California’s public health director has ordered that anyone arriving in California from an Ebola-affected area and who has had personal contact with a person infected with the deadly virus will be quarantined for 21 days. The order applies to people returning from areas afflicted by an Ebola outbreak, which is currently Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. County health officials will be able to passengers arriving from those areas to determine if they are at risk for the disease and should be quarantined for Ebola’s three-week incubation period. Failure to comply with a quarantine order could result in misdemeanor criminal charges. Read more here.
Construction contractor Vamco Sheet Metals, Inc., will pay $215,000 as part of the settlement of a sex discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity. According to the lawsuit, female sheet metal workers were treated unfairly on the massive John Jay College of Criminal Justice expansion in Manhattan from 2009 through 2011. The unfair treatment allegedly included terminating female sheet metal workers for pretextual reasons, some after just a few days of work, assigning female workers menial tasks like fetching coffee, and monitoring their breaks. The women had decades of experience as skilled sheet metal workers. Read more here.
From the U.S. Department of Justice: “Too often, qualified Americans with disabilities face barriers to employment, preventing them from participating as full members of our society. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination by employers on the basis of disability, and requires reasonable accommodations in the workplace when necessary to enable employees with disabilities to do their jobs. Often, a reasonable accommodation is easy and inexpensive for the employer and makes all the difference for a person with a disability to be able to perform his or her job. However, managers often remain unaware of their obligation to accommodate workers with disabilities under the ADA. The story of what happened to Mr. D. illustrates how gaps in ADA training can result in significant harm.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced the cost of living adjustments affecting 401(k) pension plans for employees who participate in such plans as follows: (1) The contribution limit for employees participating in 401(k) plans has increased from $17,500 to $18,000; (2) Employees who are aged 50 and over may make an increased catch-up contribution from $5,500 to $6,000; (3) The annual contributions for individuals remains at $5,500. Read more here.
A Dallas federal court jury returned a verdict awarding almost half a million dollars to three former employees in a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against EmCare, a provider of physician services. The jury of two women and four men awarded former Executive Assistant Gloria Stokes $250,000 in punitive damages based on the claim that she was sexually harassed by her supervisor, the division CEO, Jim McKinney. The EEOC also sought relief for Bonnie Shaw, an EmCare credentialer, and Luke Trahan, a recruiter, based on retaliatory discharge. The jury awarded Shaw and Trahan $82,000 and $167,000, respectively. Stokes, Shaw and Trahan all testified about the alleged lack of an appropriate response by Human Resources to their complaints about the misconduct. Shaw and Trahan were both allegedly fired, within an hour of each other, just six weeks later for reasons the company alleged were performance issues. Read more here.
California Governor Brown Signs Bill Extending Time to Appeal Award or Denial of Unemployment Benefits
California Governor Jerry Brown has signed Senate Bill 1314, which extends the time period for appealing an award of denial of unemployment insurance benefits by the Employment Development Department (EDD). The legislation takes effect July 15, 2015. Prior to the enactment of SB 1314, an employer or employee had 20 days from the notice of a decision, to seek an appeal or reconsideration of an EED denial or award of unemployment insurance benefits. SB 1314 extends the time period for seeking reconsideration or appeal of a benefits ruling from 20 to 30 days. The new legislation applies to appeals of an EDD benefits determination and to appeals to the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board of an administrative law judge’s ruling. Read more here.
The Fair Employment and Housing Council (Council) proposes to amend sections 11005.1 to 11141 of Title 2 of the California Code of Regulations (pertains to the California Family Rights Act (CFRA)) after considering all comments, objections, and recommendations regarding the proposed action. The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) will hold a public hearing at 10:00 a.m. on December 8, 2014, at the University of California, Davis School of Law, 400 Mrak Hall Drive, Room 1303, Davis, California 95616. The hearing room is wheelchair accessible. At the hearing, any person may present statements or arguments orally or in writing relevant to the proposed action described in the attached Notice/Informative Digest. The Council requests but does not require that persons who make oral comments at the hearing also submit a written copy of their testimony at the hearing. Read more here.
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has recovered $1,914,681.50 in back wages and fringe benefits for 147 workers at Proimtu Mmi-Nv LLC, a Henderson-based subcontractor providing construction services at the federally funded Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project in Tonopah. According to the DOL investigation, Proimtu Mmi-Nv violated the prevailing wage and fringe benefits requirements of the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts for the majority of their employees working at the Tonopah desert solar energy project. DOL Investigators established that from June 2013 through April 2014, the company allegedly failed to pay workers the correct prevailing wage rates and fringe benefits for their particular job duties. The contractor paid "general laborers" rates to workers that routinely performed duties in skilled trades, such as ironworking, electrical work, painting or bridge crane operation, that should have commanded fringe benefits and prevailing wages of up to two times more than they were paid. Read more here.
In a verdict in favor of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a jury has found that a licensed security guard with only one arm was unlawfully discriminated against based on his limb loss when his employer removed him from his post following a customer complaint about his disability. The EEOC's lawsuit charged Florida Commercial Security Services with disability discrimination when it allegedly removed Alberto Tarud-Saieh, who had who lost his right arm in a car accident, from his $8-an-hour security guard position after the president of the community association where he was stationed complained, "The company is a joke. You sent me a one-armed security guard." According to the EEOC, the company then removed Tarud-Saieh from his post and failed to reassign him to another post, effectively terminating his employment. Read more here.
OSHA has issued a fact sheet on providing guidance on protecting workers in non-healthcare/non-laboratory settings from exposure to Ebola virus, and from harmful levels of chemicals used for cleaning and disinfection. Read more here.
The California Chamber of Commerce has released a fact sheet on AB 1897 (Hernandez-D-West Covina) which is a new law that will impose liability on employers who contract for labor and services. The law creates new liability for employers who contract out for labor and services for the wage and hour violations or workers’ compensation violations of subcontractors. Read more here.
Wal-Mart Stores East Will Pay $72,500 for Alleged Failure to Accommodate Applicant with End-Stage Renal Disease
Wal-Mart Stores East, L.P., will pay $72,500 and provide equitable relief to settle a federal disability discrimination lawsuit, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC alleged in its lawsuit that an assistant store manager at the Walmart store in Cockeysville, Md., offered Laura Jones a job as an evening sales associate, contingent on Jones passing a urinalysis test for illegal drugs. After Jones advised that she could not produce urine because she has end-stage renal disease, the assistant store manager told her to ask the designated drug testing company about alternate tests. According to the complaint, Jones went to the drug testing facility the same day and learned that the facility could do other drug tests if the employer requested it. Jones relayed this information to the Walmart assistant store manager, but management refused to order an alternative drug test. Jones's application was closed for failing to take a urinalysis within 24 hours. Read more here.
California’s Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) has set the new exemption rates for 2015. Labor Code Section 515.5 provides that certain computer software employees are exempt from the overtime requirements found in Labor Code Section 510 if certain criteria are met. One of the criteria is that the employee's hourly rate of pay is not less than the statutorily specified rate, which the department is responsible for adjusting October 1st of each year to be effective on January 1st of the following year by an amount equal to the percentage increase in the California Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers. Effective January 1, 2015, the new rates are as follows: the computer software employee's minimum hourly rate of pay exemption has been increased from $40.38 to $41.27; the minimum monthly salary exemption has been increased from $7,010.88 to $7,165.12; and, the minimum annual salary exemption has been increased from $84,130.53 to $85,981.40. Read more here.
California based Braun Electric Company will pay $82,500 and furnish other relief to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Braun Electric provides industrial electrical services for the oil and gas industry throughout California's San Joaquin Valley. According to the EEOC's suit, a male manager at Braun's Belridge, California, location continually subjected female workers to a hostile work environment. The EEOC allegers that the manager made daily grotesque remarks of a sexual nature to female subordinates and made explicit sexual propositions on a continual basis since 2010. Braun's management allegedly failed to adequately address reports of harassment, and supervisors failed to report incidents of harassment they witnessed. One female employee was forced to quit as a result of the ongoing hostile work environment, according to the EEOC. Read more here.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will hold a live Twitter chat on Tuesday, Oct. 28, from 2:00 to 3:00 pm (EDT). In commemoration of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), the interactive online forum will focus on the federal government as a model employer of people with disabilities. EEOC Chair Jenny Yang and Commissioner Chai Feldblum will answer questions during the hour-long chat. Members of the public are encouraged to participate by submitting questions using the hashtag #EEOC4NDEAM. The EEOC invites queries regarding the hiring, promotion and retention of people with disabilities in the federal government and suggestions on how agencies can increase the number of people with disabilities in the federal workforce. Read more here.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a lawsuit against FedEx Ground Package System, Inc., (FedEx Ground) alleging that the company discriminated against a large class of deaf and hard-of-hearing package handlers and job applicants for years. According to the EEOC, FedEx Ground failed to provide needed accommodations such as American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation and closed-captioned training videos during the mandatory initial tour of the facilities and new-hire orientation for deaf and hard-of-hearing applicants. The company also allegedly failed to provide such accommodations during staff, performance, and safety meetings. Package handlers physically load and unload packages from delivery vehicles, place and reposition packages in FedEx Ground's conveyor systems, and scan, sort and route packages.
The California Court of Appeal, 4th District has held that an arbitration agreement did not provide for class arbitration because it did not demonstrate a clear intent to arbitrate such claims. The case involved Network Capital Funding Corporation (Network Capital) (the employer) who filed a declaratory relief action alleging its arbitration agreement with Erik Papke (the employee) required Papke to arbitrate his wage and hour claims on an individual basis rather than the classwide basis as he sought in his pending arbitration proceeding. Papke petitioned the trial court for an order compelling the employer to submit its claims to arbitration, arguing that the broad language in the parties’ arbitration agreement required the arbitrator, not the court, to decide whether the agreement authorized class arbitration. The trial court disagreed, holding it must decide the issue of class arbitration. The trial court then held the agreement did not allow class arbitration.
The principal of Beverly Hills High School -- the inspiration for “90210”—has filed a lawsuit against the school board alleging race discrimination. Carter Paysinger alleges that the all-white Beverly Hills School Board has targeted him because he's Black and that one member told him, "One of the problems that you have is that you don't look like what a principal of Beverly Hills High School should look like." According to Paysinger, another member once said, "It would be easier if he had lighter skin ... and he looks more intelligent when he wears glasses." Paysinger has worked for the district for 4 decades, as a longtime football coach who became principal in 2010. However, Paysinger was investigated by the L.A. County D.A. for wrongfully taking money from students who attended a summer sports camp. The camp was privately funded but was held on campus. Paysinger said he had been taking a fee for 15 years and everyone knew and no one complained. Ultimately the D.A. rejected the case. Paysinger alleges that Board has made a decision to rid the school of all minorities. Read more here.
Walmart has cut health benefits to part-time employees who work less than 30 hours per week. The employees will receive a “personal letter” explaining their options, including the possibility of a government plan, private health insurance, or coverage through a spouse’s plan, if available. All current part-time health care benefits will remain intact until the end of the year. According to a Walmart spokesperson, “In 2012, after passage of the Affordable Care Act, we required new associates work 30 hours or more per week to be become eligible for our health care plan….At that time, we continued offering coverage to previously eligible associates who worked fewer than 30 hours. But today, the health care landscape has changed, there’s a much wider selection of affordable quality health care options in the marketplace.” Read more here.
Kaiser Permanente, the largest managed care organization in the United States, will pay $75,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC alleged that a food service worker at Kaiser's San Diego facility suffers from hydrocephalus, a medical condition which causes difficulties with memory, dizziness and concentration. Upon hire, the worker requested additional training time and the assistance of a temporary job coach to effectively learn the job and perform the required job duties. A non-profit organization in San Diego specializing in assisting people with disabilities - Toward Maximum Independence (TMI) - was available to provide the temporary job coaching services free of charge to Kaiser. However, according to the EEOC, Kaiser terminated the worker rather than grant the reasonable accommodation request. Read more here.
HiLine Electric Co., a Dallas-based industrial supply business, will pay $210,000 and provide other relief to settle an age discrimination suit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). According to the EEOC's suit, an internal recruiter informed the agency that company executives provided her a form with a list of bulleted criteria/considerations for position candidates. This form included a printed text box, referred to as the "HiLine box," listing an age-based hiring consideration. Upon receipt of additional information regarding instructions for screening, the EEOC alleged that the criteria HiLine used resulted in the non-selection of applicants who were over 50 and who appeared to be qualified for the position. Eight applicants, who were over 50 years of age when they unsuccessfully sought employment as territory managers, were identified as having been affected by the company's practice. "Avoiding cookie-cutter workforces based on an age limit is something we hope all employers will guard against," said EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Suzanne Anderson. Read more here.