregious. Read more here.

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Oakland Raiders to Pay $1.25 Million for Alleged Wage Violations
Mon, 22 Sep 2014 04:07:41 - Pacific Time

Eight months after filing a class-action lawsuit against the Oakland Raiders, two former “Raiderettes” cheerleaders have obtained a $1.25-million settlement from the team. The deal was announced today by attorneys for both sides, and is subject to court approval. The two former cheerleaders alleged that the Raiders violated numerous state wage and hour laws, including failing to pay minimum wage, withholding wages for months and refusing to reimburse cheerleaders for their business expenses. Instead of earning only $125 per game, payable in a single paycheck delivered at the end of the season, Raiderettes will now earn $9 an hour, for the estimated 350 hours each cheerleader puts in each year, including rehearsals, practices and mandatory community and charity appearances. As a result, their annual compensation will rise from about $1,250 to about $3,200. Read more here.  

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Shell Oil and Motiva Enterprises to Pay Nearly $4.5M
Mon, 22 Sep 2014 03:55:59 - Pacific Time

Shell Oil Co. and Motiva Enterprises LLC, which markets Shell gasoline and other products, have agreed to pay $4,470,764 in overtime back wages to 2,677 current and former chemical and refinery employees as a result of investigations by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) that found alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The department's Wage and Hour Division conducted investigations at eight Shell and Motiva facilities in Alabama, California, Louisiana, Texas and Washington, which found that the companies allegedly violated FLSA overtime provisions by not paying workers for the time spent at mandatory pre-shift meetings and failing to record the time spent at these meetings. According to the DOL, the company’s failed to pay workers for time spent attending mandatory pre-shift meetings. The companies allegedly required the workers to come to the meetings before the start of their 12-hour shift. Because the companies failed to consider time spent at mandatory pre-shift meetings as compensable, employees were not paid for all hours worked and did not receive all of the overtime pay of time and one-half their regular rate of pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek. Additionally, the refineries allegedly did not keep accurate time records. Read more here.

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Wells Fargo Settles EEOC Same-sex Sexual Harassment Lawsuit for $290,000
Mon, 22 Sep 2014 03:43:10 - Pacific Time

Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. will pay $290,000 to four female bank tellers and furnish other relief to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC lawsuit charged that a female manager and another female bank teller at a Wells Fargo branch in Reno, Nevada, regularly subjected the four women to graphic sexual comments, gestures and images. The harassment included inappropriate touching and a suggestion that the bank tellers wear sexually provocative clothing to attract customers and to advance in the workplace. The civil rights agency found that although the offensive conduct was reported to management several times, Wells Fargo allegedly failed to act quickly to stop it, and one employee felt compelled to quit rather than endure the ongoing harassment. "I am happy I stood up for my rights," one of the harassment victims said. "I don't want any other woman to think she has to put up with sexual harassment simply because it is done by another woman." Read more here.

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Judge Backs EEOC’s Right to Investigate Companywide Policy
Mon, 22 Sep 2014 03:35:54 - Pacific Time

A federal court has ordered KB Staffing, Inc., a staffing firm servicing central Florida, to comply with an administrative subpoena issued by the U.S. Equal Employ­ment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The subpoena, issued in December 2013, seeks informa­tion pertaining to a charge filed with the agency alleging that KB Staffing discriminated against current and prospective applicants for employment and/or employees because of improper health questionnaires. The EEOC's litigation is based on the company's alleged refusal to comply with a subpoena issued during the course of an investigation. The charge alleged that a job applicant was not hired for a position with KB Staffing because she refused to complete a pre-offer health questionnaire. Based on that, the EEOC charged the company with violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  KB Staffing argued that the EEOC's subpoena exceeded the scope of the charge and that the request for three years' worth of documents was too broad. The court rejected KB Staffing's arguments, finding that the subpoena issued by the EEOC was within the agency's authority and was relevant to the charge.  Read more here.

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EEOC Report Identifies Common Errors by Federal Agencies in Dismissing Discrimination Complaints
Mon, 22 Sep 2014 03:26:59 - Pacific Time

As part of its continuing efforts to improve the federal sector complaint process, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has released a new report, Preserving Access to the Legal System: Common Errors by Federal Agencies in Dismissing Complaints of Discrimination on Procedural Grounds. In the equal employment opportunity (EEO) process for federal employees and applicants for federal employment, federal agencies initially process complaints of employment discrimination. In doing so, agencies may dismiss complaints without investigation on a variety of procedural grounds described in federal sector regulations. These dismissal decisions may be appealed by complainants to EEOC. Of the appellate decisions issued each year by the EEOC on federal agency dismissals, approximately one-third are reversed, with the complaints being remanded by EEOC's Office of Federal Operations (OFO) to the agencies for investigation. Read more here.

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EEOC Sues Doherty Enterprises over Mandatory Arbitration Agreement
Mon, 22 Sep 2014 03:19:26 - Pacific Time

Doherty Enterprises, Inc.,  a regional company that owns and operates over 140 franchise restaurants,  including Applebee's and Panera Bread locations scattered throughout Florida,  Georgia, New Jersey and New York, has been sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) over the company’s mandatory arbitration agreements. According to the EEOC, Doherty requires each prospective employee to sign a mandatory arbitration agreement as  a condition of employment.  The agreement requires that all employment-related claims, including those that allow resort to the EEOC, must be deter­mined exclusively by binding arbitration. The EEOC has charged that this interferes with employees' rights to file discrimination charges. EEOC Regional Attorney, Robert E. Weisberg, commented that "When an employer forces all complaints about employment discrimination into confidential arbitration, it shields itself from federal oversight of its employment practices.  This practice violates the law, and the EEOC will take action to deter further use of these types of overly broad arbitration agreements." Read more here.

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