Employee Employment Rights in California

As an employer and employee, there are certain rights and laws that you should familiarize yourself with since these laws impact current, former, and future employees of a company. A lot of lawsuits that companies find themselves wrapped up in involve simple disputes that could have been avoided had everyone known and followed the laws. Both sides need to know the laws when it comes to employee rights and they are constantly changing and evolving to make it better for everyone involved. When employee rights are intentionally violated, one should seek out an employment lawyer

What Are Some of the Biggest Employee Employment Rights in California?

One of the biggest sections of the employee employment rights in the state of California has to do with discrimination. While discrimination is illegal at both the state and federal level, there’s still discrimination happening all over. Even though the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made discrimination illegal, it’s still a huge problem for companies as the rights evolve for certain groups.

  • It’s illegal for a company to discriminate against someone due to their gender or sex. A job applicant cannot be treated unfairly due to their gender identity. In California, this includes the transgender community. Both men and women also should be paid equally for equal work which was mandated in the Equal Pay Act.
  • You cannot be discriminated against for your nationality, race, and religion due to laws established by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The Civil Rights Act of 1965 makes it federally illegal for an employer to discriminate against anyone for these characteristics. An employer cannot hire, fire, discipline, demote, harass, or refuse to hire someone based on race, religion, color, or national origin.
  • An employee also has rights when it comes to disabilities and the Americans with Disabilities Act protects employees with those issues. Employers cannot discriminate against someone with a disability, which includes hiring, not hiring, firing, demoting, or reassigning someone. Reasonable accommodations are expected to be given by the employer, such as more breaks if the person is diabetic and needs medication or needs food. If the person is in a wheelchair, proper parking spaces and accommodations must be made free of charge to that employee.
  • It’s also illegal for an employer to discriminate based on age due to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. An employer cannot fire or refuse to hire someone due to them being over the age of 40. It’s illegal for any company to fire older employees just to bring in younger ones at much lower pay.

California Wage & Hour Employee Rights

It’s important to note that in California, the wage and hour laws are only applicable to those that are non-exempt. Meaning, if you’re not a full-time employee or you’re an independent contractor, the overtime and meal break laws will not apply. Exempt employees often include those in administrative, professional, and executive roles.

  • Employers are required to pay an employee the minimum wage which changes quite often. By the year 2022, California will make it required that companies provide a $15 an hour minimum wage.
  • You also have the right to receive overtime pay if you work more than 40 hours in one week or more than 8 hours in one day. An employer cannot try to get around these rules by demanding an employee work off the clock. If there are more than 12 hours of work in a day, then the employer has to pay double time.
  • Meal breaks must be given if an employee works for more than five hours in one day and the meal break must be 30 minutes or more. If an employee works over 10 hours in one day, then they will also get an additional meal break of 30 minutes. Rest periods are a right for all employees as well. It’s a right that those within the non-exempt category get at least one 10-minute break every four hours.

Termination & At-Will Laws

California law is that most employees work in an “at-will” category, meaning that an employee can fire you at any time for any reason. The employer doesn’t have to justify the firing but it cannot be termination based on retaliation or discrimination. An example of this would be if someone was fired after they filed a sexual harassment complaint against a co-worker. Being fired for filing that complaint would be illegal. If there was discrimination or retaliation at play in the firing, a wrongful termination lawsuit would be justified. For overtime and unpaid wages, consult with an unpaid and overtime lawyer.

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