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California small business attorneyMost companies do everything in their power to abide by the rules. Sadly, there is a select few that refuse to comply with local, state, or federal regulations. They cut corners to save time and money. They fail to provide a safe work environment or refuse to go the extra mile to ensure their products or services are safe for consumption. All these situations put others at risk, which is why the state of California encourages internal reporting from employees - an act also known as “whistleblowing.” Learn more about how the state encourages this activity and why it could matter to your business.

What is a Whistleblower?

“Whistleblowers” are employees that have reported local, state, or federal violations, or hazards that pertain to public or employee health and safety. Some may unknowingly participate in a wrongful act and then report it. Others may recognize the violation and refuse to participate in an action that they feel violates health and safety standards or local, state, or federal laws. In either case, they are protected by the state under the California Labor Code.  

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Fremont business law attorneysHiring employees is a complex process, and it can be full of missteps and legal obstacles. Knowing how to avoid them and mitigate against them can be crucial to the future of your company. Learn more about the most common mistakes that California business owners make, and what you can do to avoid business litigation, with help from the following information.

Placing Job Ads with Discriminatory Language

Federal and state laws prohibit discriminatory language in the job postings of California employers. That includes posting a job ad that discriminates against someone because of their gender, religion, medical condition, disability, mental illness, sexual orientation, age, national origin, marital status, ancestry, or perceived sexual orientation. Examples of such language would include “youthful female,” “strong male,” “female,” or “faith-based employee.”

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Fremont business law attorneyOvertime pay, or pay that extends above and beyond an employee’s regular pay, is typically required when an employee meets certain criteria. Employers who fail to comply with the law can face legal consequences, including the requirement to pay damages for an employee’s lost wages. In the end, this could cost far more than it would have to pay the overtime in the first place. Avoid this common cause for litigation with help from the following information.

California’s Overtime Pay Law

As an employer, you have the right to require overtime work from your employees. However, you must be willing to pay them the appropriate amount. In California, this means paying employees one and one-half times their regular wage for any workday that exceeds eight hours and amounts up to 12 hours. This same amount is also paid for the first eight hours of an employee’s seventh consecutive day worked.

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Fremont business litigation lawyersMany retail businesses run sales, and for good reason. They entice new customers to come in and check the store out and encourage loyal patrons to come in and buy more. Yet there are some rules about retail sales in California. Four major retailers are being accused of breaking these rules and, depending on the outcome of their case, they could serve as an example to other companies that fail to comply with state law.

Four Retailers Facing Possible Litigation

According to CNN Money, there are four retailers facing possible litigation with the city of Los Angeles. They are being accused of misleading their customers on the difference between sale price and market price of their products. In other words, customers are allegedly getting less of a bargain than they had thought.

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Fremont business law attorneyFew small business owners are raking in the cash. In fact, many have only a month or so of reserve in place, should an emergency closure happen. It is this lack of financial security that can place small businesses at serious financial risk during a lawsuit. California state recognizes that risk and has taken proactive steps to protect small business owners from lawsuits under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Learn more about this protection, and why it is important, with help from the following.

Understanding the Americans with Disabilities Act

The ADA was put in place to protect those with disabilities. It explicitly prohibits the discrimination against any individual with disabilities in the workplace, public accommodation, government activities, transportation, and communication. All this essentially means that employers, businesses, transportation providers, and even government agencies must accommodate disabled persons according to the law.

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California business law attorneyAlthough federal law does not require that employers give their employees rest breaks, state law does. As such, employers within the state of California must comply. More than that, employers must understand that there are no exceptions. A recent California Supreme Court ruling confirms this. The following information explains the California’s rest break law, ensuring you have the information you need to protect your business and avoid litigation.

Minimum Work Hours for Rest Breaks

As outlined by the Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Order, employers must offer all employees a rest period that is within the middle of any work period that amounts to three and one-half hours or more. So, for example, any employee that works a four hours shift should take their rest break two hours into their shift - or at least as close to that time as practical. For example, an employer may stagger the rest periods of employees who started work at the same time to avoid a workflow interruption. Any employee that works less than three and one-half hours is not entitled to a rest break under the California state law’s guidelines.

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Fremont business law attorneyAnother year has nearly ended, and a new one will soon begin. With that welcoming of the new year, business owners will need to make some changes to ensure they are compliant with the business law changes for 2017. Is your company ready? Find out with help from the following overview of the upcoming changes to come, and learn where you can get assistance with any last minute preparations.

Minimum Wage Increase in California

Over the next several years, the minimum wage in California will increase to $15 an hour. January 1, 2017 marks the date of the increase. As a result, employers with 26 or more employees will be obligated to pay no less than $10.50 an hour in the coming year. Small businesses with 25 or fewer employees are being given until 2018 to adhere to the increase, but they should begin planning now to ensure they are able to transition with less difficulty.

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California business law attorneyNo matter how hard you work to hire quality employees, there will likely come a time that you must terminate one. It could be a matter of performance. It could be a matter of attendance. Or it could be related to theft or breach of contract. Whatever the situation, it is critical that you, as an employer, know how to protect yourself from wrongful termination lawsuits and discrimination lawsuits. The following information explains further and provides you with some key tips on legally terminating an employee in the state of California.

Understanding Employment at Will

Like most states, California lets business owners employ “at will.” This means that you can terminate an employee for almost any reason, or even no reason at all, as long as employment contracts and other documentation do not contradict your right to employ at will. (If you have questions about this, you should contact an experienced business attorney for sound legal advice.)

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Fremont business law attorneyEarlier this month, California Governor Jerry Brown signed the California Secure Choice Retirement Plan into law. With that single act, more than 7.5 million workers in the state were given the right to receive access to a retirement savings plan through their employer. What will all this mean for your small business come next year? The following explains.

Why the Law Was Enacted

Statistics from the National Institute on Retirement Security estimate that some 45 percent of private-sector employees do not have access to a retirement account. They do have the option to create their own individualized plan, yet most do not. In fact, AARP estimates that just five percent of all workers who do not have direct access to an employer-based retirement account actually contribute to an individual plan. Considering the current strain on social security, and the lack of saving for most Americans, the numbers are concerning to legislators across the entire country. California took action by signing the Secure Choice Retirement Plan into law. Now other states are considering it as well.

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Fremont CA business law attorneyCalifornia has one of the most progressive Family Leave programs in the nation. It allows workers time off, job holds, and even a provision that provides them with a partial income while caring for a newborn or ill family member. However, legislation feels there is still a gap in the system; as of right now, employees who work at businesses with fewer than 50 employees do not have access to the program. A new bill seeks to change this. If you are a small business owner, learn how your business may be affected, and how you can avoid possible litigation over compliance issues.

California’s Family Leave Act

There are, essentially, two important portions of the Family Leave Act. The first is that an employer must allow employees the right to take up to six weeks of time off to care for an ill family member, or to bond with a newborn, without fear of losing their job. A temporary employee may cover the absent employee’s duties, but the job (or a similar job with the same pay and benefits) must still be available when the employee returns to work. Failure to comply can result in litigation against the company.

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Fremont CA business law attorneysSmall business owners often struggle to keep good, quality employees because they are sometimes unable to offer the same sorts of incentive as bigger corporations. This may lead them to try and accommodate by being more flexible. Unfortunately, that flexibility can, in some cases, leave them open to litigation. Find out if your small business is at risk by examining these commonly broken employment laws.

Flexible Lunch Breaks and Hours

Although employers are not obligated to give their employees a lunch break under federal law, California state labor laws require that employers give non-exempt employees a minimum of one 30-minute lunch break. This must be given no later than at the end of their fifth hour worked. Failure to do so – either to give them the flexibility to leave earlier in the day, or simply to accommodate for a rush – can lead to litigation.

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Fremont business lawyerFor years, the state of California has been ridiculed for its continuous opening and closing of new businesses and supposed “inhospitable” climate for new businesses. Even Chief Executive called it a troubled state, where the regulations are so strict that most are incapable of affording the cost of doing business. But a new study tells an entirely different story – one that should encourage aspiring business owners to move forward with their business formation plans.

California a Leader in New Business Formation and Job Creation

In a study that examined more than three decades’ worth of census business-formation data, California was found to have one of the fastest rates for business formation in the nation. Furthermore, California’s stance as a leader for job creation is intricately linked to its high rate of new business formation, with only four other states creating new jobs from new businesses faster than California. But probably the most convincing evidence for those hoping to form a new business in California is the overall analysis of its business climate, which factors much more than the closing and relocation of new and established businesses.

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Fremont business law attorney, forced tip sharingWith the recent increases to minimum wage and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, companies in the service industry (restaurants, bars, casinos, etc.) are struggling to keep up. Some have opted for creative solutions, like surcharges or increased prices, but others have tried to level the playing field between front-of-house workers and back-of-house employees through tip-sharing. Unfortunately, the latter simply will not fly, according to a recent appeals court ruling.

Forced Tip-Sharing Controversy

Tip-sharing has received quite a bit of attention over the last few years, partly because tip-earning employees have been subjected to some highly unethical practices by their employers. For example, casino executives sometimes took a percentage of the tips of dealers and then used them to offset the cost of paying their management staff. But then the U.S. Labor Department put a regulation in place—one that prohibited such practices. Since then, service companies have been a little confused as to just how, and when, this law applies.

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Fremont business law attorney, gender gap in payEqual wages for women have been at the forefront of political conversations for some time now, and for good reason. Although wage differences among men and women are prohibited on both state and federal levels, women still make less than men—even in jobs with the exact same title or similar duties.

A new law, recently passed in California, is aimed at closing the gaps by clarifying existing laws while also giving women more power when it comes to challenging employers on what they feel to be unfair wages. As a business owner, it is important to understand this new law and what it could mean for your company.

Same Duties, Not the Same Title

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