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RIGHTS AS AN EMPLOYEE IN CALIFORNIA
VOLUNTARY LEGAL SERVICES PROGRAM EMPLOYMENT LAW CUNIC
517 12th Street, Sacramento, CA 95814 (916) 551-2102
www.vlsp.org
 

1. A TERMINATION THAT IS UNFAIR NECESSARILY ILLEGAL.
Employment in California is presumed tobe wili" unless there an employment
contract or other for employment time. This means an employer can fire an reason or no unless the reason is illegal. In most circumstances, employers can terminate "at will ," meaning at any time for any reason. And they are not even required by law to give thereason for a discharge. However, they cannotterminate you for an illegal reason (such as discrimination, retaliation for rights, or reporting your employer illegal activity.)


2. THERE ARE LIMITS WHAT AN EMPLOYER ASK DURING A JOB
INTERVIEW
must relate to the ski lls and background necessary to do the job. For cannot ask you your age,sexual orientation or religious affiliation. Nor can an interviewer normally you have or ever had a disability. The employer can, however,ask whether you are able to perform essential functions of the job with or without,a reasonable accommodation.


3. AN EMPLOYER CAN ASK YOU TO TAKE A DRUG TEST.
An employer can ask you to a drug test if you are a job applicant. On the other hand, if you ' are already an employee, your employer usually must have some legitimate or important interest in requiring drug testing, such as a reasonable suspicion that you are using drugs. If your job involves certain safety issues,such as a driVing d passenger bus,your employer has greater rights
drug you, even withouf giving you advance notice.


4 . AN EMPLOYER HAS THE RIGHT TO DO A BACKGROUND CHECK AND ACCESS AN APPLICANT'S CREDIT 'REPORT IF THEY PROVIDE NOTICE AND OBTAIN CONSENT.
Under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act arid California Reporting Agencies Act, anyone with a "legitimate business need" may access your credit report. have a
legitimate business to see an applicant's or employee's consumer credit as part of their background long as the employer uses this report to evaluate the applicant for hire and to evaluate a current employee for promotion, retention, or reaSSignment. If employer accesses an employee's or applicant's credit report, the employer must written notice to the individual ahead of time.
5. AN EMPLOYER CAN ABOUT PRIOR CONVICTIONS BUT CAN'T ASK ABOUT ARRESTS THAT DIDN'T RESULT IN CONVICTION.
It is legal for your employer to ask convictions, including misdemeanors as well as felonies. However, employers normally ask only about past felonies. If you are applying for a job; or being considered for promotion,termination, or placement in a training program, your employer cannot ask about arrests that t result in a conviction, or any arrests that ledto participation in a (such as drug There are some itnportantexceptions this general rule: -Arrests pending trial -Law enforcement positions -Health facility positions.  Most private employers do 'NOT the right to request "summary criminal history'; (your criminal records.)

6 . YOU RIGHT TO SEE YOUR PERSONNEL FILE
Most private employees, including employees who have resigned, who are on a leave of absence, or who have terminated or laid off, have the right to see their personnel files. Your employer must allow you to inspect your file within a "reasonable" amount of time after you ask to it. Private employees also have the right to a photocopy of any document that has their signature. You can (Jsk to add your own documents to your personnel file if you disagree with some of the information in the file. I)ifferent laws provide similar government employees.


7. A FORMER EMPLOYER CAN SAY BAD, BUT NO FALSE, THINGS ABOUT YOU WHEN GIVING A REFERENCE.
If you apply for a job and your employer is contacted for a reference, that employer is legally able to say bad things about you or your work performance as long as the employer's comments are truthful. On-the other hand, your former employer cannot knowingly false information about your work performance to try to prevent you from getting a new job. Also, your former employer can give his about your work performance (such as "he was unreliable") but cannot false factual statements (such as "he was stealing"). Because there is such a fine line between what .is legal and illegal,


many employers have adopted a policy not to provide any information other than the dates of employment for former employees. Although these policies are widespread, they are not actually required by law.


8. MOST EMPLOYEES BE PAID AT LEAST THE WAGE
Minimum wage in California is $8.00 per hour. Employers can sometimes pay minors and trainees less than minimum wage, but must pay m.inimum wage or better to adult employees. Employees who paid by the piece or who work on commission must be paid an amount that is equal to the hourly minimum wage for of hours that they work.


9. YOU AND BREAKS
Employees are entitled.to a certain number of breaks in the workday. For every 5 .hours of work, an employee is legally entitled an unpaid 30minutemeal break. For every 4 hours of work, an employee is also entitled toapaid, lOmim.ite rest break.


10. IF YOU WORK MORE THAN 40 HOURS A WEEK, MORE THAN 8 HOURS A DAY, OR 7 DAYS IN A ROW, YOU MAY BE .ENTITLED OVERTIME PAY FOR THAT ADDITIONAL WORK UNLESS YOU ARE "EXEMPT."
"Overtime" is defined as any hours worked beyond 8 hours in a single day. If a worker works overtime, he or she is entitled to overtime pay. Overtime pay is 1times the worker's reguiar hourlywagesforanytimeworked 8hours. Forany timeworkedbeyond 12hours,overtime pay rises 2 times the worker's regular hourly wages. Some employers may try to claim that · overtime pay is included in a fixed give lump sums for overtime regardless of the number of overtime hours, or pay "bonus.,i methods are illegal.

11. EMPLOYERS DO NOT HAVE TO GIVE YOU ANY HOLIDAYS, VACATION, OR SICK DAYS
Employers are not legally required to give employees holidays, vacation, or sick days. If your employer has promised to you these types of days off with payor has done so in past, though , a court may find that you have a verbal , or implied contract for those benefits.


12. GENERALLYAN EMPLOYER CANNOT DeDUCT MONEY FOR UNIFORMS OR EQUIPMENT
An employer is required to pay for any special clothing or equipment by your job. It cannotdeductthecost uniformsorequipment fromyourpay.Itcan,though,requirea reasonable deposit to ensure that these items do not become damaged.

13. AN EMPLOYER MUST PAY FINAL WAGES WITHIN CERTAIN TIME LIMITS OR YOU MAY BE ENTITLED TO "WAITING TIME" PENALTIES
If you are fired or laid off, all wages (including unused vacation.time) should be paid at the time of your termination. If you quit and give more than 72 hours notice, wages should be paid at the time you leave the job. If you give less than 72 hours notice, all wages should be paid within 72 hours of the time you gave notice. If your employer willfully refuses to pay you within these time limits, it may have to pay you a penalty for each day that your wages are late, for up to 30 days . (Government employees are not covered by this rule.) "Use it or lose it" vacation policies are illegal . You do not forfeit unused vacation when your employment ends. When you are terminated or you quit a job, you are entitled to your unused vacation pay just like unpaid wages (California Labor Code Section 227.3); Although your employer might not allow you to actually take vacation until you've worked for a certain amount of time, you may be "earning" vacation pay from your


15. YOU MAY BE ELIGIBLE FOR UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE IF YOU ARE FIRED OR YOUR JOB FOR "GOOD CAUSE."
Being fired from a job does not disqualify you from receiving unemployment insurance unless you are terminated for "misconduct;" showing serious or intentional disregard for your employer's interests. Repeated tardiness or unexcused absences from work may qualify as misconduct; "poor performance" is not misconduct and should not disqualify you from unemployment benefits. If you quit a job for a good reason, you can still collect unemployment insurance. The "good cause" standard for quitting a job can be difficult to meet. The following circumstances are considered to be "good cause" to quit a job: Domestic reasons (leaving your job in order to maintain a marriage or family situation);


You are offered a better job (if you are offered another job with better wages, benefits and potential, and then the job falls through); Health reasons quitting, you must inform your.employer of the health problem and ask for a leave of absence or a less demandingjob); Intolerable working conditions as safety, harassment, significant demotions or pay cuts). To avoid being disqual ified for unemployment insurance if you quit the job,you must also make all reasonable attempts to notify your employer and attempt to solve the problem before you quit.


16 . EMPLOYERS ARE REQUIRED TO PROVIDE BENEFITS TO EMPLOYEES WHO INJURED ON THE JOB OR BECOME ILL ·BECAUSE OF CONDITIONS IN THE WORKPLACE. injury or illness can be caused by a single event, like an accident or a workplace crime. Or it develop over time, like an injury from doing the same motion or illness from prolonged exposure to chemicals at work. Most people who develop a health problem because of work are eligible for workers compo Workers' compensation is a program designed to deal with workplace injuries on a medium term and long term basis. It is a very lengthy, involved process.

If you get hurt on the job, your employer is required by law to pay for workers' compensation benefits. You couldget hurt by: One event at work.  backin a fall, getting burned by a chemical that splashes on your skin, getting hurt in a car accident making deliveries. or  Repeated exposures at work. Examples: hurting your wrist from doing the same motion over over losing your hearing because of constant loud noise


17. YOU CAN "PRE-CHOOSE" YOUR WORKERS'

COMPENSATION DOCTOR
If your employer offers a group health plan, you can pre-designate your primary care physician to treat you if you become injured on the job. The advantage to selecting your own physician ahead of time is that he/she, rather than the employer's choice of doctor, will be primarily responsible for examining and treating you if you suffer an on-the-job injury. Pre-selecting your physician is easy: just make sure your doctor agrees to be your pre-designated physician and then notify your employer in writing of your selection.


18. YOU CAN REASONABLY REFUSE TO DO UNSAFE WORK.
The California Labor Code you to refuse to perfor'm unsafe work as long as it is hazardous enough any reasonable person would think his/ her health or safety would be in danger by doing the work. Before you refuse to perform unsafe work, however , make sure you inform your supervisor about the unsafe condition, and give the company a chance to correct it. If the company does not correcttheunsafecondition,and you decide to refuse'the work,makesure that you inform your supervisor, preferably in writing or in front of others, exactly why you are refusing to do the work,andthatyou will return to workassoonas thecondition is fixed,Finally,you should contact Cal/OSHA (http://www.dir.ca.gov/DOSH) to file a complaint against your employer,


19. DISCRIMINATIQNI HARASSMENT ANDRETALIATION ARE AGAINST THE LAW.
"Discrimination" means being treated differently or unfairly. Discrimination in employment is illegal when the treatment is based on a personal characteristic or status, such as sex or race, which is protected under anti-discrimination laws, Since the law prohibits discrimination based only on certain protected categories, not every form of discriminatory or unfair treatment is illegal. In California,the protected classes are: Race, color, religion, sex (gender), sexual orientation,marital status,national origin,ancestry,disability(mental and physical ,including HIVand AIDS),medical condition, age , and pregnancy. "


Discrimination can be expressed through when a boss, supervisor, or co-.worker says or does something that creates an intimidating, hostile. or threatening work environment. Harassment is illegal if it is based on a personal characteristic or status protected under antidiscrimination laws. To be illegal, the harassment must be so "severe or pervasive" that it interferes with the employee's ability to perform the job.

Sexual harassment is defined as "unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when submission to or rejection of .this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individuars employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.

 


 

 

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