Employee Handbooks and Contracts: The Ounce of Prevention Worth Pounds of Cure.

New civic and infrastructure projects have spurred secondary private investment, further reinforcing the current swell of economic development. While the economy is starting to regain its former stability and construction demand is picking up, employers see the opportunity for business expansion. For those who are willing to grow, it is the perfect time to invest in the systems that will protect your business now and for years to come.

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Have You Protected Yourself from Lawsuits Brought By Laid Off Employees?

In a difficult economy employee layoffs are inevitable. Unfortunately, even when employers must terminate employees out of economic necessity, employers are not immune from lawsuits brought by terminated employees. All an employee requires to file a lawsuit is a willing attorney. Fortunately, there are a few steps employers can take prior to downsizing to discourage post-termination lawsuits. We suggest the following…

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Notice to Employers Regarding Supreme Court Decision on Enforceability of Written Employment Contracts

If you are an employer in the State of California and use a written contract of employment to define the terms of employment with your employees, there is a good chance that, as a result of a decision of the California State Supreme Court, the contract you are currently using with your employees will not be enforced by the Courts of this state. It may therefore be necessary for you to consider revising your employment contract.

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Workers Compensation Serious and Willful Misconduct Claims – Brought Before the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board, but Not Covered by Your Workers Comp. Insurance (California Labor Code Section 4553)

The amount of workers’ compensation that may be awarded to an injured worker may be increased if the injury was brought about by the serious and willful misconduct of the employer or the employer’s managing representative. Serious and willful misconduct is best defined as any intentional act, or failure to act, coupled with the knowledge that serious injury will be the probable result from that act or failure to act.

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Potential Penalties for Discriminating against Injured Workers Labor Code Section 132a

It is the declared policy of California that there should not be discrimination against workers who are injured in the course and scope of their employment. Therefore, any employer who discharges, or threatens to discharge, or in any manner discriminates against any employee because the employee has filed or made known his or her intention to file a workers’ compensation claim, is guilty of a misdemeanor, and the employee may seek extra forms of compensation from the employer.

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Owners and Contractors are Liable for Injuries Caused by their Independent Contractors under the “Peculiar Risk Doctrine”

Many contractors and owners believe that if they hire an independent contractor to perform work and that independent contractor causes injury to others during the performance of that work, then it is the independent contractor alone who will be liable for those injuries. In most circumstances, this is correct. The owner or the contractor will not be held liable for injuries caused by his or her independent contractor. However, this is not always the case.

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