Most employers are not fully aware that even one seemingly innocent, yet totally careless mistake can become a valid reason for an employee to file for a complaint. Even simply trying to be nice to an employee or trying to save company resources could already land an employer in court for labor law violations.
Below are the 10 mistakes that employers often commit that eventually lead them to litigations, according to a recent report released by the California Chamber of Commerce:
• Under state and federal laws, classifying all staff as exempt is a violation of labor law. Only certain positions can be exempt from overtime laws, which include meal and rest break. Although putting the entire staff on salary is a lot easier, labor laws will definitely not permit the same for all types of job position.
• Providing staff with a flexible time schedule, such as allowing employees to work through meal and rest breaks, so they can leave earlier. It is actually considered illegal. Non-exempt employee should be required to take at least a 30-minute meal break and 10 minute rest break for every four hours of work.
• Classifying all personnel as “independent contractors” is likewise illegal under state and federal laws since independent contractors lack worker’s compensation, unemployment insurance, state liability insurance or paid family leave benefits. Furthermore, independent contractors do not pay taxes.
• Not providing training for supervisors and managers on how to handle employment discrimination and workplace harassment complaints.
• Authorizing workers to decide their own daily working schedules. Most employees are limited by law as to how many hours they can work without being paid over time wages unless workers are classified differently.
• Terminating an employee after taking a leave of absence. According to the California Chamber of Commerce’s recent report, while employees are on leave for various reasons, they have lawful protection.
• Not giving workers their last pay check for the reason that the employee didn’t return company’s property. Under the California state law, employers who failed to give an employee’s final check within a given deadline could be penalized.
• Offering an employee with loan, payment of which will be deducted from paychecks. The only salary deductions allowed by the California Labor Code are health insurance and benefits.
• Utilizing non-compete agreements in protecting confidential information. Although non-compete agreements are prohibited in California, there are few exceptions. In some instances, like in customer lists and pricing information, legal options for protecting trade secrets are available.
• Implementing a “use it or lose it” policy regarding vacation leave to avoid paying lump sum at termination. Such policy is not allowed in the State of California.
Employers must be aware that there are several number of labor laws that protect employees against unfair employment practices and violation of labor laws. Therefore, employers are at a higher risk of being subjected to employment complaints and allegations. A skilled Los Angeles employment lawyer can also represent an employer in such mistakes.