San Francisco Employment Law Blog

Email Monitoring in the Workplace


Technology is changing rapidly. Most people have appreciated the use of emails to communicate with their friends and relatives. Emails are commonly used to pass messages in the workplace. It is important that you ensure that your email is safe. You can even consider changing the password of your email from time to time. An employee should never assume that the email that are sent and received are kept in complete privacy from their employers.

Under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), it provides for implied authorization to review employees’ emails. It also states that a company should state their policy of monitoring e-mails in the company handbook. Since new technologies are coming up, employers now have the options to monitor their employees when they use their phones, computer terminals, emails, voicemails and even when the employee is using the internet. Unless the employee’s company policy states otherwise, an employer can readily listen, watch and even read most of the communications conducted by an employee during the course of their work day.

You will realize that recent surveys actually show that majority of employers monitor their employee’s activity in the workplace. Employer monitor the websites their employee’s visit in order to prevent inappropriate surfing. The survey further shown that 65% pf employers use software to block connections to websites deemed off limits to employees.

You will realize that E-mail is not normally considered private if the email system is used at a company that is owned by the employee. He or she can review its content from time to time. In this case, you should not expect a lot privacy when it comes to email communications. Emails that are actually sent within the company are subject to monitoring. In addition, emails that are sent from the employee’s terminal to another company are subject to monitoring. These emails include those from Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL and so forth.

If this email is deleted, it normally retained in the memory. You will realize that emails are often backed up along with other important data from the computer system. If the employer’s email system has an option for the employee to mark their email messages as private in most cases, this does not always protect the emails. As an employee, you should read the employee handbook so that you can understand your employer’s email policy. If this handbook does not address this issue of email monitoring, the employee should speak with their employer about their policy for the emails and privacy.

It is worth noting that there is email monitoring in the workplace. You should be very careful when sending emails to your colleagues at the workplace. Your employer might review the content of your email from time to time.

Collecting Unemployment Benefits in California

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In California, the office that handles unemployment benefits is known as the Employment Development Department.

Qualification for Unemployment in California

You should meet three qualification necessities to collect unemployment benefits in California:

1. Your past earnings must meet a minimum threshold

2. You should be unemployed through no mistake of your own, in accordance with California law.

3. You should be capable, available, and looking for work.

Unemployment Benefits

Before we talk about the benefits, it may be noted that you must register yourself for these benefits as soon as you have been laid off by a company. Many people do the mistake of not registering at the unemployment office in the hope of finding a new job soon. Although you may be confident about your abilities, it is a good idea to register yourself soon. What if it takes a while to get a job of your choice? You may not want to compromise on the work profile due to the urgency of a job requirement. To avoid such situations, it is important to seek unemployment benefits.
How To File For Your Unemployment benefits?
In filing unemployment benefits in California, you will be required to give personal and employment information like name, address, telephone number, e-mail address, name and address of previous employer, date of starting and leaving the job, and reason for resigning or being laid off from the job. After sometime of filing the claim, you will receive a letter specifying the benefits you will receive.  Unfortunately, if your claim gets rejected, you will receive a notice stating the reason of denial of unemployment benefits. Receiving a denial letter does not mean you cannot get the claim. In such a case, you should prepare for appeal to persuade the California to pay you the unemployment benefits. Here is a list of benefits that you can expect. It is important to note that you must register yourself of unemployment to be eligible for the benefits.

Temporary Compensation
Until you find a new job, you can expect temporary compensation from the California government. However, you must qualify for this kind of compensation. The value and duration of the unemployment benefit would depend on the California.

The California unemployment law has its own unemployment benefits program. There are some eligibility criteria that you must qualify to avail the benefits. The unemployment benefits are given only if you meet the qualifying criteria.


California Overtime Exemptions

overtime exemptions


As per the California Law, in case of ” non exempt employees”, the employer has certain responsibilities like paying for overtime and meal expenses. In case of ” exempt” employees, there are no such rules. In order to claim exemption, it is up to the employer to prove that the employee is exempt. Here are some of the most common exemptions under the California Law:

  1. Managerial Exemption: In order to claim Managerial Exemption, the employee must meet the following points:

    i) The employee must have managerial responsibilities in one of the department or sub division of the enterprises.
    ii) The employee must be in charge of supervision of at least two employees.
    iii) Employee has the authority to hire a person or fire a person.
    iv) Employee frequently takes important decisions while performing his or her duties.
    v) The monthly salary of the employee should be at least 2 times more than the minimum wage of the state.

    2. Administrative Exemption:

    In order to claim this exemption, the employee must meet the following requirements:

    i) Employee spends majority of the time in work which is related to the normal business operations.
    ii) Employee always works under the supervision of a manager.
    iii) The monthly salary of the employee should be at least 2 times more than the minimum wage of the state.

    Computer Professional Exemption:

    In order to qualify for this exemption, the following guidelines has to be met:

    i). The employee must spend majority of the time in any one of the following works:
    a) Interacting with the users in order to improve the existing hardware and software systems.
    b) Involved in the design, development and testing of the various computer programs.
    ii) The employee must be extremely skilled and well aware about the different computer systems and their application.
    iii) The hourly wage of the employee must be above the minimum limit.

    4. Inside sales employee: In order to claim exemption under this head, the following guidelines must be met:

    i) The wage of the employee must be more than 1.5 times the minimum wage limit of California.
    ii) Majority of the compensation of the employee must be in the form of commissions.

  2. Outside sales employee: In this case, these are the following guidelines which must be met:

    i) Must be at least 18 years of age.
    ii) The employee must spend majority of the time working in locations outside the place of the business.
    iii) Must be involved in selling only tangible items.

California Law on Jury Duty Leave

jury duty leave

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The Labor Code section 230 governs the California law on paid jury duty leave. The law makes it clear that employers should accord employees the freedom and time to attend jury duty. In doing so, the employers should desist from subjecting the employees to discrimination, intimidation or disciplinary action. Employees furnished with summon papers by a court to act as witnesses ought to inform their employers beforehand about their intention to undertake jury duty. Employers should verify the employees have the mandate to attend jury duty by soliciting for the necessary documentation.

How jury duty leave is paid

The issue that persists in the minds of employees is whether they will receive salary while on jury service. Well, this issue is multidimensional and dictated by a number of factors.

The organization’s policy

An organization may have a policy in place that ensures employees are paid for duty service. If such a policy does not exist, an employee does not receive any pay since an employer is not obliged to do so.

States’ laws and policies

Some states have a provision that guarantees payment of employees while on jury duty leave. Paid jury duty leave differs from one state to another. For instance, in states such as Alabama, District of Columbia, Colorado and Tennessee, employees receive paid jury duty leave though it has some variations. Full time employees in Alabama receive their regular pay even when on jury service. On the other hand, full time employees in District of Columbia receive their normal salary for the initial five days of jury duty.

Nonexempt employees

An employer’s nonexempt, hourly employees are not entitled to payment in the course of jury duty. No payment is extended during the entire period that they do not work. They are only paid if they make use of their accrued paid time off. However, a union agreement or a contract may compel an employer to pay a nonexempt employee while on jury duty.

Exempt employees

An employer has an obligation to pay exempt employees for all the days they implement their assigned duties. However, there are situations when an employer can withhold payment for an exempt employee. Such situations can arise if jury duty interferes with an employee’s capacity to undertake work related tasks for an entire week.

In conclusion, it is crucial for employers to formulate jury duty leave policies that aim at fairness of all employees. This is because employees are citizens thus have a responsibility to participate in the legal process whenever required to do so. As for employees who are not sufficiently conversant with jury duty policies, seeking the counsel of California labor lawyers helps in deeply understanding the matter.

Disability Discrimination: What to Do


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With the upcoming pressure on the mentally impaired and physically disabled, the law enforcing bodies firmly established some laws to protect the rights of the disabled in terms of equal employment opportunities. Federal Laws like the ADA, FMLA, Rehab Act, and California state employee rights, in some way or the other, offer protection of the rights of workers with disabilities.

Impaired or not, every individual deserves equal rights to compete for a job or continue his or her position in the organization. But what happens if you’ve been treated unfairly, or have been wrongfully terminated? Here is what you should do:

  1. Inform Employer of Breach of Right

Even though the ADA was established in 1990, there are a surprising number of disability discrimination cases being taken up in court. The reason? Your employer may simply not be aware of the accommodation that you are entitled to. Don’t be too hasty about taking any legal actions just yet. Take some time out to provide your employer with detailed information so that he or she is given a chance to remedy their actions.

  1. Assert Your Rights

Once you’ve done your part informing the employer, your next step should be to recommend ways that you would receive “reasonable accommodation”. For instance, let’s say you’ve been turned down for promotion because it requires long hours of driving; and your disability doesn’t allow you such a liberty. Therefore, one suggestion could be to install some equipment that could facilitate your driving ability; this is your disability right. Since you are able to perform the job to the full capacity, fair consideration should be given to you for the position.

  1. File Formal Complaint; Internally

When the above steps fail, it’s time to make a formal complaint to the upper managers. The reason why this is significant is because, if you decide to take matter to the court, you will have formal documentation that proves:

  1. The entire management was aware of the issue and discrimination; it is documented
  2. The company was provided with the chance to make amends

iii. You have had your rights violated

  1. Obtain a Right-To-Sue Letter

Before you file an official lawsuit, you must get a right-to-sue letter from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Once you file your charge of discrimination, stating the details of the violation, your case will be processed. It is important to note that if you forego this step and file a lawsuit, the judge will immediately discard your case.

  1. Hire a Disability Lawyer to File Your Lawsuit

On obtaining your letter to sue, it’s time to get in touch with an experienced firm of lawyers who have the expertise and resources to fight for your disability rights. Once you have the best source in hand, the rest of the paperwork will be handled by them!

California Law on Prevailing Wages

prevailing wages

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Prevailing wage is a base reimbursement rate for all construction workers. All workers in the public construction sector are paid equality to avoid cases where an employer can offer more wages to attract more bids. The prevailing wage models ensure workers receive equal benefits if they work in a job which has the same responsibilities. The equal pay includes fringe benefits as well as day wages. It is a law put in place to foster equality in workplace.

Who can and cannot get prevailing wages?

All construction workers in California are subject to prevailing wages. The workers include those who do unskilled jobs in the construction industry. Professionals such as architects, clerical staff and security guards are not subject to the prevailing wage models. If the professionals get involved in helping those who work in the construction project, they can as well access the benefits under prevailing wage structure.

Method for deciding the prevailing wage rate in California

According to laws in California, the prevailing wage is based on the basic hourly rate. It is compensated on the public works to majority of employees who are involved in meticulous craft and are categorized in a given adjacent job market. If employees work in a given area, the prevailing age declares what they can be paid by different employees in the area as a way of achieving fairness in their workplace.

Effect of the prevailing wage

The law ensures the ability to access more workers to your project is not based on the ability to pay more than your employee or lower. The law dictates that not less than the universal rate for each Diem can be paid to the employees. It fosters fairness in the public work schemes.

Common prevailing wage determination

The Director of Department of Industrial Relations offers the guidelines on the prevailing wage. He offers the categorization twice each year. You will have the categorization of the prevailing wages on 22nd February as well as in 22nd August.

Wage claims arbitration 

The task of arbitration is carried out by the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. Employees can file claims via their lawyer after which the division can arbitrate. The (DLSE) conduct informal meetings between the employer and the employees after which they resolve the conflict.

Ways to file a wage claim

There are several ways you can file for wage claim. They include the following:

  1. Unpaid pay, which include commissions, bonuses and overtime.
  2. Wages compensation through checks, issued without sufficient funds.
  3. Final wages which is not acknowledged
  4. Unexploited vacation hours which as not exploited upon extinction of the service such as relinquish, discharge or layoff.
  5. Deductions from paychecks which is unofficial.
  6. Unpaid business costs.
  7. Split shift payments or reporting time wages among others

How Labor Unions Work

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Any association proposed to stand for the interests of workforce in negotiations with a company over working conditions, wages and time limit. Labor unions are many times industry-specific and to be further familiar in construction, manufacturing, transpiration, mining and the non-private sector.

Employers and laborers seem to perceive employment on a vastly different approach. Subsequently how can both sides arrive at any type of agreement? The response lies in unions. They have cast a part in the worker-employer exchange of ideas for centuries, however in the former few decades several aspects of the business atmosphere have been altered. Keeping this in mind, it’s necessary to recognize how unions play roles into the modern business environment, along with what part unions occupy in the present economy.

The influence of labor unions lies in their two core tools of influence: limiting labor supply as well as escalating labor demand. Through combined bargaining, they also bargain with the employers about the paid wages. Laborers Unions requests for a privileged wage; however this can lower the hours demanded by employers. Given that an elevated wage rate equals to less labor activity per dollar, they mostly face problems while negotiating superior wages and will often concentrates on increasing the labor demand in its place. They can utilize several different techniques to raise labor demand:

  • Demand for minimum wage boost. Minimum wage raises the labor expenditure for employers by exploitation of low-skilled workers. This lowers the gap among the wage rate of low-skilled laborers and high-skilled ones. However, high skilled are taken by the union often.
  • Raise the marginal productivity of low skilled and unskilled labors which can be attained through training.
  • Lobbying for firm immigration regulations limit the raise in labor supply, mainly of workers from overseas. A restraint in the supply of low-skilled laborers, what is diversity labor, rises up their wages.

Unions boast an exclusive legal spot and sometimes they function like a monopoly since they are resistant to antitrust laws. Since unions manage, or can wield a superior influence on, the supply of labor of a specific industry or company, they can force non-union laborers from decreasing the wage rate. They are capable of this as legal guidelines grant a certain height of protection to activities performed by union.

The expression “bargaining” might be deceptive, since it is perceived as people haggling at a marketplace. However, the objective of bargaining collectively is to perk up the worker’s status while still maintaining the employer’s business. The bargaining affiliation is continuous, not just an affair.

If unable to negotiate, or not content with the collective bargaining results, they might initiate a strike or work halt.

Unions have without a doubt left mark on the economy, plus maintain to be major forces that shape the commerce and political setting. They are currently in a variety of industries, including manufacturing to the government, and also assist skilled and unskilled labors in attaining improved wages and working environment.

What to Know About Credit Reports

credit report

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A credit report contains your detailed information about your credit history as submitted to the credit reporting agency by the lenders who may have extended credit to you. Your credit report describes the types of credit you use, the amount of time your accounts have been in operation, and whether you have paid your bills on time. Moreover, a credit report includes information on your area of residence, whether you’ve been arrested or sued or have filed for bankruptcy.

It is crucial to note that your respective credit information helps lenders determine the amount of credit you have utilized and whether you are seeking for currently new credit sources.

The significance of a credit score from a credit report.

Did you know that your credit report reveals some aspects of your borrowing activities? This implies that every piece of data should be considered in relationship to the related information texts. The ability to promptly, consistently and fairly review all the data is perhaps what makes credit accumulation so essential.

The Credit Report Agencies.

You should note that there are three bureaus, which maintain credit reports, including Equifax, Experian, and the TransUnion. The lenders submit the available updates regarding the credit profile of yours, to any of these credit reporting agencies. Bearing in mind that banks and the other lenders necessarily don’t report your credit information to all these three bodies, your credit information might vary. Additionally, lenders often submit your information at different times, and this implies that your credit report may contain varied data, same to your credit scores.

Can a credit report have any other data unrelated to credit?

The answer to this particular question is yes. This is because, the credit report of every individual also acts as a storage for some personal information, including your previous and current addresses, public records, names, and employers.

What is the relevance of my credit report?

When you make an application for credit, whether a car loan or a mortgage, the lenders must have a way to prove that you are either a safe bet or not. This is where this particular information becomes useful. Your credit also includes a detailed record of the financial solidity of yours.

For how long can a negative information remain on my credit data?

It is crucial to note that the negative information typically stays on your history for seven years, and it even takes up to ten years for it to be eliminated, especially if you’ve been through bankruptcy. On the other hand, the positive or valid information usually stays on your history for an average of ten years from the time its respective account is deactivated. This rule also applies to accounts such as car and mortgage loans, which have a fixed repayment duration. For revolving accounts, including credit cards, your valid or positive information will remain on your history until the account stops operating or is closed.

Where can I report some of the information that is negative on my credit report?

It is critical to note that you have the freedom and the right to include a report to your credit information which explains why, for instance, if a few issues of late payment are appearing on your history. This statement can then be given to anyone who may need your report. Life is complicated and unpredictable, and maybe who knows? This particular statement may persuade an otherwise unwilling lender to offer you an opportunity.

Other than potential lenders and the credit agencies, who else can access my credit report?

Well, if you didn’t know, the Federal Credit Fair Reporting Act prevents individuals having information regarding your credit information from misusing it, and additionally, the law dictates the manner in which your credit history is handled. Below is a comprehensive list of firms that can lawfully have access to the credit data of yours under certain circumstances.

• Employer
• Collection companies
• Utility companies
• Auto insurance companies
• Judgment creditors
• Government agencies
• Landlords
• Mortgage lenders
Finally, unless in the case of court-ordered credit pulls and checks carried out for purposes of marketing, no any other individual is allowed to access your credit information without your confirmation or authorization. Your credit information is very important. It can either positively or negatively affect your future financial activities in a number of ways. The article has explained to you in excruciating detail, the credit report basics you should know.

Employee Computer Rights


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California state laws try as much as possible to safeguard the privacy of an employee. You are protected against access to your personal information by an employer. An employer cannot force you to avail crucial information about your health status and personal information which you will not like other people to know about. But, when it comes to workplace computers, your privacy as an employee is limited. The emails and other types of information stored or send via workplace computers are assumed to be the property of your employer. The organization can easily monitor private information you receive over the place of work computers.

Monitoring Employee Computer Activity

The law in California assumes the employee is acting in good will by monitoring your workplace computer. Remember, you can steal work place information and share with other people who will misuse it. The law allows your employee to keep watch of information which you are sending over workplace computers so that he will know whether you are sending out information which can sabotage the operation of your work place computer. The law is very complex; hence you need assistance from a lawyer if you feel like your rights have been infringed. The employer can as well monitor the information you send over the internet on your workplace to know whether you are doing the work you were employed to do or you are wasting the resources of the company in your personal communication.

Using Your Computer at Work Employee Rights

Different companies have policies regarding office computer use. You are not supposed to use your office computer for personal needs. The employer can monitor the activities on your work computer and even initiate disciplinary actions if you will be discovered to be misusing your work time and computer resources on personal needs.

Email and Privacy

The work computer is the property of your employer, if you send or receive emails via the office computer, then you are risking your privacy because the company can easily read them. Most companies keep on monitoring the email send via the office computers to know whether the employee is working or just conspiring with competitors to bring down the business. Try to limit your use of office computer if you will like to stay safe from personal information infringement.

Internet Usage at Work

Employee internet usage at work is subject to scrutiny. Your employer will like to know what you are doing with work place resources. He can track websites you visited and restrict some sites such as social sites for you to concentrate on doing what you were employed to do in his premises.

Your Medical Privacy

medical privacy

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Studies have revealed that the lack of proper encryption, inadequate funding, and shortage of staff has degraded the system of comprehensive data protection. Most health care organizations are not sure of the exact location of patient data. Under such circumstances, it becomes imperative to learn about the medical privacy covered under laws and policies regarding medical privacy in California.

Laws and policies regarding medical privacy in California

1. Controlling Medical Information

The ability to control your medical information falls within the range of some control and no control. There are situations where you have the opportunity to object or give consent, and others where your consent is not required. Few cases may require your authorization. According to laws and policies regarding medical privacy in California, there is a clear distinction between authorization and consent. Authorization should be given out in a separate document specifying disclosure details.

2. When flow of medical information is beyond control

Such information is required by local, state or public health regulatory authorities. When a person is exposed to a communicable disease or the subject of a food and drug administration issue, there is no need for consent. Consent for accessing medical information is not required when the employer requires the information for conducting medical surveillance in the workplace or evaluating work-related injury or illness.

3. When your medical information may be used without consent

Consent for using your medical information is not required when it is used for treatment, health care operations or payment. Your consent is not necessary when the information is utilized by a business associate of your health care plan. Services provided by business associates may include financial, accounting, administrative, accreditation, management, consulting, data aggregation, actuarial and legal.

4. How to know the number of people that have accessed the medical information

Laws and policies regarding medical privacy in California strives to limit the number of areas in which people can access your medical information. However, there is no realistic way to ascertain the number of people that may have accessed your medical information. For example, when you are admitted to a hospital, hundreds of hospital employees have access to your medical information.

5. When is authorization required?

Laws and policies regarding medical privacy in California requires your specific authorization if the disclosure is required for psychotherapy or for marketing. An individual’s psychotherapy notes are protected, subject to exceptions such as defending a health plan or a doctor or undergoing staff training.



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