Steven M. Chanley’s Answers

Steven M. Chanley

San Luis Obispo Employment / Labor Attorney.

Contributor Level 7
  1. Is it okay for your employer to keep a separate secret personnel file on their employees?

    Answered over 5 years ago.

    1. Kenneth Lewis Swenson
    2. Steven M. Chanley
    2 lawyer answers

    I agree with the previous attorney response, but have a few things to add. Generally, an employee cannot dictate to an employer what can and cannot be kept in a personnel file. Unless the documents or information are prohibited from being kept, it is the employer’s prerogative whether to be over-inclusive in its record keeping. The other thing to bear in mind is that even “secret” or separately maintained employee files may be subject to disclosure in connection with litigation, and also...

    4 people marked this answer as helpful

  2. What if employer refuses to pay waiting time penalties?.

    Answered over 1 year ago.

    1. Michael Robert Kirschbaum
    2. Lesly Jeanne Adams
    3. Neil Pedersen
    4. Kristine S Karila
    5. Steven M. Chanley
    5 lawyer answers

    California Labor Code section 203 provides for waiting time penalties if an employer “willfully” fails to pay a fired or resigning employee all wages within the time required under the Labor Code . If the employer has not acted “willfully,” there is no entitlement to penalties. The burden of proving “willfulness” is on the employee. The term “willful” is defined in the California Code of Regulations, and has been interpreted in numerous cases. Whether an employer has “willfully” to...

    1 lawyer agreed with this answer

  3. Can I hold my employee financially responsible for a mistake they made?

    Answered over 5 years ago.

    1. Michael Robert Kirschbaum
    2. Steven M. Chanley
    2 lawyer answers

    Generally, no. The leading case on that issue is the Kerr’s Catering case, which essentially holds that employers may not hold employees accountable for losses, shortages, or breakage occasioned by simple employee negligence or error. Those are deemed to be a routine cost of doing business that cannot be passed along to employees, generally. In addition, an employer may not unilaterally take money out of an employee’s paycheck to pay for such losses shortages, or breakage. Under certain...

    2 people marked this answer as helpful

  4. Can your employer take away sick benefits and put a cap on vacation accrual in Ca.

    Answered over 5 years ago.

    1. Steven M. Chanley
    1 lawyer answer

    The answer to your question will depend on whether you are an at-will employee and not covered by any collective bargaining agreement or memorandum of understanding. If you are truly an at-will employee under California law, your employer has the right to change all terms and conditions of your employment, on a going forward basis, upon providing notice to you. The notice would not affect any benefits or wages that are already earned or vested. Ordinarily, sick leave benefits are not...

    2 people marked this answer as helpful

  5. Where can I find an attendance policy for my small company?

    Answered over 5 years ago.

    1. Steven M. Chanley
    2. Jeffrey Michael Donato
    2 lawyer answers

    The law permits employers to implement and enforce reasonable attendance policies that are consistent with legitiamte business needs and employment discrimination laws. As for the policy language itself, you may purchase template employee handbook materials from the Calfornia Chamber of Commerce at a reasonable cost. The materials are very user-friendly. However, the template policy language is but a starting point, and you need to make sure that the policy language that you implement is...

  6. Wrongful Term? Does the company Policy manual create an employment contract?

    Answered over 5 years ago.

    1. Pamela Koslyn
    2. Steven M. Chanley
    2 lawyer answers

    Assuming you are not in a bargaining unit covered by a CBA or MOU, the answer to your question depends almost entirely on the terms of the Policy and Procedures Manual. If you are truly an express at-will employee under the terms of an acknowledgment form you may have signed upon receipt of the manual, the law would bar you from attempting to establish an implied contract regarding the reasons you may be discharged. However, depending on how the manual is written, certain mandatory procedures...

  7. Was I an "at will" employee?

    Answered over 5 years ago.

    1. Steven M. Chanley
    2. Pamela Koslyn
    2 lawyer answers

    A definitive answer to your question would require additional facts. If the at-will statement you signed applied to non-union employers and you were a non-union employee at the time of the discharge, most likely you were an at-will employee. Labor Code section 2922 states that all employees in California who are hired for no definitive time frame are presumptively employees at will. At-will employees may lawfully be discharged for any or no reason, except for otherwise illegal reasons (e.g....

  8. I need to know if i should seek legal advise.

    Answered over 5 years ago.

    1. Steven M. Chanley
    1 lawyer answer

    You may or may not have a viable legal claim, depending on the totality of facts relating to your situation. I suspect there are a lot more relevant facts than what you have disclosed. You should consult with competent legal counsel who represents employees only.

  9. Is there any liability against the probation department for providing incorrect information to the employer

    Answered over 5 years ago.

    1. Steven M. Chanley
    1 lawyer answer

    Your question is essentially whether the Probation Department had a legal duty to contact the employer unilaterally to disclose that the employee has violated the terms of probation. If such a legal duty exists, then the Probation Department might be liable for failure to make the required disclosure. If no such legal duty exists, then there would be no legal claim against the Probation Department for an monetary losses suffered on account of hiring or retaining the unfit employee. I do not...