”…the California Department of Industrial Relations’ (DIR) Division of Occupational Safety and Health(commonly referred to as Cal/OSHA) is urging employers to protect outdoor workers from heat illness and allow for new workers to adjust to changes in weather (also known as acclimatization)…”
Cal/OSHA’s website provides employers with a Heat Illness Prevention e-tool for reference.
Under California’s first-in-the-nation heat illness prevention standard, employers with outdoor workers are required to establish and implement emergency procedures, and provide training on heat illness prevention to all workers. Every outdoor workplace must have drinking water for workers – at least one quart per hour per employee – and shade for recovery and rest periods. Shade must be provided when temperatures are above 85 degrees, and be available at employee request at any temperature. Employers are also required to train employees to properly identify heat illness symptoms.
The heat illness prevention standard was strengthened two years ago to include a high heat provision that must be implemented by five different industries when temperatures reach 95 degrees. These procedures include observing employees, closely supervising new employees, and reminding all employees throughout the shift to drink water. The specified industries include agriculture, construction, landscaping, oil and gas extraction and transportation or delivery of agricultural products, construction material or other heavy material. However, all employers are advised to take additional precautions during periods of high heat.
“…the high court sided with businesses when it ruled that requiring companies to order breaks is unmanageable and those decisions should be left to workers. The decision provided clarity that businesses had sought regarding the law…”
In a case that affects thousands of businesses and millions of workers, the California Supreme Court ruled Thursday that employers are under no obligation to ensure that workers take legally mandated lunch breaks.
The unanimous opinion came after workers’ attorneys argued that abuses are routine and widespread when companies aren’t required to issue direct orders to take the breaks. They claimed employers take advantage of workers who don’t want to leave colleagues during busy times.
The case was initially filed nine years ago against Dallas-based Brinker International, the parent company of Chili’s and other eateries, by restaurant workers complaining of missed breaks in violation of California labor law.
The opinion written by Associate Justice Kathryn Werdegar explained that state law does not compel an employer to ensure employees cease all work during meal periods. Instead, an employee is at liberty to use the time as they choose, she wrote.
For more: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/court-managers-dont-ensure-lunch-breaks-181751682.html
“…California-based businesses should be particularly worried. The Unruh Civil Rights Act, itself a wellspring for abusive litigation, incorporates the ADA by reference, making any violation of the ADA also a violation of Unruh…Unruh has more teeth than the ADA—$4,000 per violation, regardless of intent, plus attorney’s fees…”
The Department of Justice granted the industry’s call for a clarification: But it was not the answer they wanted. All 300,000 public pools in the United States must install a permanent fixed lift. The deadline for compliance is tomorrow, March 15. Call it “Poolmageddon.”
There is no way all 300,000 pools can install permanent lifts by Thursday. There simply are not enough lifts in existence or enough people who know how to install them, according to industry spokesmen. Plus, each lift costs between $3,000 and $10,000 and installation can add $5,000 to $10,000 to the total.
The Administration has assured the industry that it does not plan to enforce the new guidelines right away. But the ADA contains a private enforcement mechanism, empowering private attorneys to bring suit immediately, collecting attorney’s fees from violators. As the article mentions, trial lawyers contributed over $45 million to Obama’s campaign.
For more: http://ordinary-gentlemen.com/timkowal/2012/03/15/new-ada-guidelines-expose-pool-operators-to-private-lawsuits/
Learning the rights of an injured worker under California’s workers’ compensation system. This video follows several workers’ compensation case scenarios and provides basic information and resources for obtaining further assistance and/or information.
“…At issue in the case is whether California employers must ensure that their employees actually take their meal and rest periods or merely make them available. Guidance is also anticipated regarding the time in the workday in which meal and rest periods must be taken and whether or not legally-compliant meal and rest period policies can protect an employer against class actions even when these policies are unevenly enforced…”
The California Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Brinker Restaurant v. Superior Court (Hohnbaum, et al., real parties in interest) on November 8, 2011, according to the Court docket issued this week. The Court generally issues decisions within 90 days after completion of oral argument and submission of post-argument briefs, if any. A decision is expected by mid-February, 2012.
The decision is extremely important to California employers because meal and rest period claims have been the basis of hundreds of class action lawsuits in California. The Court’s decision could make it more difficult for plaintiffs to bring these claims as class actions, or, depending on the ruling, could establish rigid guidelines which may foster more class actions. Either way, California employers and plaintiffs class action lawyers alike have eagerly awaited this decision since the Supreme Court took up the case in October 2008 and look forward to receiving guidance from the high court.
Under California law, nonexempt employees are entitled to uninterrupted, off-duty meal periods of at least 30 minutes for every five hours worked. While there are certain limited exceptions to this rule (such as a revocable written waiver of the meal period in limited circumstances), employers are required to compensate employees for on-duty meal periods. In addition, California law assesses employers a penalty equal to one hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate for every day there is a meal period violation.
For more: http://hotellaw.jmbm.com/2011/10/labor_brinker_case.html
“…(California) SB 432.. would require hotels to use fitted sheets instead of flat sheets to reduce the amount of mattress lifting housekeepers must do. The legislation also would require hotels to provide long-handled mops so housekeepers won’t have to clean bathrooms on their hands and knees as they do now…”
The state Senate has passed a bill proposed by Sen. Kevin de Leόn (D-Los Angeles) that would help prevent or reduce housekeeper injuries. It comes up for a vote in the Assembly this month. But the bill is facing stiff opposition from the hotel and tourism industry, which says it will increase costs and stifle growth.
A representative of the hotel industry, led by the California Hotel and Lodging Assn., told a Senate Committee that if SB 432 passes, California hotels will have to spend an additional $15 million or more to buy fitted sheets to replace the sheets for 550,000 beds at $25 per sheet. But hotels generally replace their sheets annually..
For more: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-cohen-maids-20110802,0,7847167.story
(From a Sacramenton Bee article) When Arnold Schwarzenegger deigns to catalog his accomplishments, reforming the state’s system of compensating workers for job-related injuries and illnesses ranks high on his list.
One of Schwarzenegger’s first acts six years ago was bulldozing the Legislature into a sweeping overhaul of workers’ compensation, reducing both eligibility for direct payments to disabled workers and medical care costs.
The system is so large that the legislation and the administration’s subsequent implementation rules cut employers’ costs by about $15 billion a year, or approaching $100 billion so far.
Workers’ comp politics being what they are, however, the changes generated fierce opposition from those on the other end of the pipeline, namely unions, disability attorneys and medical care providers.