Domestic Partner Benefits: More Insurance Available, But Warn Employees About Risks Before They Sign Up

Although health benefits for employees’ domestic partners are becoming more common, many small to mid-sized employers have had trouble finding an insurance company willing to provide the coverage. Several new developments, though, may make it easier for you to extend these benefits to your workers. But there could also be a serious downside for employees […]

Age Discrimination: Court Says You Can Terminate Highly Paid Workers And Retain Cheaper, Younger Employees; Caution Still Required

A California court of appeal has ruled that when making personnel decisions, you can give preference to employees with lower salaries over those with higher ones as long as you do so for financial reasons. This is true even though it may result in your older workers being more negatively impacted. Despite the new ruling, […]

News Notes: Huge Verdict For Executive Fired For Discussing “Seinfeld” Episode

A jury has awarded $26.6 million to a veteran Miller Brewing Company executive who was fired for sexual harassment after discussing an episode of “Seinfeld.” Jerold Mackenzie told co-worker Patricia Best about a scene in which Jerry Seinfeld can’t remember his girlfriend’s name, only that it rhymes with a female body part. Mackenzie testified that […]

News Notes: Free OSHA Compliance Advice Available Online

Federal OSHA has released free software on its web site – – that can save you time and frustration in figuring out whether you comply with certain complex health and safety rules. Three interactive programs are available, including Asbestos Advisor, Cadmium Biological Advisor, and Confined Spaces Advisor, and more are in the works.

News Notes: New Background Checking Tool Can Help Avoid Employee Ripoffs

Employers may soon be able to screen out applicants who have a history of stealing. A private database called TheftNet lists workers who have admitted or been convicted of workplace theft or shoplifting from participating employers. Although TheftNet is currently available only to very large companies, plans are under way to make the information accessible […]

News Notes: Mandatory Arbitration Programs Under Attack

New developments signal a growing trend toward restricting the use of mandatory arbitration. The California Supreme Court recently decided a case involving charges that the Kaiser Permanente Medical Group misrepresented the fairness of its mandatory arbitration system for medical malpractice claims. The Supreme Court issued a strong directive to lower courts to ensure that private […]

News Notes: Court Approves Weekly Overtime In California

A court has rejected a bid by labor groups to block the Industrial Welfare Commission’s recent changes to California’s overtime laws, set to take effect January 1. Unless overturned by a higher court, this latest development clears the way for overtime to be required only after 40 hours in a week rather than after eight […]

Personnel Records: Court Rules Departing Employees Can’t Take Confidential Documents; How To Maintain Control Of Your Records

When employees are fired or quit under difficult circumstances, they may try to take confidential papers you didn’t intend them to have or see. And if they later sue you for wrongful termination or other employment-related matters, the ex-employees may try to use the records against you. But a new court ruling, along with some […]

Americans With Disabilities Act Update: New Rulings Show The Law Can Protect Employees Who Aren’t “Disabled”; Even Teasing Can Trigger Coverage

When the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1992, the initial questions focused on how to reasonably accommodate disabled workers. But there is another sticky problem that has been surfacing more recently: just who is entitled to ADA protection? You might be surprised to discover that the answer is broader than you think. Even […]