8 Most Common Types of Labor Code Violations in California

California is renowned for its comprehensive and progressive labor laws, designed to protect the rights and well-being of workers across the state. Despite these robust regulations, labor code violations remain a persistent problem, affecting thousands of employees annually.

These violations can have serious repercussions, ranging from financial losses to unsafe working conditions and unjust treatment. By understanding the most common of labor violations in California, employees can better protect their rights and take action when necessary.

8 Most Common Types of Labor Code Violations in California

1. Wage and Hour Violations

Wage and hours violations are among the most common violations in California, significantly impacting workers’ earnings and financial stability. These violations encompass various forms:

  • Minimum wage violations: As of January 1, 2024, the minimum wage in California is $16.00 per hour for all employers. Some cities and counties in the state have minimum wages higher than this rate. It is considered a serious violation of the labor code to pay employees below the state-mandated minimum wage. For instance, if a retail employee in California receives $14 per hour, legal action can be taken to claim unpaid wages and uphold their rights.
  • Overtime violations: According to California labor law, overtime pay is required at one and a half times the regular rate for hours worked over eight in a day or 40 in a week, and double time for hours worked over 12 in a day. If an employee is paid only the regular hourly rate for working 50 hours a week, it constitutes a critical violation and the employee is entitled to claim the appropriate pay they deserve.
  • Misclassification of employees: In California, misclassification of workers is governed by the Labor Code § 226.8, which outlines the criteria for distinguishing between employees and independent contractors. Employers categorize workers into three groups: independent contractors, exempt employees, and nonexempt employees. Each category has its own benefits and wages. Employers who misclassify employees to avoid paying overtime and benefits may face significant penalties.

2. Benefits and Leave Violations

Benefits and leave violations occur when employers fail to provide or honor the various types of leave and benefits that employees are entitled to under the law. These labor law violations can significantly impact an employee’s work-life balance, financial stability, and overall well-being.

The types of violations include:

Employees who experience these violations have legal remedies available to them. They can file complaints with relevant employment agencies, such as the California Department of Fair Employment Housing (DFEH) or the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). Additionally, employees may pursue legal action through civil lawsuits to seek reinstatement, back pay, damages for emotional distress, and other remedies as permitted by law.

3. Wrongful Termination

Wrongful termination happens when an employer unlawfully fires an employee, either for illegal reasons or in violation of public policy. In California, an employer can terminate an employee’s contract as long as the reason is legal, as it is considered an at-will state.

If an employer terminates an employee for an illegal reason, the employee has the option to seek legal representation and file a complaint with the DLSE. A successful wrongful termination claim can lead to damages like back pay, front pay, reinstatement, and compensation for emotional distress.

4. Breach of Contract

A breach of contract occurs when an employer fails to honor the terms and conditions of an employment agreement. This could involve not paying agreed wages, altering job duties without consent, or terminating employment without just cause. In California, employment contracts can be written, oral, or implied through company policies and practices.

Employees can seek legal recourse through the DLSE by filing a wage claim or a lawsuit in civil court. Legal consultation is crucial to determine the most appropriate course of action and to ensure all contractual rights are enforced.

labor code violations

5. Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment in the workplace includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. It can create a hostile work environment and severely affect an employee’s well-being and job performance. California law, under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), provides robust protections against sexual harassment.

Victims can file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) within one year of the harassment. They may also pursue a lawsuit if the issue is not resolved through administrative channels.

6. Workplace Retaliation

Workplace retaliation occurs when an employer takes adverse action against an employee for engaging in legally protected activities, such as reporting harassment, discrimination, or safety violations. Retaliation can manifest as termination, demotion, or other forms of workplace punishment.

Employees can file a retaliation complaint with the DLSE or the DFEH, depending on the nature of the protected activity. A skilled Visalia employment lawyer can assist in gathering evidence and presenting a compelling case to hold employers accountable for retaliatory actions.

7. Workplace Discrimination

Workplace discrimination involves unfair treatment based on characteristics such as race, gender, age, religion, disability, or sexual orientation. Discrimination can impact hiring, promotions, job assignments, and other employment terms. California’s FEHA prohibits such discriminatory practices and seeks to promote equal employment opportunities.

Victims of discrimination can file a complaint with the DFEH. If the complaint is not resolved, they can request a right-to-sue notice and pursue litigation in civil court.

8. Health and Safety Violations

Health and safety violations occur when employers fail to provide a safe working environment, as required by the California Occupational Safety and Health Act (Cal/OSHA). This includes exposure to hazardous materials, lack of proper safety equipment, and failure to adhere to safety protocols, which can endanger employees’ health and well-being.

Employees can report health and safety violations to Cal/OSHA, which will investigate and enforce compliance. Remedies can include mandatory corrective actions, fines, and, in severe cases, shutting down operations until safety standards are met. Workers may also be entitled to compensation for any injuries or illnesses resulting from unsafe conditions.

Take Action to Protect Your Rights

Understanding these common labor code violations is crucial for every employee in California. If you suspect that your rights have been violated, it’s important to take action promptly. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Document Everything: Keep detailed records of any suspected violations, including dates, times, and the nature of the infraction.
  2. Speak Up: Report the issue to your HR department or a supervisor. Sometimes, issues can be resolved internally.
  3. Seek Legal Advice: Consult with Labor Law Advocates to understand your rights and options. Our Visalia employment lawyer can provide guidance and represent your interests.

Your rights are protected under California labor law, and taking these steps can help ensure you receive fair treatment and compensation. Don’t let violations go unchecked—stand up for your rights and seek the justice you deserve. Call us now!


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By submitting this form, I consent to receiving text messages and emails from Labor Law Advocates. I also acknowledge that contacting Labor Law Advocates through this website does not create an attorney-client relationship, and any information I send is not protected by the attorney-client privilege.