When employers are consumed with the company’s bottom line, employees’ rights may suffer. Fortunately, California law gives its workers among the strongest protections in the nation. Steve A. Buchwalter is an employment law lawyer with the experience necessary to help you assert your rights in Los Angeles County and the surrounding regions.Forms of Illegal Discrimination Under California Law
A California law called the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), starting at §12940 of the Government Code, gives employees in this state numerous rights, including protection from discrimination. According to FEHA, entities cannot discriminate on the basis of an individual’s:
- National origin;
- Gender, including pregnancy or gender identity or expression; or
- Sexual orientation.
These are just the most common examples, and there are also many other personal traits contained by this law.
Discrimination is defined as basing a decision about the terms, privileges, or conditions of employment on a prohibited characteristic. This includes whether to hire, promote, or fire an employee. It also encompasses salary issues, such as how much to pay an individual or whether to give that person a raise. Additionally, it may include decisions about training, scheduling, or benefits. Essentially, any employment-related decision an employer makes about an employee may be subject to discrimination laws.
Wrongful termination and retaliation are somewhat related to this area. Wrongful termination occurs when an employer fires an employee because of his or her race, gender, or other personal characteristic. Retaliation happens when a company denies a worker a benefit because he or she exercised a protected right. For example, an employer may not reduce an employee’s salary to punish him or her for filing a discrimination claim. There are also circumstances where whistleblowers — those who report an entity’s crime or fraud against the government — are shielded from being fired or otherwise punished because of their actions.
In addition to the California laws that regulate these issues, federal laws, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and the False Claims Act, provide many of the same protections.Employers Must Comply with Overtime and Wage Requirements
Federal law requires that employees be paid time and a half for hours they work in excess of 40 per week. California follows this rule but adds more circumstances in which workers are entitled to overtime pay, requiring time and half if a nonexempt employee works between 8 and 12 hours in a single day. If the individual works more than 12 hours in a single day, the employer must pay twice the normal hourly rate. These laws apply only to nonexempt employees. Exempt workers are not subject to most overtime laws. Whether an employee is exempt or nonexempt depends solely on the primary duties of his or her job. Employers do not make the determination themselves. Ask a lawyer if you are unsure whether you are exempt or nonexempt.Seek Guidance on an Employment Matter from a Ventura County Lawyer
If you were fired because of your gender, passed up for a promotion because of your race, or are owed overtime wages, your employer likely has violated your rights under California and federal law. Knowledgeable workplace discrimination attorney Steve A. Buchwalter has the experience necessary to understand your case, advise you of your rights, and fight for your interests. We serve clients in Ventura County as well as in Beverly Hills, Pasadena, and throughout Southern California. To schedule a case evaluation, call (818) 501-8987 or complete our online contact form.