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What Are My Rights as an Employee in California?

F. Michael Ayaz

California employment law is a valuable asset to the protection of the state’s economy. The design of the laws is intended to ensure that employees can be paid a competitive wage in order to provide for themselves and their families. Unfortunately, some employers take advantage of these laws in order to save money and extend profits. You may be wondering, “What are my rights as an employee in California?”

With the help of an Orange County employment attorney, you can protect your business and your employees.

Understanding employee rights in California can raise many questions, but with the right answers, you can fight for the rights you are entitled to.

Rights Guaranteed Under California Law

There are many rights that employees are entitled to that help to prevent unsafe physical and emotional working conditions. Employees work to provide a living for themselves and their families, and working in unsafe conditions is counterintuitive to that. Some of the rights that employees are granted include:

  • An expectation of privacy. Employees have the right to privacy while at work. This includes employers providing employees an area to store personal belongings that they are able to protect from being accessed by others, such as a locker that can be locked. However, an employee who chooses to use an employer-provided computer for personal reasons should not expect privacy to be protected.
  • Fair wage. California is a very progressive state when compensating employees. As of 2024, the minimum wage has increased to $16/hour, which is well above the federal minimum wage. This compensation is guaranteed to employees.
  • Regular meal and rest breaks. In California, for every four hours of work, an employee has the right to a 10-minute, uninterrupted rest break during which they cannot be asked to complete any work-related tasks. If they work a minimum of five hours, they are granted an uninterrupted 30-minute meal break.
  • Receive overtime. For employees that are paid an hourly wage and are not considered a manager, they are granted overtime pay. Overtime pay is provided for any work over 40 hours in a work week or eight hours a day. This pay rate is at one and a half times their normal hourly wage. If an employee works over 12 hours in a day, they are entitled to double their hourly wage.
  • Be provided with workers’ compensation benefits. For employees who are injured on the job, they are entitled to receive worker’s compensation benefits. Employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance in order to provide this benefit to their employees. This coverage includes medical benefits, disability benefits, and even death coverage.
  • To work in a place free from harassment and discrimination. Employees have the right to work in an environment in which they are free from discriminatory behavior based on protected characteristics. This includes being subjected to jokes, changes to work assignments, or being passed over for promotions. These behaviors and others are not allowed in the workplace.
  • Free from retaliation. Employees have the right to report behaviors that violate their rights to their employer and the right to be protected from retaliation. This can include a reduction in pay, demotions, receiving an unjustified evaluation, and more. Retaliatory behaviors are not allowed and are illegal.
  • Wrongful termination. California is a right-to-work state which means that employees can be fired or can separate from their employer for any reason at any time. However, that reason cannot be based on retaliation or discriminatory behavior. In addition, employees cannot be fired for reporting employer violations.

These are just some of the rights that are granted to employees and are protected by California laws. Employees who feel these rights have been violated have the right to file a claim against their employer for compensation they may be entitled to. However, violations should be first reported to employers who have a responsibility to correct the behavior first.


Q: What Are the Legal Rights of Employees in California?

A: In California, employees are granted several legal rights. Some of those rights include the right to be paid minimum wage, the right to a rest break at the rate of 10 minutes for every 4 hours worked, the right to an uninterrupted meal break for at least 30 minutes every five hours worked, and more. These rights and others are designed to protect the earning ability of employees and to ensure a healthy work environment.

Q: What Are Illegal Things the Employer Cannot Do?

A: There are several things employers cannot do and that are considered illegal. Among the things an employer cannot do are base decisions on the personal characteristics of their employees, retaliate against employees who raise concerns, and wrongfully terminate employment for reasons that are not based on workplace performance evaluations. These are just a few of the prohibited policies and actions employers cannot take.

Q: What Is a Hostile Work Environment in California?

A: Hostile work environments in California can look a number of ways. Any time an employee feels they are threatened, intimidated, or harassed because of protected characteristics such as race, gender, age, sexual orientation, and more, they can claim a hostile work environment exists. Sometimes, this can mask itself as a joke that seems acceptable. However, these jokes can quickly become discriminatory in nature.

Q: What Should Bosses Never Ask Employees to Do?

A: Employers should never ask their employees certain questions or to complete certain tasks. Some of the things that employers should never ask include asking employees to work through meal times, to run errands for the business off the clock, to provide self-work evaluations, to reveal personal information in an effort to build a team, to commit any illegal or unethical actions, and more.

Orange County Employment Attorney

The rights granted to employees can be legally complicated. If you feel your rights as an employee have been violated, it is important that you first speak with your employer in the hopes that your concerns are addressed then contact an Orange County employment attorney. At Blake & Ayaz, we can help ensure you not only understand your rights but that they are protected.

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