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Preventing Discrimination in the Workplace


Preventing Discrimination in the Workplace

The U.S. has a number of anti-discrimination and harassment laws that prohibit businesses from discriminating against employees based on a number of factors including age, disability, race, sex, pregnancy, and citizenship. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act: Amended in 1991 to allow victims to recover damages, sexual harassment is defined as “unwelcome verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature that is severe or pervasive and affects working conditions or creates a hostile work environment.” This includes when a person in authority is demanding sexual favors from a subordinate and when sexual comments or jokes create a hostile... READ MORE

California Proposes New Law Aimed at Closing Gender Pay Gap

Across the country, the gender pay gap debate wages and California, despite our tough fair pay laws, is no exception to this rule. Recently, two new laws, one which passed and one which didn’t, aimed to help close and better document this pay gap. According to the census bureau, the average working woman is earning only 86 cents per dollar earned by a man. While stride are being taken to close this gender pay gap, we’re clearly not there yet. The first law, AB 168, bars a prospective employer from asking about previous salary. The goal is to prevent historic... READ MORE

Crafting Effective Non-Compete Agreements

One increasingly common portion of employment agreements is a non-compete agreement, designed to keep an employee from leaving one business and immediately competing with their prior employer. There has been some debate in the courts about the extent to which these non-compete clauses are enforceable and there are some good rules of thumb for businesses looking to use non-compete agreements. Non-compete agreements are generally unenforceable in the state of California. To be valid, a non-compete agreement must be given in exchange for some form of consideration, meaning that the employee receives something of value, such as a job, some company... READ MORE

Businesses May Employ Speech Limitations in the Workplace

You’re probably familiar with the First Amendment and its requirement that Congress not limit or abridge “the freedom of speech, or of the press.” It surprises many people to learn, then that the First Amendment's protections regarding freedom of speech don't apply to a private company’s workplace. The amendment very specifically prevents the government from making any speech rules that restrict speech, but does not restrict companies or individuals from limiting speech. There are employment laws in place that restrict a company from limiting certain forms of employee speech, such as discussion around wages, hours, and working conditions. However, restricting... READ MORE

The Sprouts Case: Employers And Phishing Scam Awareness

In 2016, employers face many risks and challenges in keeping employee information private and secure. As business owners are a particularly lucrative target, dealing with phishing attacks and maintaining absolute privacy are current daily challenges faced by employers. Employers must be constantly vigilant and aware of this type of fraud, especially since scammers and hackers use email, text messages, phone calls, and social media to steal data. In April of this year, former employees of Sprouts initiated a class action lawsuit in the United States District Court, Southern District of California against Sprouts Farmers Market, Inc. ("Sprouts"). Because of a... READ MORE

What Is Hip? What Employers Must Know About California’s Heat Illness Prevention (“HIP”) Regulation

The California Occupational Safety and Health Division issued a “High Heat Advisory,” warning employers to protect their outdoor workers from heat illness as temperatures went over 100 degrees in many areas of California. This should remind employers about the requirements of California’s Heat Illness Prevention (“HIP”) regulation, adopted in 2015. HIP sets specific requirements for potable water, shade, cool-down periods, high-heat procedures, emergency preparedness, and acclimatization, training, and plans for heat illness prevention. Pursuant to HIP, employers must Provide free water that is "fresh, pure, suitably cool" so that each employee may drink at least one (1) quart per hour.... READ MORE

City Of Los Angeles Passes Paid Sick Leave Ordinances

Due to apparent dissatisfaction with paid sick leave as provided at the California state level, the cities of Los Angeles and San Diego have passed ordinances granting sick leave to qualified employees. Employers should note that the permissible uses under both ordinances are broader than California law. As of July 1, 2016, many employees within the City of Los Angeles will be entitled to accrue 48 hours of paid sick leave per year. Los Angeles Ordinance The state paid sick leave law does not supersede local ordinances, and employers must comply with both the state and the local laws, whichever... READ MORE

OSHA Publishes Its Final Rule On Electronic Reporting Of Workplace Injuries And Illnesses

On May 12, 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published its final rule on electronic reporting of workplace injuries and illnesses. Pursuant to this rule, OSHA will be publishing employer injury and illness records on the internet, although these cases will offer no explanation of the facts and circumstances involved. These new provisions on electronic reporting take effect on January 1, 2017, and require many types of employers to electronically submit injury and illness data. OSHA now requires each separate workplace with 250 or more employees in qualifying industries to submit information from their 2016 recordkeeping of injuries... READ MORE

What Employers Should Know About The California Data Protection Act

The California legislature passed the nation’s first data breach notification statute in 2003, the California Data Protection Act (CDPA). Since this landmark legislation was enacted, over 30 states have passed similar statutes. The law is another example of California's trendsetting legislation in the area of privacy. What the CDPA requires The CDPA requires that any business that “owns or licenses personal information about a California resident shall implement and maintain reasonable security procedures and practices appropriate to the nature of the information, to protect the personal information from unauthorized access, destruction, use, modification, or disclosure.” Further, it requires a business... READ MORE

I Thought We Won: Uber Settlement Unpopular With Plaintiffs

After reaching an $84 million settlement with Uber, Massachusetts'  attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan has found herself subject to immense criticism from Uber drivers and attorneys alike that claim the settlement is too low and a sell-out of their interests. At the end of June, U.S. District Judge Edward Chen of the Northern District of California issued an order stating that he still has insufficient information to approve the deal. The terms of the settlement would release a multitude of driver claims against Uber and thereby eliminate more than a dozen other pending cases in the process. Liss-Riordan settled the class action... READ MORE