Although California has a proud history of advancing the civil rights of its citizens, discrimination and harassment in the workplace continue to be pressing concerns. In addition, some employers fail to comply with state and federal wage and hour laws. While there are numerous laws and regulations governing the relationships between employers and employees, disputes are not uncommon.
The California Trial Law Group, PC is the premier employment law firm serving clients in Northern and Southern California. We provide advice and counsel to individuals and businesses on a wide range of employment issues. Our experienced attorneys are dedicated to protecting the rights of workers and helping employers understand and fulfill their responsibilities.
There are a variety of federal laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age (40 and over), disability and pregnancy, including:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII)
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
- The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- The Pregnancy Discrimination (PDA)
In California, workers are also protected by the state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) which prohibits discrimination based on race, religion, color age, national origin, physical or mental disability, medical condition, marital status, sex, gender, sexual orientation, and pregnancy. Individuals who possess these characteristics are said to be members of a protected class.
In short, it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee because of a protected characteristic regarding any employment decision including hiring, terminating, promoting, demoting, compensating or any other terms and conditions of employment.
Under Title VII and FEHA, sexual harassment is considered to be an unlawful form of sex discrimination and all workers have a right to a work environment that is free from harassment. In short, there are two forms of sexual harassment: “quid pro quo” and “hostile work environment.”
- Quid Pro Quo – Also referred to as “this for that,” this form of sexual harassment occurs when an employer demands sexual favors in return for any benefit of employment such as a job, promotion or raise. This may also arise when an employer takes an adverse employment action against an employee who refuses a sexual advance. An adverse employment action includes termination, demotion, reassignment, pay cut or any other retaliation.
- Hostile Work Environment – This arises when an employee is subjected to a pattern of unwanted sexual behavior, such as lewd comments or visual displays, that is severe or pervasive enough to change the conditions of employment.
In addition, nonsexual harassment is also prohibited. This involves offensive comments, jokes and other behavior designed to intimidate an employee based on any legally protected characteristic that is severe and pervasive enough to create a hostile work environment.
In order to have a valid claim for sexual or nonsexual harassment, an employee must show that he or she complained about the illegal behavior and that the employer failed to take appropriate action.
Although California is known as an “at-will” state and not every termination is unlawful, wrongful termination occurs when an employer violates specific public policies found in statutes, regulations or the state constitution. In particular, it is unlawful for an employer to terminate an employee due to a protected characteristic or because the employee complained about or opposed illegal, fraudulent or unethical conduct (“whistle-blowing”).
Employers are required to pay their workers according to state and federal mandatory wage and hour laws. Currently, employers in California with 25 or fewer employees are required to pay a minimum wage of $10 per hour, while the rate for those with 26 or more employees is $10.50 per hour. These rates are scheduled to be raised according to a set schedule. It is important to note that the minimum wage is higher in certain municipalities.
In addition, workers are generally required to be paid an overtime rate of time and a half the regular pay rate for more than 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week. Also, for more than 12 hours worked in a day, or time exceeding 8 hours on the 7th consecutive day of work, employees must be paid twice the regular pay rate. Employees are also entitled to meal and rest breaks: a 30 minute meal break for more than 5 hours per day, and 10 minute rest breaks for every 4 hours of work.
Dedicated Employment Law Attorneys
At California Trial Law Group, we represent employees in state and federal court as well as proceedings before the California Department of Industrial Relations (Labor Commissioner), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board.
We have extensive experience assisting employees in wage and hour claims as well as claims of discrimination and harassment. Our team also advises and represents businesses and employers in order to avoid litigation and reduce potential exposure to all types of claims. If you are an employee or a business involved in an employment dispute, call our office today for a free consultation. Se habla Español.
Located in Albany, California, The California Trial Law Group serves clients in San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, Marin, Sonoma, Napa, Contra Costa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Fresno, Kern, Yolo, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange and Sacramento Counties.