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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 Sep 02, 2014

California Supreme Court Finds No Franchisor Liability in Sexual Harassment Case Involving Domino’s Pizza
Tue, 02 Sep 2014 20:24:16 - Pacific Time

In a significant case addressing franchisor liability for the sexual harassment of a franchisee’s employee, the California Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Domino’s Pizza, holding that there was no liability. The case, Patterson v. Domino’s Pizza, involves a female worker at a Domino’s Pizza franchisee, who alleged that a male supervisor subjected her to sexual harassment. She sued the franchisor, Domino’s Pizza, along with the harasser and franchisee, arguing that because the franchisor was the “employer” of persons working for the franchisee, and because the franchisee was the “agent” of the franchisor, the latter could be held vicariously liable for the alleged sexual harassment. The trial court granted summary judgment for the franchisor on the ground the requisite employment and agency relationships did not exist. The Court of Appeal disagreed, and reversed the judgment of the trial court. The California Supreme Court granted review to address the novel question dividing the lower courts in this case: Does a franchisor stand in an employment or agency relationship with the franchisee and its employees for purposes of holding it vicariously liable for workplace injuries allegedly inflicted by one employee of a franchisee while supervising another employee of the franchisee?  According to the California Supreme Court, “The answer lies in the inherent nature of the franchise relationship itself.”


California Legislators Approve Paid Sick Leave
Tue, 02 Sep 2014 18:28:14 - Pacific Time

California legislators have approved the biggest expansion of employer-paid sick leave in the nation and sent the measure to Governor Jerry Brown, who is certain to sign the legislation. AB 1522, sponsored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, covers workers whether they work full- or part-time. Businesses with one or more employees must comply with the new regulations. The bill provides that employees who are not currently covered by a company plan, will earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. They could use sick leave after working 90 days on the job and "bank" three paid sick days a year. The California Assembly approved the bill on a 52-21 vote shortly after 1 a.m. Saturday.


EEOC to Sign National Memorandum of Understanding with Mexico
Thu, 28 Aug 2014 18:38:29 - Pacific Time

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will sign a national Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the United Mexican States on Friday, August 29, 2014. The MOU is designed to further strengthen their collaborative efforts to provide immigrant, migrant and otherwise vulnerable Mexican workers and their employers with guidance and information and access to education relative to their rights and responsibilities under the laws enforced by the EEOC.  EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien and Mexican Ambassador Eduardo Medina Mora will sign the MOU in English and in Spanish.


Employers Are Liable for Harassment of Employees by Customers
Tue, 26 Aug 2014 19:31:29 - Pacific Time

Employers must implement policies and procedures to ensure that employees are not harassed by nonemployees such as clients, customers or vendors. In a recent case, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a lawsuit against Costco alleging that at one of its locations, management failed to take steps to protect one of its female employees from unwelcome advances of one of its warehouse member-customers. According to the EEOC, the agency's administrative investigation revealed that the employee repeatedly complained to her managers at the Glenview, Ill., Costco location where she worked about being pursued, approached, and confronted in the Costco by the man. In addition, one of her managers apparently told the employee that he agreed the man was "not right" and that Costco would monitor the situation. However, when the situation persisted and the employee complained to the police, Costco management allegedly yelled at her and told her to be friendly to the customer. John Hendrickson, the EEOC regional attorney in Chicago, said, "All employers have a duty to protect employees from sexual harassment...No employer gets a pass because it is a customer targeting its employee, rather than a manager or fellow employee." .

EEOC Challenges Employer’s Wellness Program
Mon, 25 Aug 2014 15:48:09 - Pacific Time

In its first lawsuit to directly challenge a wellness program pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has charged that Orion Energy Systems violated the ADA by requiring an employee to submit to medical exams and inquiries that were not job-related and consistent with business necessity as part of a "wellness program," which was not voluntary, and then by allegedly terminating the employee when she objected to the program. The EEOC contends that Orion instituted a wellness program that required medical examinations and made disability-related inquiries. When an employee declined to participate in the program, Orion shifted responsibility for payment of the entire premium for her employee health benefits from Orion to the employee, and shortly thereafter, terminated the employee. .

Governor Brown Signs Bill on Group Health Insurance Waiting Period
Fri, 22 Aug 2014 16:29:12 - Pacific Time

California  Governor Brown has signed SB 1034 into law, which imposes a 90-day limit on eligibility waiting periods for group health insurance benefits issued by insurers. The federal ACA already had eligibility waiting periods limited to 90-days, effective January 1, 2014. In 2013, California had enacted AB 1083, which imposed a 60-day limit on eligibility waiting periods. SB 1034 conforms California law on waiting periods to federal law.


Employer Must Pay $1M and Reinstate Drivers Allegedly Terminated for Raising Safety Concerns
Tue, 19 Aug 2014 16:33:13 - Pacific Time

Asphalt Specialists Inc. has been found in violation of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for allegedly wrongfully terminating a foreman and two truck drivers. The drivers allegedly raised safety concerns after being directed to violate U.S. Department of Transportation mandated hours of service for commercial truck drivers. Headquartered in Pontiac, the asphalt paving company was ordered to reinstate the three employees to their former positions with all pay, benefits and rights. The company was also ordered to pay a total of $953,916 in damages: $243,916 in back wages to the drivers, $110,000 in compensatory damages and $600,000 in punitive damages. The foreman, who was terminated from employment on June 30, 2012, had allegedly repeatedly raised concerns to the company's co-owner about exceeding hours of service when job assignments repeatedly failed to allow for the 10-hour rest period mandated by the Department of Transportation. At least twice, the foreman and the crew were expected to work more than 27 hours straight. The employee rightfully refused to operate a vehicle in an unsafe manner, which could potentially cause serious injury to the worker, co-workers or the public. .

Employer Will Pay $92,500 for Alleged Retaliation
Tue, 19 Aug 2014 15:56:40 - Pacific Time

Bertolini Corporation, a stackable chair manufacturer, has agreed to pay $92,500 to settle a retaliation lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  The EEOC had charged Bertolini with unlawful retaliation against two employees. According to the EEOC's suit, the company retaliated against two employees, a maintenance mechanic and a human resources assistant, by firing them because they complained about unlawful discrimination at the company. In addition, to the monetary relief, the one-year consent decree settling the lawsuit enjoins the company from retaliating against any employee; requires it to provide in-person training regarding retaliation to its Tennessee employees and to maintain records of any complaints of retaliation.  The company must also provide a report to the EEOC regarding any such complaints. .