California is one of the nation’s most progressive states in relation to protecting employees in the workplace. In many instances, California has been ahead of the curve in protecting workers as compared to other states, as well as legislation on the federal level.
Sometimes, an uncomfortable work environment or situation feels wrong or unjust, but employees are not aware that their rights under California and/or federal law have been violated.
In this article, we hope to provide a primer on some of the most important employment rights for California employees so that you can be informed and take action against your employer if your rights have been violated.
Let’s dive into three of the most important employee rights in California:
Both California and federal rights protect workers from being discriminated against in the workplace based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, age, sex, medical disability or condition, pregnancy, marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
Discrimination includes harassment or any adverse employment action including not hiring, firing, disciplining, not promoting, providing poor assignments, reduced hours, reduced pay, and more.
It is important to note that evidence of an adverse employment action alone is not sufficient to prove discrimination. You must prove that the decision was motivated or based on your membership in a protected class.
Workplace safety regulations governed by the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH).
These agencies are responsible for inspecting workplaces for compliance with safety requirements. Employers are responsible for maintaining safe working conditions and equipment. They must correct any hazards and ensure a safe working environment.
California employees who are injured in the course of their employment are entitled to workers’ compensation whether or not their employer was negligent in causing their injuries. The employee need only prove that their injuries were sustained due to their engagement in activities in the course of their employment.
Both federal, under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and California state law, under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), provide legal protections for an individual’s employment when they require time off from work for medical conditions and/or treatment, or to care for a spouse, child, or parent. This includes the birth of a child, adoption of a child, or caring for a child placed through the foster care system.
FMLA leave provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. After the leave period ends, the employee must be reinstated into the same or comparable position. In order to be eligible for FMLA leave, your employer must have at least 50 employees and you must have been employed by your employer for at least 12 months and worked a minimum of 1,250 hours during that 12-month period. CFRA leave requirements apply to employers with as few as five employees.
If you are a California employee and you believe your employer is or has violated your rights in the workplace, it is important that you speak up. You may be entitled to compensation for the damages caused to you as a result of your employer’s actions or lack thereof. Contact our experienced Bay Area employment lawyers for a consultation.