FELS.net - Labor & Safety

Labor Topics

Bitterness continues after UFW's loss at Corralitos Farms

WATSONVILLE -- Workers at Corralitos Farms are denying union charges of unfair labor practices by management during a recent election.

Read more: Bitterness Continues At UFW's

Commentary: Obama Hits a Foul by
Honoring Cesar Chavez 

Ruben Navarrette, CNN 

"...Chavez has significance as a historical figure. It is because of the UFW that farmworkers now have clean water and toilets in the fields, collective bargaining, lunch breaks and other legal protections. But Chavez was never a leader for all Latinos....Last, most Latinos disapprove of the president's heavy-handed immigration policies and record number of deportations....Chavez earned many titles in his life, but "champion of immigrants" was not one of them. He was primarily a labor leader who was concerned about illegal immigrants undercutting union members, either by accepting lower wages or crossing picket lines....According to many historical accounts, Chavez ordered union members to call the Immigration and Naturalization Service and report illegal immigrants who were working in the fields so that they could be deported."


Cesar Chavez, flawed hero of the fields

Los Angeles Times: Opinion
By Matt Garcia
September 25, 2012
LA Times OpinionCesar Chavez died in 1993, but the Mexican American labor leader's prominence continues to grow.  But they have obscured another part of his legacy, one of miscalculation and failure. Read the full opinion article at: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-garcia-cesar-chavez-20120925,0,112684.story

8 Questions an Employer Should Ask Before Taking an Adverse Employment Action

September 11, 2012

As seen in the West Virginia Chamber’s Human Resources Journal

A wrongful discharge suit can be very costly to your company. These suits involve back pay; reinstatement or front pay until retirement; damages for humiliation and embarrassment; attorney fees; and in some situations, punitive damages. It’s not uncommon to hear of jury verdicts far exceeding $1 million for an individual plaintiff. Attorney fees payable to plaintiff’s counsel can often be assessed, which is on top of the verdict and can easily cost $300,000 to $500,000. Such cases not only expose the company to large monetary risk, they can be very disruptive to both production and morale. 

Read more: 8 Questions Employers Should Ask

USDOL Using "Hot Goods" as a Child Labor Enforcement Tactic

The U.S. Department of Labor has been using the Fair Labor Standards Act's "hot goods" provision for enforcement purposes. "Hot goods" allows the Department to confiscate items produced in violation of the requirements of the FLSA. In particular, DOL has been using "hot goods" for enforcement against alleged child labor violations.  While "hot goods" might make sense to use as leverage with manufacturers of inanimate objects, use against farmers and their perishable commodities can threaten the economic viability of a farming operation.  Here's a report on DOL's use of "hot goods" in Oregon and other places.

FELS Can Help:

Since DOL seems to taking a particular interest in child labor enforcement in agriculture, this might be an opportune time to review your compliance procedures.  FELS Newsletter subscribers can find child labor compliance resources at this link.

If you have questions or comments, please contact us at FELS:  1-800-753-9073 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Continuing Importance and Impact of
E-mail Retention and Destruction Policies

By Ola A. Nunez  *  
       In a time where the use of social media technologies, like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, are playing an increasing role in employment litigation, the threats offered by e-mail usage are often considered an afterthought or perhaps forgotten altogether. Yet, with the ubiquitous nature of e-mail in the workplace, some employers fail to fully consider or appreciate the potentially harmful consequences e-mail use can have on the workplace and throughout the course of litigation. Indeed, as with anti-harassment and anti-retaliation policies, a well-drafted e-mail usage policy is becoming the sort of policy that should be revisited and updated over time or, for newer businesses just implementing general policies for the first time, drafted correctly from the start. 

Read more: Email Retention & Destruction


The EDD offers the Employment Determination Guide (DE 38) to help business owners determine whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor. Make sure your workers are classified correctly. www.edd.ca.gov/pdf_pub_ctr/de38.pdf


 California Supreme Court Rules in Brinker

by Carl Borden, Assoicate Counsel, California Farm Bureau Federation

The California Supreme Court on April 12 issued its much anticipated opinion in Brinker Restaurant Corporation v. Superior Court (Hohnbaum). While most of its unanimous opinion addressed how a trial court should analyze issues in determining whether to certify a lawsuit as a class action, the Court answered these practical and vexing questions for employers and employees:

Read more: California Supreme Court Rules in Brinker

Operating Without Written Job Descriptions?
Proceed at Your Own Peril

February 22, 2012

by Julie T. Bittner  *

Many, if not most, human resources personnel and in-house counsel, along with supervisors and managers who deal with employee requests for accommodations or work restrictions, have long realized the value and importance of written job descriptions. When determining whether an employee can perform the essential functions of a particular job, having a written job description does not just make for a compelling exhibit at a hearing or trial – it can make the difference between winning and losing a lawsuit. Written job descriptions are likely to become even more important in defending against a disability claim in light of the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, effective January 1, 2009, which expanded the class of individuals entitled to protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Read more: Job Descriptions - Operating Without

Interviewing The Pawn Stars Way

By James Holland and Michael Mitchell  *

Viewers of the popular television show "Pawn Stars" (The History Channel) know that recently the owner, Rick Harrison, and his father, "the old man," have been interviewing applicants for the night shift. Here is their exchange when the old man sat in on one of the interviews:

Read more: Job Interviews Do's & Don'ts