In California, employees have rights – and this is an overview of what you, as a nonexempt employee, are entitled to when you work in this state. Your employee rights include:
- Freedom from harassment, discrimination and retaliation
- Fair pay, including commissions and overtime
- Safe working conditions
- Rest and meal breaks
- Paid leave, when appropriate
- Freedom from wrongful termination
California Employee Rights Handbook: The Scoop for Employees
Aside from the employee rights handbook your employer puts out, which should include its policies on harassment, discrimination and retaliation prevention, this is a guide to your rights as a worker in California.
Freedom From Harassment, Discrimination and Retaliation
Your employer is required to take every possible step to ensure that you’re not a victim of sexual harassment (either hostile work environment or quid pro quo). It’s also illegal for an employer to discriminate against you – either during the hiring process or after you’ve been hired – for:
|Ancestry||Genetic information||National origin||Sexual orientation|
|Color||Marital status||Pregnancy||Political affiliation|
Some of these protections are only in California law; they’re not in federal law.
Your employer can’t retaliate against you if you’re a whistleblower, either.
Fair Pay, Including Commissions and Overtime
In California, you’re entitled to fair pay. The California Equal Pay Act prohibits employers from paying employees of the opposite sex a lower salary for equal work, but there’s more to it than that. You’re entitled to receive at least minimum wage and to receive the appropriate overtime pay. Further, your employer has to pay you commissions in a timely manner.
Safe Working Conditions
Your employer is legally required to mitigate risks to employees. Naturally, some jobs are more hazardous than others are – but your employer is supposed to keep your workplace as safe as possible. In many cases, employees have the right to refuse to work until an employer fixes an unsafe working condition or investigates and finds that there’s no imminent danger.
Rest and Meal Breaks
Most employees are entitled to rest and meal breaks based on the number of hours they’ve worked. Rest breaks (including lactation accommodations). Rest breaks must be paid, which means your employer can’t force you to clock out and clock back in before you start working again. Meal breaks don’t have to be paid, but you must be uninterrupted and not working or your employer could be committing a meal break violation.
Paid Leave, When Appropriate
Your employer doesn’t have to provide you with sick days, holiday leave or vacation days – but it is required to provide you with paid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act if it becomes necessary. Check out these 5 FMLA myths you might believe for more information.
Freedom From Wrongful Termination
Most workers in California are at-will employees, and if you’re one of them, your employer can fire you for no reason. However, even if you’re an at-will employee, your boss can’t fire you for an illegal reason (like your age, disability, medical conditions, race or religion) – that would be wrongful termination.
Is All This in Your California Employee Rights Handbook?
Even if all of this is covered in your California employee rights handbook, you may have other questions about wage and hour disputes, discrimination or other situations. If that’s the case, call us at 818-918-3876 right away. We may be able to help you.