Throughout history, workers' rights organizations and specific workers' rights movements in the United States and abroad have brought about progressive pro-worker legislation. This legislation granted workers many of the rights they enjoy today, such as the right to earn at least a minimum wage and the right to form and join labor unions and collectively bargain for improved working conditions. In California
Federal and State Workers' Rights Laws
- Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.
- Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
- Affordable Care Act of 2010.
- Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
- Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.
- Social Security Act of 1935.
California laws that provide additional worker protections include:
- California Occupational Safety and Health Act.
- California Fair Employment and Housing Act.
- California Family Rights Act.
- California New Parent Leave Act.
Fair Wage Rights
California’s minimum wage in 2019 is $12 per hour, with an even higher minimum wage in certain cities. This means that every employee, including tipped employees, must
California law also requires that employees
Overtime Pay Rights
Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act,
Workplace Safety Rights
Workers also have the right to a safe workplace. This right
Freedom From Discrimination at Work
Employees also have the right to workplaces free from sexual harassment and discrimination. This right
- Age, if 40 or older.
- National origin.
- Genetic information.
- Citizenship status.
In California, employers also may not discriminate based on:
- Political affiliation or activities.
- HIV/AIDS status.
- Marital status.
- Military or veteran status.
- Status as a domestic violence victim.
- Medical conditions.
- Sexual orientation.
- Gender identity.
Workplace discrimination takes many forms. It can be as subtle as asking job applicants about their future family plans or as overt as using derogatory language and racial slurs in the workplace. Specific examples of workplace discrimination include:
- Maintaining higher conduct and job performance expectations for white employees.
- Segregating female employees into secretarial and supporting roles.
- Refusing to hire or promote individuals born outside the United States.
- Barring older employees from professional development opportunities.
- Refusing a homosexual employee
. the same right to parental leave that heterosexual employees are granted
Labor Union Rights
Throughout the United States, employees
California is not a
Freedom From Retaliation and Wrongful Termination
- Poor performance reviews.
- Blocking the employee from professional development opportunities.
- Refusing to promote the employee despite her capacity for taking on additional responsibilities.
The concept of at-will employment causes many people to become confused about wrongful terminations. A wrongful termination is a firing that violates a worker’s rights or the law
Many states have exceptions to at-will employment, and California is no different. In California, all employment agreements include an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing,
Workers’ Whistleblower Rights
A whistleblower is an employee who notifies authorities or the media about wrongdoing at his company. The authorities he notifies include the company’s leaders, the industry regulatory
There is no specific law that by itself protects whistleblower rights. Rather, various workers' rights laws, such as the Clean Air Act and the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act outline and enforce employees’ rights to take whistleblower action without fear of retaliation.
Right to Take Legal Action
Perhaps one of the most important rights workers
fairly. Is not compensated
- Faces discrimination.
- Faces retaliation.
- Faces sexual harassment.
from exercising her family leave rights. Is barred in an accident caused by unsafe workplace conditions. Is injured
Employees who have experienced losses, such as lost wages and emotional distress, resulting from violations of their rights can sue to recover financial compensation for these losses. To pursue this compensation, employees file claims with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing or other agencies that handle workers' rights violation claims, such as the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency. Often, these claims
- Missed career advancement opportunities.
- Medical expenses.
- Attorney’s fees and court costs.
- Emotional distress.
- Lost benefits.
Departments That Protect Workers' Rights in California
One of the primary federal agencies tasked with protecting workers’ rights is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This agency works closely with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), California’s anti-workplace discrimination agency. When a California employee files a claim with the EEOC, the claim
Under most circumstances, the statute of limitations for filing DFEH claims is one year from the date the alleged rights violation occurred. Following an investigation, the DFEH may issue a right-to-sue letter, which grants the employee the right to sue her employer for one year. When the case involves an alleged violation of federal law, the employee has 300 days to file a claim with either the EEOC or the DFEH. If granted a right-to-sue letter, the employee then has 90 days to
Other agencies have different statutes of limitations for claims and specific filing requirements that employees must follow. For example, Cal/OSHA claims
- Disability Benefits 101: California Family Rights Act
- Employee Rights | U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
- California Department of Fair Employment and Housing: Employment FAQs
- California Labor and Workforce Development Agency
- Shouse California Law Group: California Whistleblower Protection Laws
Lindsay Kramer is a freelance writer and editor who has been working in the legal niche since 2012. Her primary focus areas within this niche are family law and personal injury law. Lindsay works closely with a few legal marketing agencies, providing blog posts, website content and marketing materials to law firms across the United States.