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Message #802 Labor laws protecting workers

mp3 #802 How California Labor Laws Protect Workers (mp3 file)


Whether it's your first day on the job, or you have twenty years with the same employer---California's state labor law guarantees you and all workers certain basic rights ... Such as:

-Prompt and full payment of wages,

-Fair and impartial treatment by your employer,

-Certain rights while being hired or when leaving employment, and

-No differences in pay based upon your sex.

What are your rights when you are first hired? Your employer cannot misrepresent your job, how long it will last, or your working conditions. Your employer cannot require you to become an investor in the business, in order to obtain your job. Your employer cannot mislead you about your pay or commissions. Your employer cannot require you to pay the cost of pre-employment medical or physical examination, or to pay for bonds or photographs. Your employer cannot require you to take a lie detector test, and your employer must tell you if his present workers are on strike.

On the job, your employer must carry workers' compensation insurance at no cost to you, to protect you if you have any job-related injuries or illnesses. Vocational rehabilitation is also paid for by the insurance coverage if you agree under a plan approved by the state.

And your employer must post a conspicuous notice, specifying regular paydays, and time and place of payment.

Your employer must pay you in cash or by check, in full, after all legally-permitted payroll deductions have been subtracted. (Wages include regular and overtime pay, vacation pay, commissions, and any other pay promised to you by your employer, in a written or oral agreement.) Along with your pay, your employer must give you on each payday a detachable statement that itemizes all deductions from your wages.

Your employer must keep to a regular payday, either weekly or twice a month, or once a month for executive, professional, or administrative employees.

Your employer must honor all agreements to make payments for you into a health or welfare fund, pension fund, vacation plan, or negotiated industrial promotion fund.

Your employer must also pay the same wage rates to men and women when they perform substantially the same kind of work.

You are entitled to receive the federal or state minimum wage, whichever is higher. Most workers in California are covered by one or the other. The federal minimum wage was increased to $5.15 per hour on September 1, 1997. The state minimum wage was increased to $6.75 per hour on January 1, 2002. If you are under age 18, your wage may be about 85% of the usual minimum wage, for the first 90 days of your employment. Also, if you are a trainee age 18 or older, your wage is about 85% of the usual minimum wage, for your first 160 hours.

Federal minimum training wages are lower than California minimums, so California minimum wages must be paid, instead of federal minimum wages.

You are entitled to work no more than six days in seven. You are entitled to take time off for jury service, but you are not entitled to be paid by your employer for jury service.

If you are late to work, your employer can deduct from your wages, the amount that would have been earned during the time lost. For less than 30 minutes, a half hour's wages may be deducted.

Your employer cannot prohibit you from engaging in politics, or from becoming a candidate for public office, nor can he control or direct your political activities.

You cannot be penalized, discharged, or threatened with discharge, for making a complaint about unsafe working conditions, or for making a complaint to the state division of labor standards enforcement.

If you are fired or laid off, you must be paid all wages due you in full, immediately. However, commission and bonus payments may be paid later, because it may take longer to determine these amounts.

If you quit without notice, you must be paid all wages due you in full, not more than 72 hours after you quit.

If your employer willfully refuses to pay you within the required time, he may be assessed penalties up to 30 days' wages, in addition to the wages he already owes you.

Most employers are not required by law to give you any reason to fire you.

Some union contracts, and under certain circumstances, state law require employers to have just cause to fire an employee. Otherwise, your employment, if it has no specified time period, may be terminated, at the will of either you or your employer, upon giving notice to the other.

And your former employer cannot prevent you from obtaining employment elsewhere, by misrepresenting your work, your abilities, or your character.

If you feel that you have been fired unfairly, you may need to contact your union representative, or a private attorney, rather than the division of labor standards enforcement.

To report labor law violations, and to obtain further information on labor law protections, contact your nearest district office of the state division of labor standards enforcement, located in: Bakersfield, El Centro, Eureka, Fresno, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Marysville, Oakland, Redding, Sacramento, Salinas, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Ana, Santa Barbara, Santa Rosa, Stockton, Van Nuys, and Ventura.

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