Anyone who is employed in Encino has the right to work in an environment that is safe and free of all types of discrimination and harassment. Encino employees must be paid the wages they have earned in accordance with state and federal labor laws. That means they have the right to a living wage, proper rest and meal breaks as well as medical and retirement benefits depending on their job title and classification.
However, employers don't always follow the law. In an attempt to cut corners and maximize profits, some employers may deny workers their rights and the wages they have rightfully earned. Many workers also suffer from discrimination and harassment because of their age, race, religion, gender, disability or sexual orientation. They endure a hostile work environment, which makes it difficult for them to perform their job duties. If you believe that you have been discriminated against, harassed or treated unfairly by your employer, please contact an experienced Encino employment lawyer to explore your legal rights and options.
California Offers Better Protections for Workers in Encino
While there are several federal laws that uphold worker rights, California is considered a leader when it comes to labor law. This is a state with broader anti-discrimination protections. For example, state laws prohibit employers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. California also requires employers to pay workers a higher minimum wage and provide paid sick leave. An employer is required to comply with both state and federal law. Employers must also comply with municipal laws that affect the employer-employee relationship.
Types of Discrimination
Discrimination at the workplace occurs when an employer takes adverse action against an employee because of his or her personal characteristics or identity. It is illegal for an employer, for example, to fail to hire, demote, fire or pay a lower salary to an employee based on his or her membership in a group that is protected under state and/or federal law. Here are some of the common types of discrimination employees experience at the workplace:
Race: It is against federal law for an employer to discriminate on the basis of race or the color of a person's skin. Discrimination includes tangible employment actions against a person and policies that might create a hostile work environment for individuals of a certain race.
Gender: Discriminating against employees on the basis of sex or gender is also illegal under federal laws. Gender discrimination includes not paying workers of a particular sex the same wages for equal work done. It also includes passing up members of one sex for promotions, failing to hire them or provide them with training and other opportunities that members of another sex may receive.
Sexual orientation: California has protections in place for individuals who are being discriminated against in the workplace because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued guidelines describing sexual orientation discrimination as a type of gender discrimination. These protections, in addition to the protections offered under California law, put employees in a strong position to fight these types of discriminatory acts.
Disability: It is also against federal and state laws to discriminate against someone because of their disability. For example, employers have a duty to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled individuals including wheelchair access, changes to work schedule, use of aids, ergonomic adjustments, etc. An employer is certainly not allowed to terminate an employee because he or she requested a reasonable accommodation or because of a disability or a pregnancy.
Age: Federal laws also prohibit employers from making adverse employment decisions based on an employee's age when he or she is at least 40 years old. For example, a company cannot discourage older workers from applying for a job. A company also cannot lay off older workers and hire younger or cheaper workers in their place.
Harassment and Hostile Work Environment
Any type of harassment based on these protected characteristics is illegal under both state and federal laws. Workplace harassment occurs when an employee becomes the target of a pattern of negative, inappropriate or unwanted conduct, based on certain protected characteristics such as race, religion, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, nationality, etc.
Examples of unlawful harassment in the workplace include inappropriate jokes, derogatory comments and sexual innuendo. It may also include physical harassment such as unwanted or inappropriate touching or hitting. Verbal or implied threats, visual harassment or aggressive requests for sexual favors are also considered harassment under the law.
Wage and Hour Claims
Many workers in Encino count on their paychecks to be able to cover mortgage or rent payments, buy groceries and pay for utilities and other crucial expenses. But, sometimes, employers do not pay workers what they are due. And often times, they may be doing so in subtle, unrecognizable ways.
If you are classified as "nonexempt," your employer should pay you overtime, generally, if you work over 40 hours a week. Also, generally speaking, in California, employers are required to pay eligible employees twice the pay rate for working more than 12 hours in a workday or more than eight hours on their seventh consecutive workday. Employers should also give workers rest and meal breaks such as time for lunch, under the law.
While California is an "at-will" state, which means employers can terminate employees without providing a cause or justification, it still does not mean employees can be unfairly fired. For example, your employer cannot fire you because of any of your protected characteristics, that would be wrongful termination. Your employer also cannot terminate your employment because you filed a complaint against them with a state or federal agency, such as a complaint alleging harassment, discrimination or lapses in workplace safety. In other words, your employer cannot retaliate against you for taking any of these actions, which are protected under the law.
Protecting Your Encino Employee Rights
If you have been wrongfully terminated, have not been paid fair wages, or are facing discrimination, harassment or a hostile work environment, the experienced Encino employment lawyers at Kingsley & Kingsley can help uphold your rights and help you secure maximum compensation for your losses. Our law firm takes most cases on a contingency fee basis, which means you do not pay any fees unless we win or recover compensation for you. Call us at 888-500-8469 for a free and comprehensive consultation.