• Disabled Employees in California Must Be “Qualified Individuals”

    The Supreme Court resolved a conflict in appellate decisions regarding whether employees must prove they are “qualified individuals” under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).

    The Americans with Disabilities Act (the federal statute prohibiting discrimination against persons with disabilities) specifically includes the requirement that the employee is a “qualified individual,” but the FEHA does not. To be a “Qualified individual” under the ADA, the employee must be able to perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodations. If the employee cannot perform the essential functions of the job with or without a reasonable, the employer can terminate the employee without violating the law.

    Because the FEHA does not include a requirement that the employee be a “qualified individual,” at least one appellate court held that the employee does not have to prove that s/he could perform the essential functions of the job in order to prevail on a disability discrimination case.

    The California Supreme Court in Green v. State of California (S 137770) held that the FEHA, like the ADA, requires the employee to prove that s/he is a “qualified individual” who can perform the essential functions of a job with or without reasonable accommodation.

    In determining whether an employee can perform the essential functions of the job, employers are wise to consider all possible accommodations, such as transfers or job restructuring

    The Law Office of Phillip J. Griego
    95 South Market Street, Suite 520
    San Jose, CA 95113
    Tel. 408-293-6341
     
    Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman, former associate of The Law Office of Phillip J. Griego.
     

    Feel free to suggest topics for the blog. We are happy to consider topics pertaining to general points of Labor and Employment Law, but we cannot answer questions about specific situations or provide legal advice. If you desire legal advice, you should contact an attorney.

    Your use of this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the Law Office of Phillip J. Griego. The use of the Internet or this blog for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be posted in this blog and the Law Office of Phillip J. Griego cannot guarantee the confidentiality of anything posted to this blog.

    Phillip J. Griego represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties.

  • Rebirth of the Profit-Sharing Plans

    In 2003 a California Appellate Court held that Ralphs Grocery Co.’s profit-based incentive plan was invalid insofar as it considered a store’s costs for workers’ compensation when computing the store profit on which the bonus payments were calculated. The court also concluded that the plan was invalid as to nonexempt employees insofar as it factored cash shortages and merchandise damage and loss into the profit calculation. Employers who based incentive pay on company profitability were at risk.

    Today, the California Supreme Court overturned Ralphs Grocery Co. v. Superior Court (2003) 112 Cal.App.4th 1090. In the Supreme Court decision (Prachasaisoradej v. Ralphs Grocery Company S128576) the court carefully examined the relevant statutes, regulations and judicial decisions and reached a contrary conclusion. Since Ralphs incentive pay plan did not create an expectation or entitlement in a specified wage then take deductions or contributions from that wage to reimburse Ralphs for its business costs, the Supreme Court had no problems allowing the plan. Regardless of store performance employees received their promised wages (salary or an hourly wage) and employees were entitled to the additional compensation only if the store met pre-defined profit requirements within specified periods. The employee was not entitled to the incentive pay if the store did not meet the pre-defined profit requirements, therefore the company did not deduct money the employee’s wages because the employee had not earned the wages.

    The court distinguished itself from prior cases such as Quillian and Hudgins on the grounds that the prior cases dealt with employees who were promised commissions based on sales volume or revenues generated by their own individual efforts and then had money deducted from the commissions for losses or shortages not caused by the employee.

    After the appellate court decision, many employers eliminated their profit-sharing plans, making it more difficult to attract and retain quality personnel. Other employers at least modified their profit-sharing plans so that workers’ compensation and losses and breakages not attributable to employee fault were left out of the equation. This oftentimes created an accounting nightmare. Employers can now reintroduce appropriate profit-sharing plans and continue to attract and retain quality personnel.

    If you have a profit-sharing plan, or are considering implementing one, you should speak with an attorney familiar with the new Supreme Court decision

    The Law Office of Phillip J. Griego
    95 South Market Street, Suite 520
    San Jose, CA 95113
    Tel. 408-293-6341
     
    Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman, former associate of The Law Office of Phillip J. Griego.
     

    Feel free to suggest topics for the blog. We are happy to consider topics pertaining to general points of Labor and Employment Law, but we cannot answer questions about specific situations or provide legal advice. If you desire legal advice, you should contact an attorney.

    Your use of this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the Law Office of Phillip J. Griego. The use of the Internet or this blog for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be posted in this blog and the Law Office of Phillip J. Griego cannot guarantee the confidentiality of anything posted to this blog.

    Phillip J. Griego represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties.

  • Legislative Attempt to Change Limitations Period For Unequal Pay Claims

    All civil cases must be filed in court within applicable statutes of limitation. If a plaintiff does not timely file his/her claim, the court will dismiss the matter. Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court concluded that a gender discrimination claim involving unequal pay between men and women begins to accrue when the plaintiff receives his or her first unequal pay. See Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. Employers hailed this as a major windfall and plaintiff’s attorneys criticized the decision because many plaintiffs do not even know they are being paid less than other similarly qualified individuals for a long time, and therefore lose their right to bring an unfair pay claim.

    The legislature decided to weigh in on the issue. On July 31st the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2831, the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2007, which reinstates the “paycheck accrual rule” in effect for employment discrimination cases prior to the Ledbetter decision. The bill passed with 225 voting for the bill and 199 against it. A companion bill, S. 1843, the Fair Pay Restoration Act of 2007, was introduced in the Senate on July 20, 2007.

    If the Senate passes S. 1843, the bill will move on to the President for approval. The White House has threatened to veto the bill. If the bill becomes law, each time an employee receives a discriminatory paycheck, s/he is subject to another instance of discrimination, effectively restarting the applicable statute of limitations.

    Regardless of the applicable statute of limitations, it is never wise to pay different rates for the same work. It is acceptable to pay higher wages to persons with more skills even though the person is performing the same job as somebody with fewer skills. This may, however, cause the lower paid worker to believe s/he is the victim of discrimination. Keep in mind; California employers cannot require employees to keep their pay rates confidential.

    The Law Office of Phillip J. Griego
    95 South Market Street, Suite 520
    San Jose, CA 95113
    Tel. 408-293-6341
     
    Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman, former associate of The Law Office of Phillip J. Griego.
     

    Feel free to suggest topics for the blog. We are happy to consider topics pertaining to general points of Labor and Employment Law, but we cannot answer questions about specific situations or provide legal advice. If you desire legal advice, you should contact an attorney.

    Your use of this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the Law Office of Phillip J. Griego. The use of the Internet or this blog for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be posted in this blog and the Law Office of Phillip J. Griego cannot guarantee the confidentiality of anything posted to this blog.

    Phillip J. Griego represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties.