CA EMPLOYMENT ESSENTIALS (CEE) is a 6 module training series of employment essentials focusing on regulatory compliance and HR best practices. Hiring to Separation: What Management and HR MUST KNOW!

MANAGEMENT EXCELLENCE SERIES (MES) is an 8 module training series focusing on practical leadership and communication skills to help managers DEVELOP OR REFINE THEIR EFFECTIVENESS AS LEADERS!

Dates of Upcoming Series:

CEE Begins: March 5
& May 13

MES Begins: April 9 & September 9

TPO's popular prescheduled three-hour (9am - noon) workshops are presented on a wide range of important regulatory and leadership topics. Many are available to attend via webinar.

Dates of Upcoming Workshops:

Cyber Security: April 14

Respect & Inclusion: June 18

TPO brings you periodic briefings presented by knowledgeable subject matter experts on a variety of timely employment topics.

Dates of Upcoming Briefings:

Paid Sick Leave (PSL): March 4, March 11, March 24, April 15, May 14 & June 17

Auditing the HR Function: March 17

PSL Applies to ALL CA Employers, regardless of size. This law has lots of complicated angles, up to and including employee relations!

Dates of Upcoming Webinars:

Paid Sick Leave (PSL): March 18, April 22, May 19 & June 24

TPO's H&D prevention training goes above and beyond to address all forms of harassment and discrimination (age, race, religion, disability, etc.) that today's managers must be prepared to prevent and address.

Dates of Upcoming H & D:

Harassment & Discrimination Prevention: March 25
& June 10

Spanish Language Harassment & Discrimination Prevention: 
May 7 & Oct. 13


ELEVENTH ANNUAL TPO/Saqui Employment Law and Leadership Conference
Benefiting Shelter Outreach Plus
To donate go to:

With about 300 participants, the all-day TPO/Saqui Employment Law & Leadership Conference on 1/22/15 was another resounding success! The purpose of this article is to take 8 HOURS of in-depth information and boil it down here to 5 sections of critical "take-aways"!

      by Michael Saqui, Esq., Saqui

    The cornerstones of Disciplinary Action and Termination of Employment
      by Robert Russell, SPHR.TPO Principal & Kimberly Worley, Esq., Saqui

3. HR Q&A:
    Balancing both Legal and Leadership Perspectives!

      by Michael Saqui, Esq., Saqui & Melissa Irwin, SPHR-CA, of TPO

    Taking "How to Give and Receive Feedback" to the Next Level!

      by Pat Wilkinson, SPHR, of TPO

    A 25-Year Surge in Litigation!

      by Jorge Aguilar, Esq., Saqui

Congratulations to the
Grand Prize Winners

Drawn from the evaluations with all ten stamps marked by our Affiliate Showcase Co-Sponsors:

California Employment Essentials:
CyberData Corporation

Management Excellence Series:
Community Human Services

We thank all of you who took the time to complete your Program Evaluation and provided us with the important input we need to make 2016 even better!

Here is a sampling of the great feedback we received on the scores of Program Evaluations:


"The seminar was informative. Makes me glad we hired TPO."
"The conference was great as usual."
"Really liked being able to print handouts in order to use during presentations."
"Excellent and up-to-date!"
"This confernce always motivates me to tackle those HR Projects that make my company a better place to work. I only wish it was twice a year."
"I am going back to work feeling very confident."
"Love that TPO supports regional non-profits as part of the conference!"
"It's the only conference I need all year - Keep it up!"
"Good balanced views from attorneys."
"Congratulations on putting on another excellent event. It's a model for anyone who wants to hold an educational seminar!!"



by Michael Saqui, Esq. of The Saqui Law Group.

Mike provided an enlivened look at what’s coming at you in 2015! Not since 2008 has the Governor signed more new legislation than in 2014, Mike powered through the latest labor and employment law twists and turns and gave an informative overview about what employers need to do to get HR practices in line for compliance in 2015.


  1. President Obama's Executive Action on Immigration: Deferred Deportation
  2. AB 1660: Driver's Licenses - Nondiscrimination | Alejo (D-Watsonville)
  3. AB 2751: Retaliation - Unfair Immigration Practices Expansion | Hernandez (D-West Covina)
  4. AB 1522: Paid Sick Leave | Gonzalez (D-San Diego)

New & Pending Posters /Publications

  1. AB 2053: Abusive Conduct Training for Supervisors | Gonzalez (D-San Diego)
  2. AB 2074: Minimum Wage - Liquidated Damages Statute of Limitations | Hernandez (D-West Covina)
  3. AB 1746: Workers' Compensation - Priority for Uninsured Employer Cases | Alejo (D-Watsonville)
  4. SB 1360: Rest and Recovery Periods Counted as Hours Worked | Padilla (D-Los Angeles)

Case Law Updates


Labor Trends In 2014


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The Cornerstones of Disciplinary Action and Termination of Employment

by Robert Russell, SPHR, TPO Principal and Kimberly Worley, Esq., The Saqui Law Group


Robert and Kimberly presented a fast pasted, information-packed session on:

  • Employment at Will – How to Protect It
  • The Decision to Terminate – Do’s & Don’ts
  • Separation Agreements – When, Why & How
  • The Termination Process – The How-To’s: A Checklist
  • Final Pay Requirements – Get this Right!

Both Robert and Kimberly shared how to plan and implement termination policies and practices that respect the dignity of employees while avoiding regulatory traps.

Give us a call to strategize the ins-and-outs of administering termination procedures, and if you missed this great session, click here to register for a three-hour edition on August 11 at TPO Monterey.

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Balancing Both Legal and HR Perspectives

by Melissa Irwin, SPHR-CA of TPO and Michael Saqui, Esq., The Saqui Law Group


Mike and Melissa engaged the audience in an HR/Legal balancing act while they took real-time questions from the audience and provided their candid comments, thoughts and recommendations. All while having a bit of “fun” as was promised! One participant was heard exclaiming, “I just love this session…I never know I should have had so many questions until I hear OTHER people's questions!”

Some of the more common questions that emerged in both break-out sessions:

I-9s: Both sessions had numerous questions about this topic. Main points to remember:

  • Allow employees to provide ANY of the I-9 listed acceptable documents; do not require specific documents (such as only a social security card and driver’s license).
  • While I-9 allows (but doesn’t require) employers to make copies of documents used in the I-9 process, both Melissa and Mike adamantly recommended that employers NOT retain copies.
  • Keep I-9s out of the personnel files. Rather, have two I-9 binders: 1) one for current employees, filed alphabetically with flags for work authorization documents that will expire; and 2) one for former employees, filed by month/year of separation and then alphabetically, so that when the retention period ends, you can easily remove and shred.
  • It is illegal to knowingly hire/employ an individual you know to be unauthorized to work in the US.
  • Audit your I-9 records and make a plan to ensure they are up-to-date with current guidelines. TPO can help you with this project!

Make-up Time:

  • When hourly, non-exempt employees request, for their own personal reasons, to work early/late one day and then work late/early the next, overtime need not be paid if it meets all of the requirements of CA’s “make-up time.” Make sure it is in writing each time, that the make-up time is within the same workweek, and that the time worked on the make-up day is not more than 11 hours. A Make-up Time form is in the HR Administration Kit (click here).

Continuing Education:

  • When an organization requires an hourly non-exempt employee to attend classes, trainings; meetings; etc., that time, as well as travel and expenses, are compensable. But the return on investment to see that your employees are well trained to do their jobs is undoubtedly worth the payroll expense!

Remember, TPO Members receive FREE Q&A as part of their TPO Annual Membership! Jot down your questions and give your primary TPO Consultant a call!

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Taking "How to Give and Receive Feedback" to the Next Level!

by Pat Wilkinson, SPHR of TPO

With a wealth of new information about the legislative climate that employers face in 2015, many conference participants were ready to shift gears and explore how to facilitate more effective and purposeful communications to achieve better results through an ASSERTIVE style, rather than passive or aggressive.

Effective communications build on the foundation of mutual respect, calm delivery, and are direct and candid.  The most important way to ensure this optimal approach will be successful is by developing SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely) goals and objectives for employees, and by focusing on the four “P’s,” and participants were given a handy-sized Helpful Tips clip to keep this information at their fingertips:

  1. Premise – what are the focus areas that need to be addressed?
  2. Prepare – what does success look like? Prepare factual, descriptive content to stay on track.
  3. Participate – effective communication is a two-way endeavor that requires active listening skills.
  4. Punctuate – restate desired outcomes and delivery timelines, and set a date for follow up.

Assertive communication is crucial to achieving desired outcomes, and the benefits of an assertive style highlight areas for improvement and praise, promote alignment and engagement, form the basis of performance measurement, and most importantly drive organizational success. Although examples were provided during the session, the best examples always surface from participants’ actual scenarios and the shared learning that occurs through discussions.  That’s the real value of any training!

Give us a call to schedule a "Giving and Receiving Feedback" workshop for your team, and/or be sure to register for a "re-run" of this session on September 22 at TPO Monterey (click here)

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The Surge in Class Action Litigation!

by Jorge Aguilar, Esq., The Saqui Law Group


Be Afraid…Be Very Afraid.  That was the message to employers who attended this information-packed presentation.  Mr. Aguilar informed his audience that Wage and Hour claims now outpace all other types of workplace litigation, and that class actions are a big reason for the increase and frequency.  Attendees learned that in class actions, companies paid an average of $4,800.000 per case.  Recent class actions reviewed in this session involved:

  • Off-the-Clock-Work – Nearly every recent class action lawsuit has included a claim for off-the-clock work.  Examples: early arrival to work, waiting to start work, standing in line (for security checks, clocking in/out), donning and doffing, washing up, etc.
  Recommendations: Keep it all on the clock, have clear written policies, don’t allow employees to linger, and have clear, regular start and end times.
  • Piece Rate Nonproductive Time – Nonproductive time is all time where the employee is not directly engaged in the piece rate activity.  Examples: rest periods, travel time, calisthenics, meetings, recovery periods, idle time, etc.
Recommendations: Pay nonproductive time separately from piece rate (at an hourly rate that is no less than minimum wage), disclose the nonproductive time rate to employees at the time of hire, and track, record and account nonproductive time on employee wage statements. Note: The California Labor Commissioner has decided that rest breaks and recovery periods should be compensated at the average piece rate earnings for the week.
  • PAGA (Private Attorney General Act) Penalties – Because the LWDA (Labor & Workforce Development Agency) and its divisions are unable to prosecute employers for every Labor Code violation, the Legislature enacted PAGA (Private Attorneys General Act).  Under PAGA employees have a private right of action to recover the civil penalties that would otherwise only be recoverable by the State.  Mr. Aguilar explained the process to proceed with PAGA, its relationship to representative action, and the significance of certification in order to proceed.  Regarding penalties, 75% of the penalty goes to the State and 25% goes to the aggrieved employee.
  • Representative Action – A representative action (on behalf of similarly situated employees) under PAGA is not required to meet class action requirements; there is no certification requirement for a PAGA representative action, and without that hurdle, a PAGA action can move forward like any other action.
  Note: As a practical matter, PAGA claims are normally presented in class actions alongside the underlying Labor Code violations.
  • Joint Employer Liabilities – In Martinez. Combs, in addition to other aspects of the case, the court saw joint employer liability where a third party had the power to hire and fire employees, set the wages and hours, had the ability to tell employees when and where they have to report to work, and have control of employees’ work conditions.
  • Cost of Class Action Lawsuits – This surprising review covered examples involving 300, 500, and 10,000 employees based on an example involving a (simple) minimum wage violation.
  • Arbitration was another big topic discussed.  Mr. Aguilar reviewed the history of the Federal Arbitration Act, its intent, use and enforcement, and its potential role in class action lawsuits.  For example, Federal courts continue to hold that PAGA representative actions can be waived in an employee arbitration agreement.  For employers who want to roll out arbitration agreements, he also reviewed notice requirements and employer options.
  Note: Arbitration agreements are legally complex and can carry a significant amount of potential risk.  As a result, employers considering arbitration agreements should consult with legal counsel for guidance.

The bottom line for employers:  Be Careful Because Plaintiffs Will Fight!


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The Surge in Class Action Litigation!

Effective 7/1/2015 CA employers must allow all employees (full-time, part-time, seasonal/temporary, and even out-of-state employees working in CA) to take up to 24 hours or 3 days of PSL a year.  *PSL does not apply to specific union contracts, in-home supportive services, and air carrier employees. Two methods to consider:

  1. “Up-Front” Method:  Provide 24 hours or 3 days at the beginning of each year eliminates the need to accrue and carryover PSL accruals. There are pros/cons to this method depending on organization specifics.
  2. “Accrual” Method: All employees accrue 1 hour of Paid Sick Leave (PSL) for every 30 hours worked
  • The employee’s use of PSL can be limited to 24 hours or 3 days each year.
  • Unused PSL must carry-over to the next year, but a cap of 48 hours or 6 days” may be used.

Applies to Both Methods:

  • Accrual of PSL begins upon hire, however the employee must have actually worked 30 days in the year to be eligible, and employees are not entitled to use PSL days until being employed for 90 days.
  • Employees may use PSL for their own health condition; a family member’s health condition (child, spouse, registered domestic partner, parent, grandparent, grandchild, and sibling); and if the employee is a victim of domestic assault, sexual violence or stalking.
  • Employees may use PSL for an actual health condition or for preventative care.
  • For employees on an Alternative Workweek, use the number of hours of their regular “day”. For example, a 4/10 schedule would mean 30 hours of PSL (not 24).
  • There is NO requirement to pay for unused PSL upon separation of employment.
  • Employees rehired within one year must have the previous accumulation credited.
  • Outstanding is regulatory clarification of the impact on Paid Time Off (PTO) that was paid upon separation of employment. Stay tuned!
  • Employers may not discriminate or retaliate against an employee’s request/use.
  • PSL is paid at the “regular hourly rate,” which is all wages (commission, piecerate, pay differentials, etc., but not overtime premiums) by the total hours worked in the full pay periods for the previous 90 days.

For Employers Already Offering Sick Time or Paid Time Off (PTO):

Make sure your current policy provides at least the points listed above. Many employers will have to revise their policies by broadening eligibility to temporary and part-time workers (many employers’ current policies are just for “regular, full-time employees”), revising the reasons for use, and may need to expand carry over amounts.

Another option is to leave existing sick/PTO policy accrual/caps (if they are at least as good as PSL requirements) and create a separate PSL policy for those who are not eligible for the organization’s sick/PTO policies.

Other Considerations for Employers: 

  • Keep accurate records of PSL earned and taken for three years. List on pay stubs or other documents provided on payday, indicating the amount of PSL available.


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by The Carmel Pine Cone, February 2015

AFTER GRADUATING from Carmel High in 1965, Robert Russell did a stint as an investigator in the Navy and then went to college at the University of Navada in Reno. He stayed there, working as a real estate developer for 10 years. Then, in 1980, he decided to move back home.

On the very same day he arrived, his future wife, Jill, also came here to work at Pebble Beach. She'd spent her youth hopscotching with her family from her native England to Canada and then California, following her father's career moves. As an adult, she found herself in Sacramento with a job in banking. Along the way, she met and befriended Candy Lightner.

When Lightner's daughter was killed in an auto accident, Jill was part of the group of friends who helped her found Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Later, through a series of personal connections, Jill accepted a job in Pebble Beach's accounting department.

For years, life went on, and though they both lived in Carmel and worked in high-profile businesses, Jill and Robert never met.

Robert continued his career in real estate here with Coldwell Banker, and Jill found her way around her new neighborhood. As she became familiar with the Pebble Beach Company, she found something odd...continue reading

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