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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Co-Editor

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 Nov 21, 2014

President Obama’s Immigration Move Could Impact Job Market
Fri, 21 Nov 2014 07:49:03 - Pacific Time

President Obama’s executive order on immigration may impact the U.S. economy, in particular the job market. According to economists, by offering legal-worker status to several million undocumented immigrants, the executive order may prompt many to seek higher-paying jobs, thereby heightening competition for positions in a number of sectors since employers will have a larger supply of workers to choose from. Some job sectors may experience more job competition than others. For example, undocumented workers have recently steered away from manufacturing jobs fearing raids from immigration officials. The executive order will likely impact such sectors more than others. Read more here.

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California’s Fair Employment and Housing Council Considers Changes to FEHA Regulations
Fri, 21 Nov 2014 07:12:33 - Pacific Time

California’s Fair Employment and Housing Council is considering significant changes to California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) regulations. The FEHA covers discrimination and harassment in the workplace. The proposed regulations, which are intended to further implement and interpret the FEHA, include: adding a definition of unpaid interns and volunteers; adding that an employee who harasses a co-employee may be personally liable for the harassment, regardless of whether the employer knew or should have known of the conduct and/or failed to take appropriate corrective action; adding a new section detailing: (a) employers’ duty to prevent and correct harassment and discrimination; (b) the required contents of harassment and discrimination policies; and (c) the dissemination and translation of such polices; expounding upon rules about trainers’ maintenance of records, employers’ maintenance of records, the meaning of “effective interactive training,” examples of materials that ensure “supervisors remain engaged in the training,” who may qualify as a trainer, and course content; and, for pregnancy disability leave, simplifying the definition of “four months” and elaborating upon situations when “four months” compels more complicated calculations. Read more here.

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EEOC Issues FY 2014 Performance Report
Wed, 19 Nov 2014 19:48:29 - Pacific Time

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has released its 2014 Fiscal Year Performance Report, which ended September 30. According to that report, in FY 2014, the EEOC “continued to implement its Strategic Plan for FY 2012-2016, as well as its Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).  The agency met, partially met, or exceeded target results in all 14 measures in the Strategic Plan.” More specifically, the EEOC obtained $296.1 million in monetary relief for employment discrimination through mediation, conciliation and other administrative enforcement. The EEOC also secured $22.5 million in monetary relief for charging parties through litigation, and $74 million in monetary relief for federal employees and applicants. The agency received 88,778 private sector charges in FY 2014, a decrease of about 5,000 charges from FY 2013.  In addition, a total of 87,442 charges were resolved, 9,810 fewer than in FY 2013. Read more here.

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EEOC Releases Information on Enforcement Protections for LGBT Workers
Wed, 19 Nov 2014 19:03:58 - Pacific Time

Recent events have triggered increased interest about protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals under federal employment-discrimination laws. In light of this, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has released information highlighting the agency’s enforcement efforts in this area, and addressing questions raised by employers and employees about discrimination related to LGBT status. The EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP), adopted by a bipartisan vote in December of 2012, lists "coverage of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals under Title VII's sex discrimination provisions, as they may apply" as an enforcement priority for FY2013-2016.  This enforcement priority is consistent with positions the EEOC has taken in recent years regarding the intersection of LGBT-related discrimination and Title VII's prohibition on sex discrimination. Read more here.

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Jury Awards Woman $185 Million for Alleged Gender Discrimination
Wed, 19 Nov 2014 01:11:45 - Pacific Time

A San Diego federal jury awarded $185 million in punitive damages against AutoZone Stores after finding that the company allegedly retaliated against a pregnant manager, Rosario Juarez, eventually demoting and then terminating her. The three-woman, five-man jury also awarded Rosario Juarez $872,000 in compensatory damages, for lost wages and emotional stress. It is believed to be the largest employment law verdict for an individual in U.S. history. The lawsuit, initially filed in San Diego Superior Court in 2008, outlined a corporate structure that allegedly resisted promoting women into management positions and made light of anyone who complained about it. AutoZone operates about 4,000 stores across the U.S. and abroad, with about 400 of them in California. Read more here.

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Employer to Pay $187,500 for Alleged Genetic Information and Disability Discrimination
Fri, 14 Nov 2014 17:26:34 - Pacific Time

Three Southern California seed and fertilizer providers - All Star Seed, Inc., La Valle Sabbia and Abatti - will pay $187,500 to settle a discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of a class of job applicants who were allegedly subjected to illegal medical and genetic information inquiries. According to the EEOC, the El Centro, Calif.-based agricultural companies (which operated as a single employer) required job applicants to undergo physical exams and fill out health questionnaires as a condition of employment that violates federal laws. The EEOC charged that the questionnaires contained improper inquiries about the applicants' medical conditions and family medical histories, also known as genetic information. 

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U.S. Supreme Court Grants Review in ACA Tax Subsidies Case
Tue, 11 Nov 2014 19:42:02 - Pacific Time

The U.S. Supreme Court has granted review in King v. Burwell, a case involving the question of whether the federal government’s tax subsidies to purchasers of health insurance, pursuant to the Affordable Care Act, are only available if an individual purchases health insurance from a state-run exchange versus from the federally run exchanges. The Internal Revenue Service ruled that the tax subsidy is available regardless of whether the health insurance is purchased from a state or federal exchange program. Read more here.

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HR Practice Note: “Best Practices in Returning an Injured Employee to Work”
Tue, 11 Nov 2014 19:07:56 - Pacific Time

California’s Department of Industrial Relations has a helpful guide for employers entitled “Best Practices in Returning an Injured Employee to Work” which can be located here. The guide states that “An effective return-to-work program can benefit employers in numerous ways. Such a program can help avoid millions of dollars in fines and penalties, reduce workers’ compensation costs, retain experienced employees, improve employee morale and productivity, increase competitiveness of a business, and help ensure equal opportunity of employment for persons with disabilities. Employees participating in return to work can protect their jobs and income, avoid long-term unemployment, stay physically conditioned and mentally active, maintain daily structure and social connections provided by work, and participate in injury and illness prevention programs in the workplace.” The guide provides six basic steps that an employer should take to help return employees suffering from a work-related injury to work.

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