Ten New California Employment Laws For 2004

By Daniel Croley Labor and Employment & Litigation, Futterman & Dupree | February 13, 2010

Wage and Hour Lawsuits (Private Attorney General)

While employee rights under the Labor Code abound, an employee may not bring a lawsuit against his employer for a wide variety of violations. Under SB 796, however, they will have a private-right-of-action and the possibility of collecting attorneys' fees for any Labor Code violation for which the Labor Commissioner could impose monetary sanctions. Any damages recovered shall be allocated: 50% to the state; 25% to the employee and 25% to a state educational agency. SB 796 also provides that any misdemeanor violation of the Labor Code shall also be subject to monetary penalties. In the case of employers who have employees at the time of the violation, the penalty will be $100 per employee per pay period for the first infraction up to three years and $200 per employee per pay cycle for each following violation up to three years. For more information, see http://info.sen.ca.gov/pub/bill/asm/ab_0251-0300/ab_276_bill_20030908_chaptered.pdf

Careful employers should audit their wage and hour practices in conjunction with labor counsel to assure that they miss the next wave of wage and hour class actions.

Paid Family Leave

Who's Covered and What's the Benefit?

The same employers covered by State Disability Insurance (SDI) will be covered by "Family Temporary Disability Insurance" (FTDI) and this includes most employees of private employers, regardless of size. Eligible employees will get the greater of 55% of their base pay or $728 weekly for 2004 and $840 for 2005, up to six weeks of leave in any rolling 12 month period. Unlike FMLA and CFRA leave, there is no length of service period, though there is a one week waiting period.

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Guest Service: Empowering People

Excellent customer service is vitally important in all businesses but it is especially important for hotels where customer service is the lifeblood of the business. Outstanding customer service is essential in creating new customers, retaining existing customers, and cultivating referrals for future customers. Employees who meet and exceed guest expectations are critical to a hotel's success, and it begins with the hiring process. It is imperative for HR personnel to screen for and hire people who inherently possess customer-friendly traits - empathy, warmth and conscientiousness - which allow them to serve guests naturally and authentically. Trait-based hiring means considering more than just a candidate's technical skills and background; it means looking for and selecting employees who naturally desire to take care of people, who derive satisfaction and pleasure from fulfilling guests' needs, and who don't consider customer service to be a chore. Without the presence of these specific traits and attributes, it is difficult for an employee to provide genuine hospitality. Once that kind of employee has been hired, it is necessary to empower them. Some forward-thinking hotels empower their employees to proactively fix customer problems without having to wait for management approval. This employee empowerment—the permission to be creative, and even having the authority to spend money on a customer's behalf - is a resourceful way to resolve guest problems quickly and efficiently. When management places their faith in an employee's good judgment, it inspires a sense of trust and provides a sense of higher purpose beyond a simple paycheck. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.