Employment Law in California – important rules all workers should understand

As the largest state in the nation, California has a complex set of employment laws that apply to workers – in addition to those guaranteed by federal law. At the Law Offices of Jake D. Finkel, we help workers deal with employment and labor disputes, ranging from wage disputes to discrimination.

Here are just some of the important rules all workers should understand in California.

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing is in charge of enforcing laws pertaining to workplace and housing discrimination. Under these rules, it is illegal to discriminate against an employee in hiring, retention, or pay and promotions based on protected status.

Likewise, landlords and other real estate professionals must refrain from discrimination, as well.

Protected classes include:

  • Race, religion, color, national origin or ancestry

  • Physical or mental disabilities

  • Medical condition

  • Genetic information

  • Marital status

  • Breastfeeding or other sex-related factors

  • Sexual identity, gender expression or sexual orientation

  • Pregnancy

  • Age

  • Military or veteran status

Drug Testing

California, like many states, permits employers to use pre-employment drug testing and criminal background checks. However, there are limits to what can be requested. For instance, an employer must subject all employees to the same requirements without regard to protected factors like race or religion. Employers are not permitted to seek your salary history in many cases.

Minimum Wage/Child Labor Laws

All states must meet the federal guidelines for minimum wage and child labor. However, states have the right to enact more stringent rules than the federal government requires. California has chosen to do just that. The minimum wage for the state is $11.00 statewide, but municipalities are able to add to this requirement as well. In San Francisco, the minimum wage is $15.00, and in San Diego, for instance, the wage is $11.50. Such minimum wage requirements are set by local ordinance.

Religious Protections

Religion is another area of employment and housing law where California provides additional protections. Employers in all 50 states must reasonably accommodate disabled employees. However, California workers also have the right to reasonable accommodations for the furtherance of and participation in their faith. So long as the employer is not subject to significant burdens or financial expense, they must accommodate.

This differs from federal law because in California the employer has the burden of showing that accommodating the religious practice would create an undue hardship, whereas under federal law the employer needs only show that accommodation would create a small (aka de minimus) cost to the employer in order to refuse accommodations.

Get Specific Answers to All Your Employment Law Questions

Because California law protects workers against many different types of conduct, there are hundreds of regulations, statutes, and ordinances that may apply to any given set of facts. If you are facing a dispute with an employer or believe you are the victim of unlawful discrimination, you owe it to yourself to find out.

Sometimes a brief conversation with a skilled and experienced employment lawyer can help you protect your rights and understand your options. Other times, you may learn that you are entitled to sizeable compensation for unlawful termination.

Either way, if you have questions about your rights, call The Law Offices of Jake D Finkel today to speak to an attorney. The consultation is free, so you have nothing to lose.