Sonic-Calabasas II: A New Wrinkle In Arbitration Law In California

The California Supreme Court’s decision in Sonic Calabassas A, Inc. v. Moreno has the potential to eliminate a powerful tool used by employers to avoid administrative hearings before the California Department of Labor, Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE).  Not only that, but the Court has made the already confusing body of law in Calfiornia concerning arbitration agreements even more confusing and it has thumbed its nose at U.S. Supreme Court decisions which command a different ruling.

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Managing Millennials: Do the Myths Have Validity (and a Millennial Response)

By John F. Baum and David Baum

The conventional wisdom says that there are distinct challenges in managing Millennials (or Generation Y), defined as individuals between the ages of 18 and 32.  The most common complaints from managers attribute a misplaced sense of entitlement, lack of loyalty, and inadequate communication skills to Millennials.  The challenge for managers in the current workforce is to determine whether those presumptions are true, and whether a different management style is necessary when leading a workforce that is now primarily comprised of three distinct generations of employees:  (1) Millennials; (2) Generation X employees (33 to 48 years old); and (3) Baby Boomers (49 to 67 years old). Continue reading

U.S. Supreme Court Punts On Public Sector Age Discrimination Case

On October 15, the Supreme Court dismissed the writ of certiorari it granted in Madigan v. Levin as improvidently granted.  We had mixed feelings about the case, as it had the potential to limit the relief available under Section 1983 and the U.S. Constitution for state and local government employees complaining of age discrimination or to open the floodgates to a litany of new claims.

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Governor Reinforces Mixed Motive Win For Employers In FEHA Cases

Earlier this year, in Harris v. City of Santa Monica, the California Supreme Court gave employers an unexpected win when it approved of the “mixed motive” theory of proof. As a result, in discrimination cases under the Fair Employment and Housing Act, an employer could defeat an employee’s claim for damages if it can show that it would have terminated the employee anyway. At the time, we predicted that the Legislature was bound to try to overturn Harris.

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Three Questions Employers Should Ask About Religious Accommodation Requests

A recent survey by the Pew Research Center reports that 58% of Americans say that religion is very important in their lives and 76% of Americans say that prayer is an important part of their daily lives.  The survey also shows that an increasing number of Americans adhere to religions, like Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Mormonism, which were not nearly as prevalent 20 years ago.  To be sure, the increase in diversity of religions and the large number of Americans that closely observe religious practices has led to increased challenges for American employers, especially when those practices conflict with workplace requirements. Continue reading

San Francisco Employers Should Prepare For January 1, 2014 Changes To Family Leave Laws

Last week, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance that requires employers to consider workers’ requests for flexible work arrangements and predictable work schedules due to caregiving responsibilities.  The ordinance also prohibits discrimination based on an employee’s status as a caretaker or parent.  Edwin M. Lee, the City’s Mayor, has stated his intention to sign the measure into law, which is set to take effect January 1, 2014.

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Could the Supreme Court Open The Floodgates For Age Discrimination Suits By Public Sector Employees?

In 2007, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg infamously told participants at a startup conference that younger is better.  “I want to stress the importance of being young and technical,” he stated. “Young people are just smarter.  Why are most chess masters under 30? I don’t know.”  It seems that many in the technology industry took Zuckerberg’s words to heart.  According to a New York Times article published earlier this year based on a report by PayScale, only six out of thirty-two leading technology companies have workers whose median age is at 35 or higher.

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How The Government Shutdown Affects Employers

In any shutdown of the federal government, the media is quick to report on whether federal employees are “essential” or “non-essential.”  Make whatever joke you want, but most federal employees of agencies that deal with the workplace are considered non-essential and are not showing up to work today.  Here is a quick breakdown of shutdown staffing for those agencies:

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WANTED: EEOC Guidance On Wellness Plans Under The ACA

Employee wellness plans have been in the spotlight lately.  This is because new wellness plan rules published in the Patient Protection and the Affordable Care Act (informally called Obamacare) are slated to take effect in January 2014.  Under the new rules, employers can offer financial incentives up to 30 percent of their health care coverage costs to employees who complete participatory wellness plans.   Financial incentives can range from gift cards to higher employer contributions for insurance premiums.

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