The federal government has a series of laws designed to protect workers all over the country – and California is no exception. Although we have our own laws to protect workers (and often, those laws offer greater protections to Californians than federal laws do), this guide explains some of the most important federal laws that protect workers’ rights.
5 Federal Employment Laws That Protect California Workers
Some of the most important federal employment laws that protect California workers include:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
- Americans With Disabilities Act
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act
- Fair Labor Standards Act
- Family and Medical Leave Act
Here’s a closer look at each. Remember, too, that California laws also exist to provide more well-rounded protections; these are only federal laws.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating in the hiring process when it comes to:
- National origin
Though this part of the act protects job applicants who want to work for employers who have 15 or more employees, California law (specifically, the Fair Employment and Housing Act) steps in and protects job applicants who want to work for employers with just 5 or more employees.
Americans With Disabilities Act
The Americans With Disabilities Act, or ADA, says that employers can’t discriminate against a person with a disability who can perform a job’s essential functions with or without reasonable accommodations. That means as long as you can do the job, an employer can’t say, “Well, we can’t hire you due to your disability.” Your qualifications and ability to perform the job are all that matter – and employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for you.
This act also defines disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a person’s performance of one or more major life activities.
Age Discrimination in Employment Act
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act, or ADEA, applies to workers age 40 and over in workplaces that have 20 or more employees. It prohibits employers from giving preferential treatment to younger workers and younger job applicants, making it illegal to discriminate based on age in any aspect of employment such as:
- Job assignments
- Any other terms or conditions of employment
The Fair Employment and Housing Act also protects California workers over the age of 40.
Fair Labor Standards Act
As in many other cases, California law provides more protections for workers in our state – and that means that California law generally supersedes federal law. One example of this is in the minimum wage. California’s minimum wage is far higher than the federal minimum wage is, so employers in this state must pay you at least California minimum wage.
Another example is California’s overtime law. In California, employers must pay most workers daily overtime if they work over 8 hours; federal law has no such provision.
Related: On-call pay for hourly employees
Family and Medical Leave Act
The Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, requires employers to let employees take up to 12 weeks off from work for qualified medical purposes. These regulations apply to all public agencies, all public and private elementary and secondary schools, and companies that have more than 50 employees.
Some qualified medical purposes include:
- The birth and care of a baby or the placement of a child for adoption or foster care
- Caring for an immediate family member with a serious health condition (specifically, a spouse, child or parent)
- An inability to work due to a serious health condition
Related: FMLA updates
Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Federal Employment Laws?
If you believe your employer or prospective employer violated a federal employment law in relation to your employment, we may be able to help you. Call us at 818-230-8380 or fill out the form below to schedule your free consultation with an experienced, knowledgeable attorney – we’ll be happy to answer your questions and help you get the justice you deserve.