Calabasas Employment Law Blog

California workers are protected from workplace discrimination

For workers who are discriminated against or who have suffered wrongful termination, legal protections are available. If an employee has been fired for an unlawful reason, it may be considered wrongful termination and legal resources may be available to help the employees that have been harmed by the unlawful acts of an employer.

Wrongful termination can occur in circumstances when an employee has been fired for reporting workplace discrimination, harassment or retaliation; when an employee has been fired for demanding that they be compensated for overtime hours worked; when an employee has been fired for protesting unsafe or illegal working conditions; when an employee is fired for refusing to violate the law; when an employee refuses to commit fraud against the government; when the employee has reported a misappropriation of funds; and when employees refuse to engage in discrimination or retaliation.

The different protections for victims of sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is something that no one in the workplace has to tolerate. Sexual harassment laws protect victims which is why victims of sexual harassment in the workplace should be familiar with what they can do if they are being sexually harassed in their workplace.

The actions that victims of sexual harassment can take are important to understand and include as part of the first step letting the personal harassing them know that the harassment is not acceptable. If this does not stop the harassment, the victim should follow their employer's procedures for addressing sexual harassment in the workplace and should certainly inform their employer of the harassment they are suffering.

Protections for workers when employers take advantage of them

It is important for employers not to take advantage of their employees who go to work each day to earn a living and support themselves and their families. Workers should be familiar with the ways employers can take advantage of them and the remedies and resources they have available to them if they do.

Employee rights are an important protection under the law and are worth workers being familiar with. One way that employers can take advantage of workers and violate their rights is to fail to pay overtime pay. When employers require workers to clock out early or alter time sheets so as not to pay overtime pay, they may have violated the worker's rights. Another way that an employer may take advantage of employees that is against the law is by improperly classifying them as independent contractor. If a worker does not meet this definition but is classified by an employer as such, they may pay more taxes than they expect and go without benefits.

Know your right to a fair rest period or meal break

You may think that your employer is following all the rules when they give you breaks, but that's not always true. Depending on when the breaks are, your employer could be in violation of California's wage and hour laws.

According to California law, employers can't make employees work over five hours a day without a break of at least 30 minutes. There is an exception, which is that you may choose to waive your right to a break if your shift is no more than six hours long.

New workplace and sexual harassment laws in California

New state workplace laws recently went into effect at the beginning of the New Year. The laws were inspired by the recent focus on sexual harassment nationally. A total of eight bills were signed focusing on sexual harassment and other types of harassment and limiting the same in the workplace. One of the new laws relates to the number of women on the boards of publicly traded companies based in California.

Another new law prevents employers from requiring workers to sign certain documents as a condition for obtaining or retaining a job or receiving a raise or bonus. One type of document workers cannot be required to sign is an agreement not to bring a claim against the employer under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. The other is an agreement that would prevent the worker from disclosing information related to unlawful activity in the workplace including sexual harassment. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of age, gender, race or other protected status. The latter law applies to both public and private employers in California.

What can I do about sexual harassment in my workplace?

Sexual harassment can impact the victim's job performance and daily life in a detrimental way which is why victims of sexual harassment in the workplace should be familiar with their options. Victims should also ensure that their questions are answered so they can protect their rights in the workplace and understand that they do not have to suffer sexual harassment.

The first step in some sexual harassment circumstances may be to speak up and it is also important to follow whatever steps are outlined in the employer's procedure for handling sexual harassment in the workplace and addressing sexual harassment concerns. If the employer does not have a procedure in place for dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace, the employee should bring a complaint and ensure the employer is aware of the sexual harassment.

Protections for workers from wage and hour violations

Unfortunately, there are many employers in California that do not comply with California's wage and hour laws. Employers are generally required to pay employees the applicable minimum wage for all of the hours they work and comply with all applicable laws regarding working conditions.

Workers and families rely on the wages they work hard for each day so it is important that they receive compensation they have earned. A sampling of some of the wage and hour violations workers may be owed for include compensation for time in between jobs if they were paid by the job or piece; time the worker was unable to earn commission such as during opening, closing or meetings if they are paid on compensation; all overtime hours worked and overtime rates of pay; time when a worker was told to wait to clock in; and for time when a worker was sent home from their scheduled shift.

When should you receive overtime pay from your employer?

Far too many workers don't really understand their rights under both California state law and federal law. Employees may not understand when they should receive breaks or what protections they have from discrimination and harassment at work. In fact, many people don't even fully understand the nuances of when they should receive overtime pay from their employer.

If you aren't familiar with the laws about overtime pay, you won't understand when your employer violates your rights. Anyone who works an hourly job could potentially earn overtime pay during any given pay period. Understanding your rights as a worker is a critical first step in the process of standing up for yourself.

Workplace discrimination basics for employers and employees

Both employees and employers should understand the basics of workplace discrimination, what is not allowed in the workplace and how to prevent it from taking place. Additionally, employees should understand that they are protected from workplace discrimination and have important legal rights to not be discriminated against at work that they should be familiar with.

In general, workplace discrimination is prohibited in the workplace based on race, color, gender, national origin, citizenship, religion, disability, age and pregnancy. In some states, additional protections are provided based on sexual orientation, marital status and weight. Whether or not workplace discrimination prohibitions apply to a particular employer largely depends on the number of workers they employ so it is helpful to be familiar with those standards.

California strengthens protections for sexual harassment victims

Sexual harassment laws were recently strengthened in California and will provide greater protections for victims. The changes will also provide greater protections against some forms of retaliation in the workplace. As part of the new sexual harassment laws, victims can now sue for a single incident of sexual harassment.

Previously, for sexual harassment to be actionable, it had to fall into one of two categories. One of those categories required the harassment to be severe or pervasive, which usually required a pattern of harassment to be established before a victim could bring a claim. The other type of sexual harassment is referred to as quid pro quo harassment.

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