Your Guide to Labor Law Excellence in California

The California labor laws are diverse, and in fact, the Bear Flag state has some of the most employee-friendly laws in the United States. If you are an employee in this state, consider yourself lucky, provided you know the important labor laws that can affect your employment.

Workers are entitled to several rights and protections under California labor law, and they can claim huge penalties if their employer fails to comply or violates those rights.

Over the years, labor law has experienced several amendments, and staying informed about them is necessary. In this extensive guide, we will walk you through California labor law in detail. We will also tell you what to do if your employer has violated the law.

ūüĎČ Also read: Are You Getting Fair Pay? The Ins and Outs of Labor Laws In California Minimum Wage

What Makes California Labor Laws So Important?

As one of the most populous states in the U.S., California has strict labor laws to protect workers. Moreover, California has a history of expanding worker’s rights and increasing employee protection compared to any other state.

California labor laws often stray from federal regulations, making the local labor laws highly progressive and employee-centric. 

Why Every California Employee Should Understand the Labor Laws

An informed employee remains protected, which is the most fundamental reason to understand labor laws. Understanding your rights ensures you can identify when they are being violated, allowing you to take timely action. 

It also empowers employees like you, granting them the confidence to engage in dialogues about their rights without feeling intimidated or uncertain. Here are some reasons why you should learn about the labor laws. 

Helps Mitigate Exploitation 

Unfortunately, not all employers abide by the employment law. Some might bank on the ignorance of employees regarding their rights to cut corners, denying them benefits, proper pay, or safe working conditions. Understanding labor laws arms you with the necessary information to recognize and combat such exploitation without affecting the employment relationship.

It Ensures Your Comprehensive Well-being 

California labor laws encompass a wide range of aspects that contribute to an employee’s well-being, from physical safety protocols to mental health considerations and protection from harassment.¬†

By comprehending these laws, employees can ensure that they benefit from the full spectrum of protections intended to secure their overall well-being at the workplace.

Boosts Job Satisfaction and Productivity 

Employees who understand their rights and see them being respected tend to be more satisfied in their roles. A thorough grasp of labor laws can help you recognize and appreciate fair treatment, leading to increased morale, job satisfaction, and, by extension, productivity.

Furthermore, well-informed employees can collectively push for improvements by referencing specific labor laws and regulations, making their claims more robust and harder to dismiss.

Lays the Groundwork for Future Legal Actions 

In the unfortunate scenario where your rights as an employee are violated, prior knowledge of labor laws can significantly streamline any potential legal actions. You have a clear idea about collecting evidence, approaching relevant authorities, and possibly seeking legal representation from expert employment attorneys in Glendale. 

Promotes Mutual Respect and Positive Workplace Dynamics 

A workplace where both employer and employees understand their rights and responsibilities tends to be harmonious. You can engage in constructive discussions with your employers when you know your rights. It helps foster mutual respect, where both parties recognize the boundaries the law sets, leading to fewer conflicts and misunderstandings.

Knowing about the California labor laws does not have to be daunting. If you suspect your employer has violated a law hindering your workplace rights, you should consult our employment attorneys. Call us at 310-929-2190 to schedule a free consultation and understand how to legally proceed against your employer.

A Breakdown of Some Important California Labor Laws

Understanding the labor laws can be challenging sometimes, especially when you are overwhelmed due to the unfair treatment at the workplace. In this section, we have explained these important laws without legal jargon, and you will get all the information required to make informed decisions.

Wages and Hours Laws

California labor laws require employers with five or more employees to pay their workers fairly. Besides fair payment, the law also requires employers to disclose compensation-related information immediately. 

Minimum Wage 

According to the Californian Department of Industrial Relations, the minimum wage rate in the state is $15.50 per hour, and it will be $16 from January 1, 2024. Most counties and cities have higher minimum wages than the federal rate.

(If your employer is paying you by the federal rate, it is a violation of labor laws, and you can take legal action against it).

Pay Transparency 

On January 1, 2023, California passed a Pay Transparency Act (SB-1162) requiring employers with 15 or more employees to include a compensation range on all job postings- whether externally, internally, or on third-party platforms like Glassdoor. 

The bill also mandates employers to disclose a position’s pay scale to the current workers to prevent wage disparities. 

Paying Overtime

Sometimes, employees need to work outside of their regular schedule. When this occurs, the law requires the employers to pay overtime to eligible employees depending on the extra time they have spent at work. (If you are an exempt employee or belong to the agricultural workers’ category, consult our attorneys to know if you are eligible for overtime pay).

Leaves of Absence Laws 

Whether caring for a loved one, recovering from an illness, or dealing with a serious medical condition, employees need some time off work to deal with these situations. The California labor laws ensure that work should be the last thing on an employee’s mind when faced with personal matters.

For instance, the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) gives workers the right to take job-protected leave of absence. To be eligible for protection under this California labor law, you must have completed at least 12 months of employment with the company.

If you meet the criteria, you have the right to take leave for up to 12 work weeks in a 1-year or 12-month period.

Pregnancy Disability Leave 

Even if an employee is not eligible for a job-protected leave under CFRA, they are entitled to receive a leave for up to 4 months in case of a disability associated with pregnancy or childbirth. 

The labor laws of California, including pregnancy disability and CFRA, guarantee a worker to be reinstated to the same role/position after they come to a close. 

Breaks and Rest Periods Laws 

California law obligates most employers to provide all nonexempt employees with the opportunity to rest and meal breaks. Depending on the hours an employee has worked, the employer can determine the duration of the rest period they are entitled to. Such employees receive:

  • A paid 10-minute break for every four hours worked.
  • An unpaid 30-minute meal break for working more than five hours in a workday.¬†
  • An additional unpaid 30-minute meal or rest break for working more than 12 hours in a work day.

Retaliation and Harassment Laws

The FEHA (Fair Employment and Housing Act) offers the most comprehensive protection to California’s employees from workplace issues like retaliation and harassment. Under this act, it is unlawful for employers to mistreat or harass their employees based on their protected characteristics. 

The Civil Rights Department enforces strict laws to protect employees from unfair workplace conduct based on their race, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, age, and more.

Union Laws (for Labor Organizations)

Unlike employment laws, the labor laws also offer protection to unions. The National Labor Relations Act, or NLRA, is a federal law that allows California employees to organize a union when negotiating with their employer or discussing their employment terms with co-workers. The labor laws also give employees the right to participate in a strike or picket for a valid reason. 

Finding it hard to navigate through complex California labor laws? Book a free consultation with our Orange County attorneys to discuss your concerns. We dive deeper to understand your unique situation and provide you with the legal help you need to overcome all workplace-related challenges.

What To Do If Your California Employer Has Violated The Labor Laws

California is an at-will employment state, but that does not give your employer the authority to violate the laws. If you have witnessed unethical behavior that is against the law, follow these steps to get justice:

Document Everything Carefully 

Before you take any formal actions, start by documenting the violation. This includes collecting:

  • Dates and times of incidents.
  • Witnesses, if any.
  • Emails, memos, messages, or other communication that might be related.
  • Details about the nature of the violation.
  • Any negative consequences you faced as a result of the violation, such as denied wages, unfair treatment, or health repercussions.

Understand Your Rights

Before confronting your employer or taking legal action, ensure you have a clear understanding of your rights. California’s labor laws are comprehensive, so review the specific laws related to your situation.¬†

Approach Your Employer or HR

When you bring the incident to your employer’s attention, it gives you an edge at the time of filing a formal complaint. Sometimes, the higher authorities are unaware of the violation or might be willing to resolve the issue when you discuss it with them.

‚úćÔłŹ A Pro Tip:

Always approach this step professionally and calmly, and consider sending a written notice for documentation purposes.

Seek Mediation

If the internal channels are unfruitful, consider seeking mediation. A neutral third party, such as an employment lawyer, can facilitate discussions between you and your employer to arrive at a resolution. The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) offers mediation services for certain employment disputes.

File a Complaint with Relevant State Agencies

If your efforts to address the violation within your company fail, you can file a formal complaint with a relevant state agency. Depending on the nature of the violation, you may approach authorities like state and federal courts. Some state authorities you should contact are:

  • The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) for wage, hour, and working condition violations.
  • The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) for harassment and retaliation issues.

When to Hire Workplace Attorneys in California 

You can file a complaint without a lawyer, does that mean you do not need one? Having a labor law expert to handle your claim increases the likelihood of a positive outcome. Here are more details on when to onboard labor law attorneys in California to represent you.

Initial Consultation

Even if you are sure about the validity of your claims, consulting an attorney can provide clarity. They can offer an initial assessment of your situation and advise on the best course of action.

For instance, if you are being paid less than the minimum wage, you have got a case. However, it is wise to consult an attorney to understand why you are receiving less than what you are entitled to.

After Unsuccessful Mediation or Internal Grievances

If you have attempted to resolve the issue within the organization or through mediation without success, it might be time to escalate the matter with legal representation.

Complex Cases

Not all labor disputes are straightforward. Having an attorney is advisable if your case involves intricate legal challenges, multiple parties, or large compensation claims.

When Facing Retaliation

Do you fear retaliation after reporting a state law violation? It is essential to seek legal representation to protect your rights and possibly file additional claims.

Your Rights Are Continuously Ignored

Sometimes, California employers repeatedly disregard employee rights, or the violations are systemic within the company. In such situations, legal action might be the only way to ensure your rights are upheld.

Before Signing Agreements

If your employer has presented you with a settlement package or any other employment-related agreement, especially post-conflict, consulting an employment attorney is important. The Los Angeles lawyers will review the entire agreement to protect your interests and rights. 

ūüĎČ Also read: Unjustly Dismissed? Essential Legal Steps in Filing a Wrongful Termination Claim

We Are Your Employment Attorneys with an Impeccable Understanding of California Labor Laws 

While this guide on labor laws gives you a foundation, the intricacies and nuances of individual situations can differ. Why leave anything to chance? Secure your rights and understand them fully with experts who care. 

If you are facing a workplace challenge, don’t hesitate. Book a call with us today to ensure you are not just informed but also protected and empowered.

We are California employment lawyers who have assisted employees of all backgrounds and positions with a commitment to secure favorable outcomes for them.