CA Supreme Court Limits Franchisor Vicarious Liability

In a blow to the rights of franchise employees, the California Supreme Court issued a ruling last week in Patterson v. Domino’s Pizza, LLC that significantly limits franchisor liability in employment and tort matters.  Specifically, the Court ruled 4-3 that a franchisor is not vicariously liable for sexual harassment perpetrated by an employee of a franchisee unless the franchisor exercises control over the manner and means by which their franchisees hire, fire, discipline and manage workers. In the case of… Read More >

Alcohol & Drug Testing In The Workplace

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Employees under the influence of alcohol or drugs while at work pose a danger to themselves and those around them.  Maintaining a comprehensive drug and alcohol policy that provides for limited substance testing can help to manage this risk, but there are important legal requirements with which employers must comply. Every individual in the State of California has a constitutionally protected right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.  Courts have consistently held that this right applies to private… Read More >

An Employer’s Guide to Unemployment Benefits

When a worker makes a claim for unemployment benefits, it affects their former employer’s UI contribution rate (their “experience rating”) and, by extension, the amount that former employer will pay in future UI premiums.  Despite the financial stakes, many employers do not understand what triggers a valid claim for benefits or how best to minimize claims.  This is a critical mistake that can cost a small business thousands of dollars a year. So what are the basic requirements for a… Read More >

Important Changes To CA Employment Law For 2014

California labor laws are constantly in a state of flux, and a failure to keep track of the changes may land your business in legal trouble.  The following is a brief run down of some of the most significant developments for 2014. Minimum Wage Assembly Bill 10 raises the State’s minimum wage to $9 per hour starting July 1, 2014.  Note that this increase in the minimum wage impacts the minimum salary an employee must be paid in order to… Read More >

Terminating Employees With Disabling Medical Conditions

Terminating an employee with a disabling medical condition can be a lightening rod for litigation.  However, that does not mean that all such terminations–or even the majority–are unlawful.  To the contrary, private-sector employment in the state of California is by default “at will,” meaning terminable at any time for any reason not expressly prohibited by law, and employers enjoy vast discretion with regard to staffing decisions. Two primary legislative acts protect employees with disabling medical conditions, notwithstanding the doctrine of… Read More >

How CA’s Minimum Wage Increase Will Impact Your Business

On September 25th 2013, the State Legislature passed a bill into law that will raise minimum wage for all non-exempt California employees.  The new law, codified at Labor Code 1182.12, mandates two separate one dollar increases to the minimum wage, the first occurring on July 1st, 2014 and the second on January 1st, 2016. So, how will this change in law impact your business? Well, in addition to the obvious effect it will have on employees currently receiving the minimum… Read More >

The Legality of Unpaid Internships

Unpaid internships have become an increasingly common way for young professionals to gain experience and connections in their field of interest. However, the rise in such labor has led state and federal agencies to crack down on employers using internships in violation of minimum wage law. Usually, abuse is unintentional and due primarily to a failure to understand the legal requirements for unpaid internships. So, what are the criteria applied in determining the legality of such work? The federal Department… Read More >

“You’re Fired” – The Importance of Proper Termination Procedure

Terminating employees is never easy.  Simplify the process with a clean break that does not create legal exposure for your small business.  Here are some quick tips for the next time you are tasked with the unfortunate responsibility of letting someone go. – Abide by internal disciplinary and termination procedure Generally speaking, internal policies with regard to disciplinary and termination procedure do not create contractual obligations with which employers must comply.  However, termination in violation of such procedure often leaves… Read More >

Responding to Allegations of Sexual Harassment

Every employer dreads the thought of receiving a complaint alleging sexual harassment in their workplace.  The unfortunate reality is that it happens more often than you would think, and regardless of whether you believe the allegations, all complaints of sexual harassment trigger important legal obligations with which you as an employer must comply. First, let’s make sure we understand what sexual harassment actually is.  The Fair Employment and Housing defines it as unwanted sexual advances, or visual, verbal or physical… Read More >

An Overview of Payroll Record Keeping Requirements

Is your business maintaining payroll records in accordance with state and federal law?  Non-compliance will not only impair your ability to defend against wage claims, it may also result in the imposition of civil penalties.  Here are the basics that every employer should know: FEDERAL LAW Must be retained for three years: Payroll records, including each employee’s name, address, occupation, hours worked each day and week, wages paid and date of payment, amounts earned as straight-time pay and overtime, and… Read More >