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Palo Alto Employment Law Blog

An introduction to ERISA

Countless workers across the state of California and the entire country are legally protected under the terms of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, despite the fact that they may not be aware of what the federal legislation is exactly. Having a basic understanding of ERISA policies and enforcement guidelines can be beneficial to workers across the nation in the event that they are confronted by any number of employment-related issues.

According to the United States Department of Labor, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 provides legal protections to private industry workers by implementing and enforcing benefit plan standards. ERISA applies to healthcare and pension plans, and mandates that employers comply with several requirements in order to ensure that employee rights are safeguarded.

The Federal Fair Labor Standards Act

The Lawyers at Kastner Kim, L.L.P., have handled countless cases involving employment practices that do not comply with the U. S. Fair Labor Standards Act. If you are employed in the state of California and have questions or concerns about your wages, it is important to be familiar with federal guidelines regarding minimum wage and overtime pay practices, in addition to other related employer obligations.

According to the United States Department of Labor, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act applies to nonexempt workers in private and government sectors. FLSA establishes several standards that employers are required to abide by. For instance, the FLSA mandates provisions for the hiring and employment of underage workers. The federal policy also outlines how your employer should keep records relating to employee hours and wages.

Ford workers claim unlawful discrimination

Many companies and large corporations across the state of California and the country provide their employees with a number of services and resources to address any number of employment-related issues. Labor unions are also often ready and able to assist employees and employers in resolving serious disputes. However, there are instances where employees find themselves alone when confronting serious problems like workplace discrimination.

Four female employees at a Ford Motor plant recently filed a federal lawsuit against their employer, over accusations of unlawful discrimination and sexual harassment. The four plaintiffs are among around 500 women employed at the facility, and claimed that neither the United Auto Workers union nor Ford’s labor relations department effectively addressed their complaints regarding workplace misconduct.

Employment confidentiality agreements

People who work in the state of California, or anywhere else in the country, typically abide by particular terms of employment outlined by their employer. Employment contracts and confidentiality agreements are often implemented and enforced by employers, and serve several important purposes.

The California Employment Development Department explains that employment contract and confidentiality agreements can be in written or oral form. Therefore, a confidentiality agreement can become legally binding when the employer and employee in question both agree to the terms of an employment contract, no matter if that agreement is established verbally or in writing. It is important to note, however, that the terms of a confidentiality agreement must be within the bounds of state and federal employment guidelines in order to be legally sound.

San Francisco courts shut down by strike

According to the San Francisco Superior Court of California, the recent actions of union employees were not only illegal but compromised the health and safety of the public. The allegations were in response to a one-day strike involving the Service Employees International Union, and resulted in the court filing a complaint with the Public Employees Relations Board.

The strike was apparently one part of a larger dispute between union employees and the state court over employment contract negotiations. And in an effort to prevent a similar strike from occurring in the future, a representative with the court system filed a petition with PERB. Ultimately, however, the court’s petition was denied.

What is the difference between at-will and wrongful termination?

As a person employed in the state of California, you may already know that the state upholds at-will termination guidelines. Therefore, you may have serious questions and/or concerns over how and when an employer has the right to fire you, and when your dismissal may be considered wrongful termination under state and federal law.

The Houston Chronicle explains that at-will termination policies give employers a considerable amount of freedom to conduct business and make employment decisions based on their own judgment. Generally speaking, employers who comply with at-will termination guidelines have the right to fire an employee for any number of reasons, as long as doing so does not break the terms of an employment contract. For instance, your employer may decide that your general demeanor and/or work ethic is not compatible with your current position, and legally fire you. However, your employer may not have the legal grounds to dismiss you four weeks after your hiring if your contract specifically states that your term of employment will last no less than six months. 

California minimum wage 101

While the majority of people employed in the state of California may be familiar with some minimum wage guidelines, many are not fully aware of how state and federal policies apply to them. Beyond that, workers may not know if and when their employers may be exempt from complying with minimum wage standards.

In July of this year, CBS Los Angeles reported on the passage of legislation that increased the minimum wage rate in the state to $9 per hour. And beyond that, the governor of California passed a bill to further increase minimum wage to $10 per hour as of 2016. Still, many California workers have doubts over if and when such guidelines will affect them and their jobs.

Am I bound by a restrictive noncompetition clause?

If you are currently seeking employment, or have signed an employment contract in the past, you may have seen contract clauses discussing restrictive noncompetition. Non-compete clauses are intended to serve several legal functions for employers, but also have significant limitations. That is why it is important to understand what a noncompetition clause is and how one could apply to you.

Developing and enforcing an employment contract

We here at Kastner Kim LLP have well over 30 years’ experience in helping our clients resolve any number of contract disputes. As a worker in the state of California, you are protected under state and federal employment law guidelines, and are entitled to benefits and incentives outlined in your employment contract. Therefore, it is in your best interest to ensure that your employment agreement is accurately and fairly negotiated and enforced.

An important thing to keep in mind when approaching a new employment contract at the time of hiring is the fact that the exact terms of the contract may not come into question unless or until you leave your position. For instance, your right to seek employment in your given field may be challenged by your previous employer if your employment agreement with that organization included a non-compete clause. Having a clear understanding of when and how such contract terms and can be enforced by an employer can help to ensure that your employment rights are upheld at all times.

Major California medical provider guilty of wrongful termination

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers across the state of California and the entire country are legally obligated to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. Therefore, employers who fail to comply with the terms of the ADA and/or commit workplace discrimination against employees with disabilities can face serious legal ramifications.

Kaiser Permanente recently agreed to reevaluate company guidelines regarding employee accommodations and discrimination protocols with the assistance of an equal employment opportunity coordinator. Beyond that, Kaiser employees and managers in the San Diego region will be trained on ADA policies and accommodations. Efforts to improve employment conditions within the company came in response to a lawsuit filed against Kaiser by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

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