Crystal O'Brien

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California Labor law updates

Labor & Employment Law Update 2015

Well, the good news is that labor numbers look very good for US businesses, which means there are more employees in the workplace and the economy is showing good signs for recovery. However, with more employees comes responsibility as the frost from a slowed economy begins to thaw.


girl and boy working at table

New Business Owners: Check List For What Not To Do

Many entrepreneurs follow the Phil Knight of Nike, Inc.’s philosophy of, “Just do it” when they begin new business ventures.  While much can be said about the courageous risk taker approach to starting a business, some risk aversion is helpful.  In reviewing Top 10 lists from a number of sources, we list the following as sort of a “top ten” of the top ten.


Managing Traumatic Events in the Workplace

Managing Challenges in the Workplace – Tips For Managers

To borrow from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities: Today’s workplace can sometimes feel like “it [is] the best of times, it [is] the worst of times.”  Personal disaster, emotional breakdowns, natural catastrophes, crime, and other unexpected events can wreak havoc in today’s workplace.  Aside from productivity distractions, employers can often times be exposed to workers’ compensation claims[1] and workplace liability claims[2] that are avoidable depending on how management responds to certain issues. Learn how managers can best manage traumatic challenges in the workplace.


California Labor law updates

November 2013 Labor & Employment Law Updates

The California courts this month were abuzz with a look at arbitration in employment from the state’s high court. The court’s review continues to stress the issues inherent to negotiating employment agreements to arbitrate workplace disputes. Generally, employees cannot be required to sign these provisions as a condition of employment. An employer must also assure that these clauses are reader-friendly and must assume the costs of the procedure, and when and if there are clauses which seek a waiver of any specific claims — including wage and hour administrative hearings — these clauses may still be overlooked and it is highly likely parties will be ordered to litigate matters through traditional means. The truth is that the decision whether an arbitration agreement is enforceable lies wholly within the discretion of the fact finder/arbitrator/court hearing the matter.


September 2013 Labor Law Updates

Labor Law Updates: Federal and State

California State Update: Are Decisions from EDD Binding On the DLSE?  One Court of Appeal Says: “Yes!”

By Crystal M. O’Brien, Esq. and Christopher Rodriguez (MMC Summer Intern)

In a July 19, 2013 published decision, the Fourth Appellate District of California’s Court of Appeal, Happy Nails & Spa of Fashion Valley v. Su reviewed a very interesting case that is encouraging for employers who are forever managing the inherent issue of how regulatory agencies might determine who is or is not an “independent contractor”.  In this matter, the issue of classification was examined and suggests that an employer should not be required to flip a coin as to how it may be found an employer of some workers while a hiring principal of others.


MMChr Blog

Text Messages Sufficient For “Calling In” Sick?

The 21st Century has seen the advent of lots of exciting technological changes which have greatly impacted how Americans communicate on a day-to-day basis.  With those changes has come the phenomenon of texting.  Rather than picking up the telephone, or even sending a detailed and comprehensive email, many people inform their employer that they will be reporting to work or not via text.  But is this an ideal form of communications?  Better yet, does this method fall within the confines of a traditional Attendance Policy?  This article focuses on one problem inherent to permitting text messages to serve as a form of acceptable employee communications with supervisors.


MMChr Labor and employment blog

Labor and Employment Law Updates: March 2013

March 2013 Employment Law Updates

California State Law Update

State Courts Review Pregnancy Discrimination in Employment

This month showcases some fantastic cases for legal commentators interested in the expanding laws protecting women from workplace pregnancy discrimination.  In Harris v. Santa Monica, a February 7, 2013 California Supreme Court decision, our state high court considers whether the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) requires fact-finders to consider an employer’s ‘mixed motive’ versus ‘substantially motivated’ decision to terminate an employee who believes she has been discriminated due to pregnancy.  In Harris, a bus driver (Wynonna Harris) with her two ‘preventable’ accidents, two ‘miss outs’, and an otherwise not so glowing performance review during her probationary period was ultimately terminated only a short time after her manager discovered she was pregnant.  As is often the case in these published matters, the timing for this termination was undoubtedly bad.  The issue in Harris, however, was not a question of whether the employee’s work performance was truly poor, or even whether the employer possessed actual knowledge of the employee’s pregnancy, but how jurors were instructed to find an award in Harris’ favor.


February 2013 Employment Law Updates

February 2013 Employment Law Updates

California State Update:

Should The Law Protect Accused Harassers From Alleged Investigator Bias?

Ever wonder what becomes of investigator recommendations that are not relevant to a workplace harassment investigation?  Can an employee’s actions to frustrate an investigation lead to termination?  Are all participants of a harassment investigation afforded ‘immunity’ from subsequent disciplinary action? McGrory v. Applied Signal Technology, Inc., a January 24, 2013 6th District decision, examines these questions.