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Los Angeles Employment Law and Civil Rights Law Blog

Basic rules for office romances

With Valentine’s Day passing last week, it is appropriate to talk about office romances. After all, Valentine’s Day may be the beginning of relationships that may spawn from spending so many hours in the office together.

Who can’t resist the lure of brand new office romances? They are cute and darling; especially when people go to great lengths to keep it a secret. But these relationships may only be cute when they involve people of the same rank. Things may be viewed differently when the romance is between a supervisor and a subordinate. Essentially, there are potential legal problems that can arise.

Can you be a victim of pretext?

For months, the economic outlook with regard to jobs has been positive, and January’s jobs report did not disappoint. According to several media reports, there were 227,000 new jobs added to the nation’s economy. This number greatly surpassed analysts’ expectations of 180,000 new jobs. However, wages only increased 2.5 percent, which was below analysts’ expectations.

While adding jobs is certainly positive news, there are still many employees who are discriminated against in their employment. Indeed, workers are fired all the time due to performance related reasons, (i.e. chronic absenteeism, poor work performance) but there are many instances where the stated reason for a worker being fired (or not promoted) is not the actual reason. Instead, it is simply pretext to mask the employer’s true intention.

What we can learn from Carmelo Anthony's experience

We rarely discuss sports on this blog, but the situation brewing between New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony and Phil Jackson, the team’s president of basketball operations gives us a high profile workplace scenario that is worth discussing.

Given the latest public statements by the Knicks, it appears that the team would like to move on from Anthony and begin a rebuilding process. There’s only one problem; Anthony’s contract includes a “no-trade” clause, which would require him to approve any trade proposed by the Knicks. So in essence, Carmelo Anthony can veto any trade he believes is unsuitable. 

How your classification could affect your tax return

At this time of year, most employees are concerned with how much of a refund check they will receive from the federal government after filing their income tax returns. After all, tax season is not just big business for tax preparers. Retailers also want to benefit from the extra money that workers will receive.

Nevertheless, with all the money that will be distributed in refunds, many workers may end up disappointed and may even have to pay Uncle Sam. This is because many employees, especially temporary workers, may not have enough taken out of their regular incomes to compensate for taxes. While it may remain how much in actual taxes that will be owed, it largely depends on an employee’s classification; whether they are seen as employees or contractors.

Don't let social media doom your case before it gets started

If you love social media, you’re certainly not alone. Websites that enable us to share our feelings and our lives in real time (in some instances) have become a ubiquitous, ingrained part of our culture. So just as it is easy to share how much we like ice cream and new outfits, we can vent our frustration with what is going on in our lives.

The ability to reach so many with only a few keystrokes has its benefits and its drawbacks; especially when it comes to difficulties we may experience with our employment. Essentially, what you may think as being a cathartic exercise when something goes wrong (i.e. being demoted or fired) may not be so helpful when you are seeking a legal remedy. 

Are your workload increases legal?

At this time of year, it is common for workers to take on new projects or for employers to assign new duties for employees. While some workers may appreciate the challenge of a new assignment, it may be a tacit way of getting rid of an employee.

Essentially, there is no state or federal law prohibiting employers from piling on work. Employers basically create excessive work assignments at their own peril; they run the risk of having disgruntled employees. But when an employer attempts to fire an employee for not living up to additional expectations, there could be cause for a legal remedy.

Should you be 'on call' during your lunch break?

Having employees ready at a moment’s notice, otherwise known as being “on call” has become a benefit for some California employers and employees alike. The employer benefits because much needed labor can be summoned to respond to time sensitive matters, and employees appreciate the flexibility that comes with such a schedule.

But when employees are on call, are they entitled to regular rest periods allowed to hourly employees? This was the question posed to the California Supreme Court in Augustus v. ABM Services, Inc. The case involved security guards who were required to be ready to respond to calls while “on call.”

Appeals court finds student athletes not employees under FLSA

As the NCAA prepares to crown a champion for Division I football, and men’s and women’s basketball teams begin conference play, collegiate sports takes center stage this week. Lost in all the hoopla is the vast disparity between what college coaches, universities and conference make in revenues compared to what the players make.

NCAA bylaws prohibit for student athletes from receiving monetary compensation for their efforts as athletes as long as they maintain “amateur” status; meaning that they may not receive money for nearly any form of “work” performed while they are college athletes. 

New wage law takes effect in California this week

With 2017 finally here, there are a number of changes within California law that will take effect. For employers and employees, arguably the most important legal change has to do with the new minimum wage requirements.

Essentially, California law requires incremental increases for the state minimum wage for non-exempt employees. Beginning January 1, employers with 26 or more employees must pay workers at least $10.50 per hour. The law also calls for annual increases until 2022. 

Are you being pressured to work overtime?

For all intents and purposes, the week before Christmas is the busiest shopping week of the year. This is normally when shoppers who have procrastinated finally hit the malls in search of last minute gifts (and deals). Retailers know this; which is why new discounts on selected items are introduced, and stores stay open later than usual until Christmas Eve.

To fulfill these needs, retailers may ask workers to work overtime. While some workers welcome the opportunity to make a little more money, others may feel pressured into putting in more time despite wanting a little time off.  Additionally, some workers may be asked to work “off the clock” to complete menial tasks such as display prep, cleaning duties, and the like.

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