Employee Rights California

In California, workers are protected by labor laws. It does not matter where you were born or what your legal status is. Once you are hired, you have rights.

By Brad Nakase, Attorney

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Have a quick question? I answered nearly 1500 FAQs.

California has made strides in promoting employee rights and fostering a fair and respectful work environment. These rights encompass aspects, including hiring practices and daily work life with a focus, on maintaining balance and respect for all employees. If you have questions on employees rights in California, please contact our employment lawyer for employees’ rights for a free consultation.

  1. Sick Leave Benefits: The implementation of SB 616 marks a milestone in California’s commitment to employee rights by expanding paid sick leave benefits, allowing for up to 40 hours of leave per year. SB 616 amends California’s paid sick leave law to expand mandatory paid sick leave from three days or twenty-four hours to five days or forty hours. The increased paid sick leave requirements take effect on January 1, 2024.
  2. Support for Reproductive Loss: Recognizing the difficulties that employees may face, SB 848 has further bolstered employee rights in California by granting up to 5 days of protected leave for reproductive loss events. Senate Bill 848 makes it an unlawful employment practice for an employer to refuse to grant an eligible employee’s request to take up to five days of leave following a reproductive loss event. This new leave law goes into effect on January 1, 2024.
  3. Limiting Noncompetition Agreements: To safeguard employee rights, both SB 699 and AB 1076 have imposed restrictions on noncompetition agreements, ensuring that employees have the freedom to challenge clauses through means. AB 1076 codifies existing case law in Edwards v. Arthur Andersen LLP (2008) 44 Cal.4th 937, regarding the prohibition on noncompete agreements being broadly construed to void such agreements and clauses in the employment context when they do not meet specific exemptions.
  4. Ensuring Cannabis Use Protections: In line with protecting employee rights concerning mairjuana use, AB 2188 and SB 700 have been enacted to prevent discrimination based on off-duty or off-site use of cannabis. Under AB 2188, “The intent of drug tests is to identify employees who may be impaired. While there is consensus that an employee should not arrive at a worksite.”
  5. Enhanced Wage Theft Prevention Measures: AB 636 mandates updated wage theft prevention notices, representing a stride towards transparency and bolstering employee rights, in California. This act continues the evolution of the notice requirements described above to protect vulnerable workers from a lack of key information about work conditions by placing new requirements on employers of farmworkers who are brought into California for work in agriculture under the federal H-2A agricultural worker visa program.
  6. Workplace Violence Prevention Plan: The implementation of SB 553 workplace violence prevention plan is a step, towards improving employee rights in California and creating work environments. SB 553 requires covered California employers to take steps to prevent and respond to workplace violence.
  7. Anti-Retaliation Protections: The introduction of retaliation protections through SB 497 marks a significant milestone in protecting employee rights in California ensuring that employees are safeguarded from unjust retaliation by employers. SB 497 amends California Labor Code Sections 98.6, 1102.5, and 1197.5 to create a rebuttable presumption of retaliation if an employee is disciplined or discharged within ninety days of certain protected activity.
  8. Changes in Arbitration Enforcement: The changes made to arbitration enforcement by SB 365 play a role in shaping the landscape of employee rights in California. The new law, in California ensures that individuals who have filed lawsuits can still proceed with their claims even if an appeal is pending regarding a petition to enforce arbitration. This law poses a challenge, for employers as it might require them to keep defending against burdensome claims that should ideally be resolved through arbitration agreements.
  9. Minimum Wage Increases for Specific Sectors: California has made progress in ensuring compensation for healthcare and fast food workers by introducing specific minimum wage increases tailored to these sectors thus enhancing employee rights.
  10. Defamation Privilege Expansion: AB 933 expansion of defamation privilege is a development that protects employees who speak out about workplace misconduct further strengthening their rights within the state of California. The latest law offers safeguards, for individuals who have experienced offenses and face lawsuits based on state defamation laws. AB 933 expands the definition of communication in defamation cases, within the California Civil Code to encompass communications discussing an individuals encounters with sexual assault, sexual harassment, workplace harassment or discrimination and cyber sexual bullying.
  11. Local Minimum Wage Ordinances: Local minimum wage ordinances implemented across cities in California play a role in upholding employee rights as they ensure fair wages across different regions.
  12. Hospitality Worker Rights: Within the hospitality sector various local ordinances provide protections for workers employed in cities such as Anaheim and Los Angeles. These measures bolster employee rights, within this industry.
  13. Fast Food Minimum Wage Increase: The increase in wage for fast food workers as stated in AB 1228 is an advancement for employee rights in California. This legislation establishes a wage of $20 per hour. The new regulation is targeted at workers, in fast food chains across the country. These chains are defined as restaurants with than 60 locations that have a consistent brand identity and offer standardized options for decor, marketing, packaging, products and services. They primarily focus on providing food and drinks for consumption either on or, off their premises. Typically customers. Select items first. Pay before eating with limited or no table service available.
  14. Food Handler Cards: Additionally, SB 476 ensures that employers are responsible for covering the expenses associated with obtaining food handler cards further supporting employee rights in the state. This bill would require an employer to consider the time that it takes for the employee to complete the training and the examination as compensable “hours worked,” for which the employer would pay, and to pay the employee for any necessary expenditures or losses associated with the employee obtaining a food handler card. The bill would require the employer to relieve an employee of all other work duties while the employee is taking the training course and examination. The bill would prohibit an employer from conditioning employment on the applicant or employee having an existing food handler card.
  15. Fair Work Week Ordinances: Another crucial aspect of employee rights in California is the implementation of Fair Work Week Ordinances in cities like Los Angeles. These ordinances focus on promoting scheduling practices for employees.
  16. Fair Chance Act (Ban the Box): The Fair Chance Act (Ban the Box) promotes fairness by prohibiting employers from asking about an applicant’s history on job applications. Employers can only inquire about records after extending a job offer to ensure unbiased hiring practices. California law that aims to reduce undue barriers to employment for individuals with criminal histories. This law generally prohibits employers with five or more employees from asking a job candidate about conviction history before making a job offer, among other requirements.
  17. California Family Rights Act (CFRA): The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) enhances employee rights by granting employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid and job-protected leave for family and medical reasons such as childbirth, adoption, or caring for a family member with a health condition.
  18. Whistleblower Protections: Under California law, Whistleblower Protections safeguard employee rights by ensuring that whistleblowers are shielded from retaliation.
  19. Wage Equality and Anti-Discrimination: Employees in California are safeguarded against employment consequences when they report illicit activities or violations of regulations within their workplace. One important aspect of protecting employee rights in the state is through laws that promote wage equality and prohibit discrimination. These laws ensure that all individuals receive pay for work of value regardless of their gender, race or other protected characteristics.
  20. Meal and Rest Breaks: California law mandates meal and rest breaks to prioritize employee well being and productivity. Employees are entitled to a 30-minute meal break if they work than 5 hours a day, as well as a 10-minute rest break for every 4 hours worked. These comprehensive laws reflect the state’s commitment to ensuring wages, safety, nondiscrimination, and transparency in employment practices. It is crucial for both employers and employees, in California to stay updated and adhere to these evolving regulations.

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