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Give Partner Compensation for Lower Health Premium

June 01, 1997

Q My partner and I have a small company and decided to obtain medical insurance. The company's cost for me is $300 a month, but because my partner has fewer dependents, the cost for him is $200. He thinks he should receive $100 month a month in cash. Is that fair?

--M.P., Anaheim

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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

Post Rights of Employees

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 such.

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

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A Federal and state laws 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 the government agencies that enforce the laws involved.

--James J. McDonald Jr.

Attorney, Fisher & Phillips

Labor law instructor, UC Irvine

'Old-Timer' Suspects Age Bias

Q I have been employed by a major corporation for more than 30 years, the last 27 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 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 more than three decades of outstanding service clearly indicate 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

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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 done quietly, as you described. It would have made more sense had your employer shown favoritism outwardly or criticized you in your annual reviews. Regardless, if you can prove discrimination, you have legal recourse through the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the company's internal grievance procedure or an attorney.

--Don D. Sessions

Employee-rights attorney

Mission Viejo

State Law Covers U.S. Contract

Q I work for a national company that has a federal contract. I was told that California labor laws (such as overtime for more than eight hours' work in a day and prorated 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

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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.

These federal laws establish special wage and hour requirements for companies that have contracts with the federal government. These special requirements do not supersede state and federal wage and hour laws providing greater protection to employees.

That does not mean that you are automatically entitled to overtime for work done after eight hours a day or to pro rata vacation pay. Some categories of employees are completely exempt from these legal requirements. Your rights will also be affected if your job is covered by a union contract. To find out if you are covered under these state laws, you should contact California's Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, consult an attorney or speak to your union representative.

--Joseph L. Paller Jr.

Union, employee attorney

Gilbert & Sackman

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