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Starting January 1st, the strongest equal pay law in the country goes into effect in California. The state's Fair Pay Act, signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in October, is designed to strengthen existing equal pay laws and provide robust new protections for workers. Among the law's mandates are a requirement for equal pay for "substantially similar" work, a whole lot of protections for discussing wages, and stronger legal recourse for employees denied equal pay.

If you do business in California, it's time to prepare. Here's what you need to know.

As any in-house attorney knows, a company's employee handbook is much more than a collection of corporate rules, platitudes, and H.R. procedures. Often, courts will treat detailed employee handbooks as establishing binding terms and conditions of employment.

When it comes to disputes with workers, the employee handbook can be one of your most important documents -- or your Achilles' heel. Here are seven mistakes employers often make when putting together an employee handbook and how you can avoid them in yours.

How to Avoid Bias in the Hiring Process

Despite employment laws designed to protect against discrimination, employers are still influenced by their biases. Apparently, even well-intentioned employers are biased against disabled persons.

According to a study by Rutgers and Syracuse Universities, disabled persons who reveal their disability in their letters and cover letters were about a quarter less likely to garner employee interest than those who did not.

Pay Ratio Regulations Coming Soon. Are You Ready?

'Tis the Season for Corporate Oversight. In house can likely feel the mounting tension in the air ...

The latest blow to corporate and financial opacity was adopted by the SEC on August 5, 2015 -- and many people didn't even know about it. On that day, the SEC voted to implement Sec. 953(b) of the Dodd-Frank Act, which requires companies to disclose a pay-ratio gap (chasm?) between the CEO's total compensation and the median annual total compensation of all other company employees.

This new change in Federal Law is likely a source of tension among business executives who are eager to deflect attention away from the fact that the average S&P 500 CEO makes 216 times more than the average employee of the same company.

Cat's Paw: Headache for Employers and In-House Counsel

It's tough being an employee. But these days, being an employer can be no picnic either. In fact, it could be a potential mine-field of litigation.

Recent cases, including Woods v. City of Berwyn in the Seventh Circuit, have given employers pause when thinking of letting that certain employee go "for cause."

Social Media Dashboards for Gathering Client Intelligence

Companies stand to benefit tremendously from proper utilization of social media. This was a key inference from a study that McKinsey and Company, a sector consulting firm, conducted a few years ago.

In-house counsel would do well by their client to arm themselves with tools such as social media dashboards. A dashboard can help to quickly gather information about clients and potential new hires.

Just last June, the Supreme Court recognized the same-sex couples' fundamental right to marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges. It was a landmark decision and a triumph for gay rights advocates, but many corporations had embraced gay and lesbian equality long before the Supreme Court, offering spousal benefits to employees' domestic partners. In 2014, more than a third of all workers had access to domestic partner benefits, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Now that same-sex marriage is the law of the land, are domestic partner benefits still necessary?

LinkedIn's Unlimited Vacation Time Comes With an Asterisk

LinkedIn has adopted a new unlimited vacation policy for its employees. At a glance, that sounds like a revolutionary thing for workers. But people who have been in the workforce for a few years are likely to be skeptical.

LinkedIn has joined a very small group of employers that have adopted a Discretionary Time-Off program for their employees. The practice is rare in the United States: only about one percent of employers offer it.

Your company is hiring. It's inundated by resumes, applications, letters of recommendation. Once you've found the perfect match for the job, you can click delete and let the rest of the applications go, right? No way. Keep those suckers around -- for years.

Federal record keeping requirements are strict. Failure to hold onto applications can open you up to litigation, from applicants and from the EEOC, as Coca-Cola learned the hard way a few weeks ago.

Here's a simple tip for corporate communications: don't start emails to your team with "Wuddup my n*****." In fact, don't use the "N word" at all. Ever. Especially not when you're working high up in a diversity-starved, struggling tech company.

It's not a hard lesson, but it's one that Yahoo's Jerry Shen failed to learn. Shen worked as a director of engineering and joined Yahoo after his fantasy football app was bought up by the purple, exclamatory tech company. He recently sent an N.W.A.-themed email throughout the company. It started with "Wuddup" and didn't get much better from there. Shen was fired the same day.