Archive | November 2017

LAW AB 168: Important Notice for Employers

On October 12, 2017, Governor Jerry Brown of California signed into law a state-wide ban on employer inquiries into an individual’s salary history. The new law (AB 168) will apply to all employers, including state and local governments, and will take effect on January 1, 2018.
Under AB 168, no employer may rely on an applicant’s prior salary history “as a factor in determining whether to offer employment . . . or what salary to offer an applicant.” Salary history information includes both an individual’s rate of compensation as well as other benefits. Moreover, an employer cannot-orally or in writing, directly or indirectly-seek this type of information about an applicant. Accordingly, employers and their agents can no longer ask candidates, or their current or former employers, what candidates have earned in the past. An employer must, upon reasonable request, provide an applicant with the pay scale assigned to the position sought.
There are certain exceptions to the salary history restriction. First, employers may review and consider salary history information that is publicly available pursuant to federal or state law. Second, salary history may be discussed if an applicant “voluntarily and without prompting” discloses his or her history to a potential employer. In that event, the employer may consider and rely on that history in setting that applicant’s salary.
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7 Highly Effective Ways to Maximize Your Online Brand Presence

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Photo courtesy of Brand Driven Digital

This article by R. Kay Green was first published on the Huffington Post in 2013
It is no secret that in this day and age, online presence = brand awareness. In fact, most marketing experts agree that how you present your brand online is the 21st century equivalent of your first meeting with a customer. Your online brand is what people think of you when you are not available. In fact, your online brand is as important as any of the traditional forms of branding and becoming more important each day. Most customers today are technologically savvy and typically rely on a company’s online presence as a validity test of its credibility in the market.

 

In the competitive-age we live in, in order for your brand to succeed online, it must be highly recognizable, relatable, and authentic; thereby setting itself apart from the competition. High visibility of your brand increases credibility and customers will be more willing to retain your product/services. Creating an online brand presence is about capturing the attention of the targeted audience. At present, consumer’s today look to connect directly with business owners and hear their stories before they make a decision on whether to buy their products/services. With that in mind, let’s examine seven key insights as to how to effectively maximize your online brand presence:

 

1. Be Consistent With Branding. Ask yourself one question: “What is my business really about?” It is very important to display a consistent branding strategy across all online channels. This creates brand recognition and helps to reinforce the brand. It is common for a business to use several channels to reach out to customers. For example, a business may use its website, several social networks, blogs, document sharing sites, and more.

 

2. Optimize Your Website. As we know, creating and maintaining a website is one of the most important branding tools for any business. Website optimization for optimal performance on search engines is one of the first things companies can do to drive traffic to a website and improve the brand’s visibility.

 

3. Social Media. Social Media Marketing is one of the most effective and cost effective ways to promote both small businesses and corporations; and, enhance the visibility of your brand. Social Media Marketing promotes visibility, brand loyalty, recognition, and can also grow your sales. In addition, social media marketing allows small businesses and established ones to compete with an advantage. It enables businesses to reach worldwide audiences.

 

4. Produce and Distribute Great Quality Content. Creating and distributing quality content is the best way to gain visibility online. It is one of the most effective marketing strategies to promote your business and create brand recognition online. Creating quality content has become essential to any successful marketing strategy today.

 

5. Press Release Marketing. Press release distribution is a very effective and inexpensive way to enhance brand visibility and recognition. If it is picked up by Google News, your company will receive additional coverage for your brand.

 

6. Leverage Video Marketing. Businesses of all sizes and scale can benefit from video marketing i.e., YouTube, Vimeo, Metcafe, etc. Posting branded videos relevant to your niche is a very effective way to promote your business, drive traffic to your website, and get your brand noticed in front of a targeted audience.

 

7. Start a Blog. Having a blog can enhance brand visibility and improve your chances of success. In fact, blogging is one of the most effective ways to improve the visibility of your brand online. Blogging greatly improves your search engine rank, establishes validity in your brand and increases reach. In addition, blogging helps to cultivate relationships with customers and other influencers.

 

As a final point, when creating an online brand presence, don’t attempt to create your online brand like any other brand in the market. Be authentic. If you can be open and honest with yourself about your brand’s value, you will be able to authenticate this value when creating your online brand presence.

Unpaid Internships Are Not Uncommon-But Are They Legal?

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BY ALAN S. LEVINS AND KATHERINE M. KIMSEY|MARCH 1, 2016

Internships have become a rite of passage in the United States for many aspiring workers. There are published estimates indicating that that “70 to 75 percent of students at four year [colleges] undertake at least one internship.” See Ross Perlin, Intern Nation: How to Learn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave New Economy (Verso 2012) at 26.
Many of those internships are unpaid (Id. at 27), which raises a substantial legal question about-and the specter of substantial liability for-failing to treat “interns”as employees. To further complicate the matter, the legal test for determining just who qualifies as a true intern, and who must be treated as an employee entitled to wages and benefits, has not always been clear.
Indeed, the law regarding unpaid internships is in conflict at the federal appellate court level.In contrast, the State of California has established a relatively clear set of guidelines to follow to ascertain when an “intern” must be paid the minimum wage and provided with employment benefits. In most cases, however, employers must comply with both state and federal law.
FEDERAL STANDARDS
Nine years after the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201, et seq.) was enacted by Congress, the Supreme Court issued a brief decision carving an exception to the protections embedded in what was then a relatively new law. The Court decided that persons who were given training by a railroad company before they were eligible to be hired were not ’employees’ under the FLSA during the course of that training.For that reason, the railroad was not required to pay the trainees the minimum wage set out by the FLSA during the approximately week-long training.
See Walling v. Portland Terminal Co., 330 U.S. 148, 152-153 (1947).
Over the years since the Portland Terminal decision was handed down, the DOL has articulated six key factors that must be met in order to avoid having a “trainee” classified as employee. The factors are:
1.The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
2.The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
3.The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
4.The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage fromthe activities of the intern;
and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
5.The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship;and
6.The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.
See Wage & Hour Div., Fact Sheet #71, Internship Programs Under the Fair LaborStandards Act (April 2010), available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs71.htm(hereafter “DOL FactSheet”).
Although this seems reasonably straightforward, federal appellate courts have notbeen consistent in interpreting and applying Portland Terminal or the DOL factors.
Some courts have eschewed the six-factor test altogether.See, e.g., McLaughlin v. Ensley, 877 F.2d 1207, 1209-10, n.2 (4th Cir. 1989) (applying a “primary beneficiary” test); Solis v. Laurel brook Sanitarium and School, Inc., 642 F.3d 518, 525(6th Cir. 2011) (applying a “totality-of-the-circumstances approach” and “primary beneficiary” test).Other courts have applied the test exactly as written by the DOL.See Atkins v. General Motors Corp., 701 F.2d 1124, 1128 (5th Cir.1983) (stating the six factor test “is entitled to substantial deference by this court”). Still other courts have noted the usefulness of the test, but refused to apply it strictly. See Reich v. Parker Fire Protection Dist., 992 F.2d 1023, 1026 (10th Cir. 1993) (using a balancing of the six factors).

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