News, Articles & Updates

CLIENT’S RIGHTS & RESPONSIBILITIES

When a client enters into a relationship with an attorney, there are expectations from all parties involved. The list below highlights a few of the client’s rights and responsibilities that align with the CA Rules of Professional Conduct.

Client’s Rights

  • Competent and diligent representation
  • Attorney can’t encourage illegal conduct
  • Attorney must avoid conflicts of interests and remain loyal
  • Client’s information must be confidential and protected from unauthorized disclosure
  • Understand the fee agreement and the scope of the work that the attorney will perform

Client’s Responsibilities

  • Pay the lawyer’s fees in accordance with the fee agreement
  • Request an explanation from the attorney if the client is dissatisfied with the work
  • Must honestly and fully explain their legal problem so the attorney can help
  • Keep the lawyer informed of current developments that may affect the case
  • Make reasonable requests for information from the attorney but don’t burden their time

If you have any questions about your obligations as an employer, please contact us at info@mitzelgroup.com or reach out to your Mitzel Group, LLP attorney directly.

REMINDER: JULY 1 MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE

Employers don’t forget: minimum wage in San Francisco will increase to $13/hour starting July 1, 2016. Make sure that this is reflected in your payroll and other financial and accounting systems.

If you have any questions about your obligations as an employer, please contact us at info@mitzelgroup.com or reach out to your Mitzel Group, LLP attorney directly.

 

THE DEFEND TRADE SECRETS ACT- WILL IT AFFECT YOU?

On April 27, 2016 the US Congress passed the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA). This Act now allows your business to file claims for trade secret misappropriation in federal court. Previously, legal recourse for these types of cases was only available under state law.

Companies can now also pursue appropriate remedies in federal court in order to recover from mishandled trade secrets. These remedies include: actual damages, restitution, injunctive relief, exemplary damages, ex-parte seizure order, and attorney’s fees.

Key DTSA Provisions

Ex-Parte Seizure Order: under this new remedy, a company who is worried that their trade secrets will be misappropriated can take steps to get the government involved. The government can then seize the misappropriated trade secrets before the defendant receives notice of the lawsuit. These kinds of seizures are subject to limitations, but this remedy will provide greater protections for businesses.

Immunity Provision: this provision protects individuals for disclosing a trade secret if it’s made to an attorney or a government official (in confidence), and is made with the purpose of reporting a violation of the law.

Next Steps for Businesses

  • Review employee contracts that deal with trade secrets or other confidential information
  • Provide clear definitions of what constitutes as a trade secrets
  • Ensure that the immunity provision (see above) is compliant with the language in DTSA.
  • Employers have an affirmative duty to give notice of the immunity provision to their employees.
  • Implement secrecy measures and policies to protect your trade secrets

If you have any questions about your obligations as an employer, please contact us at info@mitzelgroup.com or reach out to your Mitzel Group, LLP attorney directly.

REMINDER: EMPLOYERS MUST GIVE REST BREAKS

A recent Los Angeles decision (Rodriguez v. E.M.E., Inc.) serves as a reminder that employers are required to provide rest breaks. The court here ruled that rest breaks during an eight-hour shift should fall on either side of the meal break.

Under the current established guidelines set forth by an earlier decision (Brinker), employers must allow employees to take a paid:

  • 10 minutes rest for shifts from three and one-half to six hours in length
  • 20 minutes rest for shifts of more than six hours up to 10 hours
  • 30 minutes rest for shifts of more than 10 hours up to 14 hours

Employers should review their policies and procedures to ensure that their employees are taking their allotted rest breaks.

If you have any questions about your obligations as an employer, please contact us at info@mitzelgroup.com or reach out to your Mitzel Group, LLP attorney directly.

NON-DISABLED EMPLOYEES CAN NOW ASK FOR REASONABLE ACCOMODATION

A recent California Court of Appeal decision held that employers must now accommodate non-disabled employees who provide care to a family member, friend, or associate with a disability. Under the Castro-Ramirez decision, California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act protects employees, who although may not be disabled themselves, if they are associated with caring for a disabled person.

What Does This Mean for Employers?

The Castro-Ramirez decision does not provide clear guidance as to exactly how California employers must handle non-disabled employee requests for accommodations.

However, California employers should still review their disability leave to ensure that reasonable accommodations are considered for non-disabled employees who provide care to an individual with a mental or physical disability.

If you have any questions about your obligations as an employer, please contact us at info@mitzelgroup.com or reach out to your Mitzel Group, LLP attorney directly.

SF PASSES FULLY PAID PARENTAL LEAVE

On April 5, 2016 San Francisco became the first city in the nation to mandate employers to offer full paid parental leave. Under the existing CA Paid Family Leave program, employees (regardless of gender) are allowed to receive up to 55% of their wages for up to six weeks to care for their newborns or newly adopted children.

This new landmark law will require that businesses with at least 20 employees must cover the remaining 45% of the employee’s wages that are not provided by the Paid Family Leave program.

Below is the schedule for when the new law will take effect for different sized businesses:

  • January 2017 for businesses with 50 or more employees
  • July 2017 for businesses with 35-49 employees
  • 2018 for businesses with 20-34 employees

If you have any questions about your obligations as an employer, please contact us at info@mitzelgroup.com or reach out to your Mitzel Group, LLP attorney directly.

CA PASSES HISTORIC $15/HOUR MINIMUM WAGE

On April 4, 2016 Governor Brown announced that California would become the first state in the nation to commit to raising the minimum wage to $15/hour by 2022. This landmark agreement will begin to take effect in 2017, by raising the minimum wage to $10.50.

The plan differentiates between large businesses and small businesses by permitting a one-year delay for the annual increases for businesses with 25 or fewer employees.

The scheduled wage increases will be as follows for employers with 26 employees or more (considered a large business):

  • $10.50 per hour on January 1, 2017
  • $11 per hour on January 1, 2018
  • $12 per hour on January 1, 2019
  • $13 per hour on January 1, 2020
  • $14 per hour on January 1, 2021
  • $15 per hour on January 1, 2022

The scheduled wage increases will be as follows for employers with 25 employees or less (considered a small business):

  • $10.50 January 1, 2018, for smaller employers
  • $11 January 1, 2019, for smaller employers
  • $12 January 1, 2020, for smaller employers
  • $13 January 1, 2021, for smaller employers
  • $14 January 1, 2022, for smaller employers
  • $15 January 1, 2023, for smaller employers

If you have any questions about your obligations as an employer, please contact us at info@mitzelgroup.com or reach out to your Mitzel Group, LLP attorney directly.