Author Archives: Gabrielle Wirth

Gabrielle Wirth

About Gabrielle Wirth

Employers turn to Gabrielle for guidance on how they can comply with the technical employment laws in California, Montana and nationwide while meeting their business needs. Her successful trial experience in a broad range of employment disputes includes wage and hour, whistleblower, wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, breach of contract, and trade secret/noncompetition cases. She also represents employers before a wide variety of state and federal agencies including the EEOC, OFCCP, state human rights agencies, the Labor Commission, the Employment Development Department and OSHA.

Quirky Question #242 – Policing Break and Time Records Pays Off

Question:

We are a California employer.   After all the publicity surrounding class actions over meal and break periods, we instituted automatic warnings if employees take too long or too short a meal or rest break. Is anyone really enforcing this kind of discipline or are we wasting our time? Answer→

Quirky Question #241, Working for Free In Montana At A Start-Up Business

Question:

I was laid off by my Montana employer and I have decided to help my brother with his start up business. I will be a 50% owner but we are not going to take a salary until revenue is substantial. An accountant friend tells me that my work for free for the start-up may disqualify me for the unemployment benefits I am currently receiving. This cannot be right. I have paid into the unemployment system for years and I am not receiving any wages. Answer→

Quirky Question # 239, Employers Might Be Liable For Accidents During The Commute If They Require Employees To Use Their Vehicle During The Work Day

Question:

Our office manager occasionally runs errands during the day such as delivering something to a customer or picking up lunch for a meeting. We reimburse her at the IRS rate for mileage. Yesterday, on her way home, she rear-ended the car in front of her causing substantial damage.  She has asked for the company’s insurance information. We told her the company is not liable because we are not liable for anything that happens during her normal commute.  Are we on solid ground? We are in California. Answer→

Quirky Question # 225, California Law Is Not Going to Pieces

Question:

We are located in California and would like to change to a piece-rate system where we pay non-exempt employees a set amount for completed tasks.  I understand that this is referred to as paying for a “piece-rate” and it is legal as long as the employee is compensated at least at the minimum wage for all hours worked.  Is this correct? Answer→

Quirky Question # 224, The De Minimis Defense to Off the Clock Work Claims

Question:

We have an employee who is claiming that he should be paid for time cleaning up his work station after logging out of our electronic time keeping system each night.  Literally, he spends one or two minutes straightening his piles of paper and on other trivial similar tasks.  Another company HR representative said that every minute an employee spends on any tasks must be paid for.  We have offices on the West Coast including California.  Do we really have to pay him for this time? Answer→

Quirky Question # 221, San Francisco Ordinance: Flexible Work Schedule

Question:

We have a part-time employee in San Francisco, CA who works Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. as support for our sole salesperson in the Bay Area.  She has recently requested to alter her schedule to work only 3 days a week.  I know there was a new San Francisco law about flexible schedules but we only have two employees in San Francisco so I am sure we are not covered by this law.  Correct? Answer→

Quirky Question #220, Independent Contractors

Question:

I have always understood that California employers that misclassify workers as independent contractors face potential liability, including compensatory damages, penalties and attorney’s fees. I recently heard a news broadcast that mentioned there were cases suggesting that recent court decisions have approved the use of independent contractors in California.  Is that true and what are the takeaways? Answer→

Quirky Question #217, Bereavement Leave in Colorado and Oregon

Question:

An employee in our Corporate Office recently informed Human Resources that she was requesting bereavement leave with respect to her sister’s death last month.  When she was informed of our company policy, that up to 3 days of paid time off may be taken to attend the funeral, she said her attorney friend told her a new law requires two weeks.  I’ve never heard of this law? Answer→

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