January 25, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/
-- 2013 saw a flurry of legislative activity in California, with Gov. Gerry Brown signing 805 bills into law over the course of the year. Several of those bills dealt with the rights of employees. As 2014 opens, the new laws are going into effect. Workers in California should be aware of the new protections that the laws offer them.
Minimum wage increase
One of the most notable changes to the law passed in 2013 was an increase in the state's minimum wage rate. As of July 1, 2014, the minimum wage in California will increase from $8.00 per hour to $9.00. The minimum wage will further increase, rising to $10.00 on January 1, 2016. A companion bill expanded the penalties that the Labor Commissioner can issue to employers who violate minimum wage requirements
. Employees may now receive liquidated damages for such violations.
Discrimination and retaliation
California legislators also passed several laws expanding the protections of employees from discrimination
and retaliation. "Military and veteran" is now a protected class under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, meaning that it is illegal to discriminate in employment decisions based on a person's military service.
Another bill amended the definition of sexual harassment to note specifically that sexual harassment does not have to be motivated by sexual desire to constitute harassment.
Other bills expanded protections for employees from retaliation. One bill made it so that employers may not "retaliate or take any adverse action" against employees who act as whistleblowers. Previously, the law stated employers were not allowed to discharge such employees. Another bill made it illegal for employers to retaliate against employees who act as whistleblowers or assert any rights under the Labor Code by inquiring about the employees' immigration statuses or demanding to see extra documentation of immigration status.
Right to leave of absence
New laws also expanded employees' right to time off of work in certain situations. One bill extended the right to time off of work that victims of domestic violence and sexual assault have to victims of stalking, such as time off to attend court proceedings, attend safety planning, seek psychological services or undergo medical treatment. Another bill protected the right of victims of certain crimes to take time off of work to attend any legal proceedings related to the crime.
California law protects the rights of employees, but not all employers respect those rights as they should. If you have had your rights violated in the workplace, seek the assistance of a skilled employment law attorney who can discuss your situation with you and advise you of your options.
Article provided by The Figari Law Firm
Visit us at www.figarilaw.com