While most employers now use computerized timekeeping and payroll systems, many “round” employees’ time, a practice originating in olden days when time and pay calculations were done by hand. But is this practice legal? According to a recent California Court of Appeal decision, See’s Candy Shops, Inc. v. Superior Court, 210 Cal. App. 4th 889 (2012), the answer is an emphatic (and delicious) “yes!” Well, sometimes.
Isn’t it true that nationwide employers can interview and hire employees for their California offices so long as they follow federal hiring laws? In a nutshell, no way. Hiring in California presents a host of nuanced, state-specific rules that often add up to “don’ts.” We list a few for you below.
A Colorado court ruled that an employer can still fire an employee for a positive marijuana drug test, even though state law permits the medical and recreational use of marijuana.
Wouldn’t we like to know if a potential applicant has ever criticized a former employer, or whether their online presence gives evidence of illegal activity or violent, discriminatory or unethical behavior? Or just poor judgment? What if they belong to political groups, like the Tea Party or the ACLU?
Drug use in California can cause headaches for employers. Balancing employee privacy interests against safety concerns forces employers to make tough choices with little guidance. Legal drug testing of existing employees is so limited that most drug use won’t be detected until after an accident. With increasing support for legal medical marijuana, many employers have struggled to determine how to respond to applicants and employees who test positive. Now, with recent case law and the FEHC’s final regulations, employers finally have the support they need.
Company information that is sensitive, but may not rise to the level of a trade secret is protectable in California, isn’t it?
New York State’s Attorney General called on the National Football League (NFL) to be mindful of the state’s anti-discrimination laws.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent a letter last week to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reminding him that the NFL and its franchises must not discriminate against players and draft prospects on the basis of sexual orientation.
In addition, Schneiderman noted that at least two dozen of the 32 NFL teams are headquartered in jurisdictions that have similar employment discrimination laws in place.
Schneiderman called on the NFL to issue a formal written policy making clear that any form of discrimination or harassment based on sexual orientation is a violation of New York law. The NFL’s headquarters are located in New York City.
The letter was prompted by recent reports that some draft prospects were asked questions about their sexual orientation at a national recruitment event. One draft prospect, Nick Kasa, told an ESPN radio show that “They ask you, ‘Do you have a girlfriend?’ ‘Are you married?’ ‘Do you like girls?’”
Similar to New York, California also prohibits discrimination and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation. California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits employers from discriminating against employees and job applicants.
This year, California’s Legislature passed Senate Bill 863, containing wide-ranging workers’ compensation reform measures. SB 863 takes effect on Jan. 1, 2013.
Some of its provisions will be effective immediately, requiring changes to notices that explain employee rights and employer obligations. California employers must post a notice explaining employee rights and employer obligations under the state workers’ compensation system and must provide all employees with a workers’ compensation pamphlet at the time of hire.
CalChamber worked with the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) to obtain approved language for the required workers’ compensation notice and pamphlet. CalChamber’s 2013 California and Federal Employment Notices Poster and Workers’ Compensation pamphlet both contain language required by law for January 1, 2013, and approved by the DWC. The 2013 California and Federal Employment Notices Postercontains the 16 state and federal employment notices every California employer must post.
Although some of the bill’s measures will take effect January 1, other provisions require administrative/regulatory action prior to implementation.
The General Election is on November 6, 2012. Employees have certain rights to take time off to vote, and employers have posting obligations.
Time Off To Vote
If an employee does not have sufficient time outside of working hours to vote in a statewide election, the employee may, without loss of pay, take up to two (2) hours of working time to vote. The time off must be taken at the beginning or end of the regular working shift, whichever gives the employee the most free time for voting and the least time off from working.
You and the employee may mutually agree to a different part of the working shift when the time off can be taken. The employee must notify you at least two (2) working days in advance to arrange a voting time.
Employers must display a poster describing voting leave requirements at least 10 days before every statewide election. For a copy of the voting leave poster, and all required posters and notices, see the Required Posters for the Workplace page on HRCalifornia and visit the CalChamber store to purchase.
Sharing Information With Employees
Employers are within their rights to communicate with employees about issues, regulations, legislation or ballot measures that will have an impact on the workplace, jobs, the economy and the employees themselves.
But employers may not take certain actions: no paycheck stuffers; no coercion; no rewarding or punishing employees (or threatening to do so) for their political activities or beliefs.
For more guidelines on political communications to employees, see this brochureprepared by the CalChamber. Note the distinction between internal communications (to employees, stockholders and their families) and communications to external audiences (such as non-stockholder retirees, outside vendors, customers or passersby).
CalChamber Urges Members to Register to Vote for November Elections
The California Chamber of Commerce is urging its members to register to vote for the November 6 General Election before the October 22 deadline.
An online link to register is available this CalChamber site. Voter registration information is available at the Secretary of State website.
The last day to register to vote for the November 6 election is October 22, 2012. To register to vote, you must be a U.S. citizen, at least 18 years of age, a resident of California, not in prison or on parole for the conviction of a felony and have not been judged by a court to be mentally incompetent to register and vote.
See the CalChamber’s positions on November ballot measures.
Governor Edmund G. Brown signed a pension reform bill that caps benefits, increases the retirement age, stops abusive practices and requires state employees to pay at least half their pension costs.
According to the governor’s news release, the pension reform law, AB 340 (Furutani; D-South Los Angeles County), requires current state employees and all new public employees to pay for at least 50 percent of their pensions and establishes this as the norm for all public workers in California. Importantly, these new reforms eliminate state-imposed barriers that have prevented local governments from increasing employee contributions. The new law also bans abusive practices used to enhance pension payouts.
The governor’s news release outlines the Public Employee Pension Reform Act of 2012 as follows: