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Jennifer Williams is an associate attorney in our Ventura County office. After graduating from Fresno Pacific University with a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in Philosophy in 2004, she was an intern with World Vision in Washington DC in 2004. Ms. Williams interned at the Second District, Division Six Court of Appeal and was admitted to the State Bar in June 2008. Both during and after law school, she was a district representative for former State Senator Tom McClintock. Her legal writing and litigation skills resulted in practicing family law, personal injury law, federal and state civil litigation, federal and state criminal litigation, estate planning, and trust administration, all of which resulted in significant jury trial experience. Ms. Williams currently practices in all areas of workers' compensation defending insurance companies, third party administrators, and employers.

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Employment Law Daily News for Nov 26, 2014

California’s Labor Commissioner Releases New Poster and Notice Related to Paid Sick Leave
Tue, 25 Nov 2014 18:37:48 - Pacific Time

California’s Labor Commissioner has released a new poster template for the recently passed paid sick leave law, the Health Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014. The template is available here. The Labor Commissioner has also released an updated wage notice as required by Labor Code section 2810.5,  which contains information about the accrual of paid sick leave under the new law. The updated notice is available here.

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OSHA Urges Retailers to Keep Workers Safe During Major Sales Events
Tue, 25 Nov 2014 18:23:15 - Pacific Time

As the holiday season approaches, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration is encouraging retail employers to implement safety measures to prevent workplace injuries during major sales events. In 2008, a retail worker was trampled to death when shoppers rushed through the store to take advantage of holiday sales. OSHA sent letters to major retailers to remind employers about the potential hazards involved with managing large crowds at retail stores during the holiday season when sales events attract a higher number of shoppers. Retailers are encouraged to use the safety guidelines, Crowd Management Safety Guidelines for Retailers, provided in the OSHA fact sheet they received. Crowd management plans should, at least, include: On-site trained security personnel or police officers; barricades or rope lines for pedestrians that do not start right in front of the store's entrance; the implementation of crowd control measures well in advance of customers arriving at the store; emergency procedures in place to address potential dangers; methods for explaining approach and entrance procedures to the arriving public; not allowing additional customers to enter the store when it reaches its maximum occupancy level; and, not blocking or locking exit doors. OSHA’s letter to retailers is available here.

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Employer Allegedly Improperly Screened Job Applicants for Carpel Tunnel Syndrome
Tue, 25 Nov 2014 18:15:44 - Pacific Time

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has charged that Amsted Industries, Inc. and Amsted Rail Co. Inc., a leader in the manufacture of steel castings for the rail industry, improperly used physical tests and applicants' health histories in the hiring process at their Granite City, Ill., facility. As a result of these practices, according to the EEOC, a class of people who had a history of carpal tunnel syndrome or who Amsted believed might develop that condition, were denied employment. The EEOC has charged that during Amsted's hiring process, the company asks applicants if they have a history of carpal tunnel syndrome and gives them a nerve conduction test, even though the most current relevant published medical literature does not support the use of such tests alone, or the use of prior medical history alone, to predict the development of carpal tunnel. Based on the results, Amsted allegedly refused to hire Montrell Ingram and at least fifty other applicants because they had a history of carpal tunnel syndrome, tested positive on the nerve conduction test, or both. Read more here.

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President Obama’s Immigration Move Could Impact Job Market
Fri, 21 Nov 2014 07:49:03 - Pacific Time

President Obama’s executive order on immigration may impact the U.S. economy, in particular the job market. According to economists, by offering legal-worker status to several million undocumented immigrants, the executive order may prompt many to seek higher-paying jobs, thereby heightening competition for positions in a number of sectors since employers will have a larger supply of workers to choose from. Some job sectors may experience more job competition than others. For example, undocumented workers have recently steered away from manufacturing jobs fearing raids from immigration officials. The executive order will likely impact such sectors more than others. Read more here.

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California’s Fair Employment and Housing Council Considers Changes to FEHA Regulations
Fri, 21 Nov 2014 07:12:33 - Pacific Time

California’s Fair Employment and Housing Council is considering significant changes to California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) regulations. The FEHA covers discrimination and harassment in the workplace. The proposed regulations, which are intended to further implement and interpret the FEHA, include: adding a definition of unpaid interns and volunteers; adding that an employee who harasses a co-employee may be personally liable for the harassment, regardless of whether the employer knew or should have known of the conduct and/or failed to take appropriate corrective action; adding a new section detailing: (a) employers’ duty to prevent and correct harassment and discrimination; (b) the required contents of harassment and discrimination policies; and (c) the dissemination and translation of such polices; expounding upon rules about trainers’ maintenance of records, employers’ maintenance of records, the meaning of “effective interactive training,” examples of materials that ensure “supervisors remain engaged in the training,” who may qualify as a trainer, and course content; and, for pregnancy disability leave, simplifying the definition of “four months” and elaborating upon situations when “four months” compels more complicated calculations. Read more here.

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EEOC Issues FY 2014 Performance Report
Wed, 19 Nov 2014 19:48:29 - Pacific Time

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has released its 2014 Fiscal Year Performance Report, which ended September 30. According to that report, in FY 2014, the EEOC “continued to implement its Strategic Plan for FY 2012-2016, as well as its Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).  The agency met, partially met, or exceeded target results in all 14 measures in the Strategic Plan.” More specifically, the EEOC obtained $296.1 million in monetary relief for employment discrimination through mediation, conciliation and other administrative enforcement. The EEOC also secured $22.5 million in monetary relief for charging parties through litigation, and $74 million in monetary relief for federal employees and applicants. The agency received 88,778 private sector charges in FY 2014, a decrease of about 5,000 charges from FY 2013.  In addition, a total of 87,442 charges were resolved, 9,810 fewer than in FY 2013. Read more here.

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EEOC Releases Information on Enforcement Protections for LGBT Workers
Wed, 19 Nov 2014 19:03:58 - Pacific Time

Recent events have triggered increased interest about protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals under federal employment-discrimination laws. In light of this, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has released information highlighting the agency’s enforcement efforts in this area, and addressing questions raised by employers and employees about discrimination related to LGBT status. The EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP), adopted by a bipartisan vote in December of 2012, lists "coverage of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals under Title VII's sex discrimination provisions, as they may apply" as an enforcement priority for FY2013-2016.  This enforcement priority is consistent with positions the EEOC has taken in recent years regarding the intersection of LGBT-related discrimination and Title VII's prohibition on sex discrimination. Read more here.

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Jury Awards Woman $185 Million for Alleged Gender Discrimination
Wed, 19 Nov 2014 01:11:45 - Pacific Time

A San Diego federal jury awarded $185 million in punitive damages against AutoZone Stores after finding that the company allegedly retaliated against a pregnant manager, Rosario Juarez, eventually demoting and then terminating her. The three-woman, five-man jury also awarded Rosario Juarez $872,000 in compensatory damages, for lost wages and emotional stress. It is believed to be the largest employment law verdict for an individual in U.S. history. The lawsuit, initially filed in San Diego Superior Court in 2008, outlined a corporate structure that allegedly resisted promoting women into management positions and made light of anyone who complained about it. AutoZone operates about 4,000 stores across the U.S. and abroad, with about 400 of them in California. Read more here.

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Employer to Pay $187,500 for Alleged Genetic Information and Disability Discrimination
Fri, 14 Nov 2014 17:26:34 - Pacific Time

Three Southern California seed and fertilizer providers - All Star Seed, Inc., La Valle Sabbia and Abatti - will pay $187,500 to settle a discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of a class of job applicants who were allegedly subjected to illegal medical and genetic information inquiries. According to the EEOC, the El Centro, Calif.-based agricultural companies (which operated as a single employer) required job applicants to undergo physical exams and fill out health questionnaires as a condition of employment that violates federal laws. The EEOC charged that the questionnaires contained improper inquiries about the applicants' medical conditions and family medical histories, also known as genetic information. 

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U.S. Supreme Court Grants Review in ACA Tax Subsidies Case
Tue, 11 Nov 2014 19:42:02 - Pacific Time

The U.S. Supreme Court has granted review in King v. Burwell, a case involving the question of whether the federal government’s tax subsidies to purchasers of health insurance, pursuant to the Affordable Care Act, are only available if an individual purchases health insurance from a state-run exchange versus from the federally run exchanges. The Internal Revenue Service ruled that the tax subsidy is available regardless of whether the health insurance is purchased from a state or federal exchange program. Read more here.

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Past Employment Law News Articles

• HR Practice Note: “Best Practices in Returning an Injured Employee to Work”: Tue, 11 Nov 2014 19:07:56 - Pacific Time: Read More...

• Sixth Circuit Upholds Bans on Same-Sex Marriage: Mon, 10 Nov 2014 20:16:23 - Pacific Time: Read More...

• Employer Agrees to Modify Leave Policies for Disabled Employee: Mon, 10 Nov 2014 20:05:50 - Pacific Time: Read More...

• DOL Releases Additional FAQs Regarding the ACA: Mon, 10 Nov 2014 19:56:07 - Pacific Time: Read More...

• San Francisco Residents Vote in Minimum Wage Hike to $15 Per Hour: Thu, 06 Nov 2014 19:42:54 - Pacific Time: Read More...

• HR Practice Note: Injury and Illness Prevention Programs: Wed, 05 Nov 2014 19:46:46 - Pacific Time: Read More...

• Employer to Pay $128,750 For Allegedly Failing to Accommodate Employee After Back Surgery: Wed, 05 Nov 2014 19:10:06 - Pacific Time: Read More...

• This Year’s Most Unbelievable Excuses for Calling in Sick: Tue, 04 Nov 2014 02:27:08 - Pacific Time: Read More...

• California Labor Commissioner Issues More Than $3 Million in Citations to Four Assisted Living Providers: Mon, 03 Nov 2014 20:47:26 - Pacific Time: Read More...

• Unauthorized Cloud-Based Software is Proliferating in the Workplace: Mon, 03 Nov 2014 19:08:30 - Pacific Time: Read More...