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How Will New Employment Laws Affect Your Business?

The legal landscape in California has changed a great deal, especially for employers. The rules recently added to the state’s employment law books are scheduled to take effect as soon as 2015 rolls in. As stipulated by the California Chamber of Commerce, employers are being urged to get acquainted to the new rules, particularly because their businesses could be greatly affected by some additions. One of the changes made to the California employment law is the expansion of the list of employees who are permitted to take time off in case there’s a need for emergency duty. Health care providers who are employees are now required to notify their employers in case they have been designated as part of emergency rescue parties, to which employers are required to respond by allowing the worker to perform his or her duty. Employees are urged to keep in mind that employers must be contacted at the very moment they lean they have been designated to work as emergency personnel. The new rules make it difficult for employers to prevent the employees from leaving if they must perform emergency duties, thus keeping health care providers free to help their communities. Other new rules have also added extra protections to interns and volunteers. According to the California Chamber of Commerce, to discriminate against volunteer and intern workers is now prohibited. This protection expansion serves as a means to offer interns and others the same laws that protect paid employees. Whether you’re an employer or an employee, staying aware of the changes made to labor and employment laws could help you to know just how...

New California Law Implements Changes to State Paid Sick Leave Policies

Employers should always be on top of legislative news in order to ensure they are aware of changes made to state employment law codes. Too often, employers who are not in the loop end up lacking in implementation, eventually putting their company in a tight spot. According to a series of reports, effective July 1st, 2015, employers will be required to offer paid sick leave to their employees. In accordance with the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 code, employers of all sizes are required to revise their sick leave policies in order to ensure they are complying with the new legislation. The new law instructs employers to provide at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. All employees are eligible once they have put in 30 hours of work. Once the employee has worked 30 days, he or she is eligible to claim one hour of paid sick leave. While the new law gives employees more sick leave hours overall, it also gives employers more flexibility to limit the use of this benefit. According to the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act, employers may either allow the accumulated paid sick leave to roll over to the next fiscal year or simply limit its use in that particular year to either three days or 24 hours. This was made possible since the law has required companies to provide the employee with his or her full paid amount of sick leave at the preamble of each employment year. If the employer is unable to do so, the carry–over will then be required. For more information...

California Continues To Work On Discrimination Complaint Process

In California, if you feel that you’re not being treated fairly by an employer, one of the first steps you’ll need to take is to file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. A couple years ago, a move was made to streamline this process by taking everything online, but as evidenced by recent developments, this actually created a challenge of its own. The biggest issue in the wake of that switch is the fact that many citizens of California were confused when it came time to actually input details of their complaint into the system. Although the new methodology was supposed to expedite the complaint process, in practice, it led to more difficulties given that investigators were lacking the proper information. Seeking to improve the process even further, the Department has now instituted a new measure in which the complaint filing system stays in place, but before a person can get to that online step, they will be put into contact with an investigator who will help delineate the nature of the complaint and assist with filling things. The hope is that this will allow the tens of thousands of complaints that come in every year to get properly examined by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. This would also allow persons to more quickly file lawsuits, something that becomes incredibly helpful in the process of filing a complaint. A lawyer can help get things resolved in a way that a standard bureaucracy cannot. For more information, follow this...

Don’t Be Afraid To Report Discrimination Or Other Unlawful Practices That Occur At Work

Quite often I will receive a call from an employee who is concerned that they are being discriminated, harassed and/or retaliated against at work. The first thing I will ask the employee is whether or not they have notified their employer that such unlawful practices are taking place. I am not surprised when they tell me they have not. The employee may be afraid to do so for fear of retaliation, and/or concerned that the employer will ignore their complaints. Employees are, however, expected to utilize their employer’s internal complaint procedures, if available, in order to show that they used reasonable care to avoid the harm resulting from the unlawful conduct. California Employers Are Required to Take All Reasonable Steps To Prevent Discrimination In The Workplace In California employee protection against workplace discrimination, harassment and retaliation is governed by Fair Employment and Housing Act (California Government Code §12940, et. seq.), otherwise known as the “FEHA” statute or, simply, FEHA. The FEHA is the state counterpart to Title VII of the federal 1964 Civil Rights Act, and is generally considered to provide broader protection and remedies than Title VII. The FEHA prohibits unlawful employment practices by employers who the FEHA statute defines as any person or entity with five or more employees. Pursuant to FEHA employers are required to “take all reasonable steps necessary to prevent discrimination” in the workplace. (Cal. Gov. Code § 12940 (k)). Reasonable steps included a prompt investigation of discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation claims, as is required to ensure a discrimination free environment. Employers are also required to establish antidiscrimination polices and to implement effective procedures...

Do You Need to Update Your Policies for Pregnant Workers?

The EEOC recently released new guidelines for accommodating pregnant workers. For the first time in over 30 years, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has issued updated enforcement guidelines on pregnancy discrimination. In order to protect your business from potential complaints and legal actions, it would be wise to review your pregnancy and family leave accommodation policies now and make sure your business practices are in line with the most recent set of guidelines. The Law Office of George G. Romain will be happy to help you do an in-depth review of your current policies and draft new ones as needed. Meanwhile, here are some key points that you need to understand about the current guidance. Any Woman Can Face Pregnancy Discrimination The EEOC reminds employers that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act covers past, current, and future pregnancies. It is illegal to take adverse job actions including failure to hire, failure to promote, reassignment to undesirable shifts, etc. against any women based on her pregnancy or her potential to become pregnant. Pregnancy Impairments Covered under the ADA In their updated guidance, the EEOC confirms that many pregnancy-related impairments can qualify as disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This means that pregnant workers must essentially be treated like any other worker with a temporary disability. The example given compared a pregnant worker to an individual with a temporary back impairment neither one would be able to lift heavy items and the employer would have to provide appropriate accommodation of this fact. Suggested Accommodations The new guidance contains many examples of reasonable accommodations that may be made for pregnant workers: Allowing pregnant workers...
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