California Employment Lawyers
Please contact Bisnar | Chase Law Group at 1-800-561-4887 for a free, comprehensive and confidential consultation. Our California employment lawyers have obtained maximum compensation for workers whose rights have been violated. We are here to help you secure justice and fair compensation.
All California employees have certain rights under state and federal law. However, often, we see that California employers violate these rights. Individuals have the right to work in a discrimination-free workplace. They do not have to tolerate an employer or a work environment that is hostile or abusive.
Employers cannot discriminate against workers or deny them rights due to their age, gender, race, religion or sexual orientation. Employers are also required under the law to provide fair wages to their employees and pay them as required under the law for overtime hours worked. Workers who believe that their rights have been violated or that they have been discriminated or retaliated against, would be well advised to obtain more information about their legal rights and options.
Rights of California Workers
As an employee in the state of California, you have a number of rights. For example, you have the right to earn at least the minimum wage. Aside from a few exceptions, you also have the right to take meal or rest breaks, receive overtime pay, unemployment insurance, time off for illnesses, disability or pregnancy and have the right to a workplace that is free from discrimination and harassment. Workers in California also have a right to a safe workplace that is free from dangerous conditions, toxic substances and other potential safety hazards. The law offers "whistleblowers" or those employees who report a dangerous condition or illegal activity in their workplace, certain protections. For example, whistleblowers cannot be retaliated against by getting fired for telling the truth.
California is an "at will" employment state. This means that employees can be let go at the discretion of their employer for almost any reason or no reason at all. There are, however, certain exemptions. Employees cannot be fired "at will" under the following circumstances:
- The employer is violating existing contracts regarding terms of employment.
- The employer violated implied contracts where there was a mutual understanding between both parties involved, based on years of work, positive evaluations and existing company policies.
- There was misrepresentation and fraud.
- Termination after being induced to leave previous job.
- Retaliatory termination related to whistleblowing.
- Violations of state and federal laws including discrimination and sexual harassment.
Types of Discrimination
It is illegal in the state of California for an employer to discriminate against an employee or potential employee on the basis of:
- Race: Employers cannot base professional decisions on skin color or race.
- Religion: Employers cannot discriminate against employees because of their religion or religious beliefs. California employers must make reasonable accommodations for an employee who chooses to observe religious holidays or to wear religious clothing.
- National origin: It is illegal to base decisions regarding hiring, firing, hours and promotions based on an accent, ethnicity, or an individual's country of origin.
- Age: Under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, it is illegal for an employer to refuse to hire or fire someone based on his or her age.
- Disability: Disabled persons are protected under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Employers are not allowed to hire or fire based on a disability as long as the worker can perform the job. Furthermore, employers must make reasonable accommodations for employees with special needs.
- Pregnancy: It is against state and federal laws to discriminate against an employee based on an actual pregnancy, childbirth or medical condition related to the pregnancy.
- Sexual orientation: This is a growing legal concern for women and openly gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender workers who are discriminated against in the workplace due to their sexual orientation. California law specifically protects LGBT workers from being discriminated against due to their sexual orientation despite the fact that federal law offers no such protection.
Class Action Lawsuits
A class action lawsuit is when a number of lawsuits are combined into one larger claim against an individual or entity. Class action lawsuits are common in cases involving employment law because employers that are wrongfully treating one employee are likely treating multiple employees in a similar fashion. Wronged employees can then join together to strengthen their efforts. This is advisable in cases involving multiple victims suffering similar losses. This is not an ideal legal option for individuals who have suffered significantly greater harm than that of their colleagues.
How Employees Can Protect Their Rights
An important first step in protecting your rights is having an understanding of what your rights are. It is advisable to read over your employee handbook and to do your homework when it comes to overtime pay, meal and rest breaks, travel time, mileage, benefits, workers' compensation, drug and alcohol testing and termination.
If you believe that your rights have been violated or that you have been wronged, there are a number of steps you can take. First, before the situation escalates, it may be in your best interest to discuss your situation with your employer. If the situation escalates or your complaints have been falling on deaf ears, it would be in your best interest to retain the services of an experienced California employment lawyer who will fight for your rights and ensure that your employer does the right thing. You can also receive compensation for damages such as lost income and emotional distress.
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