Sexual Harassment Training Requirements by State

As the #MeToo movement has grown over the past two years, and claims against powerful individuals continue to surface in the media and on social media, employers and companies need to adjust their response polices as one thing is clear: sexual claims are very real, very expensive, and very destructive.

The following cases are real-world examples of how sexual harassment claims can cost employers in terms of time, money, and employee morale, and can cause pain and distress to employees.

  • A recent claim against the popular P.F. Chang’s China Bistro chain cost the company $1 million in response to two employees claims that they were repeatedly sexually harassed and were subjected to a hostile work environment.
  • Two female employees at a California winery were subject to repeated sexual harassment by the winery’s general manager and then subsequently retaliated against by the company. A Los Angeles jury awarded $11 million dollars to the two women. Each woman received $1 million for past emotional distress; $1.5 million for future emotional distress and $3 million in punitive damages. In addition to the $11 million dollars to the women, their attorneys will also receive their attorney’s fees.
  • Ford announced it would pay up to $10.1 million to settle a racial- and sexual-harassment investigation at two Chicago plants. 
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USCIS Releases New I-9 Form to Be Used by September 2017

i-9USCIS released a revised version of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, on July 17, 2017. Download instructions are available on the Form I-9 page. Employers can use this revised version, or continue using Form I-9 with a revision date of 11/14/16 N through Sept. 17, 2017. However, on Sept. 18, employers must begin using the revised form with a revision date of 07/17/17 N. Employers must continue following existing storage and retention rules for any previously completed Form I-9.

Revisions to the Form I-9 instructions:

  • USCIS changed the name of the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices to its new name, “Immigrant and Employee Rights Section.”
  • USCIS removed “the end of” from the phrase “the first day of employment.”

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Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: Very Real and Very Costly for Employers

150212-sexualharassment-stockWhile sexual harassment has been in everyone’s vocabulary since Dolly Parton’s Nine to Five graced screens in 1980, it has become a topic of increased importance and media coverage as more and more sexual harassment claims are brought against celebrities such as Bill Cosby, President-Elect Donald Trump, and former President Bill Clinton.  While you or your employees may not identify with these over-the-top personalities in positions of power, sexual harassment claims are very real and very expensive.

For example, a recent claim against the popular P.F. Chang’s China Bistro chain cost the company $1 million in response to two employees’ claims that they were repeatedly sexually harassed and were subjected to a hostile work environment. According to the arbitrator’s written order, both women said they were subjected to offensive comments and conduct from the male kitchen staff at the restaurants, including jokes about sex, remarks about female workers’ bodies, and kissing and whistling noises aimed at female employees as they walked by. In addition, one of the women said she saw a group of male kitchen employees watching a pornographic video on a smartphone, and she frequently heard the cooks singing sexually explicit songs in the rear of the restaurant in University City.  The reality is that these activities occur more often than you might think.

To continue reading about the risks of sexual harassment in the workplace and how to protect yourself as an employer, continue reading our article in the December issue of the California Employer’s Report. Continue reading

DOL Rule Increasing Minimum Salary Requirements for Exempt Employees Now on Hold Per Court Order

gavelLast month, we discussed how the Department of Labor (DOL) was scheduled to implement a new rule that would increase the minimum salary requirements for exempt employees.  The new rule published by the DOL would have doubled the minimum salary requirements for employees from $455/week to $913/week. This rule was supposed to take effect on December 1, 2016; however, employers can breathe easy for a bit longer.

On November 22, 2016 a federal judge from the United States District Court in Texas temporarily blocked implementation of the rule, in response to a request by 21 states and business groups.  This delay is temporary, while litigation continues and the court makes a determination as to whether the DOL has the authority to implement such a rule. Continue reading

URGENT: Employers MUST Post New Federal Minimum Wage and Polygraph Posters By August 1, 2016

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ATTENTION all Employers:

The Department of Labor recently revised the federal mandatory minimum wage and polygraph posters that employers must post in the workplace.

Although the federal minimum wage did not change, the new minimum wage poster now contains information regarding the consequences of incorrectly classifying workers as independent contractors, in addition to a new section on the rights of nursing mothers.

The new federal polygraph poster now contains updated contact information for the Department of Labor, and no longer contains a reference to the penalty amount of up to $10,000 for violation of the law.

employment posterEmployers are required to post the updated posters in a conspicuous area of the workplace by no later than August 1, 2016. Continue reading

Los Angeles Employers May Soon Be Required to Provide 6 Days of Paid Sick Leave Per Year

sick leaveOn April 19, 2016, the Los Angeles City Council approved a measure that would require employers in the City of Los Angeles to provide their employees with six days, or 48 hours, of paid sick leave.  Pending an approved ordinance drafted by the City Attorney, the requirement will become effective on July 1, 2016.  This would be three days more per year than the State of California’s paid sick leave requirements which took effect on July 1, 2015.

The ordinance would apply to employees who who work for the same employer in the City of Los Angeles for thirty days or more per year , and would begin on the first day of employment, or July 1, 2016, whichever is later. Employers who contract with the city of Los Angeles will still be required to give their employees twelve days, or 96 hours, of paid sick leave. Workers in Los Angeles would not be paid for unused sick days, but accrued time could be carried over to the next year. Businesses could cap that accrued time at 72 hours, or set a higher cap or none at all.

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New Policy Requirements for Employers Effective April 1, 2016

EmployeeHandbook_Pop_6467Beginning April 1, 2016, California employers with five or more total employees (whether or not all of those employees live in California) must update their anti-discrimination, anti-harassment, and complaint-investigation policies, and distribute them to employees for signature. These policies must be in compliance with recent amendments to California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), and must be distributed to all employees.

attorney clientThe new regulations include the following:

  • Provides for additional protected classes under the FEHA;
  • Clarifies harassment liability;
  • Updates legal standards and legal remedies of discrimination;
  • Revises complaint procedures;
  • Clarifies the investigation process;
  • Expands record-keeping requirements; and
  • Expands the rights of pregnant employees and employees with service animals.

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New Paid Sick Leave Requirements for California Employers Starts July 1, 2015

By Jennifer A. Grady, Esq. and Gayane Khechoomian, Esq.

sick leaveStarting on July 1, 2015, a new law affecting millions of Californians will require that employers – both public and private – provide paid sick leave to all their employees. The “Healthy, Workplace, Healthy Families Act” (AB-1522) signed into effect by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. applies to all employees who work in California for 30 or more days in a year. The law defines “employer” as any person employing another under any appointment or contract of hire” regardless of how many employees they have,  and covers employees whether they are full-time, part-time, seasonal, or temporary. Specifically, the new provision provides that employees who work 30 or more days within a year from commencement of their employment will earn a minimum of one hour of paid sick leave for every thirty (30) hours worked.

Employees become entitled to their sick leave beginning on the ninetieth (90th) date of employment. However, an employer may limit an employee’s use of paid sick days to 24 hours—or three (3) days—in each year of employment. Click HERE for the full text of the new law. Continue reading