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The California employer/worker relationship: ever fluid, complex

You need me, and I need you.

In a nutshell, and in fundamental terms, that preceding sentence just about sums up the essentials of the important employer/employee relationship in California.

And given its reality and symbiotic nature, one might reasonably think that relations between managers and workers across the state are routinely informed by fair treatment and a level playing field.

And yet we all know that such is not the case, at least not uniformly and not without exceptions -- some of them quite glaring.

Employment law is always a big deal in California, as underscored recently at the annual conference of a resource management group. That forum focused specifically on statutory enactments that took effect earlier this year, with speakers addressing new guidance provisions set forth in the Fair Employment and Housing Act that discuss California employers' affirmative obligation to prevent and correct problematic workplace policies and behaviors.

Those behaviors can be troublesome in broad-based ways, with the conference alluding especially to conduct that discriminates against and/or harasses workers. An additional forum spotlight targeted employer retaliation against workers engaged in lawful workplace activities.

As noted in an article discussing the conference, a bottom-line admonition and strong recommendation made to employers seeking in good faith to act lawfully and minimize their legal liability was this: Provide workers "with a flexible complaint mechanism and multiple avenues for filing complaints."

Additionally, employers might reasonably want to consult in a timely and continuous manner with proven business and commercial law attorneys well attuned to employment-related considerations. Experienced legal counsel can help a business ensure that its worker-related policies are comprehensive, fair and well written; that adequate training is available and ongoing for both managers and workers; that investigations are conducted with dispatch; and that every reasonable step is made to identify potential trouble spots and bar their occurrence in order to limit liability to the fullest extent possible.

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Larson & Gatson

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