Updated: Mar 4
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California employment law includes a number of rights and obligations that make up the relationship between an employer and a worker. Employment law policy applies not only to existing workers but also to retired employees and people looking for a job. There are a variety of legal issues related to employee rights affecting companies, organizations, and even smaller businesses.
Why You Need To Speak To A California Employment Lawyer
California employment law may be an area of the law that is nuanced and difficult to understand and fully understand. These laws are changing continuously in California. It is important to recognize the rights of workers and the responsibilities of employers, whether you are an employee, employer, or job applicant. If your rights as an employee in California have been violated, it is vital that you contact an experienced employment lawyer in Los Angeles who will fight to defend your rights and help you obtain compensation.
Your Employee Rights in California
In the workplace, workers have a fair right to privacy. This right extends to the personal belongings of the worker, such as backpacks, purses, or briefcases, storage lockers accessible only to the employee, and private mail addressed directly to the employee. In their personal phone calls, staff often have the right to privacy. Such privileges do not, however, extend to work e-mail messages and the use of the Internet when using the network and computer system of the employer.
Here are some of the significant privileges that all workers are entitled to:
The right on an employee to a healthy and safe workplace free from hazardous situations that may cause accidents or diseases.
For the job that is carried out, the right to be paid equal wages.
The right to a workplace that is free from all forms of abuse and discrimination.
The right not to be reprimanded for making a complaint against an employer.
In addition to workers, while they are not legally employees, those who apply for employment often have privileges. During the hiring process, they have the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of characteristics such as ethnicity, national origin, faith, age, or gender.
For example, without first obtaining permission from them to do so, an employer can not question a job candidate regarding his or her religious views or perform a credit or background check of a prospective employee or employee.
Our work California employment lawyers at 1000Attorneys.com provide assistance with a variety of employment law issues. The most common employment violations in California for which we are retained by our clients are:
Discrimination In The Workplace
Workplace discrimination is illegal under federal and state laws. Since the Civil Rights Act was introduced in 1964, a variety of laws have been passed by the federal and state governments that prevent employers from discriminating against workers. Here are some of the most common kinds of discrimination that we see in workplaces in California:
Race, religion, and nationality: The Civil Rights Act, Title VII forbids an employer from discrimination on the basis of national origin, race, skin color, or religion (with 15 or more employees). Under this federal statute, it is unconstitutional for an employer to refuse to recruit, punish, fire, withhold training, demote, or threaten any worker on the basis of these protected features.
This form of discrimination, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), includes treating an employee or job candidate) unfavorably because he or she is of a certain race or because of race-related personal characteristics such as hair texture, skin color, or certain facial features. Because of skin color or complexion, color discrimination means treating others unfavorably. Since the person is married to or associated with a person of a certain race or color, ethnic or color discrimination may also mean treating others unfavorably.
It is also against the law in the state of California to treat someone unfavorably because they belong to a certain faith or a particular nation. Moreover, the statute allows an employer to fairly accommodate the religious convictions or activities of an employee unless doing so imposes more than a minimal burden on the business of the employer's operations. These accommodations may include flexible schedules, shift swaps, work reassignments, and clothing or grooming habits that are part of the values and practices of the employee's faith.
Discrimination against sex or gender: This means treating a job applicant or worker unfavorably because of his or her sex. Discrimination against a person due to gender identity, including transgender status or sexual orientation, is gender discrimination and is a violation of Title VII.
The law forbids any form of discrimination in the workplace, such hiring, firing, work assignments, promotions, layoffs, training based on gender, sex, skin color, religion, etc. In addition, the federal Equal Pay Act mandates employers to provide men and women with equal pay for equal work.
Age discrimination: Employers are forbidden from discriminating against job seekers or jobs who are over 40 years of age by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). For example, firing or laying off older workers and recruiting younger or cheaper employees to perform the same jobs is illegal for a company.
Disability discrimination: discrimination against those who are disabled is prohibited by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Moreover, for people with disabilities, employers must have adequate accommodation. For example, if an employee is bound to a wheelchair, the employer should make sure there are a parking space and wheelchair access for that employee. A changed work schedule or work duties, unpaid time off, or special equipment that will assist the disabled employee in the performance of his or her job duties can also be included in appropriate accommodation.
California Wage And Hour Laws
Wage and hour regulations in California apply to all non-exempt workers, which means that if you are an independent contractor, not a full-time employee, or a so-called "exempt" employee, laws relating to overtime or meal breaks will not apply to you. The distinction between a independent contractors and employees or exempt workers is important to recognize since employers sometimes misclassify employees to avoid paying full salaries and/or benefits to them.
An independent contractor is someone who performs a service for a particular pay under a contract or arrangement and retains control over the means by which the work is carried out. Contractors, for instance, can decide their own working hours and do not have to complete time cards as non-exempt workers do.
Exempt personnel, on the other hand, are mostly managerial, executive, and technical employees. A worker must spend more than half of his or her work time doing administrative work to be deemed "exempt" and earn a monthly salary equal to at least twice the state minimum wage for all full-time employees.
The minimum wage in California must be paid to all workers as set out in the wage and hour laws of the state. As of Jan. 1, 2021, California's minimum wage is $13 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer workers and $14 for employers with 26 or more workers. The state's minimum wage is projected to increase annually until it reaches $15 per hour in 2022 for all employers.
Employees in California also have the right to pay overtime. For any job completed in excess of eight hours in one workday or 40 hours in one workweek, employers must pay workers' time and a half' overtime. By forcing or threatening workers to work "off the clock." employers are not permitted to circumvent overtime provisions. Companies must pay "double time" for any work completed in excess of 12 hours on the workday or in excess of eight working hours on the seventh day of a workweek.
A meal break of at least 30 minutes must be provided to most non-exempt California workers who work more than five hours per workday. Employees working more than 10 hours a day often have to get a second 30-minute meal break. California workers are entitled to periods of rest as well. For every four hours they work, non-exempt workers are entitled to 10 minutes of rest time.
Sexual Harassment In The Workplace
Harassing an employee or work applicant due to the sex of that person is against the law. Sexual harassment in the workplace may include sexual advances that are unwanted, demands for sexual favors, and other sexual verbal or physical harassment. While harassment does not have to be sexual, it may also involve derogatory statements about the sex of an individual. For instance, bullying a female employee by making derogatory remarks about women in general, is illegal. It is likely that the victim and the harasser are of either gender or the same sex.
It is important to note that offhand remarks are not forbidden by the law; joking or isolated events are not severe in nature. Only when it is repeated, serious, and consistent enough to establish a hostile or abusive work environment or when it causes the employee to be fired or degraded, or when it induces the employee to leave is harassment deemed against the law. A harasser may be the immediate boss, manager, colleague or even a customer or client of the victim.
Retaliation in the Workplace
Federal and state laws also forbid employers from punishing job applicants and workers for asserting their rights to engage in "protected activity."
This activity can include:
Filing a lawsuit or being a witness against the employer in a government case.
Asking a boss or executive about workplace discrimination and/or abuse.
Refuse to comply with orders that would lead to discrimination.
Resisting sexual advances or intervening to safeguard someone else in a situation.
Asking managers or co-workers to shed light on potentially unequal salaries about salary details.
Complaints regarding unhealthy conditions in the workplace to a state or federal agency.
When an employee engages in a complaint process, he or she is shielded under all conditions from retaliation. Some of the actions that may be deemed retaliatory on the part of an employer include giving an employee a low-performance assessment as retaliation, moving an employee to a less favorable position; assaulting the employee physically or verbally; making verbal or physical threats; and spreading false information about the worker.
Wrongful Termination In California
Most employees are hired "at will in California, which means their jobs can be terminated at any time, and employers do not have to give a reason or excuse for doing so. However, if an employee in California is dismissed in breach of an employment contract, they can have an unfair termination claim for racial purposes or as punishment for exercising their civil rights.
The word "wrongful termination" simply means that for reasons that are unconstitutional or in violation of state and/or federal employment laws, the employer has fired or laid off a worker. For example, if a company laid off an employee over the age of 40 and then employed a younger employee on a much lower pay scale for the same job, it would lead to age discrimination, and there could be an unfair termination case for the laid-off employee.
Employers are, therefore, unable to fire employees for exercising their legal rights to wrongful termination. For example, if an employee in California files a formal complaint about sexual assault to the company's human resources department or if an employee files a workers' compensation claim for an injury suffered on the job, by firing him or her, an employer will not retaliate against that employee. That would be unconstitutional and would result in the termination being unlawful.
What Can You Do If Your Employee Rights Have Been Violated?
You can take very important steps to protect your employee rights if your rights are violated at work. Make sure you take a copy of your employment contract to your employment lawyer so he or she can go over it. Ask your boss or the department of human resources why you were dismissed. It's perfectly legal to ask for your personnel file to be reviewed. Request a severance package and negotiate. Don't let your boss pressure you or coax you into signing something that you don't want to sign.