Cal/OSHA: Beware of Valley Fever

California employers must protect workers from the potentially fatal respiratory disease of Valley Fever, according to a bulletin from Cal/OSHA, the state worker safety organization. The Center for Disease Control calls Valley Fever “a silent epidemic.” Several employers who operate solar farms in the desert have recently been cited for worker safety violations involving this health hazard. Valley Fever is caused by the microscopic soil fungus called Coccidiodes Immitis, which lives in the top 2 to 12 inches of earth in many parts of California and Arizona. It is most common in certain counties within the Central California Valley: Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, San Luis Obispo and Tulare. When soil is disturbed by digging, high winds or driving in unpaved areas, the fungus spores are released into the air where they may be inhaled by an employee who is not wearing a face mask or respirator. Dry conditions stir up dust, which spreads the disease. There is no vaccine... More...

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Increased Wage Enforcement Actions in Massachusetts

A provision of the Massachusetts minimum wage law makes it easier than ever for employees to file a wage complaint…and more important than ever that employers follow the wage payment laws.  The Massachusetts minimum wage act of 2014 includes a little-known provision to heighten enforcement actions against companies. The elevated enforcement covers misclassifying employees as independent contractors, and noncompliance with minimum wage, overtime and wage payment laws. One section of the Massachusetts minimum wage law establishes a permanent multi-state Joint Task Force on the Underground Economy and Employee Misclassification. The sole purpose of this task force is to investigate wage claims and initiate enforcement actions against employers. It elevates cooperation among 15 different state agencies, and permits employees to file a wage complaint simply by calling 1-877-96-LABOR. The Task Force enforces key provisions of the law, including wage theft, which occurs when an employer withholds payment of wages earned by an employee, regardless of the reason. Massachusetts requires that most employees... More...

New San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance – Ban the Box Law

A law effective August 13, 2014 changes hiring practices by employers in the city of San Francisco, California – the  Fair Chance Ordinance, also known as the “ban the box” law.  For employees with past criminal convictions, this law significantly improves the employment landscape. For employers, this law changes the way job candidates are recruited, selected and hired. The purpose of the law is to provide more employment opportunities for qualified job seekers who have been rehabilitated and are unlikely to commit another crime. The Ban the Box Law San Francisco’s new “ban the box” law prevents employers from putting a box on the application that requires employees to check “yes” or “no” to questions like: Have you ever been arrested? Have you ever been convicted of a crime? Have you ever been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony? The law applies to employers in the city of San Francisco, CA with 20 or more workers. It prevents employers from... More...

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California Paid Family Leave Update

Both employers and employees in California need to be aware of changes to the California Paid Family Leave law. Employees can still take a maximum of 6 weeks of paid leave per year to care for a family member who has a serious illness, but the law now covers more types of family relationships. Effective July 1, 2014, the state expanded the CA Paid Family Leave (PFL) program to allow employees to take time off to care for a grandparent, grandchild or sibling (brother or sister) with a serious illness. In addition, the new law allows an employee to take time off to provide care for a mother-in-law or father-in-law with a serious health condition. Of course, this is an expansion to the historic California Paid Family Leave law passed in 2002 that allows employees to take time off to care for a seriously ill child, parent, spouse or registered domestic partner. That law also entitles an employee of either... More...

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