San Francisco Employment Attorneys Blog

New Arbitration Protections for California Employees

arbitration protection

The US state of California has recently passed new legislation that includes two additional statutes including a strengthening of the arbitration processes. These were created with the purpose of increasing the protection granted to the employees during arbitrating processes that settle workplace disputes. Historically, throughout the country, the arbitration procedures were often lengthy and complex ventures that impacted the employer and the employee.

 

Now, the California law designed to provide additional arbitration protection seems to be slightly tipping the scales in the advantage of the employees. Here are the key facts about the changes and the way they can impact both sides in any such dispute.

 

 

SB 1007 and SB 1241

 

The statutes, both of which were passed in September 2016, impact the arbitration proceedings. The first, SB 1007 covers the right to have a shorthand reporter fully transcribe any proceedings, hearings or depositions and transform them this way into an official record.

 

The second new statute, SB 1241 says that any arbitration provisions cannot require any employee in California to arbitrate their individual claims in other US states. It also forbids the arbitrators from applying laws that are present in some other states.

 

 

Implications of the Statutes

 

The implication of the first statute, the SB 1007 is clear – an arbitration proceeding will have a certified shorthand reporter with the task of transcribing any exchange between the employee, employer and their legal representatives. The second statute, the SB 1241 is more significant because it essentially states that an arbitration proceeding cannot include the possibility of processing the claim in another state and under the laws of that state.

 

This mainly impacts bigger business organizations like corporations that could, in theory, move the arbitration proceedings into a state which laws are friendlier to their legal goals.

 

 

The Level of Arbitration Protection

 

The provided level of protection in the case of arbitration procedures in California does help the employees, but this legal avenue is still preferable for a company than official court proceedings. Firstly, they avoid jury verdicts that are often emotionally driven and less impacted by rational facts.

 

Then, they also provide a more streamlined process that demands less time and effort from the participants and includes a lower level of public exposition, especially from the attention of the media. For a range of business organizations, this alone could be reason enough to choose arbitration.

 

Finally, the arbitration proceedings are generally less expensive than a court procedure and the fees of the lawyers included are most of the time lower than that of a court appearance.

 

Next Steps

 

With all of these facts, it is clear that the changes in the California’s laws do provide a higher level of arbitration protection for the employees, but still make the actual legal mechanism more effective for the majority of employers than a court procedure.

How to Deal with Employees Who Are Always Absent

absent

If you have an employee who is always late to work or absent, then you must be really worried. You must be thinking how to discipline him or if it is possible to fire him. However, before taking any drastic step, you should be aware of the various rules and laws in this situation.

 

The FMLA

Otherwise, you may land up in legal trouble later on. The first thing which you should do is find out whether FMLA applies or not. As per this Act, you are supposed to give ” intermittent leave” to an employee is he is suffering from a serious medical condition. Some examples of serious medical conditions are cancer or diabetes.

 

In cases where FMLA is applicable, then the employee is allowed to 12 weeks of leave in a year. It will be illegal to fire him. However, the good thing about FMLA is that you don’t have to pay the employee during the leave period.

 

Providing Proof

You can require the employee to provide the necessary medical certificates and give a notice in advance if they know of an upcoming medical absence (such as a scheduled surgery.) In case the illness is affecting the ability to work, then you will have to transfer him to a position per his capabilities. However, the pay has to be the same.

 

The ADA

You also have to worry about the ADA. As per the ADA, you are expected to accommodate an employee if he is able to perform the basic functions even if there is a disability. However, the definition of ” Disability” given by ADA is very vague.

 

If your employee is neither protected by the FMLA or ADA, then you have every right to fire him provided there are no other state restrictions. One way to avoid such a situation from happening is to have a policy regarding this.

 

Employee Handbooks

When any new employee joins, you should provide him with an employee handbook which covers all the important topics like leave, FMLA, and ADA. You should also make the employee acknowledge the receipt of the handbook.

 

Another thing which you should do is provide a detailed job description for every position which you hire for. Also, make sure that you keep a track of the attendance records of all the employees so that you can protect yourself in case there is a case against you.

 

In order to reduce the risk further, you can also take an insurance regarding this. And in case you need legal assistance, you can contact a labor attorney. They will be able to help you out in these tough situations.

 

Reasons for Using Personal Injury Lawyer for Construction Workers

construction workers

Many construction workers in California use heavy machinery and potentially dangerous equipment, making them prone to various accidents. Even when the proper precautions are taken, accidents are a fact of life, and sometimes it is the manufacturer of a product that is to blame.

 

Victims or family members who suffer from injuries or wrongful death due to negligence should consider hiring an attorney to help them receive the financial compensation they deserve. The best personal injury attorney in California can investigate the injuries and properly represent the injured in a court of law.

 

Auto Injuries
There is no doubt that automobile accidents can be one of the scariest events in a person life. Those who experience this unfortunate occurrence rely on the restraint systems in their vehicles, like seat belts and airbags, to help save their lives. If construction workers get hurt while driving for work by the vehicle failing, it is still considered a workers comp case.

 

What happens when these devices fail to function the way they are intended? Manufacturers are to blame when they are installed or perform incorrectly. In this case, unsuspecting consumers may incur the consequences of the auto maker’s mistakes.

 

They have the right to file a case against the company for monetary compensation.

 

Family Burden
Good construction workers often get paid a good amount of money, which is why damage to the brain and spinal cord are serious bodily injuries that can be a huge burden to the sufferer, their family, and the financial well-being of everyone involved. When medical plans and healthcare groups give up on a person who is ill then they find themselves in a predicament. Hiring an attorney to stand by them and give them the help and attention they deserve can make all the difference.

 

Work Equipment Injuries
Work equipment and certain household items that are designed or manufactured incorrectly have the potential to cause serious injury or death to the consumer. Product defects are not the customer’s fault, but they are stuck with the consequences of their poor construction or malfunction. And you can imagine just how serious an injury caused by faulty equipment can be for construction workers.

Lawyers who are hired to represent people who have experienced such an event will start by launching an investigation to find the source of the defect. Ultimately, they will establish the liability of the maker of the product.

 

Making Sense Of It
Any accident that results in injury is a scary and difficult thing to handle. Fortunately, these people do not have to go through their pain alone. The help of an experienced personal injury attorney in California to seek justice and protect clients creates a sense of relief during this hard time.

 

Their investigative skills and knowledge of the court system will ensure that their clients and families are fairly compensated for their traumatic experience.

Common Mistakes Made When Filing a Workers Compensation Claim

workers compensation

There are common mistakes made when filing a workers compensation claim which you should avoid. First, you should fill the compensation claim with an open mind knowing nobody will report to the workplace while expecting to be injured.

There are different forms of compensation which you can access after you file for the compensation claim. If you are injured, then you should file for compensation so that you can access funds which you will use to pay for treatment services. If mistakes are made while filing for compensation, then you may face challenges when trying to file for compensation.

 

Failing to report the injury

You cannot access workers compensation if you decide not report the injury. If you have been faced with an incident, then the first step you should take is to report the injury to your employer. There are two ways you can report the injury. You can either report in writing or report in person. If you fail to report to your employer, there will be no records to your injury which will compromise your process of trying to file for the compensation.

 

Reporting your injury to the doctor first

If your injury is not a medical emergency, then you should consider reporting to your employer. It is necessary to report your injury to the employer before you proceed to report to your doctor. Even if you feel like you should see your doctor as fast as possible, but you should ensure you report to the employer first.

 

Seeking coverage through your private health insurance

An employer’s workers compensation will cover your medical bills as well as other disabilities which can arise out of the injury. It is unlike your personal health cover which will only pay for your medical bills. Some private insurance providers can even deny you the claim if they discover you were injured in the workplace.

 

Failure to report injury because you are not sure of the cover

Even if you don’t have enough information about areas where your cover can help, it is necessary for you to report all cases of injury ion your workplace so that you can access compensation if the employer has any cover.

 

Failure to provide accurate and complete injury report

The insurance cover will provide to you compensation based on the injury report which you will provide. It is necessary for you to provide details about your injury so that you can access the compensation.

 

Child Labor Laws

child labor

Child labor laws were enacted to prevent exploitative and dangerous conditions that many children faced in the previous centuries. The Fair Labor Standards Act, therefore, stipulates that it is illegal to employ children under the age of 12 except under certain specified exceptional conditions.

According to the same Act, children aged between 12 and 16 can only work in selected occupations for limited hours whereas those aged between 16 and 18 are allowed to work for an unlimited number of hours provided they are not working in hazardous occupations.

 

State Laws

In addition to the federal regulations, various states have formulated laws that mirror and add to the same. As for the situations where the state and federal standards differ, the rules that best protect child workers take precedence.

As for a case where an employer operates an interstate business, the employees are covered by both the federal laws and the applicable state laws. The employer should, therefore, make an effort to familiarize themselves with and adhere to federal and applicable state laws.

 

Exceptions

In addition to employment by parents, an underage worker can be employed in the following occupations for unlimited hours outside of school hours as long as the parents grant their permission:

  • Agricultural sector; an employer can engage a child aged 12 and above for unlimited hours (outside school hours) provided the parent grants permission.
  • Newspaper delivery; minors employed to deliver newspapers to consumers are exempt from FLSA child labor and the wage and hours regulations.
  • Acting profession; the law allows underage children to work as child actors. Some states, nevertheless, require such actors to have a permit and written consent from parents or guardian while others do not.

 

Dangers of Bridging the Law

Despite the presence of adequate regulations on child labor in the US, there are still undesirable consequences of underage workers. Some employees exploit some of the exceptions in the federal laws leading to adverse effects of child labor.

For instance, many children who work in agricultural occupations end up dropping out of school besides being exposed to risks that substantially increase their rate of fatalities. Some employers even take advantage of minors by duping them into working long hours per day reducing their activity performance in school.

 

The Takeaway

While state regulations tend to be similar to the federal laws, it is always advisable to seek expert advice. So, any employer who is considering employing an underage worker should first consult a seasoned local attorney. The attorney will provide valuable information on how to hire, remunerate and ensure the engagement is within the law.

Can You Be Fired Due to Social Media Complaints About Your Workplace?

social media

Social media is used nowadays to interact with several people online. Any comment you will make on social media concerning a business will attract a lot of attention because people all over the world will gain instant access to the complaints or comments you will make. It raises a concern whether your employer has the right to fire you if you raise a complaint on the social media.

Employment Policies

There are certain restrictions which employers can but in place. For example, they may limit use of social media during work time. Other regulations which they can put in place include limiting making certain political stands while associating you to the business. But, employers should always but restrictions with care to avoid cases where they will find themselves in legal issues.

At-Will Employment

If the employment works on at will employment basis where the employee can resign or the employer can fire at will. Then, you should be careful because if you post content on social media which the employer assumes is provocative or it will affect his business, he can decide to fire you and there will be no legal issues.

Employment Contracts

If you are employed in an organization where your employment is determined by the contract, then if the contract prohibits posts on social media of certain kinds and you proceed to make such posts and comments, the employer can decide to fire you. It is necessary to check out your contract so that you can know your freedoms while using social media.

Labor Guidelines

There are guidelines provided by the national labor relations board. If you are dismissed due to reasons which the board outlines as unlawful, then you may be eligible for compensation or even sue your employer. The board receives several complaints about employees who have been fired due to their comments on social media. For you to know more about the complaints, the board released a report to educate the public.

First Amendment Rights

Some employers can argue the employer terminated their work hence violating their first amendments. But, if the employer is private, then the law does not hold because it applies in regard to the way citizens relate to the government. If you are employed by a government organization and you are terminated, you can use the organization based on the first amendment rights.

Legal Assistance

There are several factors which can determine whether your determination based on social media is legal. For example, the attorney will take into consideration whether the activity was protected and the type of comments.

Gender Neutral Bathroom Laws in California

gender neutral

The law in California from March 1, 2017, requires single user toilet facilities to be marked as all gender or gender neutral. The law requires code enforcement offers and local authorities to ensure the toilets are marked appropriately. The recent white house action to remove restroom protection for transgender learners is not related to restroom signage requirements for the state of California concerning businesses.

 

For Businesses

A single user toilet is recognized by law as a toilet facility which has a single water closet and it has a single urinal. It should have a locking mechanism which is controlled by one user at a times as well.

All employers are required to check their signs for compliance. There are two major signs required for the identification purposes in the restroom.

They include the following:

The law requires the toilets to be marked by geometric signs. A circle will indicate the facility is intended for use by females. A triangle indicates the facility is for male and the circle superimposed by a triangle indicates the facility is intended for use by unisex.

The unisex symbol of a triangle superimposed in a circle is the only indicator emphasized by the law in California building code.

There should be a permanent wall mounted designation sign which identifies a toilet facility. The sign should be tactile hence allowing reading by touch. It should indicate the facility is a restroom and the restroom should be designated for either male or female gender.

It should be as well indicated if its use is meant for males, females, or is gender neutral. The signs require the use of pictures and symbols but the facility does not require us the of a picture to identify it. If you are not sure of the sign you should put up in your premises, then it is necessary for you to seek legal advice so that you can make the right decision in the process.

For Owners

If you have a business premises and you have a single user toilet with a gender neutral sign, then you don’t have to do anything further. If you have marked it as male or female but it is a single user, then you need to replace the sign with a unisex sign. The tactical sign has to indicate the facility is all gender, unisex or just indicate it is restroom without any sign in reference to gender.

Most businesses use pictures to indicate toilet facilities. These pictures should be used in compliance with the law so that you can indicate clearly whether the facility is for a male or a female.

If you are confused or unsure in any way, you should get legal advice so that you can know whether the symbol you have put up complies with the building codes and the law. It will potentially save you thousands in future lawsuits.

What Is Wage Theft Protection?

wage theft protection

Wage theft protection is a law that was enacted in 2012 and its main aim was to help protect workers as well as ensure that workers are notified on time on any changes regarding their work on time by the employer. This law covers all employers in the private sector unless there is certain specified exception.

 

However, this notice is not required for employees who have been employed by the state or work in any subdivision of the state including city, county and special district. The same case also applies for employees who have entered into a collective bargaining agreement with their employees and the agreement meets all conditions that have been discussed by both parties.

 

However, it is very important to note that private schools, charter schools as well as non-profit corporations are actually covered because they are not public corporations.

What The Law Requires 

This new law means that employees must receive comprehensive notice that contains specific information at the time of hire. The information that the notice should contain includes rates of pay as well as a basis of pay.

 

This means that the employees have to specify whether the workers will be paid only hourly, weekly or monthly basis or on commission. Overtime rates if applicable must also be specified.

 

Other important factors that the notice should contain include allowances, regular payday that the employer has put in place in accordance with the law, name of the employer, physical address of the employees main office or main place of doing business, official telephone number of the employer, name ,address as well as the telephone number of employer workers compensation insurance carrier and lastly in other crucial information that the labor commission see that it is actually necessary to notify the employee.

 

The law also regulates the employer to notify the employee within 7 days and in writing if there are any changes.

What Happens If The Employee Refuses To Sign The Notice? 

Signatures both by the employer and the worker are very important because it proves that the notice was given by the employer and received by the employee.

 

In the instance where the employer has presented the notice to the employee but the employer does not want to sign it, then the employer should still give the notice to the employee but note that the worker has refused to sign the notice on the copy.

 

The employee signature only shows that he/she has received the notice. However, the most important thing that the employer needs to do is to ensure that all information included in the notice is accurate and complete.

 

Facts for Employers Regarding Jury Duty Leave in California 

jury duty

Jury duty is often dreaded by employees due to the frequent negative interaction it can cause employers that are not familiar with the law. The desire for employers to operate in a normal fashion can leave the employee at odds with the jurisdiction that has legally summoned their presence. Below is a look at jury duty leave laws and how to avoid confusion in what is required of employers.

Requirements of Jury Duty Leave Law in California

Employers are legally responsible to provide the time needed for employees to answer to a summons for jury duty and partake in this civic duty without encumbrance, harassment or threat of being fired. Any breach of this can bring about misdemeanor charges and fines. Employers are not required to reimburse an employee for lost time resulting from jury duty unless they are paid a set salary. The employer will be required to pay the employee the same weekly amount regardless under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Benefits of Encouraging Civic Duty Participation 

Every business should have a policy in place to handle jury duty. It is better to be upfront and clear with employees as to what your expectations are and what you are willing to reimburse. It will also serve to put an employee on notice that they need to let you know as early as possible so that you can make arrangements for their absence.

Will I Be Reimbursed For Compensating Employees For Jury Duty? 

Many employers opt to compensate employees for serving on a jury, even though it is not required. This is something that any employee can appreciate and will help cultivate company loyalty, but there is rarely an instance when you will receive reimbursement. The employee is required to reimburse you for any funds they have received for jury duty if you compensate their pay, but the courts will not offer any reimbursement to employers.

Can Employees Postpone Jury Duty For A Better Time? 

There are seasonal industries that the courts will help accommodate by allowing an employee to postpone jury duty for as long as six months. The employee will have the option of choosing the new, more agreeable date.

What If My Company Cannot Afford To Be Without The Employee? 

The courts do understand that it is difficult to run operations with missing critical employees, but they expect that arrangements can be made to be without them for one to seven days, or the duration of their jury duty deployment.

Can I Contact An Employee During Jury Duty? 

There is no reason that an employee and employer cannot remain in communication during the jury duty process. The only requirements are that the employee cannot discuss the trial with an employer.

What If My Employee Is Released After A Half-Day? 

If the employee contacts you and they have not spent the entire day in jury service, you can request that they finish the day at the job site. As long as it is practical for the employer to make it to the business in a reasonable time you can ask them to work the remainder of the day.

You can feel good about helping serve your community by allowing all employees to take jury duty leave when needed. This is an easy way to help ensure the court system is operating smoothly and that everyone has the opportunity to have their voice heard by a jury of their peers.

 

What You Need To Know About Employee Dress Codes

dress code

A private employer has rights when it comes to imposing a dress code in his or her place of work. The dress codes can only be imposed based on law. The labor law allows the employer to impose the dress codes as a way of enhancing the safety of employers in his work place.

Some of the regulations which the employers can come up with include grooming and jewelry. For the case of hair, the employer can ask employees to tie their hair a certain way to keep them safe or to maintain high levels of quality service in the workplace.

As an employer, you should always apply restrictive measures in your dress code regulation.

Have A Clear Policy

You should come up with a clear policy in writing and circulate it so that all employees in your workplace can know about the regulations. The policy should be based on the company’s culture and image. The business reasons for the dress code should be clearly indicated.

Base your dress code regulations on health and safety reasons. If you have staff who work in a food production plant, you can ask them to tie and cover their hair. If they work in a production company with fast running machines, you can ask them to tie their hair backward to avoid accidents.

Different people have various considerations of casual attire. Always state what your organization considers appropriate and the dress codes which you consider casual.

The policy should apply to all employees uniformly. It is necessary to apply the policy in a transparent manner so that you can avoid cases where the employees will consider it discriminative.

Give special consideration to people with disabilities. There are employees in your workplace that cannot adhere to the dress codes due to their health conditions; you
should put them into consideration in your policy.

 

What You Should Avoid In Your Employee Dress Codes And Clothing Policy

Avoid harassment 

The policy should not show any form of harassment which can lead to court cases.

 

Gender discrimination should not be encouraged in your policy. If employees will require uniforms, the cost of the uniforms should be met by the employer.

 

Religious practices and body piercing which are inconsistent with the companies branding can be prohibited in the organization. The managers can as well go further to prohibit slogans and logos which can be provocative to other employees such as
confederate flags.

 

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