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 Apr 17, 2014

Employer Must Reinstate Before Seeking its Own Evaluation of the Employee’s Fitness for Duty in FMLA Matter
Wed, 16 Apr 2014 16:14:27 - Pacific Time

When an employee takes leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) the employee is entitled to reinstatement as long as medical certification is received from the employee's health care provider indicating that the employee is able to resume work. However, the employer is not permitted to seek a second opinion regarding the employee's fitness for work prior to restoring the employee to employment. According to a recent appellate court decision, if the employer is not satisfied with the employee's health care provider's certification, the employer may seek its own evaluation of the employee's fitness for duty at its own expense, but the employer must first restore the employee to work.

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Employer Liable for Allegedly Denying Employee’s Request for Service Dog at Work as an Accommodation for Anxiety
Wed, 16 Apr 2014 06:15:59 - Pacific Time

Direct Optical, Inc., an optical store in Farmington Hills, Mich., has agreed to pay $53,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). According to the EEOC's suit, Direct Optical denied an optician's request for the reasonable accommodation to bring her service dog to work because of her generalized anxiety disorder.  The employee advised that the dog alerted her to oncoming panic attacks, helped alleviate symptoms during a panic attack, and could also do other tasks, such as retrieve small objects, retrieve her medical bag and guide her to an exit. The EEOC also charged that after Direct Optical denied the request it began disciplining and ultimately terminated the employee because of her disability and in retaliation for her request.

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Weight Watchers to Pay $45,000 for Alleged Pregnancy Discrimination
Mon, 14 Apr 2014 19:46:00 - Pacific Time

The WW Group., Inc., a company based in Farmington Hills, Mich., doing business as Weight Watchers, will pay $45,000 and furnish other relief to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC charged that the company violated federal law when it refused to hire an applicant as a group leader because she was pregnant. The applicant was a lifetime member of Weight Watchers, and she had met and maintained her weight goals before becoming pregnant. When Weight Watchers learned of the applicant's pregnancy, it allegedly advised her that it did not hire pregnant women.

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HR Practice Pointer: When Must an Employer Pay an Intern?
Mon, 14 Apr 2014 19:30:42 - Pacific Time

As summer approaches, high school and college students around the country are searching for internships, which can provide valuable experience for future career endeavors. Historically, many internships have been unpaid, and as long as certain criteria established by state and federal laws are met, employers may offer unpaid internships. However, in recent years there has been a significant increase in the number of lawsuits filed in which interns have alleged wage violations for failure to pay wages. Therefore, employers should familiarize themselves with the applicable laws for determining whether or not an intern should be paid. Federally, pursuant to the FLSA, there are six criteria that must be applied when determining if an internship can be unpaid.

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Proposal Made to Increase San Francisco’s Minimum Wage to $15 an Hour
Mon, 14 Apr 2014 18:02:07 - Pacific Time

A coalition of community and labor advocates (the "Coalition for a Fair Economy") has submitted a proposed ballot measure (the "Minimum Wage Act of 2014") to increase the minimum wage in San Francisco to $15 an hour, as a first step to get the measure on the November ballot.  The "Coalition for a Fair Economy," includes members from Progressive Workers Alliance, SF Rising, the San Francisco chapter of Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, Unite Here Local 2 and Service Employees International Union Local 1021. SEIU Local 1021 represents 13,000 city workers in San Francisco. The measure would cover all part-time, temporary and contract employees. The increase in minimum wage would be phased in, with a longer period provided for employers with less than 100 employees.

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Senate Blocks Paycheck Fairness Act
Fri, 11 Apr 2014 16:46:12 - Pacific Time

Senate Republicans have blocked legislation, the Paycheck Fairness Act, which was directed at a pay gap between men and women. The bill fell short of the 60 votes needed to prevent a filibuster and advance. The Act would have banned workplace retaliation for those who discuss their pay, in addition to requiring employers to explain why workers in similar jobs earn more than others and allowing workers to seek punitive damages, in addition to back pay, in disputes over wages.

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EEOC Alleges School District Denied Employees Benefits Based on Age
Fri, 11 Apr 2014 16:30:59 - Pacific Time

According to the EEOC, Murphy School District No. 21, a public school district in the city of Phoenix, used an early retirement incentive plan which grants greater economic benefits to younger retirees based upon their age. The EEOC has filed an age discrimination lawsuit against the district. The EEOC alleges that Murphy School District's early retirement incentive plan is facially discriminatory because it grants more favorable benefits to younger early retirees based on their age.  The school district adopted the plan in the 1980s. Under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), early retirement incentive plans which discriminate on the basis of age violate the law.

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CalChamber Releases Annual List of “Job Killer” Bills
Thu, 10 Apr 2014 18:11:42 - Pacific Time

The California Chamber of Commerce (CalChamber) has released its annual list of "job killer" bills, highlighting  legislation that CalChamber believes will have a negative impact on California's "job climate and economic recovery if they were to become law." According to Allan Zarember, president and CEO of CalChamber, "The economic recovery is still the number one issue for Californians...These bills pose a serious threat to our economy and, if enacted, would dampen job growth in the state. While it is encouraging that the list of new job killer bills is smaller than in past years, the unfortunate consequence of any one of these bills becoming law would be harmful to our economy. Protection of the job climate remains CalChamber's top priority."

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