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Huntington Beach Law Blog

The LAUSD tries to balance needs of all

Politicians rarely run on a platform of raising taxes or giving raises to public sector employees at the local, state or federal level. This has led to a series of legal battles in recent years, particularly involving teachers’ unions. Therefore, the strike by 34,000 teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District is just the latest of an ongoing series of strikes where educators seek pay raises and improvements in working conditions.

According to a recent poll conducted by USA Today and Ipsos Public Affairs, there is 3-1 margin of support for striking teachers. It went on to point out that teachers have a right to strike and have the support of 6 in 10 parents whose children’s lives are disrupted by the strike. This, of course, puts the Los Angeles educators in a position of power as they negotiate, but it really it is not just about giving the teachers a raise.

Handling extreme employee absenteeism

It is an unfortunate fact of life that people get sick or injured. While sympathy should go out to those with health issues, employee absences from the workplace can cause tremendous logistical problems for businesses. A missed week is a minor inconvenience, but a medical condition or severe injury can leave managers and employers wondering where they can turn to resolve the matter.

195 absences was 15 too many

Addressing a breached contract in California

The cornerstone of just about any business is entering into contracts with customers, vendors, employees and partners. Some are a straightforward bill of sales, but others are complex agreements with multiple partners worth millions of dollars. One thing that is generally understood is that those who sign a contract are expected to honor it. Sometimes, however, one party fails to deliver on their part of the agreement. When this happens, the other party may want or need to pursue legal action.

Determining breach of contract

Are you on the fence about an employee handbook? Read on

You are probably like other business owners here in Huntington Beach who don't like to do paperwork. The less time you spend creating documents or filling out paperwork, the better off you will be. When you began your business, you tried your best to take care of as much of it as possible, especially those documents that you knew you only had to do once.

After some time of running the business alone and having family members help out, you came to the realization that you need to hire at least one employee. While this means that your business is growing and that you are making it a success, it also means more paperwork. Job applications, resumes and government forms are about all you want to handle.

HIPAA penalizes medical center for cyber security breaches

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is legislation that protects the privacy of medical information. Founded in 1996, the law covers a wide range of issues involving medical care. In recent years, HIPAA Privacy Rule (officially known as Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information) has become increasingly important in battling against and prosecuting data breaches caused by hackers and others who unlawfully access this private information.

The Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights announced that the Pagosa Springs Medical Center (PSMC) failed to discontinue the username and password access of a former employee. This enabled the former worker to get into the database of the critical access hospital in Colorado.

Arbitration tips for startups

Long-term litigation can be problematic for any business. However, the implications can be particularly detrimental to new businesses and startups. It can be frustrating if the premise of the dispute is a class action lawsuit out of left field or a frivolous lawsuit. Moreover, even the threat of these disputes can cause an entrepreneur to fold up shop before they officially open for business.

One solution for new businesses or start-ups is to explore arbitration. This is one way to avoid the expense of a long battle and minimize the damage to the reputation of the new company and its owners.

Does your company have an anti-discrimination policy?

Legally, you must ensure that your company provides a workplace free from discrimination and the behaviors that go along with it -- harassment and retaliation. In order to make that clear to everyone who works in the company, including employees, managers and supervisors, you need a policy outlining prohibited behaviors, the complaint process and more.

Employees need to know that they can come to work without worrying that they will endure negative actions and behaviors because of their race, gender, religion or any other protected factor. No one should feel oppressed, exploited or intimidated. You may also want to address personal, romantic relationships between your employees since that could get tricky, too.

Ruling could set precedent for Workers’ Comp cases and drug use

An Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals Judge recently ruled that a positive drug test should not impact an employee’s Workers’ Comp benefits. In this case, the injured employee was attempting to fix a piece of heavy machinery when a coworker activated it. The machine then crushed the worker’s hand. While receiving treatment, the man subsequently tested positive for marijuana, which called into question whether the injury was his fault. 

The Appeals Court judge, however, ruled that “the presence of an intoxicating substance in the blood does not automatically mean the person is intoxicated.” Unlike alcohol that leaves the body as the intoxicating effects wear off, marijuana is known to remain in the body for a month or more after the intoxicating effects wear off.

5 legal issues food truck owners face

Food trucks have taken the culinary world by storm in the last decade. Hungry foodies following them on Twitter, office workers are grateful for an alternative to the cafeteria, and they seem to provide every craft beer brewery in California with vittles to help the beer go down.

The advantages of the format are many. You serve great food at a reasonable price. It is cheaper than opening a brick and mortar restaurant. It is also a great way to get one’s name out there when starting out. The overhead stays low because of the limitations of the space. Of course, there is also the freedom of changing your location on a whim.

Serving alcohol at holiday parties

The holiday party is a particularly tricky ritual in workplace culture. It is a chance for colleagues to relax and socialize together, but it can be challenging and awkward to socialize with co-workers. Alcohol is traditionally part of the equation as a tool for getting people to relax or to even get them to participate.

However, in the #MeToo era it is harder to justify holding an event where there is a chance of an over-served staff or manager who does or says something that is inappropriate within the confines of the workplace. Moreover, there are safety and liability issues if someone is over-served and then attempts to drive or otherwise puts themselves or others in danger.

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