Fight for Fairness: Combatting Benefits and Leave Violations in CA
In the bustling state of California, eligible employees are entitled to various benefits and leaves to protect their rights and well-being. These include minimum wage, overtime pay, meal and rest breaks, paid sick leave, and family and medical leave. However, violations of these rights can occur, leaving employees vulnerable and in need of assistance.
Explore the importance of fighting for fairness and taking action against benefits and leave violations in California. Let’s look into the key aspects of this issue and understand how employees can assert their rights.
Experienced benefits and leave violations by your employer?
California Protections for Employees
Before taking any action, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of your rights as an employee in California. Familiarize yourself with the state’s labor laws, including provisions related to minimum wage, overtime, meal and rest breaks, family and medical leave, and other benefits. Being informed about your entitlements will empower you to recognize and address any violations that occur in your workplace.
California labor laws provide robust protections for employees, ensuring fair treatment and working conditions. Some key rights to be aware of include:
California has a higher minimum wage than the federal standard. The minimum wage is $15.50 per hour for both employers with 26 or more employees and employers with 25 or fewer employees. Stay updated on any changes to the minimum wage and ensure you are being paid correctly. Most companies provide an itemized wage statement allowing employees to see and understand their wage breakdown.
Employees who work more than eight hours in a day or 40 hours in a week are generally entitled to overtime pay. Overtime rates are typically 1.5 times the regular hourly rate. However, certain exemptions apply based on job duties and salary level.
Meal and Rest Breaks
California law mandates that employees receive meal and rest breaks during their shifts. Generally, employees are entitled to a 30-minute unpaid meal break after working five hours and a second 30-minute meal break after working ten hours. Additionally, employees should receive paid rest breaks of at least 10 minutes for every four hours worked.
Paid Sick Leave Policy
In California, eligible employees are protected under the state’s paid sick leave ordinances, allowing them to take time off for medical reasons, poor health condition of a family member, or for certain reasons, such as in domestic violence from domestic partner, sexual assault, foster child abuse, or stalking. It allows them to visit the appropriate health care provider for their medical condition.
For most companies, a medical certification is a must to qualify for extended sick leave. Additionally, note that the COVID-19-related supplemental paid sick leave ended last 31st of December, 2022, meaning the employee must follow the usual medical leave application like in all other illnesses.
Family and Medical Leave
The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provide eligible employees with job-protected leave under a covered employer. It can be for various reasons, such as the birth or adoption of a child, caring for a seriously ill family member, or when standing as legal guardian (loco parentis) for a minor.
Protection from Race and Gender Discrimination
California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits discrimination based on race and gender. Employers are prohibited from making employment decisions, such as hiring, promotions, pay, or termination, based on an individual’s gender and ethnicity. This applies to all aspects of employment, including recruitment, hiring, promotions, job assignments, and termination.
In California, employees who are unable to work due to a disability may be entitled to disability benefits. The state provides two types of disability benefits: State Disability Insurance (SDI) and Paid Family Leave (PFL).
State Disability Insurance (SDI) provides partial wage replacement to eligible employees who are unable to work due to a non-work-related injury, poor health condition, or pregnancy-related condition. SDI benefits typically cover a portion of the employee’s lost wages for up to 52 weeks.
To qualify for SDI benefits, employees must meet specific eligibility requirements, such as having sufficient earnings and being unable to perform their regular work duties. Paid Family Leave (PFL) allows eligible employees to take time off work to care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a new child. PFL provides partial wage replacement for up to eight weeks.
Eligible individuals may receive benefits equal to a percentage of their wages, with a maximum weekly benefit amount. PFL benefits can be used intermittently or continuously within one year of the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child, or to care for a seriously ill family member.
By understanding your rights under the US federal government, you can identify potential violations in your workplace. If you believe your rights are being violated while you are performing essential functions in the workplace, document any incidents or actions that support your claim.
Recognizing Benefits and Leave Violations
Violations of benefits and leave can manifest in different ways, such as:
Unreasonable work days per week
In California, there are laws that regulate the maximum number of hours an employee can work in a week and the mandatory rest periods between shifts. Violations may occur if an employer forces you to work excessive hours without proper breaks or rest periods.
Denial of paid sick leave or family leave
California law mandates that eligible employees accrue paid sick leave and have the right to take time off to care in case of a poor health condition or a family member’s illness. If your employer denies or restricts your access to paid sick leave or family leave for treatment and preventive care, it is a violation of your rights.
Denial of maternity leave, even after 12-month period employment
Under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), eligible employees who have completed at least 12 months of employment with their current employer have the right to take unpaid maternity leave. If your employer does not recognize the maternity leave laws, even if you meet the eligibility requirements, it is a violation of your rights.
Below minimum wage rates
California has established a minimum wage rate that employers must comply with. If you received a payment less than the legally mandated minimum wage within your regular payroll period, it is a violation of state labor laws.
Unlawful wage deductions
Employers are generally prohibited from making unauthorized deductions from your wages, unless required by law or agreed upon in writing. If your employer deduct wages from your paycheck without a valid reason or without your consent, it is considered an unlawful wage deduction.
Retaliation for taking time off despite valid employee requests
California law protects you from employer retaliation for exercising rights to take job-protected leave or time off. If your employer takes adverse actions against you, such as demotion, termination, undue hardship, or negative treatment, as a result of taking authorized leave or exercising your rights despite reasonable requests, it is considered retaliation and a violation of labor laws.
Remain vigilant and identify methods or conditions of employment where your covered employer may be infringing upon your rights. Maintain all records of your work hours per week, wages, and any occurrences where you were denied benefits or faced adverse consequences for exercising your rights.
Seeking Internal Resolution
In some instances, approaching the matter directly with your employer can lead to a resolution of the benefits and leave violation. Take the initiative to engage in a conversation with your supervisor or the human resources (HR) department to discuss the issue at hand and present any evidence or documentation that supports your claim, including medical certification, itemized wage statement, and other types of employee file reports.
By bringing the violation to their attention, employers may take corrective action to rectify the situation and ensure compliance with at least the minimum requirements outlined by labor laws. This proactive approach can often result in a satisfactory resolution and help prevent the need for further legal action.
Consult with an Employment Attorney
If your attempts to resolve the benefits and leave violation internally prove unsuccessful or if the violation persists, it may be necessary to seek legal advice from a qualified employment attorney. Consulting with an attorney who specializes in employment law can help protect your rights and seek a fair resolution.
An experienced employment attorney will carefully assess the details of your case, including the evidence you have gathered, and provide you with a comprehensive evaluation of your legal options. They can guide you through the complex legal process, ensuring that you understand your rights and the potential courses of civil action available to you.
In addition to filing a complaint, an employment attorney can also help you determine if pursuing a legal claim or complaint against your employer to the appropriate government agency is a viable option. They will explain the potential legal remedies available to you, such as seeking monetary damages or pursuing a lawsuit, and guide you through the process if you choose to proceed with legal action.
Fight For Fairness and Take Action Against Benefits and Leave Violations in California
Safeguarding your rights as an employee in California. By understanding your rights, recognizing violations, seeking internal resolution, consulting with an employment attorney, and filing a complaint or lawsuit when necessary, you can assert your rights and hold employers accountable for their actions. Remember, standing up for yourself not only benefits you but also helps create a fair and just work environment for all employees in the state.
Labor Law Advocates has California’s award-winning wrongful termination attorneys who specialize in employment rights and labor laws. We can help you get proper compensation for violations on your employee benefits and leaves.
We are available 24/7. Call us anytime at (424)-688-3632.