Legal Updates

2015: New Employment Laws In California


2015: New Employment Laws In California

For 2015, California employers must be aware of a few important (and somewhat complicated) new – or changed – employment laws. I am happy to post a PDF version of 10 of those new employment laws in California. Some of these new laws should be reflected in Employee Handbooks, involve providing notices to employees, and require new training for managers and supervisors.

10 New Employment Laws for 2015

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me to discuss these laws, to update your company’s Employee Handbook and other essential documents and agreements, or for assistance regarding any other employment/HR issue.

Employee Tweets Disliked By Federal Trade Commission


Employee Tweets Disliked By Federal Trade Commission

Employee advocacy, aka employee engagement via social media, has been a hot trend with marketers, PR professionals, and business owners. This is because, in many ways, a company’s own employees are the best folks to endorse and promote the company’s own products and services, as well as the products and services of clients and customers. However, harnessing this power takes advanced preparation, guidance and a thoughtful process.

Recently, Deutsch LA caught the attention of the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) when its employees used Twitter to promote a client’s product (Sony’s PS Vita game console). Specifically, the FTC alleged that various Deutsch LA employees posted positive tweets about the PS Vita to their personal Twitter accounts, without disclosing their connection to Deutsch LA or Sony (a client). The FTC charged that the employee tweets were misleading, as they did not reflect the views of actual consumers who had used the PS Vita, and because they did not disclose that they were written by employees of Deutsch LA.

In my January 2015 article titled “Employees’ Tweets Lead to FTC Enforcement” I explore the FTC’s allegations against Deutsch LA and provide some best practices for companies who have employees who use social media (so just about every employer).

Is LinkedIn Violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act?


Is LinkedIn Violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act?

In my December 2014 post for Maximize Social Business, I explored some bad news for LinkedIn. First, in a new class action complaint filed in California (Sweet v. LinkedIn), LinkedIn is facing claims that it violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”).

The lawsuit involves LinkedIn’s “Reference Search” service, which is only available to premium account holders. The service identifies connections in the premium account holder’s network who share a common past employer with the job applicant.

So, essentially, it organizes, cross-references and provides information to premium account holders about those who might have some relevant information about the job applicant’s work at a prior employer.

The four named plaintiffs allege that they were denied jobs with prospective employers because those employers contacted other LinkedIn users identified by the “Reference Search” as having worked with them (and presumably, those identified LinkedIn users did not give positive feedback on the plaintiffs). To see more about this lawsuit, and my analysis of it, read my article titled: “Allegations of LinkedIn Violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act“.

In my same post, I also analyze a $6 million settlement that LinkedIn entered into with the US Department of Labor regarding alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act due to the failure to pay employees all the time worked, including overtime, by those employees.

LinkedIn Contacts: To Whom Do They Belong?


LinkedIn Contacts: To Whom Do They Belong?

Do you voluntarily use LinkedIn to help your employer promote business, services and/or products? Does your company request, or require employees to use LinkedIn to further develop client/customer/vendor relationships?

What happens if/when the employment relationship ends on a sour note? Will there be a battle between employer and employee regarding the ownership of the LinkedIn contacts, and perhaps the account(s) used?

In my November 2014 post titled “Employer vs. Employee: Ownership of LinkedIn Contacts” I explored these questions and others that employers and employees may face when the employment relationship ends and ownership of LinkedIn information becomes disputed. While courts have yet to publish many decisions on this issue, I focused on a federal court case (Eagle v. Morgan) that provides some guidance to employers.

I also added four tips for employers to prevent such disputes from arising and to help employers maintain control and ownership of LinkedIn information former employees have used/developed on their employer’s behalf.

More Class Action Lawsuits: Employee Cell Phone Expense


More Class Action Lawsuits: Employee Cell Phone Expense

Many business owners believe that California is a very difficult place to conduct business and to have employees. That belief may soon gain more advocates as a result of a recent California court decision that employers must consider. The Court determined that employers must reimburse employee cell phone expense when employees use their personal phones/mobile devices for work related purposes. The Court focused on California Labor Code Section 2802, among others. The Court reasoned that employers should not benefit from a “windfall” by relying on employees to pay for their own cell phone plans while using such devices for the benefit of employers. This is true, the Court decided, even if the employee does not suffer any additional out of pocket expenses for having their own cell phone plan (for example, employees who have an unlimited plan, or who do not get charged per call, really do not suffer any detriment by using periodically their own devices for work).

You can read more about Cochran v. Schwans Home Services, Inc. and some practical pointers in my October 2014 post titled “Cell Phone Expenses: Next Wave of Employee Class Action Lawsuit?” at Maximize Social Business.