Amelia F. Burroughs

Recent Medical Board Matters

For medical care providers who see patients and write prescriptions for pain management, the opioid epidemic is at the forefront of the practice of medicine—particularly here in Humboldt County.  Recent opioid overdose data suggests an estimated 26 opioid overdose deaths in Humboldt County in 2016.  That’s one of the highest rates in California (per 100,000 residents), with the majority of deaths occurring between those aged 35 to 39 years old. 
 

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California Cannabis Unions

The passage of California’s Senate Bill 643 established a comprehensive licensing and regulatory framework for the cultivation, manufacture, transportation, storage, distribution, and sale of medical cannabis.  The new law provides that all state commercial cannabis applicants or licensees with 20 employees or more (not counting some management) must operate under a Labor Peace Agreement (“LPA”).  This requirement includes all types of license classifications (cultivation, manufacturing, testing, dispensary, distributor, transporter), with limited exceptions. 
 

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Recommending Medical Cannabis in California

The Compassionate Use Act of 1996 provided seriously ill Californians with the right to obtain and use cannabis for medical purposes when it has been recommended, under certain circumstances, by a physician who is the patient’s attending physician.  The recent passage of California’s Senate Bill 643 established a more comprehensive licensing and regulatory framework for the cultivation, manufacture, transportation, storage, distribution, and sale of medical cannabis.  With respect to physicians, the new law includes guidance and direction to the Medical Board of California (“MBC”).  

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Student Loan Options for the Disabled

If you borrowed certain money from the federal government for student loans and subsequently became disabled and unable to pay, there is a process where you can request and receive a discharge of those loans.
 
If you are totally and permanently disabled, consider applying for a disability discharge of your federal student loan or TEACH Grant service obligation. Once you receive a disability discharge, you will no longer be required to repay the loans or complete the service obligation.
 

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Marijuana in the Workplace

With the passage of Proposition 64, the “Adult Use of Marijuana Act,” employers may have some concern about whether the new law affects their right to enforce drug-free workplace policies.  While employers should always make employment decisions with great care, the Act clearly preserves the rights of private employers to maintain drug free workplaces.  The actual language for that preservation of employer rights is currently found at California’s Health and Safety Code section 11362.45(f).  Nothing about California’s new recreational use law requires an employer to permit the use of marijuana

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No Right to A Jury Trial in a Whistleblower Case against Health Facilities

This month, the California Supreme Court decided a very important decision for health facility employers and employees.  California law, at Health & Safety Code section 1278.5, provides protections for patients, nurses, members of a medical staff, or other health care workers who notify government entities of suspected unsafe patient care and conditions.  A health care facility is prohibited from then discriminating or retaliating.  Health care facilities who do discriminate or retaliate are subject to civil fines and attorneys’ fees.  In Shaw v. Superior Court (2017), Case No.

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Exempt Employee Minimum Salary Increases for 2017

Humboldt County employers must remember that with California’s minimum wage increase on January 1, 2017, the corresponding base minimum annual salary to qualify any employee as exempt from overtime has a corresponding increase.  As always, to qualify for exempt status, employees must make at least twice the minimum wage on an annual basis.  If you have any questions about whether your employees qualify as exempt, please contact an experienced employment law attorney.

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Minimum Wage and Exempt Status Require Review in 2017

A reminder to all Humboldt County employers, as of January 1, 2017 the minimum wage for all employers with 25 or fewer employees is $10 per hour and $10.50 per hour for all employers with 26 or more employees.  The minimum salary thresholds for all exempt employees are also increasing.  Check to make sure that all of your current exempt employees meet the minimum threshold amounts in 2017!

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"More Money, More Problems”—The New Theme Song at the DOL

A new federal overtime rule from the Department of Labor was set to take effect on December 1, 2016.  The rule doubles the current federal salary that must be made by an employee before the employee can be classified as exempt from overtime—known as the executive, administrative and professional exemptions.  The new rule requires a minimum salary of $913 per week—even higher than California’s minimum salary threshold for overtime exemption.

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The Times are A Changing

Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services have reminded all states of its commitment to the privacy of nursing home residents.  In the wake of recent publicity about nursing home employees posting degrading pictures of residents on social media, the federal entity has added a requirement that nursing homes have and enforce social media policies.  In a letter sent this week to all state agencies who administer nursing home licensing and investigations, CMS reminded agencies that nursing home residents have the right to privacy and protection from abuse.

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End of Life Option Act

Effective June 9, 2016, California’s End of Life Option Act permits participating physicians to prescribe aid-in-dying drugs to their patients.  The law is extensive, requires a number of forms be completed and included in the patient’s medical record, and includes requisite timelines for accomplishing notice to patients and inclusion in the medical records.
 
An excellent discussion and analysis of the Act can be found at the Medical Board of California’s website here.  
 

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LSNC Wishes Jacob Smith Bon Voyage!

The long-time Managing Attorney for Legal Services of Northern California’s Redwood Regional office, which serves Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, will retire on May 31, 2016.  Mr. Smith is a graduate of Pomona College, Claremont, California.  He graduated from New York University School of Law in 1973. He has been providing legal assistance to the Redwood Region since 1979, where has served as Managing Attorney of the Redwood Regional Office of LSNC and Director of Senior Legal Services in Eureka, California.

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Physician Report Thyself

Occasionally it happens that a physician who has worked incredibly hard throughout his or her life runs into legal trouble.  When those troubles includes any criminal element—if for example a physician is charged by information or indictment with a felony or pleads to or is convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony — the physician’s obligation is to self-report to the California Medical Board.  Section 802.1 of California’s Business and Professions Code spells out the reporting requirements and can be found here.

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Janssen Malloy LLP supports Legal Services of Northern California

Janssen Malloy LLP continues in its tradition of commitment to Legal Services of Northern California ("LSNC").  Partner Mike Morrison served on the LSNC Board of Directors for 7 years. He was an active member until his term expired. Recently, the California State Bar appointed Janssen Malloy LLP partner Amelia Burroughs to continue in Mike's place as the representative on the LSNC Board from its Redwood Region. Amelia hopes to serve the Board with the same commitment and advocacy effort exhibited by Mike all these years.

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California's Fair Pay Act

In October 2015, California’s Governor Brown signed into law equal pay protections for California employees.  The legislation authored by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson to strengthen the older California Equal Pay Act and to rectify gender wage inequality.  The Fair Pay Act protects employees who discuss their pay or seek to enforce their rights from discrimination or retaliation by employers.  Employees now have a more relaxed standard for claiming—in court or before the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement—that they are not paid the same rate for substantially similar work due to gender.

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420 Employees

The California legislature recently enacted the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act.  The Act consists of three separate bills which create a comprehensive state licensing system for the commercial cultivation, sale, transport, and distribution of medical marijuana.  Assuming the Act is signed into law by California’s Governor Jerry Brown, January 1, 2016 is its effective date.  Any person operating pursuant to the Act must abide by its many regulations—including those that apply to the employer-employee relationship.  
 

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U-be a Class of Employees

Recently, a federal court in California certified a class action of Uber drivers who claim they are really employees and were misclassified by Uber as independent contractors.  Uber defended the class status of the Uber drivers, arguing that each driver, as independent contractors, had a special contractual relationship with Uber and couldn’t prosecute their individual claims as a class. 
 
Drivers for a similar service, Lyft, are also suing and alleging class claims under California’s Labor Code. 
 

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California Labor Commissioner Opines on Sick Leave

This month, the California Labor Commissioner has offered an opinion letter to help California employers interpret the requirements of the new Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014—otherwise known as the new sick leave law in California.  The opinion letter provides guidance to employers who have employees who do not work a traditional 8-hour per day schedule.  Humboldt County employers should recognize that the opinion letter is not legally binding, but it does indicate how the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement will interpret the new sick leave laws for non-traditional work s

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Put the “Self” Back into Self-Employed

Recent data available from the Census Bureau suggests that almost 11,000 Humboldt County residents identify as self-employed.  If you own and operate your own business, you’ve likely had occasion to consider California’s employment laws.  There is a great local resource for employers in Humboldt and Del Norte counties.  The Northcoast Employer’s Advisory Council meets regularly, typically in Eureka, to discuss the state of the law and help employers keep up to date on information.  You can visit the website here.       

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California's New Sick Leave Law Now in Effect

As of July 1, 2015, California’s new sick leave law is in effect.  At this time, Humboldt County employers need a written policy that specifically caps sick leave, or they will be subject to the required statutory accrual rate of one hour of sick pay for every 30 hours worked.
 
For more background on the sick leave law, see our earlier post http://janssenlaw.com/blog/remember-what-ails-you-0.
 

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Multi-Agency Enforcement Unit Issues Guidance

California’s Labor Employment Task Force ("LETF") has just provided written guidance to employers about obligations for employing workers and what to expect during an inspection.  The LETF is a multi-agency enforcement task force in California charged with enforcing labor laws, particularly for underground employment industries, like car washes, restaurants, manufacturing, roofing, construction, agricultural and auto repair businesses.

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Not Too Social in the Workplace

California law actually prevents employers from requiring access to an employee's social media as a condition of employment.  California Labor Code section 980 very specifically limits an employer's access - except where (1) access is required for an employer-issued device, or (2) an employer reasonably believes the employee's social media to be relevant to an investigation of allegations of employee misconduct or violation of employment-related laws and regulations.

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Nursing Home Rights at Admission

If you or a loved one is entering a skilled nursing facility (“SNF”) in California for any length of time, you may be asked to sign an arbitration agreement with the SNF. Typically, such agreements are presented at the time of admission or just prior. Arbitration agreements typically are those that waive a SNF resident’s rights under the law—like the right to a jury trial on personal injury claims. But, California law requires that any such arbitration agreement presented to a SNF resident clearly state that signing it is NOT a precondition for admission to the SNF.

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Independent Contractors Get an Uber Lyft

In mid-March, two federal court judges in Northern California determined that juries will decide the question of whether the drivers for the ride services Uber and Lyft have been misclassified by those services as independent contractors. Employee plaintiffs in each case are alleging that they—and a class of similarly situated drivers—should be classified as employees. The two cases are Cotter v. Lyft, No. 13-4065 and O’Connor v. Uber, 13-3826 (U.S. District Court, Northern District of California).

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CA Requires Training to Prevent Abusive Conduct

California’s law that requires employers to provide annual sexual harassment training to all supervisors was amended to include prevention of abusive conduct. The new law defines abusive conduct as “conduct of an employer or employee in the workplace, with malice, that a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive, and unrelated to an employer’s legitimate business interests.

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“Personnel File” - The Everchanging Landscape

If you’re a Humboldt County employer, you’ve likely been asked over the years by an employee to see the employee’s personnel file.  For many years, the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement helpfully offered some examples of what documents comprised such a file.  In January 2013, however, the California State Legislature added a wrinkle to the works.  Since that date, California Labor Code section 1198.5(a) suggests that personnel files now include “records that the employer maintains relating to the employee's performance or to any grievance concerning the employee

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Volunteers are Now Protected Under FEHA

New this year, volunteers and unpaid interns are now protected under the Fair Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA") against unlawful discrimination and harassment. Assembly Bill 1443, signed by Governor Jerry Brown in September 2014, added to the list of protected people those who work at companies and organizations without pay. Likely a result of the number of people taking unpaid work in a competitive job market where neither federal nor California state law protected unpaid workers, the 2015 amendments to FEHA close that loophole.

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Remember What Ails You

As Humboldt County employers conduct their annual employee handbook reviews, be sure to remember that California now requires all employers to provide three days (24 hours) of paid sick leave. Effective July 1, 2015, the new sick leave law applies to all employees—exempt and non-exempt—who work at least 30 days per calendar year in California. (Some exceptions apply for those providing in-home support services and those represented under certain collective bargaining agreements.) Additionally, all employers must inform employees about the new sick leave laws.

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Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment

On October 1, 2014, changes to the Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) took effect. Humboldt County healthcare providers and patients alike should be aware.

POLST is a physician’s order, signed by both a doctor and a patient, that lays out the medical treatment a patient wishes to receive at the end of life. One of the benefits of POLST is that it encourages and facilitates conversations between healthcare providers and patients about end-of-life treatments, and it helps patients make their wishes known to providers and family members.

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Delegating to Physician Assistants

You’ve graduated from school, received your license, and you now have a job as a Physician Assistant.  Congratulations!  You should know, however, that a number of California laws continue to regulate your practice.  In particular, your employer should help you implement a written agreement that specifically addresses what medical services will be delegated by your supervising physician.  This is called the “Delegation of Services Agreement,” and California statutes and regulations require that it be signed by you and your supervising physician or physicians.  You are not permitted to provi

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Jury Verdict Against CalTrans

On July 15, 2014, after a six week trial, a Humboldt County jury found CalTrans and State Parks liable for maintaining a dangerous condition of public property. Three years prior to that verdict a Humboldt County woman attempted to turn left from Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park on to Highway 36 and was struck by an eastbound truck. Her husband, the passenger, died as a result of the collision. Janssen Malloy was retained by the widow because the CHP officer found her at fault for failing to yield the right of way.

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Independent Contractor: Is It Worth the Risk?

Humboldt County employers should know that the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (“DLSE”) has been cracking down on employers who misclassify employees as independent contractors. In California, the DSLE has various enforcement responsibilities, including the inspection of workplaces for wage and hour violations, the adjudication of wage claims and retaliation complaints, as well as enforcing wage rates.

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Rising MBC Actions Against Physicians?

At Janssen Malloy LLP, we represent all manner of health care providers in licensing and disciplinary actions. Anecdotally, we’ve noticed a recent increase in investigations and disciplinary actions by licensing boards, particularly for physicians and nurses. When we began to look at statistics of the licensing agencies, our suspicions were confirmed.

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Consider Your B.R.N License

Nursing is a rewarding profession. Here in the rural areas of Northern California like Del Norte and Humboldt Counties, nurses garner a great deal of respect. And, we recognize that their jobs carry a certain amount of stress.

On occasion, one stress factor is a licensing action by the nurse's licensing agency. Since 2009, the Board of Registered Nursing in California has been adding enforcement staff. Anecdotal evidence tells us that enforcement actions by the B.R.N. have increased significantly in the last three to four years.

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Even the Smallest Victims Have Rights

The statistics on childhood victimization rates are staggering even before one considers the problem inherent in counting the victims—i.e., underreporting by the victims themselves. According to the Crimes Against Children Research Center, 1 in 12 children have experienced sexual victimization, including sexual assault or rape. In addition to physical injuries, the psychological injuries can be life-altering. Abused children may become prone to depression, anxiety, substance abuse, or other psychiatric disorders lasting well into adulthood.

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Executive Minimum Wage Order

Beginning January 1, 2015, a new minimum wage for workers paid under federal contracts and subcontracts takes effect. According to an Executive Order signed by President Obama on February 12, 2014, the new minimum wage for workers paid under federal contracts and subcontracts must be at least $10.10 per hour. The wage will adjust annually for inflation, as determined by the U.S. Secretary of Labor in accordance with the Consumer Price Index.

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Whistleblowers: Not Just Whistling Dixie

Beginning in January 2014, California’s whistleblower laws expand, and Humboldt County employers should be aware of the changes. Where employees who did, in fact, report violations of laws to governmental agencies were protected by California’s whistleblower law, in 2014 the law is extended to cover those employees who whistleblow internally (i.e., up the chain of command).

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FEHA Extends to Military and Veterans

Humboldt County employers should know that the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) now extends its protections from employment discrimination to those with “military and veteran” status.  Beginning January 1, 2014, such status is defined as "a member or veteran of the United States Armed Forces, United States Armed Forces Reserve, the United States National Guard, and the California National Guard."  Employers may still, however, inquire into military or veteran status, but only for awarding veteran preference where allowed by law.

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A Sobering Look at Employer Liability

Any Humboldt County employer knows that a holiday party is fraught with the possibility of bad behavior—particularly when alcohol is added to the mix. Employers may now be liable, however, when employees injure others after non-required events at which an employer serves alcohol—such as holiday parties. In 2009, a Southern California employer held a holiday party at which it served alcohol. One of the employer’s employees, with a blood alcohol level above the legal limit, drove home and arrived safely, but then decided to drive another co-worker home.

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Minimum Wage Violations - Maximum Penalities

Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law an increase in California’s minimum wage.  Effective July 1, 2014, California’s $8.00 per hour minimum wage will increase to $9.00 per hour.  A second increase to $10.00 per hour is effective January 1, 2016.  This increase represents the first increase in the state’s minimum wage in six years.

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Are You Covered?

While some employer provisions of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) have been delayed, October 1, 2013, was still the deadline for Humboldt County employers who are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) to provide a notice of health care coverage options to their employees.  If you’re a Humboldt County employer who is covered by the FLSA (see below), you were required to provide all provide current employees with written notice regarding their new health insurance marketplace coverage options—to us, that’s Covered California

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California Clarifies "Pregnancy Regulations"

California‘s Fair Employment and Housing Commission (FEHC) has had changes to regulations concerning pregnancy leave definitions approved.  Beginning December 30, 2012, the new regulations law will amend the definitions of key terms or concepts used in the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) concerning pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.  The purpose of the amendments was to provide clarity for employers and employees alike, so that clear terms under FEHA will decrease litigation.

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Authorizing Release of Child's Medical Records

Parents are generally entitled to access the medical records of their child, but that right is not absolute. In California, where the medical care provided to the child was the type for which the child could have consented for treatment, medical care providers must have an authorization for the disclosure of medical records that is signed by the child.

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Protected Leave for Victims of Domestic Violence

It’s sad, but it happens.  Humboldt County employers encounter employees who are the victims of domestic violence.  What employers may not know is that those employees are entitled to certain protections.  California Labor Code sections 230 & 230.1 provide that employers may not discharge, discriminate or retaliate against victims of domestic violence or sexual assault if they must take time off to obtain or attempt to obtain judicial relief, such as a restraining order.  Unless it is not possible, the employee must give the employer reasonable notice before taking leave, and the employ

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Recordkeeping Critical in New DLSE Actions

Humboldt County employers have more incentive than ever to keep accurate wage records for their employees.  The California Labor Commissioner released a summary  (available here) of enforcement actions by its Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (“DLSE”), the agency that scrutinizes and enforces wage laws for California employers, for the last two years.  According to the Labor Commissioner, 2011 and 2012 resulted in more minimum and overtime wages found owing to Ca

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Amelia F. Burroughs Elected to CWL

Janssen Malloy LLP partner Amelia F. Burroughs has been elected to the 2012-2013 California Women Lawyer’s Board of Governors. The mission of California Women Lawyers is to develop and implement a statewide advocacy agenda.  This year, California Women Lawyers has been productively engaged in amicus curiae briefing in cases important to its core issues, legislative advocacy for women’s and children’s rights, combating gender bias in the media, and seeking diversity in the judiciary.

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You've Been Served! Now What?

Medical care providers often receive subpoenas for patient records.  They also receive subpoenas to appear at a deposition, hearing or trial and testify about patient treatment.  What medical providers may not know is that contradictions in California and federal law exist about when it is permissible to disclose information pursuant to a subpoena.  Inexperienced providers run the risk of violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 ("HIPAA") if they simply and quickly produce records or testify in response to a subpoena.

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Mileage Reimbursement Rate Changed 1/1/13

The Internal Revenue Service recently issued the 2013 optional standard mileage rates, which are often used by employers to reimburse employees for using employees’ automobiles for business purposes.

Beginning January 1, 2013, the standard mileage rates for the use of an auto will be (1) 56.5 cents per mile for business miles driven, (2) 24 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, and (3) 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations.  The business miles driven rate increases during 2013 by 1 cent from the 2012 rate.

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Successful Defense of Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

On September 17, 2012, the medical malpractice case of Householter v. Doctor Does 1-3 and their medical group commenced jury trial in the Humboldt Superior Court, Judge John T. Feeney presiding.  The plaintiff was represented by James Zito, Esq. and the defendants were represented by the Eureka, California law firm Janssen Malloy LLP.

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Health Care Providers and Custody Disputes

Health care providers who treat minor patients are often dragged into custody disputes or used by parents for information or leverage in legal proceedings.  One of the questions health care providers encounter in such situations is whether both parents have equal rights to the minor patient's medical records.  As a general rule, California law provides that access to a child's medical records cannot be denied to a parent simply because that parent is not the parent with custody.  In other words, even non-custodial parents have the right to request their child's medical records.  There are i

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The Late Lunch

Many employees would appreciate taking a late lunch for a variety of reasons: to pick kids up from school, to visit elderly friends or relatives before going home, or just to get any number of errands done before the close of the business day.  It may seem like late lunch requests increase in the summer season.  Many employers would like to accommodate such requests.  Despite recent case law clarifying that employers just have to make meal periods and rest breaks available to employees, the "late lunch" could still get California employers into (expensive) hot water.  Failing to record meal

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Mandated Reporters to Include Volunteers

If you work in the health care industry, you are likely aware that the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act, requires mandated reporters, such as physicians and nurses, to report whenever they have knowledge of or observe, professionally, a child reasonably suspected to be the victim of child abuse or neglect. A failure to report is a crime punishable by imprisonment and/or fine.

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Wage Theft Protection Act of 2011

Under what is commonly called the Wage Theft Protection Act of 2011, beginning January 1, 2012, California employers must provide all non-exempt new hires with certain written information at the time of hire, including: (1) rate(s) of pay, (2) meal or lodging allowances claimed as part of the minimum wage, (3) the regular payday(s), (4) the name(s) of the employer, including any “doing business as” names, (5) the employer’s physical address or principal place of business, and a mailing address if different, (6) the employer’s telephone number(s), (7) the name, address and telephone number o

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DLSE Increased Enforcement Mechanisms for 2012

AB 469, signed by Governor Brown and effective January 1, 2012, adds some expensive teeth to the enforcement of the Labor Code by the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE).  Among the many changes harkened by AB 469, the Labor Code has now been amended to make the willful violation of specified wage statutes or orders a misdemeanor.   Additionally, the law is amended to expand from one year to three years the time in which the DLSE may collect statutory penalties or fees.

 

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2012 Notice Requirements for New Hires

California employers have new notice requirements beginning January 1, 2012.   AB 469 goes into effect on January 1, 2012, and as a result, private employers in California must provide written notice to non-exempt new hires of the following: (1) rate(s) of pay, (2) meal or lodging allowances claimed as part of the minimum wage, (3) the regular payday(s), (4) the name(s) of the employer, including any “doing business as” names, (5) the employer’s physical address or principal place of business, and a mailing address if different, (6) the employer’s telephone number(s), (7) the name, address

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Consumer Attorney of the Year Award Nominations

Janssen Malloy LLP partners, W. Timothy Needham, Michael J. Crowley, Patrik Griego and Amelia F. Burroughs have been nominated by Consumer Attorneys of California for the organization’s Consumer Attorney of the Year Award.  The nomination arises from the firm’s handling of the seminal jury verdict case of 2010, Lavender vs.

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DFEH Procedural and Practice Regulations

On October 7, 2011, the procedural and practice regulations for the Department of Fair Employment and Housing became effective in the California Code of Regulations.   The regulations can be found beginning at California Code of Regulations, Title 2, section 10000 through section 10066.  The regulations govern the Department's practices and procedures with respect to the filing, investigation and conclusion of complaints alleging violations of any law the Department enforces (employment discrimination, Unruh Civil Rights Act, Ralph Civil Rights Act, Disabled Persons Act and housing discrimi

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Janssen Malloy LLP Partner Appointed to Board

On September 15, 2011, at the 37th Annual Dinner of the California Women Lawyers, Janssen Malloy LLP partner Amelia F. Burroughs will be appointed to the 2011-2012 California Women Lawyer's Board of Governors.  California Women Lawyer’s mission is to develop and implement a statewide advocacy agenda.  This year, California Women Lawyers has been productively engaged in amicus curiae briefing in cases important to its core issues, legislative advocacy for women’s and children’s rights, combating gender bias in the media, and seeking diversity in the judiciary.

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Eureka Lawyer Named Partner at Janssen Malloy

Janssen Malloy is pleased to announce that Amelia F. Burroughs has become a partner in the firm.  Born and raised in Humboldt County, Ms. Burroughs was recently selected by Super Lawyers Magazine as a 2011 Northern California Rising Star.  Notably, Ms. Burroughs was part of the trial team for the plaintiffs in the Lavender v. Skilled Healthcare class action litigation, which resulted in the largest jury verdict ever awarded in Humboldt County ($677 million dollars).  Ms.

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Eureka Personal Injury Attorneys Finalists

News Release - For Immediate Release

June 21, 2011

Contact: Deborah Mathis, Communications Director - (202) 797-8600 or dmathis@publicjustice.net

Six California Lawyers Who Won Historic Verdict for Nursing Home Residents Are Finalists for Trial Lawyer of the Year Award


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What is a "disabled" employee under FEHA?

California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) prohibits employment discrimination based on a disability, real or perceived.  In employment discrimination cases, it is the employee’s burden to demonstrate that he/she (1) suffered from a disability, (2) could perform the essential duties of the job with or without reasonable accommodation, and (3) suffered an adverse employment action (termination, demotion, etc.) because of the real or perceived disability.

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Medical Group Settles DFEH Claim

A recent Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) case highlights the potential costs of failing to engage in the interactive process with employees or making adverse employment decision against an employee based on an employee’s disability.  The settlement is a reminder that employees should be accommodated so long as they are capable of performing the essential functions of their jobs.

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Accommodating Nursing Mothers

Humboldt County employers should be aware that California law provides that every employer, including state and any political subdivisions, provide a reasonable amount of break time to accommodate an employee desiring to express breast milk for the employee's infant child, assuming that such breaks do not seriously disrupt the operations of the employer.  If possible, the breaks should run concurrently with any break periods already provided to the employee. Breaks that do not run concurrently with the employee’s authorized rest time need not be paid.

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What’s Required on a Wage Statement?

California Labor Code section 226 requires that California employers furnish employees with wage statements that contain specific information. Generally, wages statements must include:
(1) gross wages earned;
(2) total hours worked by the employee, except for any employee whose compensation is solely based on a salary and who is exempt from payment of overtime;
(3) the number of piece-rate units earned and any applicable piece rate if the employee is paid on a piece-rate basis;

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Reasonable Accommodation: It Takes Two!

In Humboldt County, as throughout California, the law requires that all employers “engage in a timely,  good faith,  interactive process with the employee or applicant to determine effective reasonable accommodations, if any, in response to a request for reasonable accommodation by an employee or applicant with a known physical or mental disability or known medical condition.”  (California Government Code section 12940, subdivision (n).)   An employer who fails to engage in the interactive process will be liable under the Fair Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA").

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US Dept of Labor Employment Law Guide update

The U.S. Department of Labor recently updated its Employment Law Guide, as useful starting point for answering basic employment questions for employers. The updated Guide can be found here.

Remember that many federal laws are not as broad as California employment laws, and employers in Humboldt County must comply with both federal and state laws.

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Skilled Healthcare class action lawsuit continues

On July 6, 2010, the Janssen Law Firm and attorneys from two other firms received for their clients the largest jury verdict in the United States this year.  The case is Lavender v. Skilled Healthcare Group, Case No. DR060264, Superior Court of California, Humboldt County.  The plaintiff class is represented by W. Timothy Needham, Michael Crowley, Amelia Burroughs and Patrick Griego of the Janssen Law Firm from Eureka, by Michael Thamer from Callahan, and by Chris Healey and Aaron T. Winn of the Luce Forward firm from San Diego.

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Skilled Healthcare LLC Lawsuit

On July 6th, 2010 a Humboldt County jury returned a verdict in excess of $670 million dollars against Skilled Healthcare Group, Inc., Skilled Healthcare LLC and 22 subsidiaries located throughout California for violating the state minimum staffing requirements.  The plaintiff class was represented by members W.

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Janssen Law Firm Announces Win

Michael Morrison and Amelia Burroughs of this Eureka, Humboldt County firm recently concluded the successful defense of a medical malpractice jury trial in Yreka, Siskiyou County, California.  The trial, presided over by the Honorable Karen Dixon, was very well run.  The court staff was quite helpful, and the jurors very attentive. The trial was a pleasant experience and demonstrated the civil jury experience at its best.
The Janssen Law Firm represents clients in litigation in all Northern California counties and Federal Courts.

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A Long and Expensive Race Harassment Case

On September 18, 2008, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) filed a race harassment lawsuit against Big Lots, Inc. (EEOC v. Big Lots, Inc., CV-08-06355-GW(CTx).)  The EEOC alleged that Big Lots violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it subjected a black maintenance mechanic and other black employees to race harassment and discrimination at the Big Lots Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., distribution center.  According to allegations by the EEOC, an immediate supervisor and co-workers,  all Hispanic, made racially derogatory jokes, comments, slurs and epithets.

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Goldman Sachs--A Cautionary Tale for Employers

If you follow the news, you are familiar with Goldman Sachs’ current spotlight in the hot seat.   And you may know that the Securities and Exchange Commission used a Goldman Sachs’ employee’s e-mail to draft its historic complaint against the company for fraud, which also brought Congressional hearings in which Goldman Sachs’ executives have to testify, as well as intense media scrutiny.   Local employers should use this financial giant as a cautionary tale.

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