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Posted by on in Employment Law


The laws and regulations that address marijuana use are rapidly changing. But despite these changes, an employee may be jeopardizing his or her career if he or she is subject to drug testing at his or her worksite. This article explains employees’ and employers’ rights with regards to employee use of marijuana during and outside of working hours.

Federal Laws Regulating Employee Marijuana Use

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Posted by on in Employment Law

b2ap3_thumbnail_family-leave-themlnariklaw.jpgThe birth of a child can be an exciting time for new parents, but it can also be unpredictable. This new responsibility coupled with unexpected emergencies may require new parents to take time off work. Many people in the workforce may mistakenly believe that they are putting their careers in jeopardy if they take time off for family emergencies or to care for a newborn. However, California offers special protections for employees who qualify for family and medical leave.

The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) is partially based on the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), with some provisions that overlap and some provisions that provide employees with rights beyond those provided by FMLA. At their core, both acts allow parents to bond with their new child, or children, after birth without risking termination by their employer.

Who Qualifies?

For both the FMLA and the CFRA, medical leave laws cover private employers with 50 or more employees on the payroll. These employees must have worked for 20 or more calendar weeks in the current calendar year or the preceding calendar year.

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On January 27, 2017, the President signed an Executive Order titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.” This Order affects refugees and, more to the point of this article, skilled workers holding H1B visas. We will explore what impact this Order has on skilled workers, and H1B visa reforms the President intends to carry out in the near future.

I)                    I) H1B Visas

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b2ap3_thumbnail_woker-injuries.jpgInjuries at the office are common in certain industries. When the company has dangerous materials, substances, equipment or tools, employees may be harmed with greater frequency than those in office or cubicle locations. However, accidents do occur in an office setting as well that could lead to extensive damage requiring a trip to an emergency room. When this occurs, it is vital to understand what is available through workers’ compensation benefits and what is not covered.

If these packages are not purchased by the company, it is essential to know what has been put in place of this type of insurance coverage so medical treatment may be repaid.

Workers’ Compensation Explained

Packages purchased by the owner of the company or through management to provide a monetary or health insurance for illness due to accidents and issues arising at work are considered workers’ compensation programs. These plans are in place to ensure that the employee is not capable of suing management or other parts of the company for standard and severe injury. While there are certain stipulations that may allow litigious actions, most suits are avoided through these packages. Many areas are covered to ensure the laborer is taken care of as much as possible when he or she is not able to work due to the illness or injury. The monetary payouts that are provided in certain situations are paid to the employee or his or her family in the event of his or her death. Most workers are covered through these plans even if only temporarily at the company. The only exceptions are those exempt from workers’ compensation benefits.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_download_20160802-182840_1.jpgBefore you hire independent contractors, consult with a qualified business attorney to be sure you will comply with IRS regulations. Your attorney can help you draft a written contract that details the duties of the contractor and keeps you on the right side of the law.

The IRS and the Department of Labor are cracking down on businesses that use contractors but treat them like real employees – or, as the IRS calls them, “common-law employees.” Before you misclassify that contractor, ask yourself these 5 questions:

Do you control the work?
If you direct how and where and at what time someone works for you, then the government says you have an employee, not a contractor.

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Life Insurance: Protect the Labor of All Your Days

As we celebrate Labor Day, let's appreciate the hard work we all do but also take stock of the rewards we've reaped. All those hard-earned dollars should have value not only in meeting our current needs but also in providing for our future.b2ap3_thumbnail_Life-Insurance1-300x200.jpg 

Life insurance is often overlooked as a financial planning tool. In fact, it’s considered a core element of sound financial planning. Yet millions of Americans do not have life insurance and millions more are underinsured.

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Social Media Information as Part of the Employment Process

Aunt Marge just posted pictures of her vacation to Las Vegas, my brother just checked in that he was at a concert in San Francisco, and my status today is reminiscent of the serenity prayer. So what does this have to do with my job? For a growing number of employers, it could make the difference between hiring me and sending me the “Thanks, we’ll call you” letter.
When deciding if an applicant is a good fit for their organization, employers increasingly use a prospective employee’s social media information as an effective source. It raises b2ap3_thumbnail_Social-media-privacy-during-job-hunting-300x225.jpgserious issues, however, to demand that a prospective employee provide a password, or to “shoulder surf” an applicant’s social media website during the interview process. To begin with, such information is arguably private -- and it could be an invasion of that privacy to require access. Second, social media sites could provide a prospective employer with information (race, marital status, sexual orientation, etc.) that would violate employment law if it were demanded during the interview process. Third, the prospective employee's consent is insufficient to protect the employer, because in the context of an employment situation the consent may result from coercion or duress (for those interested in a relevant court case, see Pietrylo v. Hillstone Restaurant Group 2009 WL 3128420 (D.N.J. 2009)).
While no current case law in California exists banning the practice of requiring prospective employees to provide their social media information, both the state and the federal government have proposed legislation to address this issue. The Federal Password Protection Act of 2012 (S. 3074, 112th Cong., 2d Sess. (May 9, 2012)), would prohibit employers from requiring or requesting job applicants to provide their social media accounts as a condition of employment; similarly, the Social Networking Online Protection Act (H.R. 5050, 112th Cong., 2d Sess. (Apr. 27, 2012)), introduced in the House of Representatives, would prohibit employers from requesting user names, passwords, or other access to online content, and would prohibit employers from using information obtained through social media sites to discipline, discriminate against, or deny employment to current or potential employees. In California, AB 1844, amended July 2, 2012, would enact similar protections for employees and prohibit employers from accessing employees’ social media information in making employment decisions.
Social media sites that are specifically related to an individual’s professional career (LinkedIn for example) can arguably be fair game for employers; but it's a stretch to argue the same for, say, using Facebook to assist in evaluating prospective or current employees’ suitability for employment. And even from an employer’s perspective: why provide fodder for discrimination complaints by individuals who for legitimate reasons were terminated or never hired? Moreover, employers should respect the privacy of their employees. Employers have a number of tools at their disposal to make informed decisions about their employees without resorting to “Facebook Stalking.” Individuals have the right to privacy in their personal lives. Demanding they provide information that is unrelated to their professional careers digs too deep to be anything but an invasion of that privacy. The California constitution codifies that individuals have a right to privacy. If an employer violates your privacy to either deny you employment, or as the basis for some form of adverse employment action then you may have a right to sue your employer for damages.
- Aro Ebenhahn, Employment Law Intern  
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