California Public Agency Labor & Employment Blog

California Public Agency Labor & Employment Blog

Useful information for navigating legal challenges

Category Archives: Employment

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Looking Back: Highlights of Changes to Employment Laws That Affect Employer Policies

Posted in Employment, Retaliation
This blog post was authored by Steven Tang As we enter the last quarter of this fiscal year, many employers begin to look ahead to new budgets, new agreements with employee organizations, and new opportunities for agency success.  While looking ahead to consider and weigh priorities and objectives, employers may also want to look back … Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court Will Hear New Case On Public Employee Free Speech Rights

Posted in Education, Employment, First Amendment
On January 17, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to hear the free speech retaliation case of Edward Lane.  Lane, a former employee of the Central Alabama Community College District, alleged in federal court that he lost his job because he had testified in a criminal matter against a former co-worker.  In deciding the case, … Continue Reading

Three Common Pitfalls in the Reasonable Accommodation Process

Posted in Disability, Employment
Under the ADA and FEHA, the employer has the duty to identify and implement a reasonable accommodation to allow a disabled employee to perform the essential functions of the job. Common pitfalls for employers in determining appropriate accommodations are: 1.     Over-reliance on the written job descriptionJob descriptions are critical in the disability interactive process for … Continue Reading

Labor Code Section 1102.5: Its “Whistle” Just Got Bigger And Louder

Posted in Employment, Retaliation
When Labor Code section 1102.5, generally referred to as the “whistleblower” statute, was enacted in 1984, the Legislature intended to encourage employees to report violations of state and federal laws by their employers without fear of retaliation.  The statute endured for nearly 20 years before it was first amended in 2003.  It has now been … 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

The First Amendment in Employment and Education – Five Issues for 2014

Posted in Education, Employment, First Amendment
The year 2014 will bring important developments in a number of areas of free speech law in employment and education.  The following are five primary areas worth following in the next 12 months: 1.  Anti-SLAPP Motions Creatively Invoked by Public Employers and Educators: December 2013 saw a surprising new case in the context of anti-SLAPP … Continue Reading

Untimely Administrative Complaint Can Save an Agency from Liability if the Continuing Violation Doctrine Does Not Apply

Posted in Discrimination, Employment
Many agencies have had the experience of being served with a complaint of harassment, discrimination and/or retaliation filed by an employee with the California Department of Fair Employment & Housing (“DFEH”). Filing such an administrative complaint is a prerequisite to suing in court for damages. There are deadlines associated with an employee’s ability to bring … Continue Reading

Independent Contractors – The Importance of Knowing Who Is and Who Is Not

Posted in Employment
Shakespeare asked, “What’s in a name?”  You may answer “independent contractor,” but someone else would say, “employee.”  Does it matter?  You better believe it.  There are numerous laws that may very well cause employers to pay a lot more than they bargained for when hiring people and treating them as independent contractors.  A recent court … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Published Important Decisions Regarding Title VII in the Nassar and Vance Cases

Posted in Discrimination, Employment
This blog entry was authored by Brian Walter and Michael D. Youril  On Monday, June 24, 2013, the Supreme Court published important decisions in two employment cases.  In Vance v. Ball State University, the Supreme Court held that for the purposes of vicarious liability under Title VII, an employee is a “supervisor” if he or she … Continue Reading

Employers Must Provide Notice of Exchange to Employees by October 1, 2013

Posted in Employment, Healthcare, Retirement
This post was authored by Heather DeBlanc On May 8, 2013, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued guidance setting an October 1, 2013 deadline for employers to provide notice of the exchange (now called the Health Insurance Marketplace) to all employees.  The notice to employees must: Inform employees of the existence of the Marketplace, including … Continue Reading

Court of Appeal Rules: Absent Undue Hardship, Employers Must Accommodate Pregnancy Disabled Employees By Providing Additional Leave beyond the Four Months of Pregnancy Disability Leave

Posted in Discrimination, Employment
This guest post was authored by Judith S. Islas The Court of Appeal’s decision in Sanchez v. Swissport, Inc., is a case of widespread importance, impacting the rights of employees disabled by pregnancy and pregnancy related-conditions.  In this case, the Court considered the plight of Anna Sanchez.  After becoming pregnant, she was diagnosed with a … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Holds That Employee Must Prove That Adverse Employment Action Was “Substantially Motivated” by Discrimination, and Liability is Limited Where Employer Proves It Would Have Taken the Same Action Against the Employee Anyway

Posted in Employment
Harris v. City of Santa Monica has been pending before the California Supreme Court since 2011.  On December 4, 2012, the Supreme Court held oral arguments, and issued its long-awaited opinion on February 7, 2013.  The issue pending before the Supreme Court was whether giving a mixed-motive jury instruction under California’s Fair Employment and Housing … 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

California Supreme Court Says Attorney’s Fees to Prevailing Defendant are Mandatory in Failed Claim of Denial of Access to Disabled Persons

Posted in Disability, Discrimination, Employment
It pays to read statutes carefully. Many statutes authorizing lawsuits for employment discrimination allow an award of attorney’s fees to the prevailing party. Almost uniformly, these statutes have been construed as authorizing an award of attorney’s fees to a prevailing plaintiff as a matter of course but only to a prevailing defendant when the lawsuit … Continue Reading

State Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in Harris v. City of Santa Monica case

Posted in Discrimination, Employment
Harris v. City of Santa Monica has been pending before the California Supreme Court since 2011.  Melanie Poturica and I submitted an amicus brief in the matter, supporting the City’s arguments.  On December 4, 2012, the Supreme Court held oral arguments and will issue its opinion within 90 days, in 2013. In Harris, plaintiff disclosed … Continue Reading

The NLRB’s New Holding On Private Sector Free Speech (And What It Means For The Public Sector)

Posted in Employment, Social Media
Last month, the National Labor Relations Board, the federal agency overseeing private sector labor relations, issued its much anticipated decision in Karl Knauz Motors, Inc dba Knauz BMW and Robert Becker (“Knauz BMW”).  The Board held that the BMW dealership’s “courtesy” rule, which among other things prohibited employees from making remarks that were “disrespectful” to … Continue Reading

The Ninth Circuit Addresses What Constitutes an Adverse Employment Action

Posted in Discrimination, Employment, Retaliation
Determining what constitutes an “adverse employment action” is critical when an employee sues for retaliation and/or discrimination.  In order to be able to sustain a claim for either retaliation or discrimination, an employee must sufficiently prove that he/she suffered an adverse employment action.  This issue was recently addressed by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of … 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

Duty To Provide Notice Of Discipline To Peace Officer Within 30 Days Runs From The Date A Department Makes The Final Decision To Discipline

Posted in Employment, Public Safety Issues
Government Code section 3304(f), part of the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act (POBRA) provides that, when a public agency decides to discipline a peace officer, “the public agency shall notify the public safety officer in writing of its decision to impose discipline, including the date that the discipline will be imposed, within … Continue Reading

Computer Hacking Law Does Not Prohibit Employees from Misusing Data They Are Authorized to Access

Posted in Employment, Workplace Policies
This guest post was authored by Alison L. Carrinski Last year we reported on the case U.S. v. Nosal, in which the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that an employee may be criminally liable when he or she misuses employer data in violation of the employer’s computer use policy.  Reversing course, the Ninth … Continue Reading

You Say “Termination;” I Say, “Retirement.” Is It Just Semantics Or Are They Mutually Exclusive?

Posted in Employment, Retirement
For every death certificate filed, there is one “manner” and one or more “cause(s)” of  death.  The manner is essentially whether it was accidental, natural, suicide, homicide or undetermined, but there can be only one.  The cause, though, is more specific, such as exsanguination or a cardiopulmonary embolism and often times there is more than … Continue Reading