Employers may lawfully defer an employee’s paid vacation accrual until after their first year of employment. On July 28, 2017, the California Court of Appeal in Minnick v. Automotive Creations, Inc., No. D070555 (Cal.App. 4 Dist. 2017) affirmed that California law does not prohibit employers from imposing a waiting period before paid vacation time accrues.
In Minnick, the defendants-employers’ vacation policy provided that an employee’s vacation benefits began to accrue after the end of the employee’s first year. The policy also expressly provided that “[t]his does not mean that you earn 1/12th of one week’s vacation accrual each month during your first year. You must complete one year of service with the company to be entitled to one week vacation.”
Minnick worked for defendants for six months. Consistent with employers’ policy, Minnick was not paid any vacation wages in his final paycheck. Minnick sued to recover vacation wages, arguing that the policy violated the law against forfeiture of earned vacation and that the policy did not clearly provide for a waiting period. The Court of Appeal disagreed, holding that employers may lawfully impose a waiting period before providing paid vacation time. The court determined that an employer does not “contract around” the forfeiture prohibition by providing that an employee does not begin to earn vacation pay until a certain date. Finally, the Court of Appeal found no merit in Minnick’s argument that the policy was ambiguous. By contrast, the court found that the policy statement that employees “must complete one year of service with the company to be entitled to one week vacation” made it clear that employees were not entitled to any pro rata vacation pay during their first year of employment.
This case illustrates the importance of maintaining current and clear employee handbooks and policies. Any policy requiring a waiting period before paid vacation accrues should be explicit and straightforward. However, always keep in mind that once an employee becomes eligible to earn paid vacation time, the employer must pay the employee for any unused vacation time and such time cannot be forfeited.
DID YOU KNOW…
Earlier this year we told you about a new law requiring employers to provide written notice to employees about the rights of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Employers with 25 or more employees are required to provide the notice to all new employees at the time of hire and to current employees upon request, and had been waiting for the Labor Commissioner to create a notice for them to use. The notice is available now. You can follow this link to get a copy: Victims of Domestic Violence Leave Notice
Has your business ever encountered an unsatisfied customer? It’s likely the answer is – yes!
When a health care provider faces this situation, they often find themselves weighing a number of variables before taking a course of action that fits their situation best. Pediatric health care providers often face an additional factor that other business don’t encounter. When you are determining the best course of action, consider – cost of settlement, attorneys’ fees, litigation costs, and public opinion. Where the merits of the matter justify it, the cost of settling the dispute may be less than the risks and expenses of a prolonged legal battle.
Health care providers typically negotiate disputes with the allegedly harmed individual themselves (pro per) or through their attorney. However, this is a little different with pediatric health care providers. They may find themselves in an unusual situation where they are not negotiating with the party that allegedly sustained harm – the patient who is a minor. Often the parent or parents of the minor will negotiate on their minor child’s behalf with the health care provider, provided that the minor’s parents have not retained counsel or are attorneys themselves. The problem with this is that while the parents could represent themselves without an attorney, they cannot represent their children. Moreover, if a minor signed a waiver and release of his or her own rights it would not be enforceable. Once the minor reached the age of 18, they could affirm the release at that time, but it is unlikely that would happen.
California Probate Code § 3500 provides a solution to this problem by allowing the parents of the minor to “compromise, or to execute a covenant not to sue on or a covenant not to enforce judgment on, the claim…only after it has been approved, upon the filing of a petition, by the superior court.” This means that the parents of the minor may enter a waiver and release of the child’s rights to their claim, provided that they file the required petition with the court and the petition is approved. After judicial approval of the petition, a health care provider would be assured that the parents of the minor have the authority to enter into a final settlement on their child’s behalf. Once the waiver is executed, the minor would be barred from bringing an action against the provider, based on the same alleged injury, at a later date.
However, the filing of a petition pursuant to California Probate Code § 3500 will undoubtedly increase the cost of any proposed settlement and may require that the minor’s parents retain counsel in order to assist with the drafting and filing of the petition. This additional expense represents the cost of finality of the dispute. Pediatric health care providers should be aware and cognizant of this provision in the California Probate Code and its use should be weighed in any settlement negotiation decision involving a minor.
Most advice from lawyers to employers tends to focus on compliance with legal obligations imposed by statute or regulation, conformity with requirements contained in policy manuals, employee training in the area of sexual harassment prevention and like subjects, and similar “law-based” duties. What sometimes gets lost in the miasma of legal compliance is a more basic truth: The number one thing any employer can do to cultivate a vibrant work environment, and minimize employee complaints (both formal and informal), is simply to…be positive and accessible.
It is basic human nature that people are more likely to overlook grievances when the subject of the grievance — either individually or institutionally — is otherwise viewed positively. Taking a moment during the course of the day to say “hello” to your employees, or to ask about a weekend, or simply to look your employees in the eye while they tell you about something, can pay untold dividends that you may never know exist. Not only does such interaction make your employees feel valued and validated, but you may learn something useful about their interests or skill sets that you didn’t previously know. Moreover, unless you are the consummate introvert, you yourself will feel good about the interaction, and be more fulfilled from having at least a basic sense of who your employees are, and what makes them tick.
By contrast, if your sole interactions with your employees are work-centered (“John/Jane, please take the following memo….”), your employees are likely to see themselves as nothing more than cogs in a machine, with no independent reason for enthusiasm or loyalty beyond the paycheck they draw. Such an approach also needlessly divests you of an opportunity for your employees to see you as a human being, rather than just a larger/more senior cog. If you are viewed only as “the management,” employees are less likely to pump their own brakes on the lodging of a complaint for something that they see as offensive or actionable.
So, the next time you are tempted to power walk to your office and close the door, devote ten seconds to thinking about whether you have yet had a positive interaction with one or more employees that day. If not, take a minute or two to do so, even if it’s just to say “how are you today, Sydney”? The worst that can happen is that you find something out that you didn’t already know. And hey, is that so bad?
The article, “Debunking the Myth Behind Insurance Coverage for Oncofertility Treatment,” features Shannon Smith-Crowley and co-author Catherine Gordon, MD and was originally published on the ACOG (The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) members only website.
The voting for Professional Research Services’ survey to determine the top attorneys in 2017 for Sacramento Magazine was open to all licensed attorneys in Sacramento, Calif. Attorneys were asked whom they would recommend among 56 legal specialties, other than themselves, in the Sacramento area. Each attorney was allowed to recommend up to three colleagues in each given legal specialty. Once the online nominations were complete, each nominee was carefully evaluated on the basis of the survey results, the legitimacy of their license, and their current standing with the State Bar of California. Attorneys who received the highest number of votes in each specialty are reflected in the following list. ~ Sacramento Magazine
EyeMax Vision Plan, Inc. To Provide Comprehensive Vision Care To Individuals And Groups In California Sacramento
Sacramento, CA., July 26, 2017 – Wilke Fleury’s health care law team, led by Michael G. Polis, has assisted its client, EyeMax Vision Plan, Inc., in obtaining a Knox-Keene license, making the plan the State of California’s first new full-service vision plan in the state in 20 years.
EyeMax Vision Plan’s founder, president and CEO D.K. Kim previously founded one of the nation’s top 20 optical labs, CSC Labs, in 1967. The company grew to become the 2nd largest independently owned optical lab in the nation, servicing over 3,000 customers nationally and internationally.
Kim’s new company, EyeMax Vision Plan, has contracted with more than 1,000 board-certified optometrists and ophthalmologists, and prescription lens manufacturers to provide affordable, comprehensive prepaid vision care to individuals, employer groups, government agencies, and labor organizations.
“We are proud to support Mr. Kim’s desire for providing high-quality, affordable vision care options for Californians,” said Michael G. Polis. “Obtaining a Knox-Keene license requires satisfying very rigorous regulatory and financial requirements. Mr. Kim’s experience and professionalism made this exciting transaction possible.”
The U.S. eye care market is growing, according to Vision Watch. The industry generated nearly $40 billion in revenue in 2015, an increase of 5.8% over the previous year.
“EyeMax recognizes that the vision care market is shifting, with private pay patients declining and group plan patients becoming a larger share of market,” said D.K. Kim. “We are focused on tailoring flexible plans to meet the unique needs of employer groups, large and small.”
Wilke Fleury is a thriving mid-sized general practice law firm located in California’s business and political epicenter, Sacramento. Celebrating our 95th year, our attorneys offer broad expertise, creativity, and strong ties to local businesses, families and individuals, making Wilke Fleury one of the region’s most respected and long-standing law firms. Our support of local charitable organizations, universities, law schools, political interests and the community reveals the character of the firm and our sincere commitment to the Sacramento region.