Managers-Don’t Leave Your Computers Unattended!!!

September 29, 2008

Let me give you an actual scenario. A manager hired an African-American man to assist with an upcoming sales event. After two weeks the newly hired employee became troublesome and the relationship deteriorated. After a very brief meeting to try and work out their differences, the employee left threatening to speak with an attorney.

The next morning the employee came into work, did not punch in, and waited for his manager to arrive. The manager came in, turned on his computer and left his office to get his morning cup of coffee. This was his regular routine.

The employee, upon seeing his manager leave, slipped into the manager’s office and sent himself a derogatory email back to his own computer as if the manager had sent it to him. The email included the use of the “N” word! Oh yes, you are reading this correctly!! He sent the email to himself  using the “N” word as if the manager  had sent it!! The manager, upon his return, noticed an email had been sent but obviously knew that he had not sent anything. He read the email that he had supposedly sent and was appalled.

The employee returned to his own office, printed the email out, typed up a letter of resignation and left the premises. In the letter of resignation he stated that he could not work for someone who treated their employee that way (words in the email) and was going to seek the advice of counsel.

This actually happend last week. How do you think this is going to turn out?? Well let me tell you! The company has cameras with video. We were able to capture the employee on video at the exact time he entered and left the office. The times noted on the pictures were consistent with the time noted on the email. I can’t wait for his attorney to contact the employer! 

This guy was very clever and it sends a clear message to managers and supervisors to be cautious about leaving their computers unattended and, by the way, not safeguarding passwords. Who knows what other mischief an employee can get into by accessing their supervisor’s computer!

The Court’s Decision!

September 26, 2008

The court found on behalf of the Lesbian Couple! And why not? The message to our clients is that we, as individuals, may have our personal and spiritual beliefs but those beliefs have to be left outside of the business environment. I know some managers and owners have strong spiritual beliefs and will “Write the check” if they have to! That’s ok as long as they understand the ramifications of their actions.

But our best advice, in general, is to make sure that every employee understands that the civil rights of customers are protected just as their rights are protected in the business environment.

Personal Religious Beliefs-Sexual Orientation And Customers

September 22, 2008

The California Supreme Court has held…?

The facts were simple enough. A lesbian couple wanted to have a baby and decided one of the two would be impregnated by artificial insemination. It did not work because the recipient was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome and was referred to the North Coast Women’s Care Medical Group for fertility treatment. When the doctor who met with the couple learned that they were lesbians she informed them that she would not be able to comply with the necessay procedures because her religious beliefs would not permit her to help someone have a baby who was not married.

The couple sued based upon sexual orientation discrimination. The doctor argued that she was protected because of her right to free exercise of her religion.


Another Book Signing and Hustler Magazine (Dec. Issue)

September 15, 2008

Yep! Through “Popular Demand” we have been asked to do another book signing! This time at Borders Books in the Santa Anita Mall located in Arcadia.

Date: October 18, 2008

Time: 2-5 pm

Hope to see you there!

Hustler Magazine: The December issue of Hustler Magazine will be featuring a quarter page article in their “Book Club” section of approval on the “Right to Counsel.” Apparently they have been moving in a direction of having more than just “pictures” in their magazine. The editors read the book and liked it well enough to give it their “Stamp of Approval.” This gives us national and international exposure to over 3 million readers! “IF” you pick up a copy PLEASE DO NOT TAKE IT TO WORK!!!  LOL This was for informational purposes only!

Layoffs? Are You Aware Of The WARN ACT?

September 15, 2008

On January 1, 2003, the California WARN Act became law. CA Labor Code Section 1400-1408 expanded on the requirements of the federal WARN Act that was effective February 4, 1989. The state and federal WARN Acts have different definitions and since California has a broader definition, California employers should follow its guidelines rather than the federal guidelines.

 “WARN provides protection to employees, their families, and communities by requiring employers to give affected employees and other state and local representatives notice 60 days in advance of a plant closing or mass layoff. Advance notice provides employees and their families some transition time to adjust to the prospective loss of employment, to seek and obtain alternative jobs and, if necessary, to enter skills training or retraining that will allow these employees to successfully compete in the job market (”

WARN is required when a plant closure or mass layoff occurs during any 30 day period and affects 50 or more full- or part-time employees who worked for the employer at least 6 of the 12 months prior to the date the employer was required to notify its employees. Generally, temporary employees are not covered under WARN, neither are Independent Contractors.

Unforeseeable circumstances, such as an act of God, an act of war, or a mass layoff that occurs that’s reasonably outside the employer’s control does not require WARN to be implemented. Other situations that do not require WARN are when a “faltering company (defined as a company that is trying to remain in business by soliciting additional capital or business)” goes out of business, or if a large contract job with the government is unexpectedly terminated.

If you have any questions about WARN, or are unsure whether you are required to notify employees of a plant closure or a mass layoff, please contact our office to see if your company qualifies. The penalties for not following WARN guidelines are quite severe. Back wages and benefits must be paid to each affected employee for each day of the violation, up to a maximum of 60 days. If the proper government agencies were not notified, the fines are $500 per day, up to a maximum of 60 days.

Written and submitted by Rodger Questin

Harassment Investigations- A Checklist Approach

September 9, 2008

Anytime an employer receives a complaint of harassment the employer should investigate the matter as soon as possible. Here is a simple checklist to follow.

1. Take all complaints seriously.

2. Inform the person complaining that the company appreciates the fact that they came forward.

3. Take good notes and ask the complaining party if they wouldn’t mind submitting the complaint in writing (but do not force the issue and do not sit back and wait-continue the investigation).

4. Do not tell the employee or any witness to keep the matter confidential (Illegal in California).

5. Discuss the allegation with the accused (and yes, you have to tell the accused who complained).

6. Tell the alleged harasser not to retaliate in any manner and state discuss the current policy regarding harassment.

7. If the allegation is of a serious nature suspend (without pay) the alleged harasser pending investigation. If the accused is cleared you can pay them for the time off.

8. Conduct the investigation as quickly as possible.

9. Speak with witnesses on both sides for a fair and complete investigation.

10. Once you have all of the facts, call Potts & Associates for recommendations.

If you need help with the investigation we can send one of our experienced staff mambers in to assist you. That does not negate steps one through six. We will conduct the investigation and submit a report with recommendations.

People Are Asking “Where Can I Get The Book?”

September 9, 2008

We are still receiving calls. The book can be purchased at either; Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders or Vroman’s (or any book store can order it). If you want a signed copy just forwarded it to the office when you receive it and I will sign it and send it back! Thanks again!

New Labor Law Regarding Time Cards-Misdemeanor!!

September 2, 2008

Well, here we go again! Just when we thought it was safe to go back into the water (after that great court decision regarding breaks), a new law gets signed off by the Governor making it a misdemeanor for an employer (which means manager or supervisor because you can’t put an “entity” in jail) from executing false statements of hours worked by an employee!

The reason the Bill (AB 2075) was passed was because there were cases presented whereby employees were routinely required to fill out false time sheets as instructed by their employer; have been required to sign false statements about the hours worked and meal and rest periods received; and in some cases employees were fired for failing to comply.

How can this happen without the intent? First, remember that ignorance of the law is no excuse! Second, think of a scenario where an employer announces “There will be no overtime” and a supervisor has staff “Working off the clock.” It will not matter if the employees agrees (At that moment) and later, after being fired, complains that he/she was forced. Third, handwritten time records that reflect either the total hours worked or an employee writes in their start time at “8,” lunch at “12,” returns from lunch at “1,” and leaves at “5,” every single day. Such records are not accurate and can land you in trouble.

The proponent of the Bill also argued that employers are forcing employees to “sign off on their timesheets” which may not be accurate. My concern is that employers have already been placed in a position to have employees sign off on everything concerning their time worked as well as lunch breaks. This bill will hamstring employers from trying to protect themselves from invalid claims by being proactive with getting employees to sign off that the records are accurate.

Solution: Get out of California! Just kidding!! Look, have a proper record keeping system in place. Handwritten records are obsolete so invest in an electronic version and do not go in and make adjustments without the employees knowledge! When a change has to be made bring them in, have them observe the change, and sign a form that they observed the change. This way they have not signed off on the “timekeeping” itself but have acknowledged that they knew it was changed and why.

There are no guarantees but if we take the time to follow the above solution it may protect you. A major factor is to ensure that the managers/supervisors are following the law and are not seeking to deceive either the employee or upper management.