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Read the latest news from Scali Rasmussen, including legal alerts and event listings.

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The California legislature and courts have been skeptical of mandatory arbitration in employment and consumer cases and have for years looked for ways to declare agreements to arbitrate unenforceable. But these efforts have created a complicated dance involving the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) and the federal courts, as the FAA prohibits states from passing laws that interfere with the ability of two parties to consent to mandatory arbitration. In most cases, the federal courts have found that the FAA invalidates California laws and court rulings limiting the use of mandatory arbitration agreements.

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On September 21, 2021, U.S. Federal Trade Commissioner Christine Wilson provided keynote remarks at the Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy’s Robert R. Wilson Distinguished Lecture Series regarding some of the major issues lawmakers must confront to pass federal privacy legislation. Commissioner Wilson, a Trump-appointee, argued that comprehensive federal privacy legislation is the right approach because there is an information asymmetry between consumers and businesses that results in a market failure and because federal legislation will create a more consistent legal landscape for businesses.

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As more employees return to the office, this is a good time to review dress code policies to be sure that they reflect the most recent developments in federal and California law. One significant change is California’s Crown Act, effective since January 1, 2020. The Crown Act expanded the definition of race under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) such that hairstyle traits associated with race – braids, afros, and twists, among others – are now protected against discrimination. This article reviews current law and makes recommendations for employers so that their dress code policies do not adversely affect a protected class.

Preparing for the federal COVID mandate

Protecting employee privacy

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This month, the Biden Administration announced that it has directed the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue Emergency Temporary Standards requiring that employers with 100 or more employees mandate that employees be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 or test on a weekly basis for COVID. OSHA has not yet released these Temporary Standards, but the news has already raised important questions for employers, including how to handle employee medical information. This article reviews the state of the law with respect to employee health information and makes recommendations regarding what every employer should do now to prepare for the new Temporary Standards.

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California passed a law in March of 2021 that allowed employees to take up to an additional 80 hours of supplemental COVID paid sick leave, if they met certain requirements. This law expires on September 30, 2021, and the Legislature did not pass any new legislation extending by the deadline for the Regular Session. This means that except in specific circumstances discussed below, employers will not be required to provide their employees with supplemental COVID paid sick leave starting October 1, 2021.

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On September 9, 2021, President Biden announced that he was directing the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to adopt Emergency Temporary Standards requiring many employers to mandate that their employees are vaccinated for COVID or tested weekly for COVID. The mandate will apply to employers with 100 or more employees and is expected to apply to nearly 80 million workers.

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Scali Rasmussen Founder and Managing Shareholder Christian Scali has been recognized as a 'Visionary' in Business of Law: Trends, Updates & Visionaries, a special feature published this week by L.A. Times B2B Publishing. Attorneys were recognized as visionaries "for their contributions and leadership within their organizations, the legal field, and the community at large," the feature says.

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