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The National Defense Authorization Act

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is similar to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in that it provides various benefits to deployed military members with families -- primarily the right to take unpaid leave without fear of losing one's job. The NDAA covers employees who have children, spouses or parents serving actively in the military.

Under the NDAA, many employees can take time off from work in the event that their family member has been deployed to active duty status. Qualifying individuals can receive as much as 12 weeks of unpaid time off work to take care of different emergency situations that might come up while the service member spouse is deployed.

Sexual harassment myths: The reality of harassment

There are dozens of myths surrounding sexual harassment, but it is wise that people understand the reality. Sexual harassment can and does happen in workplaces. It doesn't only affect women, and it isn't as uncommon as some people may believe.

Here are three myths about sexual harassment you should understand. If you are sexually harassed on the job, understanding these facts can make it easier to recognize.

How can managers create gender equality at work?

Gender equality is not only important for the happiness of workers in a business, it's also the law. Women and men must receive equal pay and opportunity at California businesses. However, building gender equality into a workplace culture could present a challenge for some business owners.

There are a few things business owners can do to support a gender-equal work environment. Management or the human resources team should focus on the following:

Unique Family Medical Leave lawsuit brings up legal questions

In most Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) claims, employees sue their employers due to a denial of leave or for being wrongfully terminated for taking FMLA leave. However, in one recent lawsuit, the employee had a different kind of concern — privacy.

The FMLA allows employers to surveil employees whom they suspect are abusing their leave, but in this case, the employer went too far.

Negotiating severance pay after being let go from a job

There are various circumstances in which an employer must pay his or her employee severance following a termination of employment. For example, severance pay could be required via the federal WARN Act, state laws or the employment agreement entered into by the parties. In other cases, when an employer is not required to pay severance, the employer might be willing to negotiate a severance package in exchange for entering different agreements with the employee -- like a release of potential claims against the employer.

Here are a few things to remember when negotiating a severance package:

  • Executive employees often receive six months to a year of severance pay.
  • Employees usually try to negotiate a higher severance if the loss of job resulted from an acquisition or merger.
  • Consider requesting a lump sum cash distribution rather than having the cash doled out over time.
  • Ensure that severance payments will continue even if the employee dies or becomes disabled.
  • Make sure the severance includes any unpaid bonuses.
  • Double check that the severance pay will continue even after obtaining new employment.
  • Will the employee continue to receive medical benefits?
  • Try negotiating for the employer to pay for outplacement services with a noteworthy outplacement firm that can assist you in finding a new occupation.

Overtime pay is the law in California

Not so long ago, workers in the United States were subjected to long hours with very little pay, and they didn't have much choice in the matter if they wanted to feed their families. These days, the rules are different. In the state of California, employers must pay their employees at least a minimum wage, and they must also pay overtime if the employee works over a certain number of hours in one day, or over a certain number of hours in one week.

Here's how the overtime rules in California work:

  • Nonexempt employees shall not work over eight hours in one day, nor over 40 hours in one week unless they receive one and a half times their regular rates of pay for the extra hours worked. This applies up to the completion of the 12th hour in one day and up to the completion of the eighth hour on the seventh consecutive day.
  • Following the 12th hour of work in one day, and following the eighth hour of work on the seventh consecutive day, the employee will receive double the usual rate of pay.

3 Surprising facts about workplace sexual harassment

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Recent high profile cases of sexual harassment in the workplace have shined light on this important topic. Sexual harassment in the workplace is widespread, affecting workplaces of all sizes, in all industries, in all locations.

It is important to be aware of the many ways in which sexual harassment can occur. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), here are some lesser-known facts about sexual harassment in the workplace:

Pregnancy discrimination: What you should never hear as a woman

Women are protected against pregnancy discrimination in California workplaces. This means that if you get pregnant, you don't have to fear for your job, and you don't have to put up with any kind of harassing comments.

Here are a few comments you should never have to endure as a pregnant woman in California:

  • You need to have a doctor's note in order to keep performing your job duties. It is unlawful to tell a pregnant woman that she can no longer perform her job duties. If there is a question as to a woman's ability to continue to safely perform her job, she must undergo the same kinds of abilities tests as other nonpregnant employees. An employee cannot be told to stop performing her job duties based on pregnancy status alone.
  • You can't leave early to go to doctor's appointments. A woman who is pregnant receives the same rights and privileges of every other employee who requires medical care for non-pregnancy purposes. An employer must allow employees to go to the doctor when needed, no matter what their health circumstances happen to be. A pregnant woman who ignores her employer's refusal to let her leave early and leaves anyway will be protected from being fired and from other forms of retaliation.
  • You can't have more than your usual number of bathroom breaks. A pregnant woman must be given certain types of reasonable accommodations, such as being able to go to the bathroom when needed.

Illegally fired during a company reorganization?

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Being laid off or fired is something that many people experience at some point in life. While it can be a horrible experience - the shame, the uncertainty, the loss of income - most people can eventually move on.

But what happens when an employee is fired for an illegal or discriminatory reason? This brings up a whole host of other considerations and issues.

Family and Medical Leave Act prohibitions

The Family and Medical Leave Act, also known as FMLA, provides eligible employees of covered employers with the ability to take unpaid, job protected leave for specified medical reasons.

Even if you qualify for FMLA, it's not out of the question that you may run into some resistance from your employer. For example, your company may decide to demote you during your time away. If this happens, you'll want to learn more about your legal rights.

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