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Training New Workers Is an Opportunity to Increase Your Value to Employer

January 21, 2001

Q: I work in a health clinic and we have a lot of turnover.

Recently, my supervisor told me that I would have to train one of the new people. I don't think it makes sense for me to take time from my daily work to train another person.

Shouldn't the supervisor or another manager do this training?

--F.P., Anaheim

A: Rather than looking at training new workers as a burden, consider this an opportunity to expand your skills and experience beyond your current job. However, you need to be sure that the time you are away from your job training a new employee is taken into account in evaluating your work output during this period.

Being an experienced and effective trainer should increase your value to your employer (or to other potential employers).

Of course, if you are not at all interested in training, you should speak to your supervisor about it. The company should realize that an unmotivated trainer is not going to do a very good job.

--Ron Riggio, director

Kravis Leadership Institute

Claremont McKenna College

Employers Must Pay in a Timely Fashion

Q: I have been working almost six years at a family business.

Recently, I was asked not to cash my paycheck until further notice because the company wasn't making enough to cover costs. If I quit because they are asking me not to cash my paycheck, would I be eligible to collect unemployment?

How can I prove that my employer asked me to hold my check?

--B.Z., Woodland Hills

A: Employers are required to pay their employees at least twice a month if they are nonexempt or once a month if they are exempt.

If your employer imposes conditions on a paycheck preventing you from cashing it immediately, it may have violated its obligation to pay you in a timely manner. You would be eligible to collect unemployment if you were forced to quit under the circumstances.

If you disregard your employer's instructions and cash the check anyway and are fired for it, you may have a legal claim for wrongful termination. You should also be aware of a new law in California that makes employers liable for up to an additional 30 days' wages and benefits to any employee paid by a check that is not honored or is drawn on a nonexistent account.

This law, which took effect Jan. 1, covers essentially all employers and covers regular paychecks as well as final paychecks given when an employee quits or is discharged.

--Don D. Sessions

Employee rights attorney

Mission Viejo

Supervisor Has Right to Demote Employee

Q: After I received a great review and a substantial raise and generated almost $2 million in sales, my new boss told me that he's demoting me from my current exempt position to a newly created nonexempt position because he thinks I'm arrogant.

I was recruited two years ago specifically for my current position by my old boss based on my experience and skills. The only reasons my new boss has given me are his feelings that I'm arrogant and that I need more training. If I don't accept, he'll give me two weeks' pay in lieu of notice. I'll lose my year-end bonus based on sales.

Can he do that?

--R.M., Los Angeles

A: Yes. It is not uncommon for a new supervisor to have different expectations of an employee than a previous boss had. This may result in the employee having difficulty with the new boss in spite of a good relationship with the old one. This is not illegal.

If your current supervisor perceives that you require more training, you must undertake that training or find employment elsewhere.

Regarding your bonus, you may be entitled to a pro-rata share of it in spite of your transfer to a nonexempt position.

The terms of the bonus plan are very important. If they provide that you have earned a guaranteed bonus based on a formula tied to your sales or the sales of your department or the company, you may have a right to receive it.

If the bonus is largely discretionary and not tied to specific criteria, however, you probably would not have an enforceable right to receive part of it.

--James J. McDonald Jr.

Attorney, Fisher & Phillips

Labor law instructor, UC Irvine


If you have a question about an on-the-job situation, please mail it to Shop Talk, Los Angeles Times, P.O. Box 2008, Costa Mesa, CA 92626; dictate it to (714) 966-7873; or e-mail it to Include your initials and hometown. The Shop Talk column is designed to answer questions of general interest. It should not be construed as legal advice. Recent Shop Talk columns are available at

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