What State Laws Protect Employees?

When you accept a job in California, you expect to be a critical component of your team and a valued employee of your company. But thousands of employees throughout the state are mistreated every day. If that happens to you, do you have any legal recourse? The answer depends on whether any state or federal laws were violated when the mistreatment occurred.

California State Employment Laws and Protections

California workers are protected by more laws than workers in many other states. These laws and protections include:

  • California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA)—This expansive law prohibits employers with five or more employees from discriminating or retaliating against workers for a wide variety of characteristics, including race, religion, national origin and ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, age, and more.
  • Pregnancy—In addition to being allowed to discriminate or terminate employees for being or becoming pregnant, employers are also required to make reasonable accommodations by modifying their duties, schedules, and equipment.
  • Religion—Employers are required to make accommodations for employees’ religious beliefs, with the only exceptions being granted when employers can show significant difficulty or hardship in providing those accommodations.
  • Disability—Employers are also required to make reasonable accommodations for disabled employees that will allow them to perform their jobs or similar jobs.
  • Pay—Employers aren’t allowed to discriminate against workers when paying wages based on characteristics like sex, race, or ethnicity, and they must be able to prove that wage differences among employees working similar jobs are based on valid factors, such as seniority, merit, education, training, and experience.
  • Whistleblowing—Employers can’t punish or retaliate against whistleblowers, nor can they create or enforce policies that prevent employees from becoming whistleblowers.
  • Access to Personnel Files—Employers must allow workers an opportunity to review and possess their personnel files when requested to do so. These requests must be met no later than 30 calendar days after receiving them from employees.
  • Minimum Wage—Employers with 25 or fewer employees must pay all workers at least $13 or more per hour, while employers with 26 or more employees must pay all workers at least $14 or more per hour.
  • Overtime—Employers must pay nonexempt, or hourly, employees a rate that’s equal to one and one-half times their standard pay rate for all hours worked beyond 40 hours in a workweek or when they work a seventh consecutive day in a workweek. Overtime pay increases to double the normal payrate when hours worked exceed 12 in a single day or when the number of consecutive days worked exceeds eight.
  • Rest, meal, and breastfeeding breaks—Employers must provide workers with various breaks. Nonexempt employees must receive at least one 10-minute paid rest period for each four hours they work and one 30-minute meal period if they work at least five hours in a single day. In addition, employees who want to breastfeed much receive adequate time and accommodations to do so.
  • Temporary Disability Insurance—Employers must participate in California’s State Disability Insurance program or an approved equivalent to provide workers with wage replacement if they get injured or sick and are unable to perform their regular jobs.
  • Family and Medical Leave—Employers must recognize the rights granted by the California Family Rights Act, which provides up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave in a 12-month period for workers. This act is similar to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.
  • Safe Work Environments—Employers must abide by guidelines established by the California Occupational Safety and Health Act to provide workers with safe and healthful workplaces and to create programs that help prevent workplace illnesses and injuries.

In addition to these state requirements, employers must also abide by restrictions and guidelines established by the federal government. These include things like the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Concerned That Your Rights Were Violated at Work? Our Lawyers Can Help.

Employment law is complicated, especially when it involves the potential violations of both state and federal laws. In addition, many employers are well protected when it comes to being accused of unfair treatment, whether it’s related to pay, discrimination, demotion, or termination. Without experienced legal representation, many workers find themselves at the mercy of their employers and without much, if any, recourse.

At Jafari Law Group, our Orange County employment lawyers work hard to help workers understand their rights and to protect them when they’re violated. Don’t accept unfair treatment from a company that you gave so much to—contact us today for a free consultation. We know what you’re going through, and we want to make it right for you and your loved ones.