When an employee has conflicts with his or her employer, the situation can be extremely distressing. Employees whose employers are mistreating them often wonder what rights they have, and employers often are faced with difficult questions regarding how to handle certain employees. Whether you are working to protect your career, or to keep your business functioning, you could find yourself needing to understand some crucial aspects of California employment law.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1967 made workplace discrimination illegal if it is based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, and genetic information. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act of 1959 (FEHA) also serves to prevent workplace sexual harassment and discrimination, but includes additional categories that are not included in Title VII.
FEHA made it illegal for private employers, public employers, employment agencies, and labor organizations to discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, ancestry, national origin, medical conditions, mental disabilities, marital status, gender, gender expression, gender identity, sex, age, sexual orientation, genetic information, and veteran or military status.
Failure to accommodate
Under FEHA, if an employee has a medical disability that limits his or her ability to perform major life activities, but that employee is still capable of performing the core functions of his or her job, then the employer must provide the employee with reasonable accommodations. If the employer fails to accommodate such an employee, then the employer is in violation of the statute and could be subject to legal action.
Retaliation and whistleblower protections
Employees often fear being retaliated against for reporting workplace discrimination, harassment, or other wrongful acts committed by their employer. California’s labor code provides many protections for employees, including making it illegal for employers to take negative actions against an employee for asserting their constitutional rights when they are not at work, to take actions against an employee in retaliation for reporting a violation to the Labor Commissioner, retaliating against employees for taking time off to serve on jury duty, or to appear in court per a subpoena or court order. The code provides several other protections as well, such as protecting employees from retaliation for reporting safety violations at work, or for refusing to perform a task that would violate a safety regulation. Retaliation consists of negative actions taken against the reporting employee, including salary reductions, demotions, and increased workloads.
In addition to the labor code’s other protections against retaliation, California’s whistleblower laws protect employees in situations where the employee reasonably believes that the employer is in violation of a law, and therefore reports the employer to law enforcement or to a government agency.
California’s employment laws include many additional protections and regulations. It is important for both employers and employees to understand their rights and responsibilities. If you have questions regarding California’s labor laws, contact Maire & Deedon at 530-246-6050 to speak with an experienced employment law attorney.