Month: March 2015

When Should Employers Investigate Harassment, Discrimination or Retaliation

when-investigate

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission office guides that if an employee files an EEOC charge alleging unlawful harassment, “The employer should launch an internal investigation even if the employee did not complain to management through its internal complaint process.”

Upon receipt of harassment, discrimination or retaliation complaint, the employer should conduct a prompt, thorough investigation. Employers should increasingly want to discover whether harassment, discrimination, or retaliation has occurred so that such actions, if they did take place, can be remedied, regardless of how the employer acquired such information.

As a result, it is increasingly common for employers to conduct workplace investigations even after the employee has gone “outside” to an administrative agency or court.

The Law Offices of Payab & Associates is a Los Angeles based law firm with more than 17 years of experience in employment cases. Our office has successfully litigated many complex disputes including wrongful termination, sexual harassment, racial discrimination, wage and labor disputes, and retaliation cases.

Are you or anyone you know been harassed, discriminated or retaliated at work? Contact the Law Offices of Payab & Associates @ (800) 401-4466 or visit http://payablaw.com/ if you have any questions regarding your rights at the workplace.

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Best Social Media Practices for Employers

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As the use and significance of social media continues to expand, employers should be aware of the issues that revolve around social media and its effect on recruiting and hiring process.

A 2014 survey conducted by Jobvite revealed that 93% of job recruiters will review a candidate’s social media profile before making a hiring decision and 55% of recruiters have reconsidered a candidate based on their social media profile. This high percentage of recruiters using social media is not surprising to anyone involved in the hiring process. But there are some important legal pitfalls for employers to consider when making hiring decisions based on information obtained through social media.

The issues associated with using social media in the hiring process include possible discrimination claims and off-duty conduct laws. It is better for employers to learn how to minimize these risks when recruiting. Here is a list of best practices we suggest when using social media in the hiring process:

• Review third-party or in-house background checks for compliance with FCRA and state laws.
• Confirm that all information obtained actually belongs to or relates to the prospective employee.
• Consider hiring a third-party background check provider to administer social media checks.

The Law Offices of Payab & Associates is a Los Angeles based law firm with more than 17 years of experience in employment cases. Our office has successfully litigated many complex disputes including wrongful termination, sexual harassment, racial discrimination, wage and labor disputes, and retaliation cases.

Contact the Law Offices of Payab & Associates @ (800) 401-4466 or visit http://payablaw.com/ if you have any questions regarding best social media practices for your company.

Important Questions Answered about Meal Periods – Part II

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Q: A company has a policy that states that employees must notify their supervisor/manager if they fail to take a lunch break. If an employee violates this policy by failing to notify his or her supervisor that he or she worked through work, must the employer pay the employee for the missed lunch period?

A: Yes, the employee must be paid for all hours worked, including the time worked during the missed meal period. The employer may subject the employee to disciplinary action for failing to follow company policy; however, the employer may not discipline an employee when the employee was forced to skip his or her lunch in order to meet a deadline imposed by the employer.

Q: Some of my employees work a 12-hour shift. Do I have to give them more than one meal period?

A: While federal law doesn’t address this issue, some states, including California, require employers to provide a second meal period of no less than 30 minutes when employees work more than 10 hours per day.

The Law Offices of Payab & Associates is a Los Angeles based law firm with more than 17 years of experience in employment cases. Our office has successfully litigated many complex disputes including wrongful termination, sexual harassment, racial discrimination, wage and labor disputes, and retaliation cases.

Are you or anyone you know been discriminated at work? Contact the Law Offices of Payab & Associates @ (800) 401-4466 or visit http://payablaw.com/ if you have any questions regarding your rights at the workplace.

Important Questions Answered about Meal Periods – Part I

Lunch-Break

Q: Receptionist receives a 30 minute meal period but the employer asks the receptions to eat lunch at his desk in case the phone rings or clients arrive. Do you have to pay the receptionist even if no one calls or comes in during that time?

A: Yes, as an employer, you would have to pay the receptionist for the full 30 minutes even if no client needs assistance. If you require employees to do work, whether active or inactive, while they are eating lunch, they aren’t completely relieved of duty and they must be paid. Under the federal Fair Labor Standards ACT FLSA), an unpaid meal period must generally be  least 30 minutes without interruption and the employee must be FULLY relieved of all duties for the purpose of eating regular meals.

Q: An employee sits at his desk to eat his lunch during his 30 minute meal period. If his phone rings and she answers it, what is the employer’s obligations for paying the employee?

A: If the employee’s meal is interrupted as explained above, the employee should be paid for the full 30 minutes. It’s best practice to have the employee eat his lunch away from his work station so the employee can be fully relieved of all duties for the purpose of eating regular meals. Employees should also report interrupted lunch breaks so that they can be paid for the time.

The Law Offices of Payab & Associates is a Los Angeles based law firm with more than 17 years of experience in employment cases. Our office has successfully litigated many complex disputes including wrongful termination, sexual harassment, racial discrimination, wage and labor disputes, and retaliation cases.

Are you or anyone you know been discriminated at work? Contact the Law Offices of Payab & Associates @ (800) 401-4466 or visit http://payablaw.com/ if you have any questions regarding your rights at the workplace.

What to Do If An Employee Quits Out of Nowhere

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Unexpected resignations are big challenges for business owners and managers. However, it’s important to know what your company’s HR procedures are for handling these situations.

The first thing to be mindful is to review the employment contract, if any, following a resignation to make sure the employer and the employee comply with obligations and requirements as stated in the employment contract. For example, at some companies, employees are required to work out a notice period, usually two weeks, as indicated in their employment contracts.

An employee who is discharged must be paid all of his or her wages, including accrued vacation, immediately at the time of termination. The reasonable time the employer is allowed to pay for the employee’s wages should not exceed 72 hours provided that payment be made by mail to any employee who so requests and designates a mailing address. Labor Code Section 201.

If the employer feels that the employee may claim that he or she was constructively discharged, (i.e, their job environment was so intolerable that they had no alternative but to quit their job), then it is best to offer the employee a severance package in exchange for the dismissal of any claims that the employee may have.

Moreover, the employer should also advise its employment insurance carrier immediately as some employment insurance policies require immediate notification when an employee resigns.   Otherwise the insurance carrier may decline a future employment claim arising from the employee’s resignation.

The Law Offices of Payab & Associates is a Los Angeles based law firm with more than 17 years of experience in employment cases. Our office has successfully litigated many complex disputes including wrongful termination, sexual harassment, racial discrimination, wage and labor disputes, and retaliation cases.

Are you or anyone you know been discriminated at work? Contact the Law Offices of Payab & Associates @ (800) 401-4466 or visit http://payablaw.com/ if you have any questions regarding your rights at the workplace.

Note to Employers: Terminate with Care

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If a company has to fire an employee, it should do so with care. One of the most important practices for the company is that the employee should be paid his or her final pay by the time of termination. The employment agreement agreement should be reviewed to make sure that all amounts due to the employee are paid on the termination date.

The employee should also be reminded of the obligation to keep the employer’s proprietary information and trade secrets confidential and should be required to return all company proprietary and information before leaving. An exit interview may be used to remind the employee of continuing obligations not to use or disclosure confidential information, collect all company property, and explain exist compensation and benefits issue.

Further, when a high-level or complaining employee is terminated, we recommend entering into a written separation agreement. Generally, severance should not be paid to the employee without obtaining a signed release of all claims as part of the agreement.

The Law Offices of Payab & Associates is a Los Angeles based law firm with more than 17 years of experience in employment cases. Our office has successfully litigated many complex disputes including wrongful termination, sexual harassment, racial discrimination, wage and labor disputes, and retaliation cases.

Contact the Law Offices of Payab & Associates @ (800) 401-4466 or visit http://payablaw.com/ if you have any questions regarding your rights at the workplace.

Implementing Good Employment Policies is Important

employee-handbook

Employers should implement good employment policies and practices. Although an employee handbook is not legally required, every employer should have a few important written policies, including an at-will employment policy, a policy prohibiting unlawful harassment, discrimination and retaliation, a policy to protect the employer’s computer and electronic systems against improper or illegal use, a proprietary information and inventions policy, policies governing leaves of absence as explained in our last blogs, and a policy reserving the company’s rights to revise its policies as it deems appropriate.

Employees should also be required to sign an acknowledgement form confirming that they have read and will abide by such company policies. Once the company adopts such policies, it should also adhere to and apply them consistently.

Employers should also implement practices that ensure that employees are treated in nondiscriminatory manner at every stage of employment. The company must hire candidates who best fit the criteria for the job, without respect to age, race, or any other protected classification.

The Law Offices of Payab & Associates is a Los Angeles based law firm with more than 17 years of experience in employment cases. Our office has successfully litigated many complex disputes including wrongful termination, sexual harassment, racial discrimination, wage and labor disputes, and retaliation cases.

Contact the Law Offices of Payab & Associates @ (800) 401-4466 or visit http://payablaw.com/ if you have any questions regarding implementing good employment policies at your workplace.

What Are the Dangers of Misclassifying Employees and Independent Contractors?

employee misclassification

Employers should take great care when classifying workers. Misclassification can create serious legal problems, including audits of the entire workforce by federal and state tax authorities and even charge of penalties. Misclassification of workers is an area of increasing concern, as both the federal and state governments are ramping up efforts to investigate employee misclassification issues in order to raise revenue through penalties and increased payroll tax.

There are some financial incentives for companies and employers to classify employees as independent contractors. This can put a company at risk for misclassifying if policies and best practices are not in place to govern classification.

However, any financial advantages gained can be destroyed due to employee misclassification. That’s why it is really important to take preventative steps to avoid hefty fines, penalties, and potential reputation issues related to noncompliance of misclassification of employees and independent contractors.

The Law Offices of Payab & Associates is a Los Angeles based law firm with more than 17 years of experience in employment cases. Our office has successfully litigated many complex disputes including wrongful termination, sexual harassment, racial discrimination, wage and labor disputes, and retaliation cases.

Contact the Law Offices of Payab & Associates @ (800) 401-4466 or visit http://payablaw.com/ if you have any questions regarding your rights at the workplace.