Category Archives: California Questions

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 # 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 #228, E-Cigarettes: To Vape or Not to Vape at the Workplace

Question:

Our California company has a no smoking policy but had not thought to include a ban on e-cigarettes, as we had not experienced any problems with them at the workplace until now.  A handful of our employees use e-cigarettes during work hours.  A week ago, a supervisor informed HR that coworkers were concerned about the health effects of being exposed to e-cigarettes.  Can we and should we ban e-cigarettes at our workplace? 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→

Oracle: Non-Residents Performing Work in CA For CA Companies Are Covered by CA Overtime Provisions

Sullivan v. Oracle Corporation, et al.

June 30, 2011, in Sullivan v. Oracle Corporation, et al., the California Supreme Court decided three certified questions from the Ninth Circuit regarding work performed in the State of California by non-residents for California based employers.

Three plaintiffs worked as “Instructors” for Oracle Corporation from 2001 to 2004. As Instructors, Plaintiffs’ job was to train Oracle’s customers in the use of the company’s products. Two Plaintiffs resided in Colorado, one Plaintiff resided in Arizona. Plaintiffs worked mainly in their home states but also traveled to work in California and 19 other states. In the three-year period, one plaintiff worked approximately 74 days in California, one worked 110 days and one worked 20 days.

Plaintiffs sued Oracle under three theories. First, Plaintiffs claimed overtime compensation under the Labor Code for days longer than eight hours, and weeks longer than 40 hours, in which such work was performed entirely in California (See Lab. Code §§ 510 (a), 1194.) Second, Plaintiffs restated the same claim alleging violation of California’s overtime laws as one for restitution under the Unfair Competition Laws (“UCL”) (Bus. & Prof. Code § 17203.) Third, and again under the UCL, Plaintiffs claimed restitution in the amount of overtime compensation due under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) (29 U.S.C. § 207(a)) for weeks longer than 40 hours worked entirely in states other than in California. Answer→