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© 2017, CASE -- California Attorneys, Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers in State Employment

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

General FAQ

What does a State Attorney do?

State Attorneys provide a range of services for the State of California, with thousands of attorneys spread across over 70 departments. From shutting down poorly run elder-care facilities, to fighting human trafficking, to protecting citizens against predatory loan practices, State Attorneys help maintain justice and make the State of California a safer and better community for all citizens.

What is an Administrative Law Judge and What do They do?

An Administrative Law Judge employed by the State of California specializes in administrative law and presides over administrative hearings. Administrative hearings involve resolving disputes between government agencies and citizens. Some of these disputes include worker's compensation claims, unemployment appeals, arbitration between contracted workers and the State, and inter-department issues. ALJs are a vital part of the inner-workings of the California State Government and help maintain the general welfare of our State.

Who are some of the other Legal Professionals represented by CASE?

Some of the other legal professionals represented by CASE are Hearing Officers, Deputy Labor Commissioners, Parole Board Representatives, Deputy Commissioners and more. They serve many important State functions, from making sure workers are paid properly, to making sure employers provide fair working conditions. These classes also also take part in civil action, conduct hearings, and perform public informational duties. They are an essential part of our state government.

How do I become a State Attorney or Administrative Law Judge?

If you are a new or experienced attorney there are many openings with the State of California. As you are probably aware, accepting work with a public entity can be difficult therefore it is important that you have all information available when you are considering an offer from a department.

Many potential employees are not aware that they have a limited ability to negotiate their salary with the state when they are first hired so that they are not brought in at the minimum of the pay scale. This is called "Hired Above Minimum" and is authorized in Government Code Section 19836.

The 2 main factors that you need to be aware of in order to be hired above minimum are 1) how much you were making for the 12 months prior to accepting a position with state (documentation must be submitted) and 2) your experience.

The term used to determine where you should be placed based on your years of experience is called the "Alternate Range Criteria" or ARC. It is extremely important that you be placed appropriately based on your experience otherwise your opportunities for promotion could be held up in the future. You can determine the Alternate Range Criteria for the position you are considering by following these steps:

1. Go to www.calhr.ca.gov
2. Click on the Salary Tab
3. Click on Pay Scales
4. Click on Salaries of Civil-Service Classifications-Alphabetic listing.
5. Find the Classification that you are considering accepting a position for under the heading "AR Crit"
6. Go back to the Pay Scales page
7. Click on Alternate Ranges
8. Click on the appropriate Range Criteria. For example if you are applying for an attorney I position the number is 217 so you would click on Ranges 200-299.
9. Either scroll down to the appropriate number or go to "Edit" and use the "Find" feature to locate the appropriate ARC
10. Review and print out the ARC to discuss with Legal management and Personnel regarding the range and salary
Note that not all classifications may have an ARC and that the ARCs are not consistent amongst the different but similar classifications.

Example: An attorney with 3 years of legal experience since being admitted to the Bar applies for a position at the State Compensation Insurance Fund. The attorney was working in the private sector and made $6,000 per month for the last 12 months. A review of the ARC shows that they could be placed in Range C. With documentation they can argue that they should be paid more than the minimum of Range C which is $5,638 and that they should be making $6,000 because of their extraordinary qualifications.

There is no guarantee that a department will hire an attorney above minimum but hopefully armed with this information and the documents authorizing departments to hire above minimum you will be able to begin your state employment on a positive note.

Please feel free to call the CASE office at 800-699-6533 if you have any questions about becoming a state employee.
 

Select here to visit the CalHr's website: www.calhr.ca.gov

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Local Rep FAQ

What is a Local Union Representative?

A local union representative, also known as a local rep, or shop steward, is a volunteer official representative of CASE, who carries out union activities on behalf of CASE. CASE represents over 3,800 legal professionals up-and-down the State of California, and does not have the resources to represent and communicate with the entire state from our Sacramento office. We need local reps to help us operate effectively to interact directly with Unit 2 Members in every department and provide them ample representation.

Being a CASE Local Union Representative is an important responsibility. It is often the first experience Unit 2 Members have with CASE. Local reps are able to assist CASE Members in meetings with management. The responsibility of  a local rep include listening and gaining information from your fellow Unit 2 members, identifying their issues, carrying out representation on their behalf, and helping to promote the union and its activites

.

Support your fellow legal professionals; become a local rep today. Click here to view the application to become a local rep.

What legal rights do I have as a local rep?

Representation Activity

The state recognizes and agrees to deal with CASE representatives on all matters relating to bargaining, unit grievances and appeals to the State Personnel Board (SPB). An employee and a CASE local representative shall be authorized a reasonable amount of time off during work hours without loss of compensation (consistent with workload requirements) to prepare and present grievances and claims and appeals before SPB. CASE local representatives may be required to notify their immediate supervisors and obtain approval regarding the time of day for conducting such activities.

Access

A. With prior notification to the official in charge of the area to be visited, CASE local representatives shall have access to bargaining unit employees at the work site for representation purposes. Access shall not be disruptive.
B. The department head or designee may restrict access to certain work sites or areas for reasons of safety, security, or other legitimate business necessities. Access shall not be unreasonably withheld.

 

The above activities are protected by the State Employer-Employees Relations Act. If you believe the rights of CASE local representatives have been violated, contact the CASE Office at 1-800-699-6533.

How do I become a local rep?

To become a local rep, contact our main office or fill out an application form located here. After your application is processed, you must attend a training to become certified. CASE is holding four upcoming trainings in 2018, to be announced.  Please email CASE@calattorneys.org if you are interested in attending one of our 2018 local union rep trainings.

Frequently Asked Questions

Reasonable Accommodation FAQ

What is reasonable accommodation?

A reasonable accommodation is any adjustment made to a job and/or work environment which enables a qualified person with a disability to perform the essential duties of his or her position.

What is an "essential function"?

An "essential function" is a task a person performs that is necessary to his or her job.

Who qualifies for a for reasonable accommodation?

A person with a disability who has a physical or mental impairment or medical condition which limits one or more of that person's major life activities.

What is a "major life activity"?

Major life activities can be almost anything that affects a person's ability to work or is related to normal life activities. The Government Code states that the term "major life activity" shall be broadly construed and includes physical, mental, and social activities and working.

How is my department supposed to respond to my request for a reasonable accommodation?

Departments are supposed to review requests on a case by case basis to determine if the department can accommodate a person. Departments are also required to engage in an interactive process with an employee who has requested a reasonable accommodation. Undue hardship and direct threat are the only legitimate reasons for denying a reasonable accommodation.

What is the interactive process?

This is the process by which the employee and the department discuss various options to accommodate a qualified person with a disability. If what is originally requested by the employee and his physician is not feasible to the department, the department and employee must discuss other viable options. It also means that the department may need to seek clarification of the employee's request with the employee and/or his or her doctor.

What is an undue hardship?

An undue hardship is anything that a department must do or purchase that would be significantly difficult or expensive.

What are some examples of reasonable accommodations?

Some examples include, but are not limited to: making facilities accessible for persons with disabilities; job restructuring such as part-time work, modified work, or reassignment; electric scooter use; use of an ergonomic chair, desk and other office equipment.

What laws govern reasonable accommodation?

The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) in the California Government Code and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

How do I request a reasonable accommodation?

Each department tends to do this differently. You should first check your department's intranet site to review the department's reasonable accommodation policy and to see if they have a standard form that you need to have your doctor fill out and return to your department (either to your supervisor or to personnel). Information from your doctor is generally required to obtain a reasonable accommodation. Please note that the doctor does not need to provide a diagnosis or a description of your medical condition for which reasonable accommodation is needed. The doctor should provide a specific description of the accommodation such as: no sitting for longer than 20 minutes; no keyboarding for more than one hour at a time; a 5 minute break from the computer every hour; an ergonomic computer/workstation; a 20 hour week work schedule. Please note that these are only examples. Please speak with your doctor about any particular accommodation for your situation.)

What are the timelines for a response to a reasonable accommodation request?

When an employee submits a request for reasonable accommodation the department must respond within 20 days. Should the department fail to respond by the 20th day the request is deemed denied and the employee has the right to file a denial of reasonable accommodation appeal with the State Personnel Board. Should the department respond within 20 days that an employee's request is denied, the employee has a right to file an appeal with the State Personnel Board within 30 days from the date of denial.

How can CASE assist me with reasonable accommodation issues?

CASE is available to consult with you prior to your taking any action. Should you so desire, CASE may also assist you with the interactive process. In the event you should file an appeal with the State Personnel Board, you may request CASE to represent you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Jury Duty FAQ

I have been summoned for jury duty. May I serve without using leave time?

Yes. Jury duty is an important civic duty recognized by CASE and the State of California. The following language regarding jury duty appears in the 2016-2019 Memorandum of Understanding:

9.9 Jury Duty

A. An employee shall be allowed such time off without loss of compensation as is required in connection with mandatory jury duty. If payment is made for such time off, the employee is required to remit to the State, jury fees received. When night jury service is required of an employee, the employee shall be allowed time off without loss of compensation for such portion of the required time that coincides with the employee's normal work schedule. This includes any necessary travel time.

B. An employee shall notify his/her supervisor immediately upon receiving notice of jury duty.

C. If an employee elects to use accrued vacation leave or compensating time off while on jury duty, the employee is not required to remit jury fees.

D. For purposes of this Section, "jury fees" means fees received for jury duty excluding payment for mileage, parking, meals or other out-of-pocket expenses.

E. An employee may be allowed time off without loss of compensation if approved by the department head or designee for voluntary jury duty such as county grand jury. If approved by the department, subsections C and D apply.

Frequently Asked Questions

Family Medical Leave (FMLA) FAQ

How much leave am I entitled to under FMLA?

As a state employee you are entitled to 12 weeks of leave for certain family and medical reasons during a 12-month period.

How is the 12-month period calculated under FMLA?

Employers may select one of four options for determining the 12-month period:
1) the calendar year; or
2) any fixed 12-month "leave year" such as a fiscal year, a year required by state law, or a year starting on the employee's "anniversary" date; or
3) the 12-month period measured forward from the date any employee's first FMLA leave begins; or
4) a "rolling" 12-month period measured backward from the date an employee uses FMLA leave.

Does the law guarantee paid time off?

No. The FMLA only requires unpaid leave. However, the law permits an employee to elect to use accrued paid leave, such as vacation or sick leave, for some or all of the FMLA leave period. When paid leave is substituted for unpaid FMLA leave, it may be counted against the 12-week FMLA leave entitlement if the employee is properly notified of the designation when the leave begins.

Does workers' compensation leave count against an employee's FMLA leave entitlement?

It can. FMLA leave and workers' compensation leave can run together, provided the reason for the absence is due to a qualifying serious illness or injury and the employer properly notifies the employee in writing that the leave will be counted as FMLA leave.

Can the employer count leave taken due to pregnancy complications against the 12 weeks of FMLA leave for the birth and care of my child?

Yes. An eligible employee is entitled to a total of 12 weeks of FMLA leave in a 12-month period. If the employee has to use some of that leave for another reason, including a difficult pregnancy, it may be counted as part of the 12-week FMLA leave entitlement.

Can the employer count time on maternity leave or pregnancy disability as FMLA leave?

Yes. Pregnancy disability leave or maternity leave for the birth of a child would be considered qualifying FMLA leave for a serious health condition and may be counted in the 12 weeks of leave so long as the employer properly notifies the employee in writing of the designation.

If an employer fails to tell employees that the leave is FMLA leave, can the employer count the time they have already been off against the 12 weeks of FMLA leave?

In most situations, the employer cannot count leave as FMLA leave retroactively. Remember, the employee must be notified in writing that an absence is being designated as FMLA leave. If the employer was not aware of the reason for the leave, leave may be designated as FMLA leave retroactively only while the leave is in progress or within two business days of the employee's return to work.

Who is considered an immediate "family member" for purposes of taking FMLA leave?

An employee's spouse, children (son or daughter), and parents are immediate family members for purposes of FMLA. The term "parent" does not include a parent "in-law". The terms son or daughter do not include individuals age 18 or over unless they are "incapable of self-care" because of mental or physical disability that limits one or more of the "major life activities" as those terms are defined in regulations issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).

May I take FMLA leave for visits to a physical therapist, if my doctor prescribes the therapy?

Yes. FMLA permits you to take leave to receive "continuing treatment by a health care provider," which can include recurring absences for therapy treatments such as those ordered by a doctor for physical therapy after a hospital stay or for treatment of severe arthritis.

Which employees are eligible to take FMLA leave?

Employees are eligible to take FMLA leave if they have worked for their employer for at least 12 months, and have worked for at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months, and work at a location where at least 50 employees are employed by the employer within 75 miles.

Do the 12 months of service with the employer have to be continuous or consecutive?

No. The 12 months do not have to be continuous or consecutive; all time worked for the employer is counted.

Do the 1,250 hours include paid leave time or other absences from work?

No. The 1,250 hours include only those hours actually worked for the employer. Paid leave and unpaid leave, including FMLA leave, are not included.

How do I determine if I have worked 1,250 hours in a 12-month period?

Your individual record of hours worked would be used to determine whether 1,250 hours had been worked in the 12 months prior to the commencement of FMLA leave.

Do I have to give my employer my medical records for leave due to a serious health condition?

No. You do not have to provide medical records. The employer may, however, request that, for any leave taken due to a serious health condition, you provide a medical certification confirming that a serious health condition exists.

Can my employer require me to return to work before I exhaust my leave?

Subject to certain limitations, your employer may deny the continuation of FMLA leave due to a serious health condition if you fail to fulfill any obligations to provide supporting medical certification. The employer may not, however, require you to return to work early by offering you a light duty assignment.

Are there any restrictions on how I spend my time while on leave?

Employers with established policies regarding outside employment while on paid or unpaid leave may uniformly apply those policies to employees on FMLA leave. Otherwise, the employer may not restrict your activities. The protections of FMLA will not, however, cover situations where the reason for leave no longer exists, where the employee has not provided required notices or certifications, or where the employee has misrepresented the reason for leave.

Can my employer make inquiries about my leave during my absence?

Yes, but only to you. Your employer may ask you questions to confirm whether the leave needed or being taken qualifies for FMLA purposes, and may require periodic reports on your status and intent to return to work after leave. Also, if the employer wishes to obtain another opinion, you may be required to obtain additional medical certification at the employer's expense, or rectification during a period of FMLA leave. The employer may have a health care provider representing the employer contact your health care provider, with your permission, to clarify information in the medical certification or to confirm that it was provided by the health care provider. The inquiry may not seek additional information regarding your health condition or that of a family member.

Can my employer refuse to grant me FMLA leave?

If you are an "eligible" employee who has met FMLA's notice and certification requirements (and you have not exhausted your FMLA leave entitlement for the year), you may not be denied FMLA leave.