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California has some of the strictest labor laws in the country and employers are expected to comply with nearly every aspect of the employee relationship. The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) is charged with investigating wages, hours, and working conditions of employees. Most employers are familiar with meal and rest breaks, but there are some lesser-known laws that could create employer liability if ignored.

Temperature

Want to save money by cutting the air conditioner? Not so fast. In California, the temperature maintained at work “shall provide reasonable comfort consistent with industry-wide standards for the nature of the process and the work performed.” Wage Order 7, Section 15.

In the classic novel The Scarlet Letter, author Nathanial Hawthorne depicts the story of a woman who was forced to wear a scarlet letter ‘A’ on her dress so the townspeople could publicly shame her for adultery. The major theme of The Scarlet Letter is the suffering of individuals from social stigmatizing – a vice that has only increased since the novel’s publication in 1850.

In recent years, the “Ban the Box” movement has sought to eliminate similar stigmatisms about convicted criminals who, after paying their debt to society, find it difficult to secure employment due to prejudice. The goal of this movement is to decrease discrimination against applicants who may have a criminal history. In 2015, President Obama “banned the box” on applications for federal government jobs. Currently, eleven states have mandated the removal of conviction history questions from job applications for private employers. In 2017, California passed multiple statutes that prohibit employers from considering expunged criminal records in hiring decisions.

Davis & Wojcik APLC recently settled an employment case against a major automotive company that withdrew its offer to hire a prospective employee after the corporation unlawfully investigated the employee’s expunged criminal record. The criminal conviction occurred more than ten years prior and was not the type of crime that affected the position.

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