As an employee in California, it is important to understand your rights in the workplace. California has strong employment laws that protect the rights of workers and provide them with certain benefits and protections. In this article, we will provide an overview of your employment rights in California and explain how you can exercise and protect those rights.
Overview of California Employment Law
In California, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the California Labor Code protect the rights of employees. The FEHA prohibits discrimination and harassment in the workplace based on characteristics such as race, gender, age, and disability. It also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities.
The California Labor Code sets out the rights of employees to be paid fairly and timely, including the minimum wage and overtime pay. It also requires employers to provide breaks and meal periods to employees, and to maintain a safe and healthy workplace.
Employee Rights Under FEHA
Under the FEHA, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee based on their race, gender, age, or disability. This includes discrimination in hiring, promotions, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment. It is also illegal for an employer to create a hostile work environment or to allow harassment to occur in the workplace. If you feel that you have been the victim of discrimination or harassment, you have the right to file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or to file a lawsuit in court. (Gov. Code, § 12900 et seq.)
In addition to prohibiting discrimination and harassment, the FEHA also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. This means that if you have a disability that requires certain changes to be made in the workplace in order for you to perform your job, your employer must make those changes unless doing so would be an undue hardship for the company. (Gov. Code, § 12940(m))
Employee Rights Under the California Labor Code
The California Labor Code sets out the rights of employees to be paid fairly and timely for their work. This includes the right to receive the minimum wage, which is currently $14 per hour for businesses with 26 or more employees and $13 per hour for businesses with 25 or fewer employees. (Labor Code, § 1182.12) In addition, employees who work more than eight hours in a day or 40 hours in a week are entitled to overtime pay, which is one and a half times their regular rate of pay. (Labor Code, § 510)
The California Labor Code also requires employers to provide their employees with breaks and meal periods. Non-exempt employees are entitled to a 10-minute rest break for every four hours of work, and a 30-minute meal break if they work more than five hours in a day. (Labor Code, § 226.7)
Finally, the California Labor Code requires employers to maintain a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. This includes taking steps to prevent accidents and injuries, and providing safety equipment and training to employees as needed. (Labor Code, § 6300)
How to Exercise and Protect Your Employment Rights in California
If you feel that your employment rights have been violated, there are steps you can take to protect yourself. One option is to file a complaint with the DFEH or the California Labor Commissioner. These agencies have the authority to investigate complaints and take action against employers who have violated the law.
If you prefer to pursue a legal remedy, you have the right to file a lawsuit in court. It is advisable to seek the assistance of an experienced employment lawyer if you decide to do this.
There are also resources available to help you understand and protect your employment rights in California.