Northern California Employment & Personal Injury Law Blog

Employment & personal injury law news, insights, and information.

How Will the Trump Administration Affect Employment Law?

Donald Trump’s first few weeks in office have been exciting. But what significance will his presidency have on work rules?

Now, we don’t really know. First, most laws are created not by presidents, but by legislators. Second, most employment laws are created by state law, not federal law. In California, most state laws are more worker-friendly than similar federal laws.
Trump has said that he will re-write rules that will affect workers in many ways:

  • reduced business “regulation” (regulation is really just a law)
  • immigration
  • religion
  • employment law enforcement bodies (like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)
  • minimum wage and leave rules
  • health benefits

It remains to be seen how his presidency will affect the rights of workers.

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Drug and Alcohol Use: Job-Related Issues

An employer can lawfully regulate an employee’s use of alcohol and illegal drugs at work. Employment rules about alcohol or drug use are allowed.

An employer can require a drug test to a prospective worker. If an employee fails that test, an employer can refuse to hire that worker or rescind an offer. An employee should notify an employer of any legal prescription drugs that may result in a failed drug test. The employer needs to keep any drug testing information private, as it is considered medical information.

Finally, an employer can probably fire a worker for marijuana use, even if it used to treat a disability consistent with medical marijuana laws. The state and federal laws do not stop employers for firing a worker for marijuana use. It is possible this law could change, or a judge could modify the rule in the future, but for now, an employee could be fired for using marijuana.

The laws are complicated, and there are additional rules and some exceptions to these general rules, so talk to a Bay Area employment law attorney for more details.

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Disabilities on the Job: Reasonable Accomodation

Most workers have heard the term “reasonable accomodation” without understanding what it means according to state and federal law. If a worker qualifies as an individual with a disability, s/he may be entitled to a “reasonable accommodation” to continue to do his or her work. This rule applies both when starting a job or after something has happened to make the worker disabled.
 
In California, employers with five or more workers must provide the accommodation. Under federal law, employers need to have 15 or more workers. Typically, accommodation falls into two categories:

(1) an employee needs some kind of workplace setup to help with a disability, like someone with carpel tunnels syndrome may need an ergonomic desk and computer

(2) an employee needs to have flexible work hours or work at home so that they can get medical treatment. 
The kind and “reasonableness” of accommodation depends on the situation of both employer and employee. A large company may more easily spend more for a new chair and desk. The large company may have more flexibility to provide for different work hours or for working at home. And the employee’s disability may require a minor or a major accommodation.

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California To Raise Hourly Minimum Wage

On Monday April 4, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a new law to increase the state hourly minimum wage. The state minimum wage will rise by 50 cents to $10.50 in 2017, $11 in 2018, and then by $1 per year until it reaches $15 per hour in 2022. Businesses with 25 or fewer employees will have a year more to make the change. After that, starting in 2023, the hourly state minimum wage will be connected to the Consumer Price Index (which measures changes in the costs of goods and services commonly used in households). The new law leaves open the right for the governor to make adjustments if the Department of Finance forecasts job losses or other financial issues.

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A Worker’s Right To Take Leave to Care for Family Member

California and federal laws provide some workers the right to take unpaid leave from work. If s/he meets the qualifications, s/he can return to work at your prior position. The employer may not fire that employee. S/he can take up to 12 weeks of leave and continue to have the health insurance regularly provided. The employer cannot retaliate against the employee for exercising those rights.
 
Generally speaking, an employee must have worked for the employer for the last 12 months for at least 1250 hours, work for a company with at least 50 or more employees within 75 miles of the worksite, and have a parent, child, spouse, or registered domestic partner with a serious health condition.
 
Other laws allow certain workers to take time off for their own medical condition.
 
This entry just provides a summary of the law; additional specifics and some exceptions are also part of the law.

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