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What You Need to Know About Construction Accidents

construction accidents

Many construction accidents in California are caused by defective equipment. The use of hand tools and heavy industrial equipment or vehicles is part of construction work. Unfortunately, there are times when the equipment is not well maintained which can cause serious injuries and even the loss of life. Injuries can also involve amputations or any serious condition that will prevent the worker from returning to work. Here is a list of the main causes of construction injuries in the California workplace.

 

Design Flaw

Equipment is deemed defective due to a manufacturing or design flaw. Workers who are using defective equipment run the risk of getting injured or killed. The manufacturer or distributor of the defective equipment could be named in a third-party lawsuit and held liable for compensation.

 

Lack of Maintenance and Repair

Equipment needs periodic maintenance to remain functional and safe for worker’s use. Employers need to make sure that the equipment is properly maintained before allowing its use. Employers must also mandate immediate repairs for equipment deemed unsafe for use. Until the particular machinery is repaired, workers should not attempt to use it to prevent possible accidents and injuries.

 

Inadequate Workers Training

Modern equipment is favored in construction for its increased productivity and efficiency. The machinery tends to reduce the amount of physical labor required and even possible risk to human lives. Unfortunately, most construction accidents happen because employers tend to overlook the fact that the workers need adequate training to operate the sophisticated equipment. Workers should not operate the machinery if they lacked the knowledge to run it. Otherwise, they will put themselves and others at risk.

 

Construction Worker’s Right Against Past Criminal Record Screening

California has a current law which protects discrimination against felons. The law prevents employers from asking or using criminal convictions that have been judicially dismissed or sealed. This will protect job seekers who have such records from undue scrutiny and give them the chance to land a job. Employers who violate this new rule intentionally can get slapped with a civil penalty or a misdemeanor criminal liability.

 

Exceptions to the Rule

This law does not cover cases where the job applicant is required to hold and use a firearm during this or her employment period. Another instance is when the conviction prevents the applicant from holding the job or the employer is simply not allowed to hire an applicant convicted of a crime.

Employers should pay close attention to their equipment and make sure that they are safe for their worker’s use to prevent serious injuries and legal liabilities. Employers should also update their screening process to follow the law that protects ex-felons from discrimination.

 

Details About Dealing With Habitual Absent, Tardy And Sick Employees

employees

Amongst your employees do you have an employee who regularly reports to work late or fails to turn up completely? This might put you in a dilemma especially when it comes to discipline such an employee. This is despite if the employee is entitled to the days he or she does not report to work.

 

What Should I Do?

If you have such an employee who is habitually absent, tardy or sick you need to start by determining whether there is a Federal or state statue that applies in such a situation. If the particular troubled employee has worked for at least 1,250 hours in the past year and you have more than 50 employees within a radius of 75 miles, the employee is most likely covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

This particular act requires that you allow an employee freedom to take intermittent leave if the employee fails to report to work because of a serious health condition. The act stipulates that such an employee is entitled to a 12-week unpaid leave in a year without losing his or her job.

The fact that this leave is unpaid means that you are not compelled to pay the employee during the period of the leave. The employee also needs to provide you with medical certification so that you can prove that he or she was actually sick.

What If The Illness Is Interfering With Their Work?

As an employer, you also have the freedom to transfer an employee if you notice his or her health condition is interfering with work. You just need to give the employee a position that has equal pay with the current position. This is to avoid a lawsuit under the Family and Medical Leave Act which also talks about discrimination against felons. The new position should allow the employee to get the necessary medical attention in a more convenient manner.

What If They Are Disabled?

Besides the FMLA, it is also paramount to consider whether the employee is protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This act requires that you accommodate an employee who is legally qualified as disabled provided the employee can perform the most important functions of her or his job. This mainly applies if the employee was working for you but got sick and eventually became disabled.

If the employee does not qualify under the ADA and FMLA you can go ahead to discipline or even fire the particular employee if he fails to show up for work. This is subject to the state laws and as a result, you should check them keenly to make sure they do not apply.

To make sure you are on the right side of the laws you should have a clear policy which you should communicate with the employees while discussing employment terms. You should treat all the employees uniformly to avoid discriminating against some employees. You should also ensure you record everything including the days an employee called sick and the actions you took to deal with such a situation.

But to ensure that everything is legal you should consult a local attorney for further guidance on the various laws. You can also get insurance which will help ameliorate some of the risks which are associated with your regular business activities.

Gender Neutral Bathroom Laws in California 

gender neutral bathroom

Effective immediately on March 1st, 2017, all single occupancy restrooms are required to be gender neutral bathrooms with the appropriate signs to display this. The newly formed Equal Restroom Access Act (ERAA) applies to any public place, government office or business center in California.

 

More About the ERAA

In this context, a single user toilet is a bathroom which has only one urinal and one toilet with a locking system for the user.

According to the act, building officials are made accountable for enforcement of the code. Periodic inspections should be conducted in all commercial establishments by abiding by the Health and Safety Code. Specially appointed inspectors must diligently check for the law’s compliance.

 

Title 24

The signs must be in accordance with Title 24 in the Code of Regulations of California. In addition to the gender neutral geometric sign, every restroom must have a designated tangible pattern. These raised letters should be in Braille to point out for the blind.

There is no compulsion to have the signage in words alone. For instance, it can be a visual indication stating, Unisex Restroom or Gender Neutral Toilet or All Gender Bathroom.

Two signs come in the purview of the Gender Neutral Bathroom Laws.

 

Gender Neutral Bathroom Laws 

 

The first one is a geometrical shape to differentiate whether the restroom is exclusively for men or women or for both. The male washrooms are represented by triangles and its female counterparts by circles. The California Building Code accepts a triangle superimposing a circle as its sole unisex symbol.

The second type of signage to be put up must be a designation mounted on the bathroom walls. This acts as an identification mark for any room that functions as a toilet facility. The sign must basically show if the space is a toilet or not in the first place. Then, it should signal the user whether the restroom is meant for men or women or is gender neutral.

This representation has the option of being illustrated as a pictogram. It is important for the sign board to be perceptible to the sense of touch.

There is no strict regulation to display wall signs on bathroom doorways at all times. Employers must be extra cautious to verify whether the symbols and language used complies with the law. To be on the safer side, it is advisable for building owners to seek clarity through legal advice. It is reported that a large number of public interest litigations have been filed against the absence of such signs.

Paid Sick Leave Laws in California

paid sick leave

After the paid sick leave provision came into effect in 2015, employers are required to pay their employees when they take a sick leave. An organization’s paid leave policy may continue without alteration if they provide more or equal sick days and benefits under the same conditions to employees, as compared to law specifications.

The new law only concerns sick leave and doesn’t include leaves taken for other purposes. The law states that the rate of pay for sick leaves should be equal to the regular rate of pay. This can be determined by calculating the regular rate of the workweek in which the leave was taken or through taking a 90-day average.

 

It is not required to include overtime pay while deciding the rate of sick leave pay and employers can also use their own paid sick leave policies as long as it adheres to the laws.
About The Laws

According to the paid sick leave laws, an employee can take paid sick leave for certain purposes. If the employee has accumulated sick leaves which are available, then the employer is not permitted to deny the leave application.

 

According to the statute, the employer cannot discriminate an employee in any manner or take action against the employee for:

  1. Applying for and/or using the accrued sick leaves

 

  1. Alleging or filing a complaint about the article’s violation

 

  1. Being cooperative towards investigation and prosecution for alleged violation or opposition of any practice, policy or act that is prohibited in the article.

 

Other Provisions
Additionally, section 233 of the Labor Code states that the employer must allow usage of sick leaves which have accumulated in the last 6 months for purposes given under the law concerning paid sick leaves.

 

As per the section 234 of Labor Code, any employer policy which takes sick leaves pursuing Section 233 into consideration, for controlling absences and/or to discipline employees in any way can result in legal actions for violating Section 233. However, if an employee has utilized all their sick leaves or if they take a sick leave for a different purpose than the ones mentioned, the employer is eligible to take disciplinary action.

 

The statute allows employees to take sick leaves if:

  1. The employee or their family member requires to be diagnosed, cared for, treated for any existing health condition or needs preventive care.

 

  1. The employee is a victim of either sexual assault, stalking or domestic violence then they may take leave for any of the purposes given in Section 230 subdivision (c) and Section 230.1 subdivision (a).

Disability Rights in California 

disability rights

If you are from California living with a disability you probably have come to realize that you need a lot of assistance in your day to day activities. The law provides you with many disability rights that are designed to enable you to operate your daily life as if you had no disabilities.

Here are some of the laws that you should know of:

California has a law that restricts people from discriminating people with disabilities. This also is included in all other aspects of life activities and endeavors are it at school, work, public transportation, and accommodations.

This law states that employers and public places to make their facilities accommodate everyone including those living with disabilities. For example, if there is a student who is deaf in a class there must be a sign language interpreter provided to facilitate their learning.

The act also provides that disabled people get access to facilities, hence the owners of these properties have to facilitate this by providing a way that any disabled person can access the facility and each of its buildings and still be useful to all without discrimination.
State Voter Enrollment Law
The State Voter Enrollment Law states that the government must make it possible for people living with disabilities to be able to vote by providing mechanisms and ways that can enable this person to be able to vote and access such facilities with much ease. Polling stations have to get people to provide them with assistance if the need arises. This also includes the printing of voting instructions in large print to enable all to see clearly.

 

Rehabilitation Law
The Rehabilitation Law also compels the government agency to provide for accommodating all people, including those living with disabilities. This particular law requires all entities to provide care for the disabled ones without discrimination and even provide them with required assistances if need be.

Facilities such as wheel chairs should be provided. Large accommodative seats at work places should also be provided. Specialized teachers also should be available at schools to help persons with disabilities. The government as a whole is required to facilitate these agencies with resources to be able to accomplish the requirement of this law.
Rights For Everyone
These disability rights are meant for to provide for equal opportunities for all individuals including those living without disabilities. It is therefore very important for everyone to know about the laws and provisions to promote a better environment for coexisting amongst all people. Always visit any available attorney if you feel that your rights have been violated.

What You Need To Know About Deductions 

deductions

The law has specific guidelines when employers can withhold employees’ wages. First, the employer can impose deductions on an employee’s wages when he is allowed by the state or federal law. The second option where the employer can have deductions is where the employee expressly directs the employer to do so in writing.

The reasons behind the employee allowing the deductions can be to cater for insurance premiums, contribution to other deductions among other reasons. The third reason why the employee can request for deduction is when the employer deducts the wages in order to cover for health and welfare reasons.

The ability of the employer to deduct employees’ wages based on breakages or loss of equipment is clearly regulated in law.

 

Some of the unlawful deductions which can be made by an employer include the following:

 

Gratuities

An employer cannot receive gratuity under the law. If the employer is deducting from you, then you can sue them for violation of the law.

Photographs

If the employer will require your photography in the workplace, you are not the one to pay for the photograph. The law in labor code section 401 prohibits such deductions.

Bond
If the employer will require a bond of an employee, then the employer will be required to pay for the costs related to the bond under Labor Code Section 401.

Uniforms

If an employer will require the employee to wear uniforms, then the employer should pay for the uniforms. It is stipulated under Labor Code Section 2802. The term uniforms can refer to wearing apparel of distinctive color.

Business Expenses

If an employee incurs expenses, then he is entitled to a full refund by the employer. The Labor Code Section 2802 stipulates all the expenses the employee can be reimbursed.

Medical or Physical Examinations

The employer is not allowed to withhold any salary or wages of an employee due to fees arising due to pre-employment examinations. The Labor Code Section 222.5 states clearly the rights of employees and employers in regard to the examination carried out before employment begins.

 

FAQ’s About Deductions in the Workplace

Is an employer allowed to make deduction by law?

Yes, the law allows the employer to deduct your salary under your personal or the federal law provisions.

Can an employer pay for breakables?

No, the law in the state of California leaves the breakages under the employer to cater for them. It is assumed that the breakables are among other losses are inevitable in a business operation hence the employer should plan for them.

 

 

 

Hate Violence at Work in California 

hate violence

Hate violence is a criminal act against an individual or a group of people because of their perceived race, religion, national color origin, sexual orientation, ancestry, gender or disability. Hate crimes aim at individuals for who they are, the color of their skin or what group they are a member.

In spite of the fact that right to speak freely is protected under the United States Constitution and is not a hate crime, speech that carries a convincing threat of violence against a group or a person is judged as unlawful in California.

What Types Of Conduct Are Classified As A Hate Crime?
To give an example, using strength or threats of force to instigate bodily harm, frighten or interrupt another person from making use of legitimate rights would be considered a hate crime.

Another instance would be ruining another person’s property to terrify or obstruct their capacity to make use of their constitutional rights. Showing an ominous sign on someone else’s belonging or violating a religious symbol with the motive to torment them is a hate violence at work.
Is It A Felony?
The state of California separates hate crimes into a minor wrongdoing or felonies based on the facts revolving the case. To give an instance, disorganize behavior at a place of worship where people are gathered is charged as a misdemeanor, whereas destroying a place of worship based on religious bias can be brought to trial as a felony.

When a victim was killed because of their color, race, nationality, religion or country of origin, the death penalty or even life without any possibility of parole may be imposed. Also, the suspect could be sentenced to life with no any parole if the victim was killed as a result of their gender, disability or sexual orientation.

 

When the criminal offense was not done because of bias, the individual can still nonetheless be prosecuted for a crime for any of the above crimes.
What To Do If A Hate Crime Is Suspected
If you’re facing hate violence charges, you will have to speak with a competent criminal defense lawyer who can explain hate violence and their corresponding penalties. Because you could be encountering anywhere from a light penalty in a minor charge too far more severe penalty if you’re convicted of a felony, good legal representation is vital.

 

Without a criminal attorney, you are putting your whole future in jeopardy. It is essential that you protect your freedom, legal rights, and your future by calling a criminal defense attorney in your California right as soon as possible.

 

Retaliation Complaint Investigation Unit in California

retaliation

Retaliation is a serious matter to the Department of Labor. As an employee of the State of California, you have the right to speak with the representatives of the California Labor Commissioner’s office or any other government or law enforcement agency on any issues affecting your working conditions.

Your employer can not dismiss, lower, suspend or discipline you for answering any questions or providing any information to a government agency.

For Employers

In the State of California, it is unlawful to retaliate against any employee who provides information to the government or law enforcement agency where the employee has reasonable grounds to believe that the information discloses violation or noncompliance with state or federal law, regulation, or retaliation, you can’t fire, lower, suspend or discipline any employee who engages in this protected activity.


What is in section 1102.5 of the California Labor Code, subsections (a) – (i)?

(A) The employer or any person acting on behalf of the employer in retaliation complaint should not accept, adopt or apply any rule, regulation or policy prohibiting an employee from disclosing information to the government or law enforcement agency to a person with authority over an employee or other employee who has Powers to investigate, detect or correct a violation or noncompliance, or provide information or testify to any government agency conducting the investigation, listen of inquiry or, if the employee has reasonable that the information discloses a violation of state or federal law, violation or noncompliance with local, state or federal rule or regulation, regardless of whether the disclosure is part of the employee’s official duties.

(B) The employer or any person acting on behalf of the employer can not retaliate against the employee for disclosing information, or because the employer believes that the employee disclosed or can disclose information to a government or law enforcement authority.

A person with authority over an employee or other employee who has the right to investigate, detect or correct a violation or noncompliance, or to provide information or to give evidence earlier to any government agency conducting p Investigation, hearing or inquiry if the employee has reasonable grounds to believe that the information discloses a violation of a state or federal law, a violation or noncompliance with a local, state or federal rule or regulation, regardless of whether disclosure is part of the employee’s official duties.

(C) The employer or any person acting on behalf of the employer does not compensate the employee for refusal to participate in activities that would lead to a violation of a state or federal law or to the violation or noncompliance with a local, state or federal rule or regulation.

(D) The employer or any person acting on behalf of the employer does not reimburse the employee for exercising his rights under subsection (a), (b) or (c) under any previous employment.

(E) A report made by a government official to his employer is the disclosure of information to the government or law enforcement agency in accordance with subparagraphs (a) and (b).

(F) In addition to other fines, an employer who is a corporation or a limited liability company is liable for a civil fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($ 10,000) for each violation of this section.

(G) This section does not apply to rules, rules or policies that either implement the actions of employers against employees who violate the confidentiality of the privilege of a lawyer and a client under Article 3 (beginning with Section 950) or a physician-the strategic privilege of Article 6 From Section 990) of Chapter 4 of Section 8 of the Evidence Code or commercial secret information.

(H) The employer or the person acting on behalf of the employer does not reimburse the employee since the employee is a member of the family of the person who is supposed to have any activities protected by this section.

(I) For the purposes of this section, the “employer” or “the person acting on behalf of the employer” includes, but is not limited to, the employer of the client as defined in subparagraph (a) of section 2810.3 (1) and the employer specified in subsection (b) Section 6400.

Retaliation should be addressed and subsequently dealt with immediately for the best results.

An Overview of California’s Prevailing Wage Laws for Public Works Projects

prevailing wage

Public works projects in California are governed by prevailing wage laws. Even so, employees often don’t realize they are getting shortchanged until they find out another worker on the same site working for a different contractor is getting paid significantly more.

These laws were established to prevent contractors and subcontractors from reducing employee wages to compete for projects. The central purpose of the prevailing wage law, which is a minimum wage law, is to protect and benefit workers on public works projects by ensuring these employees receive wages common to their trade, craft, or classification.

What is California’s Prevailing Wage Law?

The California Prevailing Wage Law is a comprehensive statutory scheme designed to enforce minimum wage standards on construction projects funded in whole or in part with public funds.

Under this law, ALL workers employed on public works projects costing more than $1,000 must be paid not less than the general prevailing rate as determined by the Director of the Department of Industrial Relations.

The duty to pay prevailing wages extends to both the prime contractor and all subcontractors. The central purpose of this law, which is a minimum wage law, is to protect and benefit employees on public works projects.

Which Employers Are Covered?

The duty to pay California prevailing wages extends to both the prime contractor and all subcontractors on public works projects. A subcontractor is any person or company that has agreed to provide services for a primary or prime contractor, whether it is a purchase order or contract or oral agreement.

If you are working at a job site, your employer is either a contractor or a subcontractor.

What is a Public Works Project? 

Under these laws, a public works project is any project costing more than $1,000 that is funded in whole or in part with public funds. So even if your work site appears to be a private sector project, if part of the funds comes from public sources it may be considered a public works project.

What Rate Should be Paid?

The Director of the Department of Industrial Relations determines and publishes the wage rates for specific trades, crafts, or classifications.

The applicable rate depends on your duties, NOT the title your employer gives you. For example, your employer may hire you as a roofer, but you are doing work as a mechanic.

Courts will look at your actual job duties and determine that you should have been paid the prevailing wage for a mechanic even though your title is “roofer.”

A qualified attorney can help evaluate the job duties and determine the correct wages.

 

Holidays in the Workplace

holidays

Many workers believe that they are automatically entitled to take paid time off work on holidays. This, however, is an incorrect assumption. Most employees in California are given time off work on holidays, but employers do not legally have to give you this time off.

 

If your employer does agree to give you this time off, they do not have to pay you. Though in reality, many employees are paid for time taken off for public holidays, and indeed many businesses shut down completely on these days.

 

This article looks at how to find out whether you are entitled to take time off holidays and, if so whether you will be paid for this time off and whether there is a maximum amount of statutory holiday time that you, as an employee, are entitled to.

California does not have to provide Thanksgiving off

All the employers should have to provide holidays that are religious to their employees who may include: Christmas, Independence Day, and also New Year day. It is major for the employers to observe their religious beliefs. However, it is not the duty of the employer to give some extra payment as thanks for the work you are doing on regular unobserved holidays.

No extra payment for work done on federal holidays

Under the laws of California, it is not the duty of your employer to pay you anything extra for the work that you do on federal holidays. What you are entitled to is the payment for working your eight hours, any overtime after 8 hours in a day and also over forty hours in a work week. You may be lucky if your employer has an agreement with employees that they should be paid extra in such situations.

Your contract of employment will stipulate what your holiday entitlement is and whether you are, as part of your terms and conditions of employment, permitted to take time off on holidays.
Employers should give accommodations for religious reasons

In some situations, employees may not be able to work on special federal holidays for religious reasons. In such cases, the employer must give the necessary accommodations for their employees for their individual religious observances. Such accommodations should be critically analyzed for specific cases by the type of the business and the accommodation itself

In some, situations, the government occasionally grants an additional bank or public holiday to celebrate a special occasion (such as the Royal Wedding for UK workers.) If your employment contract is not providing you with the information you need with regards to your right to take time off on holidays, you should speak to your human resources manager for clarification.

 

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