As an employee in California, you benefit from some of the most protective employment laws in the country. Federal state laws provide the minimum requirements that employers must abide by, while California state employment laws provide you with additional rights and benefits. Naturally, California law provides its citizens with legal recourse in the situation that an employer is violating their rights, allowing employees to recover financial losses and compensation for any pains suffered.
Taking on an employer in a legal claim can be intimidating, however, and understanding the legal intricacies of employment law can become a challenge. Fortunately, you don’t have to face the legal battle alone. At the Law Offices of Ayanna L. Jenkins, our experienced legal team is prepared and willing to fight for your rights.
National laws protect employee rights in the workplace, offering safeguards regarding wages, paid overtime, discrimination, safe workplaces, and family leave.
Wage and Overtime
To begin with, federal law mandates that employers pay their staff fair wages for the work they perform. In California, both federal and state law dictates a minimum wage that employers must meet and there must be a pay increase for overtime worked. Overtime is anything more than 40 hours a week, and in California overtime is extended to include more than 8 hours in any given workday, regardless of the weekly total. This overtime is mandatory, and employees cannot release employers from their obligation to pay the wage increase.
Federal law also prohibits discrimination in the workplace. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 dictates the elimination of discrimination in the workplace by prohibiting discrimination based on color, ethnicity, national origin, gender, and religion. The Americans with Disability Act (1990) and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (1967) extended the Civil Rights Act to include other discriminated sectors of the population.
Moreover, California state law also offers protection from discrimination based on marital status, sexual preference, disability, and pregnancy. Thanks to these protections, an employer is not allowed to discriminate based on any of the protected classes under state and federal law.
Regulations Regarding Workplace Safety
With regard to workplace safety, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a government agency responsible for ensuring the compliance with safe workplace regulations. OSHA has the responsibility to inspect large manufacturing factories and has the power to levy hefty fines for workplace safety procedure violations.
The law describes an unsafe workplace as an environment in which employees suffer exposure to chemicals without proper safety equipment, exposure to toxic and corrosive chemicals without protective clothing, and lack of safeguards for dangerous machinery. OSHA also has provisions in place that protect the jobs of whistleblowers.
Family Leave & The Law
Employees also benefit from the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), which protects individuals who need to take time off from work to take care of family members with severe illnesses or newborn children. Employees are guaranteed at least 12 weeks off with job protection, which cannot be refused or warrant job termination. However, the time off is unpaid.
As previously mentioned, California is one of the most employee-friendly states in the nation. Employers must comply with federal employment laws, in addition to state and municipal requirements.
Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA)
For starters, California follows the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) which provides one of the most extensive lists of protected classes against employer discrimination. FEHA typically applies to most employers and prevents discrimination against people based on skin color, age, disability, sex, gender, marital status, ethnicity and national origin.
FEHA provisions also prohibit harassment as a form of illegal discrimination, as well as acts of retaliation towards someone who opposes or reports unlawful discrimination.
California Equal Pay Act
California law also prohibits discrimination in compensation. According to the California equal pay act, discrimination in wages between sexes is illegal. Both sexes are entitled to equal pay for the same quality and amount of work done, unless based on a bona fide factor such as merit or seniority.
Laws Protecting Whistleblowers
State laws also offer whistleblower protection. A whistleblower is an employee who reports information, to a government or law enforcement agency, regarding unlawful actions by employers. In California, it is illegal to take retaliation against any employee who reports a violation of state or federal law, noncompliance with state or federal regulations, or dangerous work conditions or practices in the place of employment. Moreover, an employer cannot retaliate against an employee is they refuse to participate in an activity that would violate a law or regulation, or exercised their right as a whistleblower in past employment.
If you believe that your rights in the workplace have been violated, the first thing you should do is express your concerns to your employer. Typically, an honest conversation will resolve any issues without having to result in legal action. However, there are occasions where an employer is genuinely antagonistic and does not care about the rights of their staff. In situations like these, you should take extensive notes and keep records of all instances you experienced or witnessed unlawful actions in the workplace.
You should take notes covering every significant conversation you had with your employer that addressed the concerns of employment law violations. If you are unable to jot down notes during a meeting, record them immediately after including details including the date, time, place, and people present. Also, try to keep documents and copies of emails, letters, corporate policy statements, and employee handbooks. These records will serve as valuable evidence in your case.
However, be wary of retaining documents for which you don’t have legal access. There have been situations where employment law cases have were compromised because a person copied a document that was confidential, even though it was relevant to the case.
Once you have taken the necessary measures to disclose your concerns to your employer but still notice that nothing occurred to resolve the issue, it might be time to turn to legal action. The rights of employees are a serious matter, and California firmly punishes employers who violate them. However, you have to take action before the statute of limitations runs out. In California, the deadlines depend on the nature of the claim and a variety of other factors. For instance, for claims regarding discrimination and harassment, the statute of limitations is one year from the date of the unlawful action. Meanwhile, the deadline to file claims for unpaid wages is four years. Failure to meet deadlines may leave you without any legal recourse to seek restitution for workplace misconduct.
If you are a victim of workplace misconduct, the Law Offices of Ayanna L. Jenkins Toney can help you achieve the justice and compensation you deserve. Your rights as an employee are vital, and our legal team isn’t afraid to fight your case to the very end.
Employment Law Practice Areas
If you are facing an employment-related issue, we urge you to contact our office and set up a consultation in which we will listen to your concerns and provide you with the information you need to get justice for workplace infractions. We handle an array of employment law cases, including unlawful workplace discrimination sexual harassment, and whistleblower protection cases.
Unlawful Workplace Discrimination
The law does not tolerate illegal workplace discrimination, and neither should you. Unchecked workplace discrimination can hinder hiring and career advancement opportunities. Luckily, the law empowers employees to stand up to bigotry from employers based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual preference, age, disability, pregnancy, and marital status. Don’t suffer in silence, our employment law attorneys serve clients in the San Francisco Bay Area and are prepared to protect your rights to the very end.
Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Sexual harassment is an abuse of power and authority. Whether the harasser is management or a co-worker, the employer may still be liable for abusive sexual behavior in the workplace.
The two primary forms of sexual harassment in the workplace are hostile workplace sexual harassment, and quid pro quo sexual harassment.
Hostile workplace sexual harassment involves cases where an employee is a victim of severe sexual abuse that makes the workplace antagonistic. This abuse includes forms of lewd and licentious comments, sexist comments and insults, and unwanted physical contact.
Meanwhile, quid pro quo sexual harassment involves cases where an employer conditions an employee’s benefits and promotions in exchange for sexual favors.
Employees suffering from sexual harassment face many obstacles that surpass mere violations of their employment rights. The damage from sexual abuse could cause severe psychological damage and leave the victim’s career in shambles. Moreover, victims who speak up about sexual harassment can become targets of retaliation.
Employees suffering from sexual harassment in the workplace, have one year to report violations of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). Failure to meet the deadline may revoke the employee’s right to sue. With so much at stake and no time to waste, we urge you to contact our San Francisco law offices today to get the experienced legal representation your case needs.
Whistleblower Protection Cases
A whistleblower is an individual who brings light to the misconduct and wrongdoings taking place within the organization. Often, whistleblowers alert authorities within the organization, in law enforcement, or external agencies, regarding concerns of fraud, corruption, or safety violations in the workplace.
The California False Claims Act protects whistleblowers from retaliation from their employers. Under this act, employers may not prohibit any member of the staff from reporting infractions to the government. Employers cannot retaliate against whistleblowers by demoting, suspending, threatening, discharging, harassing or discriminating against that employee.
By consulting with our law offices, you will be able to ensure that action is taken to protect your rights under the law. Regardless of your status as a business or employee, contacting our legal team will provide you with the legal representation you need to face delicate whistleblower claims.
The Law Offices of Ayanna L. Jenkins Toney can give you the confidence you need to face your employment-related case head on. With over a decade of experience, attorney Jenkins has the knowledge and tenacity necessary to get your case the results it needs. Whether you need help seeking justice for workplace discrimination, sexual harassment, or whistleblower claims, our competent legal team wants to offer competent legal representation and advice throughout all parts of your case.
Our law offices are conveniently located in San Francisco, and we serve clients in the greater Bay Area. Call today to set up a consultation and get started on your journey to justice.