Things You Should Know About Employment Law in California

Employment law is necessary because if it were not around, employers would take advantage of their employees. Employees would not make as much money and would not have as many benefits. They would not have a way to fight for what they deserve.

Employment law also helps to protect workers from other employees and hazards in the workplace. Each state has its own laws, and some may be similar, but others are different. Different states may have different hazards to worry about.

If you need an attorney due to employment issues or simply by consulting, you will need to call one in your state. There is an employment lawyer in a city near you. You can call them when you need help fighting an issue in your workplace.

This article will help you to learn more about employment law in California. It will give you information about when you should call an attorney. You can get extra information if you do more research.

Employment Law in California

1. Background Checks

These checks are more for the employer and not the employee. They protect the employer from unscrupulous workers who might have had a criminal past or questionable work history. This is also used to verify what has been written on the application.

If you are a potential employee for a position, you have nothing to worry about when there is a background check, unless you have lied on your resume. Employers are not allowed to ask about your criminal history, but it can be found on a background check. Just be honest about everything on your resume and you should be able to get the job you are looking for.

2. Overtime Pay

Federal and state laws make sure that employees in California get the overtime pay that they deserve. If employees work more than eight hours a day, they are entitled to one-and-a-half times their pay for the hours after that. If they work over twelve hours, they are entitled to twice their pay.

This is true for most workers, whether they are hourly or salaried workers. There are positions that are exempt from this law, but there are just a few of them. These exempt workers are usually supervisors and managers. Other exempt workers could be first responders and educators.

3. Meal and Rest Breaks

Federal law does not require breaks for meals and rests, but California law does. You must be given a meal break after working five hours in the day. You are also required to receive two ten-minute rest breaks – one before your meal break and one after.

These breaks are unpaid, but they are required to happen unless you are an exempt employee. Again, exempt employees are usually supervisors and managers. They might also include first responders and educators. These workers will get their breaks when they can fit them in.

4. Anti-Discrimination Laws

hiring a lawyer

Discrimination in any form is wrong and California law agrees with that. In California, you cannot be discriminated against on the basis of sex, race, religion, pregnancy, childbirth, ancestry, ethnicity, or color, among other things. These laws are put into place to protect all people. 

California law has even more protections than federal law. For example, you cannot discriminate against people because of the style or texture of their hair. This is important, especially for people of color who have different textures of hair and must have specialized styles to protect it. These laws are fairly recent in history because this is an important matter.

5. Sexual Harassment

California is like many other states and has laws against sexual harassment. This is to help workers in a hostile work environment who are subject to a number of things while they are working. Learn more about sexual harassment here. These can include unwanted sexual advances or physical, verbal, or visual conduct.

By California law, these advances do not need to be motivated by sexual desire, they can be the result of harassment. This can also include offensive remarks that target a person’s sex or gender identity. There are actions that the employee can take to prevent this from happening or to stop it from happening. Some of these actions can be reporting the offender to their superiors.

6. Minimum Wage

The federal minimum wage in 2023 is still $7.25 per hour. This has not changed since July of 2009: That is why many states have made a change on their own since then. This should be a federal change since the cost of living has increased significantly since 2009.

California law states that the minimum wage is nearly twice that of the federal wage. Businesses that have twenty-five or fewer employees must pay $14 per hour. If the business has more than twenty-five people, the wage goes to $15.50 per hour.

7. Sick Leave

This is another area in which California is more worker-friendly than the federal government. The federal government does not require employers to provide sick leave, but California law says that they must provide it. Many employers will provide it anyway, but the law gives a minimum.

The minimum sick leave that must be provided is 24 hours or three regular working days. Employers usually allow sick leave to accrue or give more days. The law only tells the minimum amount of time.

8. Wrongful Termination

wrongful termination

There are many reasons that a person can be terminated from a position in California. There are reasons that the employee cannot be discriminated against – you cannot be terminated because of your race, disability, sex, pregnancy, age, ethnicity, and more. You also cannot be terminated due to taking family leave or medical leave. If you are a whistleblower, you also are not allowed to be terminated for that.

9. Retaliation Protection

This is very much like the wrongful termination laws. It is against the law for an employer to fire you because you were exercising your employee rights. There are other protections that go along with this.

You cannot be retaliated against for working on a jury, even if that jury affects your employer. You also cannot be retaliated against for disclosing unsafe working conditions. You cannot be terminated for these reasons, either.

10. Right to a Safe Workplace

The law also prohibits unsafe workplaces. The state’s labor regulations require safe working practices for all workers. This includes occupational and health measures. Read here to learn more about occupational health laws.

There are procedures, policies, and training that are put into place to protect the workers. These things are put there so that the employer must keep the workers safe. The law states that there should also be occasional inspections in all workplaces.


The laws in California are put in place to protect the workers. This helps the employers, as well, because the employees are their most valuable commodities. They cannot have a business if they do not have employees that are safe and willing to work.

These laws can protect workers against many things including discrimination, wrongful termination, and harassment. They also make sure that workers are treated fairly and given the breaks that they need and the time off that they need. The laws are there to protect the employers, as well, so that they know how they should treat their workers.

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