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Employment Law Attorneys in Inland Empire

Representing the Rights of California Workers

Employment laws set forth a variety of rules and regulations that govern the relationship between employers, employees, and government entities. They can be instrumental in determining aspects such as how much an employee should be paid, how long they are allowed to work in a day or a week, and the minimum safety standards and conditions for certain work environments or particular industries.

When disputes arise between employers and employees, the knowledge and experience of an employment law attorney can be crucial to help protect the rights of workers and find a positive outcome for the case. The attorneys at Espinoza Law Group provide an overview of employment laws in California and explain how an attorney can help you protect your rights as an employee. For advice concerning your specific case, contact the Espinoza Law Group at 213-667-0701.

What Are the Employment Laws in California?

Besides being in alignment with federal labor laws such as the Fair Labor Standards Act, California workers also receive protection from a variety of other state laws, such as the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, which forbids employers from making hiring or firing decisions based on a person’s protected characteristics, such as religious beliefs and disabilities. Additionally, California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave law, the California Family Rights Act, and the New Parent Leave Act make it unlawful for employers to terminate an employee due to that individual being pregnant or taking a maternity leave.

In addition to these laws, California continues to work to update its state employment laws to better reflect the needs of workers in the Golden State. The most notorious legislation update is Senate Bill 3, which increases the minimum wage in California to $16 an hour as of 2024. Another noteworthy labor law is Assembly Bill 1066, which requires agricultural employees to be paid overtime on the same basis as other industries.

Is California an Employment-At-Will State?

Employment at will and right-to-work laws are two important legal doctrines that can impact the relationship between employers and employees. Many states adopted employment-at-will laws, which basically state that both employers and employees may terminate their employment relationship at any time and for any reason. The exception to this rule is that an employee cannot be terminated for protected characteristics or actions, such as gender, religion, and nationality, or for filing a worker’s compensation claim and going on an FMLA leave. California is an employment-at-will state where workers are also protected from discriminatory or retaliatory hiring and firing practices.

Right-to-work laws protect workers from being forced to join a union and pay union dues in order to stay employed. It also prohibits unions from forcing non-union members to pay for the costs of union representation. Interestingly enough, there are no right-to-work laws in California, in spite of numerous attempts to pass right-to-work legislation over the past decade. This means that California private sector employers may require workers to join a union and pay union fees as a condition for employment. Public sector workers, meaning those who work for California state or local governments, cannot be required to pay union dues or membership fees as it goes against Federal laws. In short, California is an employment-at-will state but is not a right-to-work state.

What Rights Do Employees Have in California?

California workers, as well as job applicants, have many rights and legal protections. Workers are entitled to receive payment for the work they perform, and they have the right to be paid California’s minimum wage rate of $16.00 an hour. No employer may pay workers less than the state minimum wage, and certain counties and cities in California have a higher minimum wage rate, such as $19.08 in West Hollywood.

Workers have the right to a work environment that is safe and healthy and enables them to perform their job duties without being subject to illnesses and injuries. The work environment should also be free of any harassment or discrimination. They also have the right to file a complaint against their employer without being targeted or suffering any retaliation.

Job applicants also have certain rights. Prospective employers cannot discriminate against job applicants and make hiring decisions solely based on a candidate’s protected characteristics, such as national origin, ethnicity, or religion. Likewise, the employer cannot require the job applicant to answer questions about their religious beliefs, for example. Employers are only allowed to conduct credit checks and background checks after obtaining the job applicant’s authorization to do so.

What is Considered Wrongful Termination in California?

As explained above, California is an at-will state for employment, meaning an employer may terminate an employee at any point and for any reason – such as poor job performance. However, an employer is not allowed to terminate an employee for discriminatory reasons or for engaging in certain protected activities. In other words, an employer cannot be fired simply for not having the same religious beliefs as the employer or for doing things like engaging in whistleblowing or taking a protected leave. Firing an employee due to these conditions is illegal and can be considered a wrongful termination, which is one that goes against the employee’s legal rights.

If you have reasons to believe you may have been wrongfully terminated by your employer, it is important to speak to an employment law attorney as soon as possible and gather as much evidence as you can to support your claim. For example, if you filed for worker’s compensation or submitted a complaint to your employer and was terminated immediately after that happened, you may want to keep a copy of the documents you submitted, any emails exchanged with your employer about the subject, and any other evidence to help you prove your case. Your attorney can advise you on whether your case may be a good candidate for a wrongful termination lawsuit and the types of damages you may be able to recover.

How Can an Employment Law Attorney Help Me?

California employment laws are complex and constantly changing. By working with an experienced employment lawyer, you can better understand your rights as a California worker and get clarity on the specific laws affecting your case. Your attorney can also play a crucial role in helping you stand up for your rights when you have been the target of workplace discrimination, wrongful termination, or workplace harassment or believe your employer has violated labor laws (such as the minimum wage law).

At the Espinoza Law Group, our skilled employment attorneys have provided top-quality legal representation for countless workers in the Inland Empire area and surrounding areas. If you are dealing with an employment dispute, have questions, or need legal guidance for your case, contact our law firm at 213-667-0701 to request an initial consultation and learn more about how we can help.