While there are federal labor laws designed to protect employees from unscrupulous employers, many states set their own standards above and beyond this minimum. In California, there are a number of laws that reinforce and expand the employee protections offered by the federal statutes. In addition, there is a vast amount of case law that has been produced through business litigation that further defines the standards set for company owners in the state.
It is important that all employers in California have an experienced legal counsel on their team. Not only can a lawyer who is well-versed in California labor law build your defense when facing litigation, the right attorney can also help you protect your company from having claims filed against it in the first place.
California is an at-will employment state. This means that, in most cases, the employer/employee relationship can be broken at any time without reason. There are some factors, however, that are protected by law and cannot be cited as a reason for termination.
These include discrimination, retaliation, company drug-testing policies, raising concerns about unpaid overtime wages and refusal to sign a non-compete agreement. If a former employee believes he or she was a victim of wrongful termination under these laws, a civil complaint may be filed against you.
Federal law, with bolstered support from California statutes, prohibits discrimination based on sex, age, race, color, religion, national origin and disability. In addition, California adds its own protections. These include discrimination based on medical conditions, sexual orientation, marital status and gender identity. In some areas, local laws may protect other groups from discrimination in the workplace.
In order to win a discrimination in the workplace claim, the employee must prove that the employer took “adverse action” against them and that this was motivated by discrimination that violates federal, state or local employment law. While this can be hard to prove, there is still reason to protect your company and yourself from having a claim filed against you.
Employees are protected from sexual harassment in the workplace both by federal law and through the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Sexual harassment is actually considered a form of sexual discrimination, and all of the same principles apply. Sexual advances or discussion becomes harassment when it becomes pervasive enough to interfere with performance, or when it creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment in the workplace. An employee also cannot be hired or fired based on his or her reaction to sexual advances.
An experienced lawyer can help you ensure that all of your policies safeguard your business from the majority of sexual harassment claims. If an employee has already filed a claim against you, the right attorney can build a strong defense that minimizes the negative effects of the accusation.
Wage and hour disputes are among the most common business litigation heard in California. This is, in part, due to the fact that California has some of the most detailed and nuanced wage and hour laws in the nation. These codes cover minimum wage, overtime pay, vacation and sick leave, meal and mandatory breaks and even an employer’s obligation to offer certain benefits.
When a pay dispute occurs, it may cover a single employee or thousands. At question may be a single pay period, or a number of years. For this reason, it is important to know how to prevent unpaid wages and ensure your business practices adhere to all federal and state laws regarding wages and overtime.
How Do I Find an Employment Law Attorney?
As an employer, you may need advice and counseling on ensuring your business is protected against litigation stemming from violations of the complex federal and state labor laws. For companies in San Fernando Valley, finding an expert employment law attorney is as simple as calling the Attorney Referral Service of The San Fernando Valley Bar Association for a referral. We can connect you with a local employment lawyer today.
Contact us online or give us a call at 818-340-4529, and the ARS representatives will put you in touch with an experienced employer defense attorney in your area based on your case and needs.
Let us know if you’re an attorney interested in becoming a member of the SFVBA’s Attorney Referral Service.