BYOD Policies and Business’s Proprietary Information

Trends predict that by 2017, half of all employers are expected to require their employees to supply their own devices for work.  While a well-implemented and maintained bring-your-own-device (BYOD) workplace has its benefits (such as driving innovation, reducing, or completely eliminating, the expense of constantly replacing outdated devices, and potential wage and hours claims for ‘overtime’ hours worked), there are definite security and legal risks that every Orange County business should explore.

As we head into a BYOD era, security should be a primary concern for employers.  Many companies invest heavily in the development of their trade secrets and other intellectual property and rely on their IP portfolio to give them a competitive advantage over other businesses.  In general, California law affords protection to those trade secrets (learn more here), but certain steps must be taken in order to obtain a legal shield. For example, your company must demonstrate that the trade secret is in fact “secret.”  An Orange County intellectual property lawyer can help walk you through this process.

Exceptions for Non-Compete Clauses in California

When an employee leaves a company, the employer often wants to try to ensure that the employee does not offer his or her services to competing or similar businesses. The most common (preemptive) step an employer will try to take is to include a non-compete clause in an employee’s contract, or attempt to have an employee to sign such an agreement in exchange for a severance package. However, some states have attempted to limit the reach or effectiveness of non-complete causes as a matter of public policy.

While many states will allow reasonable non-compete clauses in employment contracts, California expressly forbids them, save for a few limited circumstances. California Business and Professions Code section 16600 states in part that, “[E]very contract by which anyone is restrained from engaging in a lawful profession, trade, or business of any kind is to that extent void.”

Does FMLA Leave Apply to A Certain Business?

FMLA, or the Family Medical Leave Act, was created with the intention of balancing the needs of California employers with the needs of their employees when the employees had to take extended medical leaves for serious medical conditions or to care for family members. FMLA applies to any employer in the private sector who engages in commerce or in an industry or activity affecting commerce, and who has 50 or more employees each working day during at least 20 calendar weeks in the current or preceding year. While many employees assume FMLA leave is paid time-off, the law does not require it. However, whether an employee receives paid FMLA leave should be clearly explained in the employee’s work agreement.

An employee is eligible for FMLA leave if he or she:

Examples of Unlawful Dismissal in the Workplace

Have you been treated unfairly at work because of your age? Sex? Race? Both federal and California law clearly prohibit your employer from discriminating against you (such as by dismissing you or demoting you) for a number of reasons, including your race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and age. California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) goes even further and makes it against the law for your employer to dismiss/discharge you based on your:

Are CA Employers Required to Give Holidays Off?

With the holidays quickly approaching, many California employees may be wondering if their employers have to pay them for the time they are given off of work. Not surprisingly, the answer is: it depends.

Like many other states, California employers are not required to pay their workers holiday pay when they close for business on official holidays. And working on a holiday does not guarantee overtime or additional compensation, though some employer’s do have a policy to pay extra rates such as time-and-a-half. If an employee does work on a holiday, California law only requires that an employer pay an employee their usual rate of pay. The law does not require that an employer pay you any additional pay if you work on the day of a holiday unless it is part of their common practice or if you have worked in excess of a 40 hour, 8 hour per day work week. What’s more, Saturdays and Sunday are paid at the same rate as hours worked during a weekday.

Does your employer have to give you a holiday off?

How Should An Employer Respond to An Employee’s Request for Disability Accommodation

How is an Orange County employer supposed to respond to an employee’s disclosure of a disability? Under the Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”), your employer has a duty to make a reasonable adjustment for the employee’s disability – an adjustment or modification that allows the employee to do the job.  For purposes of the ADA, a disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, which can include basic tasks (walking, reading, bending, and communicating) and major bodily functions (functions of the immune system, digestion, bladder, brain, respiratory, endocrine, and reproductive systems, to name a few). Almost 20% of the workforce includes employees with disabilities.

While under the ADA, an employer does not have to provide a reasonable accommodation for the employee if doing so would create an undue hardship, it is best to discuss your situation with an experienced Orange County employer lawyer if your request for an accommodation has been denied by your employer.

Religious Discrimination During the Holidays

With the holidays around the corner, many California employees will be asking for time off to celebrate with loved ones, dressing in the holiday spirit, and generally just enjoying the holiday season. What happens if your employer discriminates against you because you are celebrating a holiday he or she doesn’t believe in? You may have a potential workplace discrimination claim.

What’s more, California employees are protected if their employer discriminates against them because they think that employee is a certain religion, when you are not. For example, it’s against the law for your employers to discriminate against you for wearing a headscarf because they think you are a Muslim, even if you are not actually Muslim.

Religious discrimination in the workplace

Religious Discrimination in the Workplace

Religious discrimination in the workplace involves treating a person (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of his or her religious beliefs and/or treating someone differently because that person is married to (or associated with) an individual of a particular religion or because of his or her connection with a religious organization or group. California and federal law protects anyone who has sincerely held religious, ethical or moral beliefs. Additionally, the law forbids discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, and fringe benefits.

Most employers are aware that they cannot discriminate against employees and applicants based on their religion. Where many employers are not so clear is their requirement to provide a reasonable accommodation to an employee’s or applicant’s “sincerely held” religious beliefs, unless doing so would cause more than a minimal burden on the business’s operations. Common religious accommodations in the workplace include flexible scheduling, voluntary shift substitutions or swaps, job reassignments, and modifications to workplace policies or practices.

Non-Competes in California

Generally speaking, employee non-compete agreements are unenforceable in California. But there are several exceptions to this rule; including the seller of a business’s goodwill or a membership interest in an LLC, and where the non-compete is necessary to protect an employer’s trade secret information. In our digital age, it is all too important for a…