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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Hotel Spa: Oasis Unplugged

The driving force in current hotel spa trends is the effort to manage unprecedented levels of stress experienced by their clients. Feeling increasingly overwhelmed by demanding careers and technology overload, people are craving places where they can go to momentarily escape the rigors of their daily lives. As a result, spas are positioning themselves as oases of unplugged human connection, where mindfulness and contemplation activities are becoming increasingly important. One leading hotel spa offers their clients the option to experience their treatments in total silence - no music, no talking, and no advice from the therapist - just pure unadulterated silence. Another leading hotel spa is working with a reputable medical clinic to develop a “digital detox” initiative, in which clients will be encouraged to unplug from their devices and engage in mindfulness activities to alleviate the stresses of excessive technology use. Similarly, other spas are counseling clients to resist allowing technology to monopolize their lives, and to engage in meditation and gratitude exercises in its place. The goal is to provide clients with a warm, inviting and tranquil sanctuary from the outside world, in addition to also providing genuine solutions for better sleep, proper nutrition, stress management and natural self-care. To accomplish this, some spas are incorporating a variety of new approaches - cryotherapy, Himalayan salt therapy and ayurveda treatments are becoming increasingly popular. Other spas are growing their own herbs and performing their treatments in lush outdoor gardens. Some spa therapists are being trained to assess a client's individual movement patterns to determine the most beneficial treatment specifically for them. The July issue of the Hotel Business Review will report on these trends and developments and examine how some hotel spas are integrating them into their operations.