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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 Jul 28, 2014

Fast-Food Workers Advocate for $15.00-An-Hour Wage
Mon, 28 Jul 2014 07:54:33 - Pacific Time

Approximately 1,200 workers, from McDonald's, Burger King, and other fast food chains, arrived in Chicago on charter buses, from numerous cities from around the United States, to attend a conference calling for a $15.00-an-hour wage floor for the nation's 4 million fast-food workers. The gathering was largely underwritten by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) which has 2 million members known for unionizing hospital workers, home care aides, and custodians. According to Mary Kay Henry, the union's president, the SEIU has adopted the fast food workers' cause to combat income inequality. The SEIU is seeking to unionize fast-food workers, although the efforts may prove difficult, as fast-food employees are scattered around the country among thousands of different franchised restaurants and their effort would likely be met with fierce opposition from franchisees and fast-food chains.

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Democrats Introduce the Family Friendly “Schedules That Work Act”
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 16:27:27 - Pacific Time

Democratic members of both Houses of Congress have introduced the "Schedules that Work Act" (H.R. 5159, S. 2642) which is a "family friendly" bill enabling employees to request flexible and/or regular schedules without the fear of retaliation. According to the sponsors, "While salaried workers often point to long hours and rigid schedules as serious workplace problems, hourly workers face a different problem: unpredictable and irregular work schedules in which they have minimal input...These practices can wreak havoc on working families. The Schedules That Work Act helps families balance their responsibilities at work with their responsibilities at home, while respecting the needs of employers. The bill provides that employees are protected from retaliation for requesting a more flexible, predictable or stable schedule; it creates an interactive process for employers to consider requests that is responsive to the needs of both employees and employers; and provides that employees who make a request must be granted the schedule change, unless the employer has a bona fide business reason for denying it; and, retail, food service, and cleaning employees must receive work schedules at least two weeks in advance. .

Apple Faces Class Action for Alleged Failure to Provide Meal and Rest Periods
Thu, 24 Jul 2014 23:13:31 - Pacific Time

San Diego Superior Court Judge Ronald S. Prager has certified a class action lawsuit, which includes almost 21,000 current and former hourly retail and corporate Apple employees. The lawsuit, which seeks a jury trial, covers the period from December 2007 to August 2012, exposing the tech company to potentially millions of dollars in damages. According to Judge Prager, a class action "is the only feasible method to fairly and efficiently adjudicate these claims." The plaintiffs allege that Apple's policy provided workers with a meal break after the first five hours of working, as opposed to the time period required by California law, which is that the meal period be provided by the fifth hour of work or the employee is owed an extra hour of pay. The plaintiffs also claim that Apple's scheduling policy made taking meal and rest periods "extremely difficult"; that employees were not compensated with the required extra hour of pay for missed meal periods and breaks; and that employees were given inaccurate itemized wage statements. Further, according to the lawsuit, employees who resigned or were terminated were not given final paychecks in a timely manner as required by law. .

President Obama Signs Order Prohibiting Federal Contractors From Engaging in LGBT Discrimination
Tue, 22 Jul 2014 20:56:39 - Pacific Time

President Obama has signed an Executive Order, amending the 1965 Executive Order 11246, which prohibits federal contractors from engaging in discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The President's Executive Order also amends Executive Order 11478, which covers the federal civilian workforce, by adding "gender identity" as a new protected status. .

President Obama Signs the “Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act” Into Law
Tue, 22 Jul 2014 19:11:00 - Pacific Time

President Barack Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) into law on July 22, 2014. According to the Department of Labor (DOL) the WIOA is "by far the most significant reform of federal job training programs in more than 15 years and a critical step toward helping workers and employers succeed in the 21st century economy." WIOA is a job training program designed to help job seekers access employment, education, training, and support services to succeed in the labor market and to match employers with skilled workers. Congress passed the WIOA by a wide bipartisan majority; it is the first legislative reform in 15 years of the public workforce system. WIOA supersedes the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 and amends the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, the Wagner-Peyser Act, and the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998. In general, the Act takes effect on July 1, 2015, the first full program year after enactment. The DOL will issue further guidance on the timeframes for implementation of these changes and proposed regulations reflecting the changes in WIOA soon after enactment. .

Goodwill to Pay $100,000 for Alleged Retaliation
Tue, 22 Jul 2014 18:34:29 - Pacific Time

Goodwill Industries has agreed to pay $100,000 and provide other relief to settle a long-standing lawsuit for alleged retaliation filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In its lawsuit, the EEOC charged that Goodwill retaliated against a worker, Mary Goulet, at its Lawton, Oklahoma, store. Specifically, Goodwill allegedly terminated Ms. Goulet after she testified on behalf of another Goodwill employee in a prior federal sex and age discrimination lawsuit. The consent decree also provides for injunctive relief intended to prevent future discrimination, including notification to employees, revision and dissemination of anti-discrimination policies, and live training on anti-retaliation law, in addition to the $100,000 monetary award. .

Governor Brown Signs Bill for Small Businesses Authorizing Continuation of PRE-ACA Health Coverage
Mon, 21 Jul 2014 17:19:00 - Pacific Time

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. has signed legislation (SB 1446-DeSaulnier; D-Concord) that allows a small employer health care service plan contract or a small employer health insurance policy that was in effect on December 31, 2013, and that is still in effect, and that does not qualify as a grandfathered health plan under Affordable Care Act (ACA) to continue to be in effect until December 31, 2015. The bill thus provides California's small employers with additional time to prepare for full compliance with the ACA. Employers with less than 50 full-time employees are considered "small employers" under the ACA. Small employers should note that the ACA may count multiple part-time employees as a full-time employee. The ACA counts a combination of employees working 120 hours per month (around 30 hours per week) as one employee. If the total number of full-time equivalent employees exceeds 49, that employer would be required to provide insurance or pay a penalty for each employee. A business that employs variable-hour workers who may work 40 hours one week and not at all in other weeks, must add up the total hours those employees worked in a year. Divide that number by 2,080 (which represents 40 hours/week multiplied by 52 weeks in a year) for the number of FTEs.

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Employer to Pay $1,660,438 for Alleged Overtime Violations
Wed, 16 Jul 2014 19:09:36 - Pacific Time

B & D Contracting Inc., a labor recruiting and staffing agency that caters to oil field services and maritime fabrication facilities along the Gulf Coast, has agreed to pay $1,660,438 in back wages to 1,543 current and former employees. An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) found that the company allegedly engaged in improper pay and record-keeping practices that resulted in employees being denied overtime compensation in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The employees were assigned to client work sites throughout Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama to work as welders, pipe fitters and shipfitters. Investigators from the Wage and Hour Division's New Orleans District Office found the company had allegedly mischaracterized certain wages as per diem payments and impermissibly excluded these wages when calculating overtime premiums, denying employees earned overtime compensation. .