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 Oct 01, 2014

EEOC Lawsuit Challenges Employer’s Wellness Program
Wed, 01 Oct 2014 20:07:38 - Pacific Time

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a lawsuit alleging that Flambeau, Inc., a based plastics manufacturing company, violated federal law by requiring an employee to submit to medical testing and assessment in connection with a "wellness program" or face dire consequences. Specifically, according to the EEOC, the "wellness program" allegedly required that employees submit to biometric testing and a "health risk assessment," or face cancellation of medical insurance, unspecified "disciplinary action" for failing to attend the scheduled testing, and a requirement to pay the full premium in order to stay covered. The EEOC also alleges that when an employee did not complete the biometric testing and health risk assessment, Flambeau cancelled his medical insurance and shifted responsibility for payment of the entire premium cost to him. The EEOC contends that the biometric testing and health risk assessment constituted "disability-related inquiries and medical examinations" that were not job-related and consistent with business necessity as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC brought suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. Read more here.

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California Bans Use of Plastic Bags in Grocery Stores
Wed, 01 Oct 2014 18:11:57 - Pacific Time

Governor Jerry Brown has signed SB270, legislation which provides for the nation's first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags at grocery and convenience stores. A national coalition of plastic bag manufacturers immediately said it would seek a voter referendum to repeal the law, which is scheduled to take effect in July 2015. Pursuant to SB270, plastic bags will be phased out of checkout counters at large grocery stores and supermarkets and convenience stores and pharmacies in 2016. The law does not apply to bags used for fruits, vegetables or meats, or to shopping bags used at other retailers. It allows grocers to charge a fee of at least 10 cents for using paper bags. Read more here.

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Governor Brown Signs New Legislation Regarding Employer Liability for Workers of Independent Contractors
Tue, 30 Sep 2014 21:35:03 - Pacific Time

Governor Brown has signed AB 1897, which holds employers liable for violations of law related to the employees of independent contractors hired by the employer, including violations related to workers’ compensation, wage and hour, and occupational health and safety requirements. Numerous industries will be impacted by the legislation including construction, agriculture, healthcare, technology, foodservice, manufacture and retailers. The bill, creates new Labor Code section 2810.3. It applies to most companies with 25 or more employees (referred to as the “client employer”) which obtain workers from companies that provide workers (referred to as “labor contractors”).  Employers are liable pursuant to the new legislation even if they are unaware that the violations were occurring. Read more here. 

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EEOC Charges Employee Was Unlawfully Terminated While on Leave
Tue, 30 Sep 2014 20:35:40 - Pacific Time

The U.S. Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a lawsuit against Harrison Poultry, Inc. a poultry hatchery located in Bethlehem, Georgia, alleging that the company unlawfully terminated an employee with a disability who was on approved leave. According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Harrison Poultry terminated nightshift manager Ronnie Smith rather than granting his request for a reasonable accommodation after he was diagnosed with emphysema. Smith was terminated days after he requested a 12-day extension to his vacation leave in order to comply with his physician's medical restriction that he not work during that time. The agency alleges Smith was replaced by a person who was hired approximately three months after his discharge. The EEOC is seeking back pay, compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief. Read more here.

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Employer Sued for Failing to Accommodate Employee’s Permanent Restrictions
Tue, 30 Sep 2014 19:21:58 - Pacific Time

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a disability discrimination lawsuit against the Kroger Company of Michigan, a grocery chain, for allegedly failing to provide a reasonable accommodation to an employee with a disability and then terminating her. According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Kroger allowed an employee, who was hired as a stock person, and who had a back impairment, to work as a cashier as a reasonable accommodation. However, a few months later, after it found out the employee’s restrictions were permanent, the employee was terminated. The EEOC is seeking monetary compensation for the employee, including back pay and compensatory damages for emotional distress, in addition to punitive damages. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) places an affirmative duty on employers to work with employees to find accommodations for their restrictions. Read more here.  

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CalChamber Opposes Heat Illness Regulations
Mon, 29 Sep 2014 19:50:40 - Pacific Time

Representatives from the California Chamber of Commerce and a coalition of businesses have raised concern to the Division of Occupational Safety & Health (Cal/OSHA) Standards Board on proposed regulatory changes to California’s unique heat illness prevention regulations. The group, known as the Heat Illness Prevention Coalition, is comprised of almost 100 organizations. It is concerned that the proposed changes are unnecessary, overly burdensome, and would be disruptive to employers already complying with the current requirements. According to the CalChamber, “Cal/OSHA has neither demonstrated the need for such a far-reaching revision of the heat illness prevention standard nor provided any evidence of necessity to justify these proposed changes. There is no supporting data from enforcement activities, citations, injuries, or illnesses. There is an absence of any indication that a problem has arisen that is directly related to each proposed rule change. The agency has not identified specific provisions of the existing regulation as deficient based on field experience or data where the current regulation was demonstrably inadequate to prevent a heat illness or fatality.”  Read more here.

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New Rule Reduces Veterans’ Reporting Requirements for Federal Contractors
Mon, 29 Sep 2014 19:35:31 - Pacific Time

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has published a final rule that reduces reporting requirements for federal contractors and subcontractors who hire and employ veterans under provisions of the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974. The final rule revises the VETS-100A Report and renames it the VETS-4212 Report. The VETS-100 Report will no longer be used. The VETS-4212 Report requires contractors to report specified information on protected veterans in their workforce in the aggregate, rather than for each category of veterans protected under the statute, reducing the required reporting elements by almost half, from 82 to 42. Under VEVRAA, the term "protected veterans" includes: disabled veterans, veterans who served on active duty during a war or campaign for which a campaign badge was authorized, veterans who were awarded an Armed Forces Service Medal and recently separated veterans. Read more here. 

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EEOC Sues Employer for “Systemic Sexual Harassment”
Mon, 29 Sep 2014 18:21:02 - Pacific Time

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has sued VXI Global Solutions, a provider of call center services for major nationwide companies, for alleged “systemic sexual harassment” for failing to stop the “widespread sexual harassment of both female and male workers by company supervisors,” in its call center. According to the EEOC, a class of female and male call center staff endured an extremely hostile work environment perpetuated by a male floor manager and other supervisors. Females were allegedly subjected to “unsolicited groping and touching, constant sexual propositions, and grotesque comments of a sexual nature.” The EEOC also alleges that a “female assistant supervisor made repeated advances toward male staff with foul descriptions of proposed sexual activity, unwanted lap dances and physical rubbing. Male employees who refused to participate were subjected to unlawful gender stereotyping in that they were accused of being gay because of their objection to the harasser's behavior.” Attempts to report the harassment to human resources personnel were inhibited by their alleged lack of availability.  When VXI Global's supervisors and/or human resources personnel were eventually advised of the harassment, several of the employees were allegedly disciplined and terminated. Read more here.

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