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The Silicon Valley Mercury News reports that a Sacramento judge has given California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger the go-ahead to furlough hundreds of thousands of California government employees for two days a month. Originally, unions had brought legal actions alleging that the Governor had exceeded his power. Under California law the Governor is typically required to negotiate significant changes in pay for state employees with the Legislature. However, the Hon. Patrick Marlette, found that California’s overwhelming budget crisis justified the Governor’s decision, giving it proper legal authority. No doubt, the court considered the impact of the furloughs which will save the state a projected 1.3 billion dollars. Sadly, this is cold comfort for the more than 250,000 Californians who will see a 9% reduction in their annual pay for this fiscal year as a result of the furlough. The furlough is scheduled to begin by early February and may last until the middle of 2010.

At present, the furlough is being cast as an alternative to massive lay-offs. In fact, for many Californians not working in the public sector, lay-offs are already an unfortunate reality. Although, help may be on the way if the house-approved stimulus package is signed into law. The more than 800 billion dollar stimulus is slated to create 4 million jobs, with 800,000 of those in California alone. However this job growth will not be fully realized until the end of 2010. Until then, Californians will likely still continue to cope with job loss and economic downturn.

The furloughs are not unique to California. The nationwide recession has prompted many other states to consider and implement work furlough programs either state-wide or in various state departments. In many states, employees who suffer a loss of income as a result of a furlough may be eligible for unemployment benefits for the time they are furloughed. For more information, please visit the website for your state’s department of labor. If you have questions regarding unemployment benefits and/or feel you have been wrongfully denied unemployment insurance, you are encouraged to seek out an attorney experienced in handling unemployment cases.

Finally, because the current economic crisis has produced reduced revenues for many companies, lay-offs and terminations are on the rise. If you feel that you have been wrongfully terminated for cause ( “fired”), you are encouraged to seek out an attorney with experience handling these kinds of cases. Some employers may purposefully terminate an employee who is salaried at a higher rate than others or who may no longer be needed on “trumped up” or untrue bases to avoid that employee collecting unemployment benefits and thus driving up the employers unemployment insurance premiums. If you feel you have been the victim of this, or any other kinds of discrimination, you should seek the advice of an attorney.

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