California Public Agency Labor & Employment Blog

California Public Agency Labor & Employment Blog

Useful information for navigating legal challenges

Elizabeth Arce

Elizabeth Arce

Elizabeth is an experienced litigator who is licensed to practice law in California and New York. Her background includes litigating labor and employment cases in both state and federal court, as well as before administrative agencies including the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Elizabeth has successfully represented employers in various employment matters ranging from single plaintiff lawsuits to wage and hour class and collective actions. Her litigation experience includes numerous successful summary judgment motions, defeating class certification, and decertifying collective actions. Elizabeth’s litigation practice also includes preparation of appellate briefs in both state and federal appellate courts.

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Performance Evaluations: Why It’s A Good Thing For Public Employers

Posted in Personnel Issues, Workplace Policies
In the corporate world, the practice of giving annual performance reviews to employees is under attack.  Leading business magazines and newspapers have printed articles advocating for the elimination of performance evaluations.  There are even books in the marketplace that teach companies how to get rid of performance reviews.  Among the reasons for eliminating annual evaluations… Continue Reading

9th Circuit Says Control Is Key In Determining Independent Contractor Status

Posted in Employment
Many public agencies supplement their workforce with independent contractors.  Since independent contractors who perform services are not employees, agencies do not have to pay them according to the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). If the contractor does not meet the qualifications for “independent contractor” status, the worker must be treated as an employee… Continue Reading

Disability Related Inquiries Should Be Reviewed for ADA and GINA Compliance In Light of EEOC Informal Letters

Posted in Disability, Workplace Policies
The EEOC issued two informal discussion letters critiquing policies and forms used by unidentified public employers when making disability related inquiries of employees.  Although informal discussion letters are not “official” EEOC opinions, they provide guidance on an employer’s legal obligations.  In these informal letters, the EEOC reviewed the agencies’ fitness for duty exam forms and… Continue Reading

What Happens in Vegas Might Be Covered by the FMLA

Posted in FMLA, Personnel Issues, Workplace Policies
The FMLA provides an eligible employee the right to 12 workweeks of leave to care for the employee’s spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition.  Consequently, employers generally grant employee requests to use FMLA leave when their family member receives medical treatment or undergoes a surgical procedure.  What happens when an employee requests… Continue Reading

5 Resolutions for the New Year

Posted in Employment, Personnel Issues, Workplace Policies
It’s that time of year again to reflect on this year’s achievements and set goals for the new year.  With the beginning of 2014 upon us, we encourage personnel and human resources directors, managers and  1.  Evaluate Your Agency’s Handling of Disability-Related Issues Employee disability-related issues are among the most complicated and confusing that employers… Continue Reading

Holidays and the Workplace: Be Merry or Bah Humbug

Posted in Discrimination, Harassment, Workplace Policies
Back by popular demand! We are reposting this blog post in time for the holidays. The holidays are a festive time to be shared with family, friends and even co-workers.  Many employers also join in the celebrations by allowing employees to put up decorations and exchange gifts.  Employers also like to host holiday parties filled… Continue Reading

Will the Supreme Court Follow California’s Lead Regarding Reasonable Accommodations For Pregnant Employees?

Posted in Disability, Workplace Policies
The U.S. Supreme Court is considering whether to hear the appeal of Peggy Young.  She wants the Court to decide whether, and in what circumstances, the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (“PDA”) requires an employer to provide work accommodations to pregnant employees.  If the Supreme Court decides to take this case, it might possibly… Continue Reading

Unpaid Internship Saga Continues

Posted in FLSA, Wage and Hour
In February we reported on the growing number of lawsuits brought by unpaid interns against companies they worked with for failure to pay regular and overtime wages.  The unpaid interns claim that these businesses treated them like employees.  Consequently, the interns argue they should have been paid like employees as required by the federal Fair… Continue Reading

Common Pitfalls in Using 9/80 Schedules and How to Avoid Them

Posted in FLSA, Wage and Hour
Many public employers utilize 9/80 work schedules for non-exempt employees.  A 9/80 work schedule is essentially a two-workweek schedule of eight 9-hour days, one 8-hour day, and one day off.  However, once the 9/80 work schedule is implemented, there are a number of mistakes unsuspecting employers often make which can inadvertently trigger overtime liability. These… Continue Reading

Genetic Information: A Protected Classification for the 21st Century

Posted in Discrimination, Harassment, Hiring, Personnel Issues, Retaliation
In the 1997 science fiction film Gattaca, the main character Vincent lives in a futuristic world where success is based on an individual’s genetic profile instead of experience or education.  Because Vincent’s genes are considered inferior, he assumes the identity of a genetically superior man in order to avoid discrimination based on his genetics.  While… Continue Reading

Do Your Employees Know Big Brother May Be Watching?

Posted in Privacy, Workplace Policies
Harvard University recently had some explaining to do.  Last fall, the University conducted an investigation into the source information leaked to the media about students at the Ivy League school who had cheated.  The investigation included searching the work e-mail accounts of 16 Resident Deans without telling them.  Although the University eventually told the one… Continue Reading

To Pay or Not to Pay: Legality of Unpaid Internships Is Questioned

Posted in FLSA, Wage and Hour
Employers have for years utilized unpaid internship programs to give students and recent college graduates a chance to gain work experience.  However, since the recession began in 2008, a growing number of unpaid interns have accused their employers of exploiting them.  There are currently several class action lawsuits working their way through the courts that… Continue Reading

5 New Year’s Resolutions for Public Employers

Posted in Employment, FLSA, Personnel Issues, Workplace Policies
With the beginning of each new year, we make resolutions that often involve improving ourselves:  lose weight; eat healthier; get organized.  The new year is also a good time for personnel and human resources directors, managers and analysts to resolve to make their agencies an even better place to work and to reduce risk.  Here… Continue Reading

Nurse’s Unsuccessful FLSA Claim To Recover for Missed Meal Breaks Highlights Importance Of Having Overtime Reporting Procedures

Posted in FLSA, Wage and Hour
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Ohio recently issued a decision rejecting a nurse’s claim for compensation for missed meal breaks under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).  Not only is the holding in White v. Baptist Memorial Health Care Corp a victory for employers, but it underscores the importance of… Continue Reading

EEOC Wastes No Time Implementing New Enforcement Goals by Cracking Down on Pregnancy Discrimination

Posted in Discrimination, Personnel Issues
As part of its Strategic Enforcement Plan for 2012-2016 (“the SEP”), the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) identified the following five priorities for national enforcement in the private and federal, state and local government sectors: 1. Eliminating systemic barriers to recruitment and hiring; 2. Protecting vulnerable workecombatrs such as immigrants and migrants; 3. Targeting… Continue Reading

New California Laws Limit Access to Employee, Student Usernames and Passwords

Posted in Hiring, Legislation, Personnel Issues, Privacy, Social Media
Governor Jerry Brown last week signed two new privacy laws that will go into effect January 1, 2013.  AB 1844 and SB 1349 prohibit employers, colleges and universities from requiring or asking prospective and current employees and students to disclose social media usernames and passwords.  It also prohibits requiring or requesting employees and students to… Continue Reading

Campaigns, Elections, Voting and the Workplace

Posted in Personnel Issues, Workplace Policies
Obama or Romney?  “Yes” or “No” on Proposition 30?  With the election only several weeks away, these questions are starting to make their way into the workplace as political debates among co-workers are starting to break out in lunch rooms, hallways and around the water cooler.  While such political discussions usually consist of a polite… Continue Reading

Big Changes Are Coming to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing

Posted in Legislation, Litigation
The way complaints for violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) are processed and enforced by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”) is about to undergo a significant transformation.  Motivated by a desire to close a nearly $16 billion budget deficit by reducing duplication and maximizing efficiency within State government, Governor… Continue Reading

The Cautionary Tale of the “Florida Cop Who Won’t Stay Fired”

Posted in Employment, Personnel Issues
Disciplining employees is a necessary part of employment.  However, employers often struggle with employees who engage in misconduct, especially where the employer believes the employees should be terminated.  Recently, we came across the story of a Florida police officer which highlights the importance of conducting a thorough investigation before imposing discipline. German Bosque is a… Continue Reading

NLRB Releases New Report Regarding Employer Social Media Policies

Posted in Personnel Issues, Social Media, Workplace Policies
The National Labor Relations Board issued a new report discussing seven social media cases handled by the agency.  This report is the third released by the NLRB regarding social media in the last year, and focuses on the policies of seven companies.  The report provides guidance to employers who have social media policies or are… Continue Reading

New Maryland Law Prohibits Employers from Asking for Social Media Passwords

Posted in Hiring, Legislation, Personnel Issues, Privacy, Social Media
Maryland recently became the first in the nation to ban employers from asking job applicants and employees for their Facebook and other social media passwords.  The law was signed into legislation by Maryland’s Governor approximately one year after the ACLU took on the case of Robert Collins who claimed he was forced to turn over… Continue Reading