Articles Tagged with Orange County employment lawyers

Employees’ rights to take family leave are protected by federal law. The Family Medical Leave Act ensures that employees will not be terminated for taking leaves of absence for qualifying circumstances. California employees whose rights are violated can take legal action against their employers.FMLA attorneys

According to the Department of Labor, the FMLA provides employees with up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave per year. The employee may not be fired during this time, and group health benefits must be maintained by the employer. Qualifying family leave can be obtained for: birth or care of a newborn; placement of a foster or adoptive child with the employee; to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition; or when the employee is unable to work due to a serious health condition. Despite the fact that FMLA has been the law since 1993, employers continue to violate this law.

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Every year new employment laws affect California employers. Businesses which are not compliant with such laws face civil liability, fines, and even regulatory sanctions (such as suspension of a business license). CBS Los Angeles reports on new 2017 employment laws which all California employers should take note of: California employment lawyers

Increased Minimum Wage:  As of January 1, 2017, businesses with twenty-five employees or more must pay workers a minimum of $10.50 per hour. GovDocs reports that this will increase in annual increments to set minimum wage at $15.00 per hour by January 1, 2023. Businesses with fewer than twenty-five employees start at a lower minimum wage of $10.00 per hour, but they, too, will experience annual increases, and  be subject to the $15.00 per hour minimum wage requirement by January 1, 2023.

Overtime Laws: The California Department of Industrial Relations describes the current California overtime requirements as follows:

  • Any employee must be paid one and a half times his or her hourly rate for any hours worked in excess of eight per day, or forty per week. “Time and a half” also applies to the first eight hours worked on the seventh day of a workweek.
  • Any hours in excess of twelve per day must be compensated at twice the employee’s hourly rate. Double time also applies to any hours beyond eight worked on the seventh day of a workweek.

There are various exceptions to the overtime requirements, and employers should carefully consider these when staffing needs arise.

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We often hear about the unemployment rate when the economy is down.   In good times like we are experiencing now, the employment rate in California has been rising steadily, and it’s important to note that too.

New data released by the California Economic Development Department suggests this trend is likely to continue, according to one recent article from the San Francisco Bay News.

city-corporate-growth-1029092-mNumbers released in July show the state unemployment rate has fallen to 6.2 percent. The previous rate for the month of June was 6.1 percent, so these numbers are slightly better, which is a good sign.

However, because to month-to-month fluctuations can and do happen without regard to the national and local economy, it is often helpful to look at year-over-year rates. Last year at this time, the California unemployment rate was 7.4 percent. Unlike the 0.1 percent rise we saw from June to July of this year, we can see that the unemployment rate has fallen significantly overall in the past year. Continue reading

Wellness tracking programs are increasingly under scrutiny by employee rights advocates, health care professionals and other policy makers. In yet another case that challenges the legality of the employee wellness program, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a lawsuit against Honeywell International to stop the company from penalizing employees who refuse to undergo medical testing under the purported corporate wellness program. This is the third such case filed by the EEOC since August, but Honeywell is the largest corporation targeted so far.

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Advocates for wellness programs say they can boost employee morale, ensure healthy habits among employees and reduce overall medical costs. While companies may have incentive to track the health of employees, critics point out they are invasive and could violate medical privacy laws. Despite the potential abuse of corporate wellness programs, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) actually promotes and encourages employee wellness tracking. Honeywell has been charged with penalizing employees up to $4,000 each through surcharges and other lost contributions for failing to participate. The employees can incur such losses if they or their spouses refuse to comply with the biometric testing.

Under the Honeywell corporate wellness tracking system, employees must undergo screening for blood-sugar levels, nicotine, waist circumference, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure. According to the lawsuit, the testing was to occur the last week of October this year. The EEOC is the law agency that enforces federal labor laws and instances of discrimination. According to the EEOC, Honeywell’s employee testing program is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. The agency filed the lawsuit asking for a preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order to stop the company from imposing penalties.

A recent report has exposed the myriad abuses committed against Indian high-tech workers employed by American companies. According to The Guardian, brokers have “hijacked” the professional visa program, creating a system of “bondage” resulting in wage theft and other abuses against Indian workers. Many workers who have quit or tried to leave the system have even been sued by the brokerage companies. In the United States, professionals can obtain a temporary visa to work for companies who are seeking “uniquely talented employees” for specific jobs. In the tech market, labor brokers will often sponsor the visas and contract out employees to tech companies and government agencies.

keyboard-1280072-mThe workers are specifically trained and offer special skills in building databases, testing software and other high-tech projects. Critics of this indentured service-like arrangement for high-tech workers have pointed out that workers are exploited through humiliation, intimidation and other legal threats. In some cases, Indian workers have been sued for upwards of $50,000, just for trying to leave the company. The firms are also capitalizing on workers’ hopes for achieving the American Dream and finding permanent employment in the U.S.

Workers who obtain an H-1B visa through a brokerage firm are forced to comply with illegal working conditions, and are threatened if they report abuses. Based on government and external reports, there have been thousands of documents filed that evidence intimidation, restrictions on employment contracts, and other legal loopholes that deprive workers of their rights. According to The Guardian, there has been at least $29.7 million illegally withheld from 4,400 tech workers between 2000 and 2013. The numbers are alarming considering they barely scratch the surface in identifying wage theft that may have occurred in other firms and underground financial arrangements.