In 2004, California enacted the nation’s first paid family leave program, offering up to six weeks of paid leave to workers who need to care for a new baby or an ill family member.  The program was financed through disability insurance taxes paid by employees through payroll withholdings.  The 2004 program paid 55 percent of the employee’s wages, up to a set maximum of about $1,100 per week.
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Anyone paying attention to national politics knows increasing the minimum wage is a hot topic  being debated by employee and business groups.  While the debate rages, the Sacramento City Council decided not to wait for the feds or the state to act, and recently voted 6-3 to increase the Sacramento city minimum wage, as follows:
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An employer is prohibited from retaliating against an employee who makes a complaint to a government or law enforcement agency under California law.

Labor Code section 1102.5(b), for example, makes it unlawful for a hospital to terminate a nurse because the nurse complained about a doctor to the Medical Board. It also would be unlawful for an airline to terminate a pilot who reported potential violations of regulations to the Federal Aviation Administration. These are classic “whistleblower” situations, where an employee complains about the conduct of his or her employer.  However, a recent case, Cardenas v. M. Fanaian, DDS, Inc., has held that the reach of section 1102.5(b) is not so limited, but applies to matters unrelated to the employer’s compliance with law in operating its business, such as employee reports to law enforcement involving personal matters.
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The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently reversed summary judgment for an employer, finding that a former employee’s self-serving declaration and deposition testimony regarding alleged disability discrimination were sufficient to create a triable issue of fact. The Ninth Circuit also held the employer’s denial of the accommodation the employee requested “chilled” the exercise of the employee’s right to request an accommodation. The plaintiff suffered from ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease that causes long-lasting inflammation and ulcers in the digestive tract. After being terminated, the plaintiff brought suit against his employer pursuant to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, claiming that it: (1) discriminated against him because of his disability; (2) declined to accommodate his disability; and (3) did not engage in an interactive process to determine possible accommodation for his disability. The plaintiff also alleged that his employer terminated his employment in violation of California public policy. The employer successfully moved for summary judgment before the District Court, and the plaintiff appealed.
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