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Have Your or Are Your Employment Rights Being Violated in California?

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT EMPLOYMENT RIGHTS

Time is extremely limited when it comes to taking legal action regarding employment discrimination claims!

In general, as per the Federal anti-discrimination laws, you need to file a charge within 180 calendar days from the day the discrimination took place.  Holidays and weekends are included in the calculation, although if the deadline falls on a weekend or holiday, you will have until the next business day.  If you don’t file within 180 days, you will have no case.  Don’t waste another day!  Contact us TODAY to get connected with a California attorney specializing in Labor and Employment law!

Exceptions

The 180 calendar day filing deadline is extended to 300 calendar days if a state or local agency enforces a law that prohibits employment discrimination on the same basis.  These agencies are usually called Fair Employment Practices Agency (FEPA).

Specific to California:  In the State of California, an individual has 300 days from the date of alleged harm to file a charge with the EEOC against an employer with 15 or more employees for discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, religion, and/or disability. An individual also has 300 days from the date of alleged harm to file a charge with the EEOC against an employer with 20 or more employees for discrimination based on age in this State.

Charges against employers of less than 15 employees (for race, color, national origin, sex, religion, and/or disability) or less than 20 employees (for age) must be filed with the appropriate state or local agency within the time limits prescribed by state or local laws. These time limit for California is 365 days to file with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

Federal vs. State and Local Laws

In most cases, State and Local governments do not have separate laws or statutes regarding discrimination and harassment, but instead rely on Federal law. Some State and Local governments also have additional laws on discrimination regarding types and sizes of employers that are accountable and types of discrimination and harassment that are illegal. However, this does not mean you need a “Federal” lawyer. Our California lawyers are able to represent you under these Federal laws.  Contact us today to be connected with an attorney who knows all the ins and outs of Labor and Employment Law in California who can manage your case.  As you can see, this is a very complicated process and obtaining legal assistance from an experienced attorney is the best way to go right from the start.

Has Any of This Happened to YOU?

The Federal illegal types of discrimination committed by employers against employees when hiring, on the job, promoting, and terminating are below.  If more than one person is discriminated against or harassed in the same way by the same employer, a Class Action Lawsuit can also be considered (see our next section on Class Action Lawsuits).

Age Discrimination involves treating someone (an applicant or employee) less favorably because of his age. The Federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) forbids discrimination against individuals who are age 40 or over. It is also unlawful to harass a person because of his or her age.

Disability Discrimination occurs when an employer or other entity covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended, or the Rehabilitation Act, as amended, treats a qualified individual with a disability who is an employee or applicant unfavorably because s/he has a disability.

Equal Pay/Compensation Discrimination.  The Equal Pay Act requires that men and women in the same workplace be given equal pay for equal work. The jobs need not be identical, but they must be substantially equal.

Genetic Information Discrimination.  Under Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA), which prohibits genetic information discrimination in employment, it is illegal to discriminate against employees or applicants because of genetic information.

Harassment.  Harassment is a form of employment discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).  Harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.

National Origin Discrimination.  The law forbids discrimination regarding national origin when it comes to any aspect of employment. It is unlawful to harass a person because of his or her national origin.

Pregnancy Discrimination.  The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) forbids discrimination based on pregnancy when it comes to any aspect of employment.

Race and Color Discrimination involves treating someone (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because he/she is of a certain race or because of personal characteristics associated with race (such as hair texture, skin color, or certain facial features). Color discrimination involves treating someone unfavorably because of skin color complexion.

Religious Discrimination involves treating a person (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of his or her religious beliefs.

Retaliation. It is illegal to fire, demote, harass, or otherwise “retaliate” against people (applicants or employees) because they filed a charge of discrimination, because they complained to their employer or other covered entity about discrimination on the job, or because they participated in an employment discrimination proceeding (such as an investigation or lawsuit).

Sex (Gender) Discrimination in violation of Title VII involves treating someone (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of that person’s sex, if that person is transgender (gender identity discrimination), lesbian, gay, or bisexual.

Our experienced California lawyers specializing in Labor and Employment Law would be happy to help you explore your options. Contact us today!

Discrimination Laws Specific to California

These Types of Employers:  public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations with 5 or more employees.

Discrimination Prohibited Based On:  race, religious creed, color, gender, national origin, age of persons over 40, physical, mental or visual disability, medical condition, ancestry, arrest record, marital and military status, pregnancy or sexual orientation, retaliation, genetic information, lie-detector tests as condition for hire, or employees who take up to 40 hours per year for school or day care related activities, gender identity, gender expression, same sex relationship, genetic information, religious beliefs, breastfeeding, same sex relationship

CLASS ACTION LAWSUITS

Employers must obey state laws regarding the following:  equal pay, minimum wage, minimum overtime wage, meals and rest breaks, final paycheck, paying accrued vacation time or PTO (Paid Time Off) at severance of employment, and sick time.  If your employer has violated any of these laws and it’s just you, you should contact your state Department of Labor and make a complaint.  You should also contact us to find a Labor and Employment lawyer because if s/he takes your case, they can demand that the Employer turn over all pertinent employee records to see if other employees are being treated unfairly too. If this is found, the lawyer can request trying the case as a Class Action lawsuit with you as the primary plaintiff. If you already KNOW that your employer treats other employees this way too, definitely contact us to speak with a California Labor and Employment attorney!

Here are the standards for California:

Equal Pay for Equal Work:  Equal wage rates for all employees; variations; enforcement (Cal. Labor Code § 1197.5)

Minimum Wage:  $9.00

Minimum Wage for Tipped Employees: $9.00 (see below)

Exemptions from Minimum Wage:  California’s minimum wage does not apply to outside salespeople, or employees who are in the immediate family of their employer. Student workers may be paid as little as 85% of the minimum wage (rounded to the nearest nickel) for their first 160 hours of work.  Additional exemptions exist for disabled employees and workers at nonprofits where the employer has obtained a certificate from the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.

In addition to any California-specific minimum wage exemptions described above, the Federal Fair Labor Standards act defines special minimum wage rates applicable to certain types of workers. You may be paid under the California minimum wage if you fit into one of the following categories:

California Under 20 Minimum Wage – $4.25 – Federal law allows any employer in California to pay a new employee who is under 20 years of age a training wage of $4.25 per hour for the first 90 days of employment.

California Student Minimum Wage – $7.65 – Full-time high school or college students who work part-time may be paid 85% of the California minimum wage (as little as $7.65 per hour) for up to 20 hours of work at certain employers.

California Tipped Minimum Wage – $9.00 – Employees who earn a certain amount of tips every month may be paid a special cash minimum wage, but must earn at least $9.00 including tips every hour.

Minimum Overtime Wage:  $13.50.  This figure is based on the minimum wage. If you earn more than the minimum wage, you must be paid at least 1.5 times your regular hourly wage for overtime. If you are paid on a salary basis, not on an hourly basis, your employer must break down your annual salary into the hourly rate it equals and pay you at least 1.5 times that figure for overtime.  (Exception:  if you are an Exempt employee rather than a Non-Exempt employee, you are not eligible for overtime.)

Overtime Begins:  Daily overtime is after 8 hours in a single day.  Weekly overtime is after 40 hours in a single week.

Additional Information on Overtime:  Any work in excess of eight hours in one workday, in excess of 40 hours in one workweek, or in the first eight hours worked on the seventh day of work in any one workweek shall be at the rate of one and one-half times the regular rate of pay. Any work in excess of 12 hours in one day or in excess of eight hours on any seventh day of a workweek shall be paid no less than twice the regular rate of pay. California Labor Code section 510. Exceptions apply to an employee working pursuant to an alternative workweek adopted pursuant to applicable Labor Code sections and for time spent commuting.

Meal and Rest Breaks:

Meal Period Requirements:  An employee cannot work for more than five hours without a meal period of not less than 30 minutes. However, the meal period can be waived by mutual agreement if a work period of not more than six hours will complete the day’s work.

Unless the employee is completely relieved of duty, the meal period must be considered time worked. Also, if employees must eat on the premises, a suitable place for that purpose must be designated.

The following employees are exempt from the meal break requirements if the employees are covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement containing specified terms, including meal period provisions: employees in a construction occupation, commercial drivers. employees in the security services industry employed as security officers, and employees of electrical and gas corporations.

Exceptions to above:

Broadcasting and Motion Picture Industries:  An employee cannot work for a work period of more than six hours without a meal period of not less than 30 minutes nor more than one hour, and that subsequent meal periods must be called not later than six hours after termination of the preceding meal period.

Lumber Industry:  In the lumber industry, the law provides that companies in the lumber industry in California must allow its employees a period of not less than one-half hour for the midday meal, between the third and fifth hours of each day’s shift.

Rest Period Requirements

California employers must grant rest periods for the below industries at the rate of ten minutes of rest time for every four hours or major fraction of four hours worked. No rest period is necessary if total daily work time is less than three and one-half hours. No deduction from wages may be made for authorized rest time. Insofar as practicable, a rest period must be in the middle of each work period.

In California, wage orders regulating rest periods exist for the following industries and occupations:  manufacturing, personal services, canning, freezing and preserving, professional, technical, clerical, mechanical and similar occupations, public housekeeping, laundry, linen supply, dry cleaning and dyeing, mercantile, industries handling products after harvest, transportation, amusement and recreation, broadcasting and motion pictures,industries preparing agricultural products for market on the farm, agricultural occupations, and household occupations.

Final Paycheck Deadline:

If employee is fired:  immediately.

If employee quits:  within 72 hours, or immediately if employee has given at least 72 hours’ notice. (Cal. Lab. Code §§ 201, 202, and 227.3.)

Accrued Vacation Pay at Time of Severance From Employment: Accrued vacation pay must be paid.  (It is a good idea to KEEP Company Handbooks, Job Offer Letter, and any other written or emailed references to accrued vacation pay in case you need these documents for proof upon termination.)

Paid/Unpaid Sick Time:  Yes. (Begins July 1, 2015)

Workers employed in California for 30 or more days a year after commencement of employment, including public workers, are covered. Workers who provide in-home supportive care are exempted. Flight deck/cabin crews subject to Railway Labor Act with comparable paid time off are exempted.

Paid sick time accrues at the rate of one (1) hour per every 30 hours worked.  The maximum amount of paid sick time that can be earned annually is three (3) days or 24 hours.

Accrual begins at commencement of employment, or on the operative date of the law, whichever is later. Accrued paid sick time can’t be used until the 90th day of employment. As noted earlier, the law covers a worker when the worker, on or after July 1, 2015, works in California for more than 30 days within a year from the commencement of employment.

The cities of San Francisco and Oakland also have their own municipal level paid sick time laws.

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If you are the victim of discrimination or any of the above violations of employment law has affected you, contact us to be connected with a Labor and Employment attorney near you in California today!