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It is not only the case that California state law favors employees rather than employers in a way which many other states do not, but the litigation of employment related lawsuits also presents a number of unique challenges along the way. Let’s look at these challenges in a little more detail.
In state courts within California, any motion for a summary judgement has to be filed and served a minimum of 75 days prior to the date set for the hearing. Due to the fact that a motion needs to be heard one month before the scheduled date of the trial this essentially means that motions have to be filed and served 105 days ahead of the trial. It is also a requirement that cases should be tried no later than 12 months of being filed. This means that defendants (in our case employers) have little preparation time to request summary judgement as in order to obtain this the employer needs to provide evidence that they are not liable for the claim.
Choice of Law Provisions in Contracts
The California courts are able to validate choice of law provisions in contracts of employment ,but only as far as saying all of the other regulations are valid in accordance with state law. As an example, an ex-employee who has been let go because they refuse to sign any contract of employment which features an illegal clause such as a covenant not to compete could still raise a wrongful termination claim.
Under the California Labor Code, there are a number of pieces of information which must be present on all employee paychecks and/or wage statements. Any violation of these rules can result in a class action lawsuit with even seemingly minor violations proving to be costly. There fore it is extremely important to know exactly what must appear on the paychecks. The good nes is that once you have your template created you will have all of the information required, as long as you keep up to date on the Labor Code.
At present, the following items must be included:
- Total gross earnings.
- Total of hours of work (this is not needed for salaried employees).
- Total units of piece rate earned where applicable.
- All deductions.
- Total net earnings.
- Dates for which payment is being made.
- Employee’s name.
- The final 4 digits from the employee’s SSN.
- The employer’s name and registered address.
- All effective hourly rates and the total number of hours work completed at these rates.
- The details of at least one location in California where employer can cash their check as they must be available at banks which have one branch within the state
When you have employees, it comes as part of the package that they will have families, spouses and domestic partnerships. While most expect to have a responsibility to an employee’s spouse, some employers do not realize that they not only have an obligation to their employees but also to their domestic partners. Here we give you a brief outline of what responsibilities you have as an employer to domestic partners.
California based employers have no particular requirement to provide benefits to the domestic partners of their employees. However, the California Insurance Equality Act does require employers who offer health care plans and insurance policies to their employees to offer equal cover to registered domestic partners, just as they would with an employee’s spouse. It is appropriate for an employer to request proof of a domestic partnership before awarding the benefits, just as they might request proof of a marriage.
The provisions set out by the CFRA apply equally to domestic partners exactly as they would to spouses. An employee is entitle to leave under the CFRA to take care of their domestic partner. This doe not count towards FMLA leave entitlement and so that leave will remain available at a later date if the employee needs to take leave to take care of a close relative. This means that a domestic partner can actually take up to 6 months of leave whereas a spouse is limited to only 3 months. Properly registered domestic partners also qualify as beneficiaries for Cal-Cobra.
Any company in California which wishes to bid on government contracts worth in excess of $100,000 in a single fiscal year, including renewal of existing contracts, has to prove that they will not discriminate in terms of offering benefits to both married spouses and domestic partners.
Thanks to Dan Shulman from www.findtradeschools.com for contributing this article
In California, employers are at greater risk in terms of employment discrimination lawsuits because of both the natural inclinations of California juries and also because there is no cap on the amount of compensation that can be awarded under state law. There is also the fact that anti-discrimination statutes are often interpreted much more broadly by California law than in other states. Let’s take a look at some of the most important areas.
Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, or FEHA, employers cannot discriminate against employees, or potential employees on the following grounds:
- AIDS or HIV
- Genetic Characteristics
- Marital Status
- Medical Conditions
- Race or Nationality
In terms of discrimination on the grounds of sex, FEHA actually forbids differential treatment which is solely based on ‘actual or perceived gender or sexual orientation’. This essentially means that employees cannot be discriminated against due to being, or suspicion of being, either gay, straight, bisexual or transgender. This also covers the fact that employees have a right to dress appropriately to their self-perceived gender provided that this meets company dress code and/or grooming. Therefore, as an example, a transgender male who identifies as female must be allowed to dress in female clothes within the company dress code.
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One of the challenges facing employers in California is that the state employment laws offer much greater protection to employees than federal law. This means that if you are not aware of these differences, you could find yourself inadvertently breaking them. At the moment, class action suits regarding wages and working hours are one of the biggest concerns for California based businesses. This is because for lawyers they are easy to maintain and the state laws are weighted in favor of employees than in other states. For the employer however, this type of litigation is very costly. That is why any business in California should be familiar with at least the basics of wage and hour laws in the state.
California has the second highest minimum wage in all of the United States. As of 2012, this stands at $8 per hour which is slightly higher than the nationwide minimum hourly wage of $7.25. It is important to know this difference, especially if you are relocating your business from another state to California. You will need to factor in a wage increase for any employees working for minimum wage.
Thanks to Art Canebez from sell gold a local California business owner for his contribution
If you are looking for a base for your business, whether you are just starting up or looking to relocate, then California could well be the answer. Our aim is to help you to not only learn about California, but also guide you through the various opportunities available in the area. The state of California offers the world’s fifth largest economy, with approximately 30,000 square miles encompassing well established communities such as San Francisco and San Diego. That means that regardless of your needs, California can provide the ideal location for your business which will allow it to grow into a successful enterprise.
Let’s take a look at some of the main reasons why you should be seriously considering California as the new home for your business:
- Agricultural Prosperity
- Large Population
- Skilled Workforce