Employment Law in San Diego, CA

If you have suffered treatment from an employer in San Diego, California that violates employment laws, learning more about the law can help. Hiring an employment law attorney can best help you navigate the process, and increase the chances of winning your case.

What Is Employment Law?

Employment law covers the rights, responsibilities, and obligations within the employer-employee relationship. Employment lawyers serve both employees and employers, though they generally focus their practice on serving one or the other. Regardless of who their clients are, their goal is to present a solid case and defend them.

Understanding Employment Law Labor Rights in San Diego, California

Employees have a wide range of rights that employers cannot violate. If employers violate these rights, workers can file a complaint against them. Each state has unique labor laws and some also make provisions for qualifying independent contractors. Below are the most common topics covered in employment law across the country.

Wage and Hour Laws

Laws protect non-exempt employees from being forced to work for low wages and a certain amount of hours without increased pay. These are the wage and hour laws. They outline the minimum wages an employee can earn as well as the maximum amount of hours worked before qualifying employees should get paid overtime.

California, like every other state, has unique wage and hour laws. However, there are federal laws in place that are minimum requirements for all states. For example, the federal minimum wage is $7.25, but most states exceed that amount.

The Fair Labor Standards Act states that non-exempt employees can only work 40 hours per week at their regular wage rates. If they exceed that number, the employer must pay them overtime rates at a minimum of time and a half. Some states also require weekend overtime pay, holiday pay, and overtime for working more than a certain number of hours each day.

According to California’s Department of Industrial Relations, the minimum wage is $14.00 per hour for employees who work at San Diego businesses with 26 or more employees. However, the minimum wage drops to $13.00 per hour if the business has fewer than 26 employees. Furthermore, beginning on January 1, 2023, all San Diego employers will have to pay a minimum wage of $15 per hour.

Overtime in San Diego is generally paid at 1½ times the employee’s regular rate. The overtime rate is paid on hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek, or 8 in any workday. Furthermore, the rate increases to twice the employee’s regular pay rate on hours worked in excess of 12 hours in any workday. The regular rate also doubles for all hours worked in excess of 8 on the seventh consecutive day of work in a workweek.

Workers’ Compensation

If you’ve been injured on the job in San Diego, CA you might be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. This includes payments for lost wages and past or future medical bills that resulted from your workplace injury.

In order to be eligible for workers’ compensation, you must meet these requirements:

  • You must be an employee.
  • You must have a work-related illness or injury.
  • Your employer must carry workers’ comp insurance.
  • You must meet the deadline for filing workers’ comp claims.

There are, however, exceptions to these requirements that may still make you eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. However, if your employer is denying you benefits, you should contact a qualified San Diego attorney for assistance with your case.

Termination Rights under San Diego, California Employment Law

If you live in an at-will state, or your employment is “at-will,” meaning you can be terminated from your job without notice and without cause. However, even at-will employees have rights when it comes to termination. A violation of those rights can be wrongful termination.

Here are some reasons your termination might be wrongful even if you are an at-will employee:

  • Written promises or contracts
  • Implied promises
  • Violations of public policy
  • Breaches of good faith and fair dealing
  • Workplace retaliation
  • Discrimination
  • Defamation
  • Fraud
  • Whistleblowing violations

Under California’s Labor Code, there is a presumption that San Diego employees are employed “at-will”. However, California courts have found that employer policies sometimes overcome this presumption. For example, this may occur if the San Diego employer has a progressive discipline policy, or if they offer a contract that requires a good cause for termination.

Although California recognizes at-will employment, California is not a right-to-work state. This means that a San Diego employee can be required to join a union as a condition of employment.

If you believe your termination was wrongful due to the above circumstances, then contact an experienced San Diego, CA employment law attorney right away. This is because there are time constraints on how long you can wait to file a claim.

Unemployment Benefits

If you’ve lost your job, you can file for unemployment benefits with the state unemployment agency. The agency will either approve or deny your claim. Then, after approval, you’ll receive monthly unemployment checks and benefits in the mail after filing weekly unemployment claims. Still, unemployment claims can be denied for a number of reasons, including:

  • If you were fired for misconduct.
  • You voluntarily quit your job.
  • You do not have enough earnings during the work period.

If your claim is denied, you can appeal the decision if you think it’s the wrong choice. Work with a qualified San Diego attorney during the appeal process to improve your chances of winning the case.

Paid and Unpaid Time Off

Some states require paid time off as well as medical and family leave for employees. Oftentimes, this is combined into one singular paid time off, (PTO), amount. Laws can vary state-to-state, but typically PTO is accrued over time and you’ll get a set amount of PTO days per year.

Additionally, some states have laws that force the employer to pay for unused PTO. If you are not given proper PTO or your employer doesn’t follow your state’s medical or family leave laws, you can file a complaint.

Under California’s Healthy Workplace Healthy Family Act, certain San Diego employees can earn at least 1 hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked. Specifically, San Diego employees who work for at least 30 days from the beginning of employment are entitled to paid sick leave. Additionally, accrued paid sick leave may be carried over to the next year, but it may be capped at 48 hours, or six days. State employment laws also cover many other kinds of leave in San Diego. In fact, they can cover jury duty, voting, civil air patrol, and domestic violence leave.

Child Labor Laws

Child labor laws are a lot more strict than regular labor laws and require employers to be extra careful when scheduling minors. Each state has its own child labor laws that outline the number of hours a minor can work per week. These include how often they should have breaks, how many days in a row they can work, and how late they can work each night.

California’s Department of Industrial Relations provides a comprehensive guide to state laws governing working minors in San Diego. California’s Labor Laws surrounding minors generally depend on whether school is in session or not. As well, much depends on the age of the minor. For example, San Diego minors aged 12 to 15 may work up to 40 hours per week when school is not in session. In contrast, San Diego minors aged 16 to 17 can work up to 48 hours per week when school is not in session. Additionally, San Diego employers must possess a  Permit to Employ and Work for each minor they employ.

San Diego, California Employment Anti Discrimination Laws

A collection of federal anti-discrimination laws protect workers from employment discrimination. Following are brief descriptions of some of these anti-discrimination acts:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act: Prohibits employers from selecting job applicants and employees based on race, religion, color, sex, and national origin.
  • Age Discrimination Act: Prohibits discrimination based on age for employees over the age of 40 years old.
  • Pregnancy Discrimination Act: Prohibits employers from discriminating based on pregnancy, childbirth, or a related condition.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act: Prohibits employers from discriminating against people with disabilities at any time during the application or hiring process or once the person holds the job.
  • Equal Pay Act: Requires employers to give men and women equal pay for equal work.

Sexual Harassment

If a coworker, employer, or client sexually harasses someone in the workplace; the employee has a set of rights to protect them from further harassment. Laws also offer protection from retaliation, such as getting fired for reporting a manager. If you or someone you know is facing sexual harassment in the workplace, report it to your HR department.

California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act protects San Diego employees from sexual harassment in the workplace. This is because sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination. According to California’s Attorney General, sexual harassment refers to quid pro quo sexual advances. As well, they refer to actions that create an intimidating or offensive work environment.

US News & World Report reported that a San Diego sheriff’s department employee was recently awarded $60,000 by a judge. The employee had sued San Diego County and a former assistant sheriff over sexual harassment allegations.

Work With an Experienced Employment Lawyer in San Diego,  California

If you have employment law concerns, or you’re currently preparing for a case in San Diego, CA then working with an experienced attorney can help. The hard part is finding the right one. We can even help you connect with an attorney across California state lines.

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