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Workplace Rights

Employment Law Essentials  /   Discrimination Law  /   Wage and Hour Rights

Employment Law Essentials

Photo of Melissa Johnson speakingA Short Summary of California At-will Employment

California employment is most often at-will, per Labor Code section 2922. “At-will” employment allows an employer to do almost anything it wants with respect to employment. It can rearrange, modify, change, eliminate, and add jobs, hours, compensation, benefits, schedules, duties, titles. It can hire, fire, transfer, demote, promote, train, and not train employees...

An Overview of At-Will Employment (all states)

Nearly every state in the United States has a legal doctrine called “at-will employment.” At-will employment allows an employer to do almost anything it wants with respect to employment. It can rearrange, modify, change, eliminate, and add jobs, hours, compensation, benefits, schedules, duties, titles. It can hire, fire, transfer, demote, promote, train, and not train employees...

Independent Contractor or Employee? Federal and California Law

Who controls your work? The general rule is that a person is an independent contractor if the employer has the right to control or direct the RESULTS of the work but not HOW the work is done or even WHAT work is done...

"No Talking" Rules at Work

Some employers are quick to impose rules or policies that make the work day miserable for employees. There is nothing illegal about this. In general, an employer has the legal right to establish formal or informal rules that are unfair, obnoxious, harsh, or make no sense...

Whistleblowers and Their Rights

What is a whistleblower? Whistleblowers are employees who report wrongdoing by the federal, state or local government, or by a private entity, when that wrongdoing harms the public. Usually, but not always, the wrongdoing will benefit the government or private entity that engages in the wrongdoing. The purpose of whistleblower protection laws is to allow employees to report, stop or testify about this kind of wrongdoing...

Summary of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

California law and federal law both protect employees from discrimination due to their need to take a leave of absence from work due to s serious medical condition that the employee has, or that an immediate family member has. The two laws are nearly identical, but there are a few important differences, which are noted below. The most significant difference relates to pregnancy leave, and is discussed below...

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Intermittent Leave

An eligible employee is entitled to leave up to a total of 12 weeks “Because of a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of the position of such employee.” 29 U.S.C. section 2612(a)(1)(D). “FMLA leave may be taken ”intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule“ under certain circumstances. Intermittent leave is FMLA leave taken in separate blocks...

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Discrimination Law

What Is Unlawful Employment Discrimination under CALIFORNIA LAW

Employment discrimination is against the public policy of California and the United States. Many people misunderstand the meaning of employment discrimination. “Discrimination” does not mean an employer has to be fair, respectful or has to make good decisions. Workplace discrimination means the employer treats one person or group differently from others who are not in the same group, but are similarly situated...

What Is Unlawful Employment Discrimination under FEDERAL LAW?

Employment discrimination is against the public policy of the United States. Many people misunderstand the meaning of employment discrimination. “Discrimination” does not mean an employer has to be fair, respectful or has to make good decisions. Workplace discrimination means the employer treats one person or group differently from others who are not in the same group, but are similarly situated...

Summary of Federal Employees' EEO Discrimination Complaint Process

Federal government employers must follow the same non-discriminationemployment laws that private sector and other public entities must follow. But the entire process is different – so different that there is a need for a guide like this to get you started on the process.

Disability Discrimination in Employment

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. sections 12101 et seq. (ADA) is broad legislation designed to integrate people with disabilities into the mainstream of all aspects of society. The ADA is divided into five sections, called “titles.” Title I covers employment. Titles II, III, IV and V cover public services, public accommodations, telecommunications, and miscellaneous provisions...

Disability Discrimination: Important Differences between the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

This guide summarizes some important differences between the employment-related disability laws in the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, Government Code sections 12900, et seq. (FEHA) and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. sections 12101 et seq. (ADA), as of November 2011...

Medical Information and the ADA: Inquiries and Confidentiality

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an employer or potential employer is limited in what questions it can ask related to disability. This includes limiting an employer's ability to conduct medical examinations. The ADA also requires an employer to protect the medical confidentiality of job applicants and employees...

Reasonable Accommodation for People with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires covered employers to make reasonable accommodation to the known physical or mental limitations of qualified individuals with disabilities, unless it results in undue hardship. Undue hardship is defined as something requiring significant difficulty or expense with respect to the employer's size, financial resources, and the nature of its operations...

What Is Sexual Harassment?

Most everyone knows that workplace sexual harassment is against the law. But what exactly is sexual harassment?...

Pregnancy discrimination is unlawful under California and federal law

FEDERAL RIGHTS: In 1978, Congress amended the Civil Right Act of 1964, Title VII 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e to 2000e–17, by passing the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, "discrimination" means to treat a pregnant employee differently from non-pregnant employees, and adversely...

Do I need an attorney for an EEOC mediation?

In nearly every case, yes, you need your own attorney. The EEOC is not your representative. A mediator for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) www.eeoc.gov has one client – the United States of America. Some EEOC mediators are great and will do their best to protect you rights even though they are not your advocate....

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Wage and Hour Rights

Pay Dates for California Employees

California law requires employers to pay employees according to a pre-determined schedule. These requirements are described in this document.

Should I Be Paid for Standby Time? (California Law)

Whether an employer must pay an employee for standby time depends onwhether the time is "controlled standby" or "uncontrolled standby." In simple terms, this means that if the employee cannot use his or her time for personal reasons, the time is controlled and considered time worked. However, as with most areas of the law, applying the rule to each situation requires analysis.

California’s Flat Rate Auto Workers Still Get Minimum Wage, Overtime, Breaks, and All the Stuff Other Workers Get!

Auto mechanics and technicians, like all other non-exempt employees, are entitled to minimum wage, overtime, rest breaks and meal breaks. California’s Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) establishes wage orders that cover wages, hours and working conditions for all California employees, including employees paid a flat rate, piece rate, or a “per job” rate...

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Spencer Johnson McCammon Weekly

Spencer Johnson McCammon Weekly

Topic of the Week

COVID-19 Unemployment Insurance Benefits Changes

Many States have adopted a range of helpful policies to expand access to UI benefits. In addition, the federal government is allowing new options for states to amend their laws to provide UI benefits related to COVID-19.

Read more...

Blog of the Week

Social distancing complaints at city businesses flood 311

The few commercial establishments still operating in New York City saw more than 1,500 complaints of inadequate social distancing in a single week, as officials struggle to keep residents of the most densely populated big city in America away from each other.

Thought for the Week

"Ultimately, all workers deserve basic rights and protections. Indeed, the long-term strategy to protect public health, mitigate the risks of future outbreaks, and ensure that the eventual recovery benefits most Americans needs to fix structural problems in the economy and society—and ensure that workers benefit more from growth than they did in the pre-coronavirus economy. Permanent reforms that protect worker rights and increase worker power would create an economy more resilient to challenges such as COVID-19 and are necessary in its aftermath."

– David Madland, Sarah Jane Glynn, Jacob Leibenluft, and Simon Workman

List of the Week

from The Pew Research Center

Unemployment Statistics from 11,537 panelists

  • 33% say they or someone in their household has lost their job or suffered a pay cut or reduction in work hours because of the coronavirus.
  • 20% say they, or someone in their household, have been laid off or lost a job because of the coronavirus.
  • 27% say a member of their household has experienced a pay cut or a reduction in work hours.

Top Five News Headlines

  1. Illinois residents should stay home to stop coronavirus. Why are big box stores packed?
  2. Senate Democrats Propose Hazard Pay for Essential Workers
  3. How Leaders Are Responding to COVID-19 Workplace Disruption
  4. Amazon says it may fire workers who violate social distancing guidelines
  5. 8-month-long sexual harassment investigation was 'sufficiently expeditious,' 2nd Cir. finds