Monthly Archives: March 2014

What Can an Employer Ask Its Applicants?

Employment InterviewAs a business owner, you would want to do everything that you can to ensure your business’ success. You’d study about the different business principles and models that will help establish the business. You will also gather your financial resources to give that much needed capital for expansion and other business plans. Most importantly though, you need to invest in the best tools for growth and success, your employees.

Getting the Best in the Business
Hiring the best employees possible can be a very daunting task for any employer. For one, it is not at all easy to get the best people to work for you. Some hire head hunters to find the cream of the crop and try to offer them attractive packages to lure promising employees to work for them. On the other hand, some employers hire people, give them the opportunity to grow in the company and discover their talent and improve their skills during their stay in the company.

Different strokes for different folks indeed. Different employers do different things to get the best people in the biz. However, in doing so, you have to remain ethical, avoiding the things that you should not be doing when hiring people. One of those things are the illegal background checks made on prospective workers. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) during the pre-employment inquiries, it is illegal for an employer to make certain pre-employment inquiries. For one, inquiries about one’s race, color, sex, national origin, or age as these can be used to prove an employer’s intention to discriminate against an employee. Moreover, inquiries about one’s membership with organizations, clubs, or societies that may indicate an applicant’s race, sex, national origin, disability status, age, religion, color, or ancestry should also be avoided. Finally, employers shouldn’t ask for a photograph of a particular applicant.

To help employers remember these regulations, the EEOC and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published technical assistance documents to shed light about this important issue. Through this, employers can avoid getting sued for employment discrimination claims for illegal employee background checks. It also informs jobseekers of their rights under the state and federal laws.

Fighting Workplace Retaliation in California: What You Need to Know About It

Employee was fired at willImage Source: http://www.huizenga.nova.edu/

What is the “at will” employment doctrine?

  • “At will” employment doctrine refers to an employment relationship in which an employer can terminate an employee at any time and/or for any valid reason.
  • On the other hand, an employee may discontinue his or her work with the employer at any time.
  • However, there are exceptions to it that basically provide legal protections for “at will” employees in the workplace. Basically, these protections help prevent retaliatory actions such as wrongful termination and give employees the opportunity to file their claims against erring employers.
  • As it is, there are two exceptions to the “at will” rule in California employment; one is derived from common law and the other is derived from statutes enacted through state legislation.

Legal protections under common law

  • An “at will” employee cannot retaliate against an employee by terminating his or her employment for reasons that violate public policy.
  • Public policies serve the interest of the people, not just merely the person or the company involved. They are found in constitutions, statutes, and administrative regulations on either federal or state level.

Legal statutory protections

  • There is a California statute that provides whistleblowers legal protections from any adverse employment decision by their employers, including wrongful termination and other actions that are considered retaliatory.
  • As it is, a whistleblower is someone who reports his or her employer’s illegal activity that is believed to be in violation of a state or federal statute or in violation of any public policy rule, or refuse to take part in such an activity.
  • An employee is likewise protected from wrongful termination or any other retaliatory actions if he or she engages in a protected activity or if he or she files an employment and labor complaint.

Activities protected under state law

  • Under common law protections, California employees cannot be subjected to retaliation for refusing to disregard a certain statute, performing a statutory right (i.e. voting, serving jury duty), taking leaves as stated under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), reporting minimum wage, overtime and other wage and hour violations, or for discussing matters with regard to wages.
  • Under statutory protections, California employers cannot retaliate against employees through termination for the latter’s disclosing or revealing of their employer’s alleged violation of either the federal or state law with a government or law enforcement agency, or for refusing to participate in an illegal activity that violates federal and/or state law. They can’t also be subjected to such if they engage in a protected activity, such as:
  1. Filing a discrimination complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH);
  2. Opposing an activity that is prohibited under the state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA);
  3. Reporting a health and safety condition with the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH); or
  4. For filing a workers’ compensation claim.

Filing retaliation claims in California

  • An employee who was subjected to wrongful termination and other retaliatory action must consult an employment lawyer in order for him or her to file a lawsuit against his or her employer. Generally, a lawsuit is filed within 2 years of the retaliatory action.
  • If the retaliation involved discrimination, a complaint can be filed with the Calif. DFEH. It must be filed 1 year of the retaliatory action.
  • If the retaliation was due to raising a concern on workplace health and safety, a complaint can be filed with the DOSH. A time limit of 6 months is provided for an aggrieved employee to do so.
  • If the retaliation involved filing workers’ compensation claims, a complaint can be filed with the state’s Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC). A time limit of 1 year is provided.

President Obama Set to Increase Overtime Eligibility for U.S. Salaried Workers

NEWS: FEB 18 President Obama Speaks at the Safeway Distribution Center

Overtime, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), is one and one-half times the regular rate of pay for hours worked beyond the 40-hour workweek. Non-exempt employees, or those who are paid for their hours worked, receive not only the minimum wage, but also overtime. The Act, however, provides that employees who receive salary-based pay are considered as “exempt” from receiving overtime. To be deemed as exempted, employees must meet the requirements set forth by the FLSA based on job description and wage eligibility.

Take for instance those who perform managerial work. These so-called “white collar workers” are exempted from receiving overtime pay if they earn more than $455.00 per week, or about $23,660.00 every year. It was in 2004 when then-President George W. Bush set the $455-per-week threshold, which, at that time, was the first increase since the ‘70s. But President Barack Obama, who has already called for the increase in the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour, is making a change to it.

Recent reports revealed that he signed an executive order last March 13 proposing overtime rule changes that would hope to create better opportunities for salaried workers, especially those working in managerial positions, to receive extra pay.

The exact threshold amount is yet to be made known, but President Obama is instructing the U.S. Department of Labor on this. While the call for a federal wage increase that he proposed during his last State of the Union Address would require Congressional approval, this directive isn’t, although this might take a lot of time before this will become effective. It is projected that this move would affect those who are not compensated enough but are still exempted from receiving overtime, such as managers of fast food chains and convenience stores.

Meanwhile, a Los Angeles labor lawyer has mentioned that the proposed changes to the federal overtime rules have already been made in the State of California. Recently, the state set its threshold to $640.00 per week, and it is expected to increase once the increase in minimum wage kicks in this July. As the $8.00 rate in California rises to $9.00-per-hour, employees who earn salaries and are earning more than $720.00 would be exempted from overtime payments.

Just How Much Can You Get from Filing a Wrongful Termination Claim?

Wrongful Termination in WorkplaceImage Source: http://www.arizonaemploymentattorney.net

Unemployment is still one of the biggest problems that the state and company is facing. During this time, losing your job is one of the worst thing that can happen to you. Moreover, losing your job without a good and legitimate reason can really be a painful experience. Being relieved from your job without any clear reason is a case of wrongful termination. If you can prove that you have been wrongfully removed from your job, then you could file for a wrongful termination claim.

How Much Can You Expect To Get From a Wrongful Termination Claim
More than getting justice for losing your job without a justifiable reason, you can ask for compensation for the wrongdoing that you have been subjected to. A wrongful termination claim can help you get paid for the losses that you have incurred because of what has happened. Question is, how much are you likely to get for filing such claim?

In cases where there is alleged wrongful termination violation two components are considered in the determination of the amount. First of these components is the front pay. This is a kind of damage award wherein the employer you used to work for pays a discharged employee the additional pay that the person would have earned if reinstated. Front pay should be given if the person cannot be reinstated anymore from his or her job.

Secondly, you are also eligible to receive severance package from your employer. Back pay is the payment that is given to an employee for the work that he or she has done in the past that has been withheld at the time. It could also be a payment for the work that could have been done if the worker has still been allowed to report for work.

Finally, there are also some other factors that could affect the final pay you are about to receive. Potential lost benefits, economic damages, and other things. A California employment lawyer can help calculate that for you.

Yes, filing a wrongful termination claim can be a daunting and stressful task. However, there is no reason for you to not pursue this complaint and want justice for what has been done to you. You should file these claims so that you get compensation for what has happened and prevent others from being victimized by the same schemes by your previous employer.

Thousands About To Lose Jobs as JPMorgan Chase Cuts 8,000 Jobs

JP Morgan Chase 2014 Employment Layoffimage source: http://www.crainsnewyork.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/storyimage/CN/20131014/ECONOMY/131019951/AR/0/AR-131019951.jpg?q=100

Thousands of people are about to lose their jobs. JPMorgan Chase, one of the country’s largest banks, as far as assets are concerned, will be slashing off 8,000 jobs in its consumer and community banking divisions this year.  This move by the bank represents a 20 percent reduction, as projected, in its total branch staff from 2011 to 2015. This happened right after the bank’s branch level has laid off 7,000 workers in the past two years.

This plan was revealed by company officials during its investor day conference, which is a part of a branch overhaul, helping it become more efficient in utilizing modern-day technologies for routine banking transactions. JPMorgan attributed these planned job cuts as it responds to the growing “customer self-service trends”. However, it didn’t take long for the bank officials to admit that these moves are also driven by the drop in its mortgage financing business. The bank says that the steadily rising interest rates for mortgage have slowed down the trend of home refinancing transactions in the recent years. JPMorgan insisted however, that its branch network is an important line of business for them; mentioning the addition of more branches in the recent years.

Job Cut Aftermath
With thousands of Americans about to lose their jobs, this will definitely affect their respective state unemployment rates which haven’t seen much positive movement lately. While this is not indicative of a trend, the news that a huge company like Chase cutting jobs is something that will make you worry. This clearly means 8,000 families having to tighten their belts to make both ends meet.

What Laid Off Workers Must Do
These people who are about to lose their jobs have the right to get severance packages to help them recuperate from such loss. Moreover, you have to be laid off your job because of the right reasons. Being laid off because of your age, race, gender, religion, genetic information, and other unacceptable reasons is a violation of anti-discrimination laws(read more). If you have been a victim of such forms of discrimination, you should immediately seek the help of an employment law attorney to help you file a claim to get compensation for the injustice that you have been made to go through.

Complying with the Meal, Rest Break Laws in California: How Employers Must Do It

Wage earners in the State of California are not only entitled to minimum wage and overtime payments for all their hours worked. They are likewise entitled to meal and rest breaks as dictated by the prevailing labor laws in the state. As such, it is every covered employer’s responsibility to comply with the requirements on meal and rest breaks. Failure to do so would mean penalties, as well as lawsuits filed against them by the aggrieved employees.

So what can employers do to avoid facing expensive lawsuits and incurring heavy sanctions for committing certain violations of labor laws  on meal periods and rest breaks? Here are some tips they should always be keeping in mind:

  • Employers must take a closer look at their work system, making sure that they don’t prevent employees from taking meal and rest breaks. There is a tendency for employers to not provide rest breaks if employees are subjected to a working environment wherein they are compelled to skip breaks. This can be remedied by giving employees the right schedules.
  • It is the employers’ responsibility to ensure that their workers are given the opportunity to take their meal break by ensuring that they time out and time in for it. Employers may sanction those who do not follow company policies; that way, they are able to do everything to have their workers take the meal breaks that are required by the law.
  • Employers must be able to uphold a certain system that would allow employees to report meal and/or rest period violations before anything could get out of hand.
  • Employers must have their managers, supervisors, and other key authority in their workplace undergo training with regard to the company policies, including meal and rest breaks.
  • They may include disclaimers on their employees’ time cards regarding meal and rest periods. By having the disclaimers in every time card signed by the employees, it easily means that they acknowledge the company policies and can be used against them if they fail to follow what is required of them.

Putting into practice these tips would leave California workers convinced that their employers are complying with the state’s labor laws. However, there are still companies who still disregard their workers with regard to their meal and rest breaks. As such, employees affected by this kind of illegal practice can seek the expertise of a Los Angeles labor lawyer. They may likewise file complaints with the appropriate California labor agency.