Posts

State Penalized for Failing to Timely Pay Final Wages

Prompt payment of final wages. It’s not just a good idea. It’s the law. The State of California apparently didn’t get the memo on that one. The California Supreme Court had to tell the state that retiring employees are entitled to their final wages on their last day of employment. Labor Code sections 202 and 203, requires employers to make prompt payment of the final wages owed to employees who quit. Failure to timely pay final wages allows a court to impose statutory penalties. In McLean v. State of California, a retired deputy attorney general, sued the State of California on behalf of herself and a class of former state employees who did not timely receive their final wages when they quit or retired.

The state argued that sections 202 and 203 do not apply when employees retire. It also argued that McClean should have sued the state agency for which she worked instead of the State. The court concluded that:

Labor Code sections 202 and 203 apply when employees retire from their employment. We also conclude that McLean‟s decision to name the State of California as a defendant rather than the Department of Justice is not a basis for dismissing her suit.

When Are Final Wages Due?

For most California employees, final wages are due immediately upon termination (Labor Code section 201). It does not matter whether the employee is fired or laid off. If the employer is the moving party (i.e., the one to end the relationship) then it is a termination.

In contrast, California employees who quit their employment without notice must be paid within 72 hours of his last day of work(Labor Code section 202). There is an exception when an employee provides at least 72-hours notice. In that case, the final wages are due on the last day of employment.

There are some slightly different rules for:

Penalties for Failing to Timely Pay Final Wages

Employers willfully failing to timely pay final wages pay a penalty. (California Labor Code section 203). And don’t forget that “wages” includes accrued vacation or PTO (but not paid sick leave in most cases).

This “waiting time” penalty is calculated by multiplying the employee’s daily wage by the number of days until the employee is paid. There is a 30-day maximum on the waiting time penalties, but the penalty is imposed every day–not just every working day. There are a lot of cases where the penalty exceeds the actual wages owed. The penalties are almost mandatory unless an employer can show a good faith dispute that the wages were owed.

As the State of California just learned, employees must promptly receive their final wages. Employers cannot hold the wages hostage pending return of the employer’s keys or other equipment. If you have questions about California wage and hour issues, call an experienced employment attorney.

Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman of Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C.

Feel free to suggest topics for the blog. We are happy to consider topics pertaining to general points of Labor and Employment Law. We cannot answer questions about specific situations or provide legal advice over the Internet. If you desire legal advice, you should contact an attorney.

Your use of this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. The use of the Internet or this blog for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Do not post confidential or time-sensitive information in this blog. The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. cannot guarantee the confidentiality of anything posted to this blog.

The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Pleasanton, Oakland, San Ramon, Hayward, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties.

More Local Paid Sick Leave Ordinances

 

Over the last few years, several cities and counties in California have passed ordinances requiring paid time off or paid sick leave for employees.  California employers are still trying to figure out how to comply with California’s paid sick leave law (aka: Healthy Workplace Healthy Family Act).  Santa Monica, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Long Beach have added their own sick leave ordinances, and San Francisco has amended its sick leave ordinance, making it that much more difficult for employers to comply with the sometimes contradicting requirements.  Below are brief highlights the new/amended local ordinances.

Amended San Francisco Paid Sick Leave

Effective January 1, 2017, San Francisco’s paid sick leave law is amended in an attempt to better align its provisions with California’s paid sick leave law. The amendments provide that San Francisco’s sick leave begins to accrue upon the commencement of employment, but employers may limit usage until after 90 days of employment.  The amendments allow employers to “advance” the sick leave at the beginning of the year instead of permitting employees to accrue the time. This is treated as an advance, temporarily halting accrual until after working the number of hours necessary to have accrued the advanced amount, at which point accrual resumes.  However, unlike the grant method under California’s paid sick leave law, employers  still have to allow employees to carry over unused sick time to the following year.  I suspect this will continue to cause problems for San Francisco employers, and doesn’t really address the accrual versus one-time grant problem.

The amendments also change to the definition of “family members” for whom time may be used, expands the permitted uses to include preventative care and time for purposes related to domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking suffered by the employee, clarifies how and when sick leave must be paid, requires written notice to employees regarding available balances of paid sick leave, and, like California’s law, requires reinstatement of unused sick leave if an employee is rehired within one year of separation.

San Francisco is usually pretty good about providing FAQ’s about their ordinances, so I suspect the city will publish material to help guide employers in the near future.

Los Angeles Paid Sick Leave

Covered employees: Employees who work two or more hours in a particular week in the City of Los Angeles

Effective date: Businesses must comply with the sick leave requirements starting July 1, 2016

Accrual rate: The ordinance provides that paid sick leave begins to accrue at the commencement of employment, and the employee shall accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked

Accrual cap: Employers may implement an accrual cap of 72 hours of accrued paid sick leave.  Accrued time must be carried over from year to year

Usage cap: Employees must be permitted to use up to 48 hours of accrued sick leave each year

One-Time Grant: Instead of permitting employees to accrue paid sick leave, employers may grant the full amount of leave at the beginning of each year, and if they do so, the time need not carry over from year to year

Usage: Employers may prohibit employees from using any accrued paid sick leave until after the first 90 days of employment

Leave to care for others: In addition to the persons identified in the California sick leave law for whose care employees can use sick leave, the ordinance permits employees to use sick leave to care “for any individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship”

Santa Monica Paid Sick Leave

Covered employees: Employees who work two or more hours in a particular week in Santa Monica

Effective date: Businesses must comply with the sick leave requirements starting January 1, 2017

Accrual rate: The ordinance provides that paid sick leave begins to accrue at the commencement of employment, and the employee shall accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked

Accrual cap: Employers with 26 or more employees shall provide at least 40 hours of paid sick leave as of January 1, 2017 (note, however, that the California law requires employees be permitted to accrue up to 48 hours) and at least 72 hours of paid sick leave as of January 1, 2018

Employers with 25 or fewer employees shall provide at least 32 hours of accrued paid sick leave as of January 1, 2017 and at least 40 hours of accrued paid sick leave as of January 1, 2018 (remember: California law requires employees be permitted to accrue up to 48 hours)

Accrued time must be carried over from year to year

Usage cap: Unlike the California sick leave law, the ordinance does not permit a usage cap

One-Time Grant: Instead of permitting employees to accrue paid sick leave, employers may grant the full amount of leave at the beginning of each year, and if they do so, the time need not carry over from year to year

Usage: Employers may prohibit employees from using any accrued paid sick leave until after the first 90 days of employment

San Diego Paid Sick Leave

Covered employees: Employees who, in one or more calendar weeks of the year, performs at least two hours of work in the City of San Diego

Effective date: The voters of San Diego approved the paid sick leave ordinance on June 7, 2016.  Under San Diego election laws, the law will take effect on the date the City Council adopts a resolution declaring the result of the election.  It is assumed this will occur sometime in July

Accrual rate: The ordinance provides that earned sick leave begins to accrue at the commencement of employment, and the employee shall accrue one hour of earned sick leave for every 30 hours worked within the geographic boundaries of the City of San Diego

Accrual cap: Employers may not implement an accrual cap; employees must be permitted to continue to accrue earned sick leave.  Accrued time must be carried over from year to year

Usage cap: Employers may limit usage of earned sick leave to 40 hours per year

One-Time Grant: The law does not expressly provide for a grant of earned sick leave

Usage: Employers may prohibit employees from using any accrued earned sick leave until after the first 90 days of employment

So far, Oakland and Emeryville have not changed their paid sick leave ordinances. None of the local ordinances require employers to pay out unused paid sick leave upon termination. However, if an employer allows employees to use paid sick leave for purposes other than sick leave, the employer could turn the paid sick leave into a paid time off policy which would have to be paid out at the end of the employment.

California employers with employees working in any of the cities above should review their paid sick leave f policies to evaluate whether they comply with both the state and municipal sick leave ordinances.  Businesses with employees in multiple cities should either adopt a different policy for employees in certain cities or create a single policy complies with whichever municipality is the strictest.

Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman of Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C.

Feel free to suggest topics for the blog. We are happy to consider topics pertaining to general points of Labor and Employment Law, but we cannot answer questions about specific situations or provide legal advice. If you desire legal advice, you should contact an attorney.

Your use of this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. The use of the Internet or this blog for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be posted in this blog and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. cannot guarantee the confidentiality of anything posted to this blog.

The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Pleasanton, Oakland, San Ramon, Hayward, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties.

Workplace Rules that Violate the NLRA: Conduct Toward Management

Last week I wrote about workplace confidentiality rules that the NLRB’s General Counsel says violate the NLRA (National Labor Relations Act).  This week, we are looking at the same report and what it has to say about workplace rules regarding conduct toward management.

Employees have Section 7 right to criticize or protest their employer’s labor policies or treatment of employees.  According to the General Counsel,” rules that can reasonably be read to prohibit protected concerted criticism of the employer will be found unlawfully overbroad.”  The GC goes on to say:

a rule that prohibits employees from engaging in. “disrespectful,” “negative,” “inappropriate,” or “rude” conduct towards the employer or management, absent sufficient clarification or context, will usually be found unlawful.

Citing Casino San Pablo, 361 NLRB No. 148, slip op. at 3 (Dec. 16, 2014).

As with the confidentiality rules, the General gives several examples of rules regarding conduct toward management that he believes violate the NLRA and examples of rules that do not violate the NLRA.

Rules that Violate the NLRA

  • “Be respectful to the company, other employees, customers, partners, and competitors.”
  • Do “not make fun of, denigrate, or defame your co-workers, customers, franchisees, suppliers, the Company, or our competitors.”
  • “Be respectful of others and the Company.”
  • No “[d]efamatory, libelous, slanderous or discriminatory comments about [the Company], its customers and/or competitors, its employees or management.
  • “Disrespectful conduct or insubordination, including, but not limited to, refusing to follow orders from a supervisor or a designated representative.”
  • “Chronic resistance to proper work-related orders or discipline, even though not “Refrain from any action that would harm persons or property or cause damage to the Company’s business or reputation.”
  • overt insubordination” will result in discipline.
  • “[I]t is important that employees practice caution and discretion when posting content [on social media] that could affect [the Employer’s] business operation or reputation.”
  • Do not make “[s]tatements “that damage the company or the company’s reputation or that disrupt or damage the company’s business relationships.”
  • “Never engage in behavior that would undermine the reputation of [the Employer], your peers or yourself.”

Rules that Do Not Violate the NLRA:

  • No “rudeness or unprofessional behavior toward a customer, or anyone in contact with” the company.
  • “Employees will not be discourteous or disrespectful to a customer or any member of the public while in the course and scope of [company] business.”
  • “Each employee is expected to work in a cooperative manner with management/supervision, coworkers, customers and vendors.”
  • “Each employee is expected to abide by Company policies and to cooperate fully in any investigation that the Company may undertake.”
  • “Being insubordinate, threatening, intimidating, disrespectful or assaulting a manager/supervisor, coworker, customer or vendor will result in” discipline.

Confused yet?  Does it seem that some of the lawful rules are extremely close to the unlawful rules? You’re not alone.  It’s difficult to tell the difference in many examples.

When drafting workplace conduct policies, employers should be mindful that employees have the right to complain about their workplace and share their experiences and opinions regarding management and the company.  Limiting an employee’s right to complain about management will likely violate the NLRA.  Employers have to consider the impact of workplace rules on employee rights and find an appropriate balance.

Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman of Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C.

Feel free to suggest topics for the blog. We are happy to consider topics pertaining to general points of Labor and Employment Law, but we cannot answer questions about specific situations or provide legal advice. If you desire legal advice, you should contact an attorney.

Your use of this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. The use of the Internet or this blog for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be posted in this blog and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. cannot guarantee the confidentiality of anything posted to this blog.

The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Pleasanton, Oakland, San Ramon, Hayward, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties.

 

Did He Really Say That? Better Workplace Communication

I recently interviewed Suzanne Wertheim of Worthwhile Research and Consulting regarding the ways people communicate in the workplace, and how employers, employees and attorneys can use linquistic anthropology to improve workplace communication and interpret what people are saying and not saying.

Workplace Communication

Suzanne Wertheim explains how people from different backgrounds and cultures–including people raised in different parts of the same country–use words differently.  She discusses what happens when we misinterpret someone’s communication style as an intentional act.  Dr. Wertheim explains how she helps people understand more effective ways to communicate, and how managers and co-workers can create a more harmonious workplace by understanding the diverse nature of workplace communication.

Worthwhile Research & Consulting is a boutique firm applying social science to real-world problems. We provide customized diversity training and communication workshops, legal consulting and continuing legal education, and communication coaching.

Listen to the interview here, and look for Suzanne’s article in the upcoming ACBA Labor & Employment Law section e-newsletter.

Feel free to suggest topics for the blog. We are happy to consider topics pertaining to general points of Labor and Employment Law, but we cannot answer questions about specific situations or provide legal advice. If you desire legal advice, you should contact an attorney.

Your use of this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. The use of the Internet or this blog for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be posted in this blog and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. cannot guarantee the confidentiality of anything posted to this blog.

The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Pleasanton, Oakland, San Ramon, Hayward, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties.

Employer Cannot Fire Employees for Reporting Theft at Work

Rosa Lee Cardenas worked for M. Fanaian, D.D.S., Inc. as a dental hygienist.  When Ms. Cardenas could not locate her wedding ring—she typically took it off while performing her job duties—she called the local police and reported that a coworker may have stolen her ring.  After the police came to the workplace on two separate occasions, the employer pulled Ms. Cardenas aside and told her that “the situation was causing great tension and discomfort among the staff, and that he was going to have to let her go.” Cardenas filed a lawsuit alleging she was fired for reporting theft of her wedding ring. A jury agreed and awarded her $117,768 in damages. The lesson: Don’t fire employees for reporting theft at work.

Don’t Fire Employees for Reporting Theft

Fanaian appealed claiming the real reason Cardenas filed a police report was to serve her private interest, not a public purpose, and a termination in violation of public policy does not exist when the employee reports a purely personal issue (e.g., not something related to the employment).  Cardenas claimed that Labor Code section 1102.5 stands alone, and does not require a separate showing that the employee’s subjective motivation and/or the particular crime he or she reported concerned a fundamental public policy.  Cardenas pointed out that section 1102.5 embodies a sufficient public policy for purposes of permitting an award of damages.

The court of appeals agreed, and affirmed the judgment. “[T]he plain and unambiguous language of section 1102.5(b) creates a cause of action for damages against an employer who retaliates against an employee for reporting to law enforcement a theft of her property at the workplace.”

Anytime an employee reports a suspected crime to the police, he or she is possibly engaging in protected activity.  Employers should be mindful that Labor Code section 1102.5 is very broad, and terminating an employee because the employee complained or made know his or her intention to complain to a government agency is unlawful.  Fanaian learned the hard way not to fire employees for reporting theft of personal items at work.

Good Reminder About Year-End Bonuses

Many employers pay year-end bonuses to employees.  Paying and receiving bonuses can have unintended consequences, including tax consequences, if not handled properly.  From a wage and hour perspective, there is a difference between a discretionary bonus and a non-discretionary bonus.  An example of a discretionary bonus is a Christmas bonus, where the employee doesn’t know whether he or she will get a bonus, or how much it will be.  A discretionary bonus is not considered a wage as long as the employer has the discretion whether to provide the bonus and how much the bonus will be.  If, on the other hand, the employee or the company has to meet certain goals, or if the bonus is based on identifiable criteria, then the bonus is non-discretionary and becomes a wage.  Even if a non-discretionary bonus has some discretionary aspects (e.g., supervisor subjectively determines employee’s “contribution” to a project), if the employee has some measurable goals she or he can achieve to earn the bonus, it is considered a wage.

It is important to keep discretionary bonuses discretionary and separate from non-discretionary bonuses.  Since a non-discretionary bonus is a wage, that means an employee who earned overtime wages during the bonus-earnings period may be entitled to an overtime premium on the bonus.  Non-discretionary bonuses should be in writing.  Although the law does not require written bonus plans–at least not yet–it is important to clearly spell out what has to happen in order for the employee to earn the bonus.  Smart employers also consider what happens if an employee leaves the employment after having achieved the necessary goals, but before the bonus is paid out.

Year-End Bonuses

So, are year-end bonuses discretionary or non-discretionary?  That depends on how the bonus is set up.  If the employer decides to give the employee some money at the end of the year as a way to show the employer’s appreciation or as a gift, but the employer has not set any expectations that the employee is entitled to the bonus, then the bonus is most likely a discretionary bonus.  On the other hand, if the employer tells the employee that it will pay the employee a bonus based on billable hours, or number of widgets made, or possibly even company profitability, then if the employee (or the company) achieved the goals then the bonus is likely a wage.

Regardless of whether the year-end bonuses are discretionary or non-discretionary, they are taxable income.  I am not qualified to advise anyone on tax issues, so speak with your CPA or payroll specialist about year-end bonuses.

The following is from an article written by BenefitMall, a payroll and benefits company. Full disclosure: I use BenefitMall for my running my payroll–even an employment attorney knows it’s easier to use an outside payroll service–and I’ve referred BenefitMall to a number of my clients.  Putting aside any professional relationship, I thought they had some really good things to consider.  Enjoy

Year-End Tips for Handling Bonus Payments

Each year companies reward employees with bonuses for their hard work. This reward is an addition to expected yearly wages and is handed out as either cash or non-cash. Regardless of what the bonus is, employers must withhold income taxes. To help you ease your way into the new year with less stress than necessary, take a look at the bonus payment tips below for information on year-end tax preparations.

1. Coordinate Payroll Schedules – Make sure your payroll is run in chronological order. Specifically, don’t run a payroll with a check date that comes before a payroll with a check date that has already been processed. Also, run your bonus payroll on a separate day than your regularly scheduled payroll, so that two payrolls are not being processed on the same day.

2. Employee Tax Brackets – Consider the employee’s tax bracket when giving bonuses. Check out these easy to use Payroll Calculators to determine tax-withholding information. There are various formulas to choose from:

  • Percentage Method Bonus Calculator – Calculates federal withholdings using a 25 percent rate for bonuses paid up to one million dollars, and a 39.6 percent rate or the highest rate of income tax for the year for bonuses paid in amounts more than one million dollars.
  • Aggregate Method Bonus Calculator – This method calculates bonuses as a part of standard payroll. While the employee may have more money withheld initially using this formula, more will be returned during tax season.
  • Gross Pay Calculator – The employee receives the full bonus pay. The gross amount of the bonus is determined using the calculator and then the tax is added to the net pay.
    Be sure to account for all local, state and federal taxes regardless of what formula is used. And equally important, make sure bonus pay is included in your payroll and W-2s.

3. Federal Tax Liability Threshold – To avoid penalties, be sure to account for the tax liability threshold. Employers should report and deposit taxes of payroll deposit periods that meet or exceed $100,000 to the IRS on the first business day after the check date.As you continue to prepare for the end of the year and the start of 2016, we hope that you find these tax tips helpful. BenefitMall understands how much time and energy is put into handling year-end payroll tasks. To make sure your company remains compliant with standard tax regulations, please visit our Year-End Site at BenefitMall.com/YearEnd for more valuable payroll resources.

 

Feel free to suggest topics for the blog. We are happy to consider topics pertaining to general points of Labor and Employment Law, but we cannot answer questions about specific situations or provide legal advice. If you desire legal advice, you should contact an attorney.

Your use of this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. The use of the Internet or this blog for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be posted in this blog and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. cannot guarantee the confidentiality of anything posted to this blog.

The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Pleasanton, Oakland, Berkeley, San Ramon, Concord, Hayward, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties.

Class Action Waiver Unenforceable

In Garrido v. Air Liquide Industrial U.S. LP (CA2/2  B254490 on rehearing 10/26/15) the court held the employer’s class action waiver unenforceable for non-FAA arbitration.

Mario Garrido signed a written employment agreement with his employer, American Air Liquide, Inc. (Air Liquide).  The agreement required all disputes arising out of Garrido’s employment with Air Liquide to be resolved by arbitration, and the agreement prohibited class arbitration.

After being terminated, Garrido filed a class action complaint against Air Liquide, alleging various Labor Code violations and unfair business practices.  The trial court denied a motion to compel arbitration brought by Air Liquide, finding that the agreement’s class waiver provision was improper under the test laid out in Gentry v. Superior Court (2007) 42 Cal.4th 443 (Gentry).  Following the trial court’s ruling, our Supreme Court held, in Iskanian v. CLS Transportation Los Angeles, LLC (2014) 59 Cal.4th 348, 364 (Iskanian), that Gentry’s rule against employment class waivers was preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act (9 U.S.C. § 1 et seq.) (FAA).

Class Action Waiver Unenforceable

The court determined that if the case were governed by the FAA, arbitration (on an individual basis) would likely be required. Because Garrido’s lawsuit was not subject to the FAA, and Gentry’s holding has not been overturned under California law in situations where the FAA does not apply, the court found that the agreement’s class waiver unenforceable.  Neither party claimed that class arbitration was appropriate.

Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman of Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C.

Feel free to suggest topics for the blog. We are happy to consider topics pertaining to general points of Labor and Employment Law, but we cannot answer questions about specific situations or provide legal advice. If you desire legal advice, you should contact an attorney.

Your use of this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. The use of the Internet or this blog for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be posted in this blog and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. cannot guarantee the confidentiality of anything posted to this blog.

The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Pleasanton, Oakland, Berkeley, San Ramon, Concord, Hayward, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties.

New Law Prohibits Sexual Orientation Violence

Existing law prohibits “gender violence.” Gender violence includes, “A physical intrusion or physical invasion of a sexual nature under coercive conditions.”  It does not matter whether or not those acts have resulted in criminal complaints, charges, prosecution, or conviction.  However, gender violence could also include conduct that would:

constitute a criminal offense under state law that has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another, committed at least in part based on the gender of the victim, whether or not those acts have resulted in criminal complaints, charges, prosecution, or conviction.

New Law Prohibits Sexual Orientation Violence

Effective January 1, 2016, a new law expands protection to persons suffering violence as a result of their sexual orientation.  AB 830 amends the definition of “gender” under Civil Code 52.4, and adds Civil Code 52.45.  This new law prohibits sexual orientation violence.  Like gender violence, sexual orientation violence includes, conduct that would:

constitute a criminal offense under state law that has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another, committed at least in part based on the sexual orientation of the victim, whether or not those acts have resulted in criminal complaints, charges, prosecution, or conviction.

Unlike gender violence, sexual orientation violence does not include the broader “physical intrusion or physical invasion of a sexual nature under coercive conditions” definition.  It’s not clear why the legislature decided to afford less protection when the violence is based on sexual orientation as opposed to gender.

Why is this important to employers and employees?  The existing law and the amended law state:

Notwithstanding any other laws that may establish the liability of an employer for the acts of an employee, this section does not establish any civil liability of a person because of his or her status as an employer, unless the employer personally committed an act of gender [or sexual orientation] violence.

This means that an employer is not liable under these code sections for gender or sexual orientation violence unless the employer is the one that commits the violence.  Employers can still be liable for sexual harassment and sexual orientation harassment, and violence against employees based on their gender or sexual orientation would certainly qualify as unlawful harassment.

Employers must continue training their supervisors and employees regarding the importance of maintaining a safe and healthful work environment.  Employees subjected to intimidation, coercion, or threats of violence should report the problems to the employer immediately.  If your physical well-being is at risk, you may also need to contact local law enforcement.  In a perfect world, employees and employers will work together to eradicate violence in the workplace.  Until we get there, these new laws may help protect people for violence.

Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman of Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C.

Feel free to suggest topics for the blog. We are happy to consider topics pertaining to general points of Labor and Employment Law, but we cannot answer questions about specific situations or provide legal advice. If you desire legal advice, you should contact an attorney.

Your use of this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. The use of the Internet or this blog for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be posted in this blog and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. cannot guarantee the confidentiality of anything posted to this blog.

The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Pleasanton, Oakland, Berkeley, San Ramon, Concord, Hayward, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties.

Employers Must Provide Written Offer Before Using E-Verify

This year, Governor Brown signed AB 622, expanding the definition of “unlawful business practices” for employers using E-Verify.  The federal E-Verify system is administered by three different federal agencies, enables participating employers to use the system, on a voluntary basis, to verify that the employees are authorized to work in the United States.

Existing law prohibits state entities from requiring an employer—other than those government entities—to use an electronic employment verification system, including E-Verify, except when required by federal law or as a condition of receiving federal funds. Employers cannot use E-Verify to retaliate against employees.  For example, if you have an employee that makes an complaint about a violation of the law, and you want to terminate that employee, you cannot use E-Verify to determine the employee’s immigration status and use that as a basis for termination.

AB 622 adds Labor Code 2814 expanding the definition of an unlawful employment practice.  The new law prohibits an employer or any other person or entity from using the E-Verify to check the employment authorization status of an existing employee or an applicant who has not received an offer of employment.  There are exceptions when federal law requires E-Verify.

The new law is intended to prevent discrimination in employment rather than to sanction hiring persons who are not authorized to work in the United States.

Employers Must Provide Written Offers Before Using E-Verify

Does this mean employers cannot use E-Verify?  No.  It just means, unless specifically required by federal law, employers must provide written offers before using E-Verify.

If an employer using E-Verify receives a “nonconfirmation notice”—i.e., E-Verify cannot confirm the employee is authorized to work in the United States or the employee is potentially using someone else’s social security number—the employer must provide the employee any notifications issued by the Social Security Administration or the United States Department of Homeland Security regarding the nonconfirmation notice.

Employers violating Labor Code 2814 could face civil penalties of up to $10,000 for each violation.

Employers should never retaliate against an individual for engaging in protected activity.  Newly enacted Labor Code 2814 adds additional penalties against employers misusing the E-Verify or similar systems.  Employers must provide written offers before using E-Verify.  The offer letters should state the offer is contingent upon the employee passing required background checks and proof the employee is authorized to work in the United States.

Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman of Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C.

Feel free to suggest topics for the blog. We are happy to consider topics pertaining to general points of Labor and Employment Law, but we cannot answer questions about specific situations or provide legal advice. If you desire legal advice, you should contact an attorney.

Your use of this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. The use of the Internet or this blog for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be posted in this blog and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. cannot guarantee the confidentiality of anything posted to this blog.

The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Pleasanton, Oakland, Berkeley, San Ramon, Concord, Hayward, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties.

 

Don’t Retaliate Against Desperate Housewives

OK. I admit it.  For a short-time I watched Desperate Housewives.  I’d like to say I only watched it because my wife made me, but the truth is, I liked the show.  I also learned you don’t retaliate against desperate housewives.  So, when I heard that actress Nicolleta Sheridan—who played my favorite character, Edie Britt—was suing Touchstone Television Productions, it piqued my interest.

Apparently, Sheridan sued Touchstone under Labor Code section 6310, alleging that Touchstone fired her in retaliation for her complaint about a battery allegedly committed on her by the show’s creator, Marc Cherry.  Touchstone claimed Sheridan failed to “exhaust her administrative remedies” by filing a claim with the Labor Commissioner.  Although the trial court agreed with Touchstone, the appellate court made it clear you don’t retaliate against desperate housewives.

Don’t Retaliate Against Desperate Housewives

Sheridan alleged that “during a September 24, 2008 rehearsal, Sheridan attempted to question Cherry about the script, and he struck her in response. Sheridan complained about the alleged battery to Touchstone.”  When Touchstone did not renew Sheridan’s contract for the 6th season—I had stopped watching by then—she sued Touchstone for wrongful termination in violation of public policy.  In true Hollywood fashion, the jury deadlocked and the court declared a mistrial.  Sheridan filed a second amended complaint, alleging that Touchstone “retaliated against her in violation of section 6310 for complaining about Cherry’s alleged battery.”

Touchstone argued that Sheridan had to first file a claim with the Labor Commissioner under sections 98.7 and 6312.  Touchstone’s position had some merit, since a depublished case said employees had to exhaust their administrative remedies before filing a retaliation claim.  But in 2013, the legislature amended the Labor Code to specifically state “An individual is not required to exhaust administrative remedies or procedures in order to bring a civil action under any provision of this code, unless that section under which the action is brought expressly requires exhaustion of an administrative remedy.”

The appellate court, which was not bound by the previously depublished decision, found that the plain language of sections 6312 and 98.7 before the 2013 amendments allowed filing a Labor Commissioner complaint, but did not require exhaustion. The court went on to find that the 2013 amendment to the Labor Code “merely clarified existing law.”

So, Sheridan will get another day in court and we get to find out if Touchstone should have headed my advice: Don’t retaliate against desperate housewives.

Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman of Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C.

Feel free to suggest topics for the blog. We are happy to consider topics pertaining to general points of Labor and Employment Law, but we cannot answer questions about specific situations or provide legal advice. If you desire legal advice, you should contact an attorney.

Your use of this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. The use of the Internet or this blog for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be posted in this blog and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. cannot guarantee the confidentiality of anything posted to this blog.

The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Pleasanton, Oakland, San Ramon, Hayward, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties.