Employers, Beware of These Legal Traps

“I couldn’t get that vendor on the phone,” Jane told her boss Mike as she gathered up her purse. “His secretary said I could call him in 15 minutes, so I’ll just call him from my cell on my way home.”

Mike held up his hand. “No, that’s okay, Jane. Just give me the vendor’s number, and I’ll make the call. Enjoy your evening, and I’ll see you tomorrow morning.” Unfortunately, Mike had previously learned the hard way when a previous nonexempt employee sued his company for not paying wages for work performed in “off” hours. Keeping track of every minute an employee made a work call after hours was not something Mike wanted to do.

California law is full of legal traps and liabilities for employers, according to Robin E. Shea of Constangy Brooks & Smith LLP. She cautions that your workplace holiday party is one of them. There are some crazy laws out there! Did you know, for instance, that if two employees get together to complain about anything having to do with their workplace conditions, you can’t punish them or you could be sued? Yep, true story. It’s called protected concerted activity.

Shea also explains the difference between employment at will and right to work. It doesn’t mean that an employer can fire employees for any reason he wants, or that he has the “right” to let employees “work” or not, as it suits his fancy. “Here’s the real scoop on these two often-misunderstood legal concepts,” explains Shea: “(1) The employment-at-will doctrine is riddled with exceptions, so never count on it to save you from liability for an unjust termination. (2) ‘Right to work’ has nothing to do with ’employment at will.’ A ‘right-to-work’ state is one that has laws prohibiting employers from requiring employees to be members of a union or to pay union fees as a condition of employment.” Check out Shea’s article on 5 legal traps for wary employers.

Another pitfall that you’ll need to avoid has to do with California’s new paid sick leave law, portions of which become effective on January 1, 2015. Now, nearly every employer must provide paid sick leave, with one hour accrued for every 30 hours worked. Also, according to Raymond W. Bertrand and Blake R. Bertagna of PaulHastings.com, you’ll have to comply with additional wage notice and pay stub requirements, which the California Department of Industrial Relations explains in its FAQs.

It’s a constantly changing landscape, so, employers, beware of these legal traps. Know the laws so you can be watchful to avoid the pitfalls that could land you in court!

Hiring is difficult, but here’s one thing that can make it easier.

Amtec Bitz Newsletters

Essential industry highlights & expert insights every month.

Latest Posts

View all posts