Effective January 1, 2016, an employee’s request for an accommodation for a disability or for religious reasons is considered to be “protected activity” for a retaliation claim under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”).

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A recent decision by the Ninth Circuit reversed a district court’s denial of an employer’s motion to compel arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”). This decision is notable because the applicable dispute resolution policy, outlining the terms of arbitration, was contained within the company’s policy manual and detached from the employee’s signed acknowledgment of receipt of the manual. The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s decision on the grounds the language of the employer’s dispute resolution policy, separately outlined within the company’s policy manual, expressly indicated a waiver of the right to a judicial forum for civil rights claims such that the employee “knowingly” agreed to arbitrate his Title VII claim. Michael Ashbey v. Archstone Property Management, Inc., No. 12-55912 (9th Cir., May 12, 2015).
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Last year the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) and the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) initiated a campaign, entitled “Wage Theft is a Crime,” to educate California workers about the complexities of California’s wage laws. DIR Director Christine Baker stated that the “department’s mission is to protect California’s workers with comprehensive labor laws and enforcement focused on businesses that intentionally skirt the law.” The department’s recent effort is the “Wage Theft is a Crime” campaign which encourages workers, especially those in low-wage industries, to report possible labor code violations within the workplace. In support of this program, educational materials have been distributed through local events, mailings, and digital and print media in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Hmong and Tagalog.
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