YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Partner Entitled to Equal Compensation

June 01, 1997

Q: My partner and I have a small company and decided to obtain medical insurance. My cost is $300 a month, but because he has fewer dependents, his cost is $200. He thinks he should receive $100 a month in cash. Is that fair?

--M.P., Anaheim

A: The amount spent on medical insurance can be considered a form of compensation because, if the company did not pay it, you would pay your insurance premium from your own pocket. It makes sense that your partner should receive an equal amount of compensation in some form.

--Ron Riggio, director

Kravis Leadership Institute,

Claremont McKenna College

Rules on Workplace Postings

Q: As a small-business employer, we are constantly receiving official-looking solicitations warning us that we will have to pay big fines if we do not post signs that we can conveniently purchase from the soliciting company for $19.95 or so.

Exactly what is the law regarding required postings, and must we purchase posters from these companies or are the signs publicly available?

--S.S., Long Beach

A: Federal and state law require employers to display posters informing employees of their rights under a variety of laws governing employment.

There are five required federal posters--one each for the equal employment opportunity laws, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act (which covers minimum wage and overtime), the Family and Medical Leave Act, and the Employee Polygraph Protection Act. State law requires that posters be displayed covering sexual harassment, the Industrial Welfare Commission wage order governing the employer, and workplace safety information.

You are not required to purchase these posters from commercial sources. The posters are available from each of the government agencies that enforce the laws involved.

Although it is often more convenient to purchase the posters from a commercial source, it is not advisable to use posters that contain extraneous information, that call undue attention to them (such as large bold letters reading, "KNOW YOUR RIGHT"), or encourage employees to assert their rights.

The purpose of the posters should be to provide information, not to instigate the filing of claims.

--James J. McDonald Jr.

Attorney, Fisher & Phillips

Labor law instructor, UC Irvine

Unclear If Promotions Reflect Age Bias

Q: I have been employed by a major corporation for over 30 years, the last 27 years in a management position in one department. I have received glowing annual performance ratings from various supervisors who have headed the department.

Recently I found out that very quietly, without any announcement, about 50% of my peers in the department have been upgraded to the next highest management level. I am 57 years old. Everyone upgraded is younger and very few, if any, could match my continuously high performance rating, my varied skills and experience level.

This obvious choice of youth and disregard of over three decades of outstanding service clearly indicates an orchestrated effort by the current managers to force the "old-timer" into an early retirement.

Are we talking age discrimination here? Are any labor laws broken? Do I have any legal recourse?

--G.J., Alta Loma

A: It is illegal to discriminate against any employee on the basis of age.

Your challenge is to show that age was the reason that the others were promoted. You should evaluate all other possible factors for the promotion of those other employees. Compare your salaries, job responsibilities, and performance.

Your case would be stronger if peers who were not promoted are in your age category. It hurts your case if some are younger.

If it was an orchestrated effort to force you into retirement, however, it's difficult to understand why such a move would have been made quietly, as you said. It would have made more sense for them to show favoritism outwardly, or to criticize you in your annual reviews.

Regardless, if you can prove discrimination, you have legal recourse through the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the company's internal grievance procedure, or an attorney.

--Don D. Sessions

Employee rights attorney

Mission Viejo

State Law Applies to Federal Contract

Q: I work for a national company that has a federal contract. I was told that California labor laws (overtime for more than eight hours work in a day, pro-rated vacation time) don't apply to them because of something called the Walsh-Healey Act, also known as the McNamara- O'Hara Act.

How can a company disregard laws in a state where they are doing business?

--R.G., Lancaster

A: Your employer is wrong. Employees working in California are entitled to the protections of California wage and hour law even if their employers are subject to the Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act or the McNamara-O'Hara Service Contract Act of 1965.

Los Angeles Times Articles