• Sasha Struthers

4 Suggestions on How to Deal with Employees in 2020's Los Angeles

Given it is the dawning of a new decade I thought it would be helpful to all business owners to receive a bit of advice for the coming new year. I preface, these suggestions are based on my practice as an employer defense attorney in Los Angeles, CA. The laws here are a lot more stringent than elsewhere.

(1) Accept You Have to be the Responsible One. The ideal is to have an operation that nearly manages itself. The drawback is that employees do not make good self managers. It is why they are the employee and not the employer. It is tedious and requires organization but good employee management comes down to taking responsibility for (1) tracking employees' work time and breaks, (2) setting up and enforcing workplace policies and procedures, and (3) taking employee complaints, investigating and concluding with some form of corrective action to take place. All of this should be documented. Poor or absent record keeping does not help a defense.

(2) Know Your Responsibilities. There will never be a shortage of advertisements out there informing people of their rights. But rarely are we ever informed of our responsibilities. California's laws as they pertain to employment are scattered across several volumes of code. But there is really a handful of laws an employer should know for day to day operations. Namely, minimum wage, overtime, meal and rest breaks, paid time off, required employee trainings and FEHA (discrimination, harassment and retaliation). If you take anything away from this article, accept that the laws in California are heavily in favor of the employee and very burdensome on the employer.

(3) Don't Let Employees Classify Themselves. Assembly Bill 5 came as the result of the Dynamex case. In short, almost no one who works for someone in California is an independent contractor. The Dynamex ABC Test, codified in Assembly Bill 5 states anyone hired by an employer is an employee unless they meet all three of these requirements: (A) the person is free from control & direction of the hiring entity; (B) the person performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity's business; and (C) the person is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as that involved in the work performed. To give two easy examples. You own a coffee shop, your barista= employee, your roofer= independent contractor. It is not always that black and white, but that should give you an idea. There are severe penalties for misclassification.

(4) Employees are Not Your Friends and That is a Tough Pill to Swallow. I can't count the number of times a client was sued by their friend. They hired their friend or their employee became their friend. But there is an old saying "familiarity breeds contempt." Often times being friendly with employees removes your authority and when you try to reassert it but also run a very loose operation you create an opportunity for the employee to retaliate against you, in the form of a lawsuit, labor board claim, etc.

There is no such thing as being lawsuit proof. But in the event you do get sued by an employee good record keeping, firm workplace policies, and proper classification of employees help your defense.

The information in this post is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this post should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

Originally Posted on Reddit u/Struthers_Legal