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Palo Alto Employment Law Blog

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.

Understanding what wrongful termination looks like

Given that perfectly capable workers across the state of California lose their jobs every day to mass layoffs and other factors that are largely beyond their control, it’s important that you understand your rights under state and federal employment law guidelines. We here at Kastner Kim LLP believe that accurately identifying incidents of wrongful termination is crucial to combating unlawful discrimination across the state.

One of the difficulties that often arise in wrongful termination cases is that employees are not always familiar with how anti-discrimination employment guidelines apply to them, since the state of California recognizes at-will employment policies. Federal discrimination guidelines, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, mandate legal protections extended to workers across the country. Beyond that, both state and federal regulations identify protected classes by which employers are prohibited from showing unlawful biases.

Northern California union urges bus drivers to join

Workers across the state of California and the entire country are confronted by serious employment issues every day. And while many employment-related disputes are settled individually between workers and their employers, problems that are identified as being pervasive by employees in any given industry often compel workers to join in collective unionization.

One man employed as a Facebook shuttle driver in Silicon Valley raised concerns over the wages and employment practices offered by his employer. One of the complaints that the worker shared revolved around the fact that shuttle drivers are apparently often expected to perform split shifts, where they are forced to wait hours at a time without being compensated.

San Francisco employee strike symptom of larger dispute

As many California workers know, contract negotiations can be long and contentious when employers and employees cannot agree upon an arrangement. Union representation can help to facilitate dispute resolution in some cases, but there are instances where workers are compelled to defend their interests by engaging in employment strikes and other events.

The Marine Engineers Beneficial Association is currently one of 13 unions involved in a contract dispute with the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway Transportation District. The union claims that employer-proposed increases to worker health care premiums would undermine any pay increases they would receive through new employment agreements, and that the cost of living in the region is higher than employees’ current wages. Therefore, the union coalition is attempting to increase the pay, as well as the health care and employment benefits, of around 400 members whose contracts ended at the beginning in July.

How does the CA Workplace Religious Freedom Act apply to me?

In a recent post we discussed the prevalence of workplace discrimination against members of the Muslim community across the state of California. Any and all incidents of unlawful discrimination can compromise the rights of all people employed in the state. That is why it is more important than ever that you, as a worker, understand your employment rights and how they apply to religious discrimination in the workplace.

According to the California Legislative Counsel, the California Workplace Religious Freedom Act protects against incidents of wrongful termination and discrimination on the basis of your actual or perceived religion. The piece of legislation was written into law in 2012, and expands upon legal protections outlined in the state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act. While the FEHA already protected California workers against religious discrimination, the WRFA altered the definitions of several key terms, including religion, religious belief, and religious observance. The language of the law was changed to be more expansive, protecting religious rights relating to grooming practices, clothing, and other insignia. Protected items include but are not limited to religious:

EEOC finds terms of employment contracts to be illegal

Employers throughout the state of California and across the country have the right to design their employment contracts around any number of considerations that apply to their specific company and/or industry. The terms of any employment contract must, however, comply with state and federal employment law guidelines. In the event that the legality of a contract is questioned, state and federal regulators may investigate the situation.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a franchise company that operates over 140 businesses across the South and East Coast of the country forced perspective workers to comply with the terms of a mandatory arbitration agreement. The arbitration agreement reportedly prohibited workers from pursuing employment discrimination and harassment claims in court by mandating that all complaints be resolved through confidential, binding arbitration. The agreement applied to workers in management and hourly positions.

Religious discrimination major concern in California

While workers across the country are legally protected against unlawful discrimination on the basis of their religious beliefs and practices, California guidelines are believed by many to be some of the most comprehensive. That is not to say, however, that incidents of workplace discrimination linked to religious affiliation and expression don’t occur in the state.

Federal employment law guidelines stipulate that employers must provide reasonable accommodations for employees’ religious beliefs and practices, unless such accommodations would cause moderate hardship to them. The California Workplace Religious Freedom Act mandates that reasonable accommodations must be provided unless they would result in undue hardship to employers, increasing the burden of proving what constitutes excessive hardship to employers. Beyond that, the state guidelines expand upon the definitions of religious belief and observance to include personal grooming and attire. Some experts note, however, that a lack of cultural awareness and employee rights continue to contribute to incidents of discrimination and retaliation against workers.

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