Vincent W Davis

Hiring Laws in California

Hiring Laws and other Basic Laws Afforded California Employees

Department of Labor - United States of AmericaState and Federal laws protect workers throughout the employment process from hiring to layoff or termination. If you are an employee in California, you have some basic protections from Hiring Laws to basic expectations in the workplace to leaving, being laid off or fired.

The Typical Hiring Experience

Most people search for job opportunities on the Internet or through services that cater to specific job sectors or professions. Employers are free to hire whomever they wish but by law, they cannot deny employment to people based on specific factors such as gender, race, national origin, religious beliefs or disabilities if the disabled person could perform the job.

Verbal or Written Interview Questions

When prospective employees are interviewed, they may be subjected to a series of verbal or written questions so the prospective employer can get a sense of the skills that each candidate might bring to the position offered. Questions may be vague or general allowing the job applicant to offer any response they feel may demonstrate their skill sets. That said, it is unlawful to ask prospective employees about certain subjects, such as sexual orientation, marital status, children, or about criminal history (in some cases). Moreover, as of 2012, employers cannot run and use credit reports for the purpose of qualifying applicants for most general jobs not specifically set aside where it is legitimate for credit and other background checks.

Minimum Wage Law

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour but in California, as of 01-01-2013, the minimum wage $8.00. Some specific cities (such as San Francisco have minimum wage rates set at $10.55). Employees who work in the service and hospitality industries where “tips” are traditional must also be paid the minimum wage and employers cannot take “share” in any portion of their tips. There are some minor exceptions, such as a service employee who also has some supervisory responsibilities, but is part of the wait staff team. Such a recent case was where a Starbucks employee (who had some supervisory authority) was still part of the team and was able to receive an equal portion of the patrons tips left in the community “tip jar.”

Overtime Law

California employees who work more than 8-hours in one day or over 40-hours in a workweek and the first 8-hours on the 7th day in any one workweek are entitled to be paid at one and one-half times the regular rate of pay. California employees are entitled to two times the rate of pay if they work more than 12-hours in one day or more than 8-hours on a 7th workday.

Safe Working Environment

California and and federal laws mandate that employers must provide a safe and hazard-free working environment for their employees. These laws also have provisions that will protect workers from “retaliation” should they raise concerns within the organization or take their concerns to an outside agency or firm out of concerns for health and safety issues. Reporting unsafe workplace conditions should not result on the employee being disciplined, demoted or fired by their employers.

Worker’s Compensation Law

Employees who are injured on the job in the course of their duties are entitled to medical, rehabilitation, wage, and disability benefits without having any burden of proof such as prove negligent conduct the employer, or co-workers. The surviving family of an employee who is fatally injured may be able to receive predetermined death benefits.

Family Leave Regulations

Covered employees – The rules and regulations of the federal program known as the Family Medical and Leave Act (FMLA) apply to employees in companies with at least 50 employees and to all public employees. Employees who have worked a minimum of 1,250-hours in the past year are able to take up to 12-workweeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period for:

  • the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth;
  • the placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement;
  • to care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition;
  • a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job;
  • any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a covered military member on “covered active duty;”

The same employee can take 26-workweeks of unpaid leave during a single 12-month period to:

  • care for a covered U.S. servicemember with a serious injury or illness if the eligible employee is the servicemember’s spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin (military caregiver leave).

Workplace Harassment – Sexual Harassment

Federal laws also protect employees form workplace harassment that is defined as “any type of verbal or physical offensive behavior directed toward a person because of their sex, religion, race, national origin, or disability.” California law includes harassment of “sexual orientation.”

Off-color, demeaning, cruel comments or jokes, leering,, displays of pornography or offensive drawings or emails, unwelcome touching or fondling is considered unlawful harassment and/or sexual harassment. Harassment often can references a person’s gender, race, ethnicity, religion, religious clothing or hair style, or disability.

To be actionable the harassment or discriminatory behavior must be ongoing and pervasive and therefore creates a hostile working environment.
Learn more about sexual harassment in the workplace.

Being Fired

A work contract that does not specify a precise duration is considered an “at will” contract which means that an employer can fire a worker for any reason —or no reason at all— and without any warning notice so long as the firing is not for a discriminatory reason including age, race or ethnicity, religious preferences, pregnancy, following a work-related injury or illness, or as a result of harassment.

Vacation Time – Is “Use It or Lose It” Legal?

In California, it is unlawful for a company to require you to take paid vacation time or to forfeit it. If you leave your employment or are terminated, California law requires that employers are to pay the employee for any unused vacation time.

Post-Employment – Unemployment Insurance

Unemployment insurance – Employees who are eligible for unemployment insurance are those persons who earned at least $1,300 in the highest quarter of the base period or at least $900 in the highest quarter and earned total base period earnings at least 1.25 times the high quarter earnings. Moreover, to qualify for unemployment benefits, you must have lost your job through no fault of your own, be physically able to work, prove that you are actively and continuously seeking new work, and ready to accept employment if offered.

Contact a California Labor Law Attorney

The above overview is but a brief outline to complex state and federal employment laws. If you find yourself with an employment issue or it is always best to contact a knowledgeable and experienced California employment lawyer for an assessment of your unique situation. Most employment issues can be preliminarily discussed by phone, and then if it is necessary to visit one of our attorneys in person, we have several conveniently-located offices in and around the Southern California counties and cities including, but not limited to:

  • Los Angeles
  • Los Angeles County
  • Orange County
  • Riverside County
  • San Bernardino County
  • Santa Ana</li
  • Beverly Hills
  • Anaheim
  • Irvine
  • Long Beach
  • Pasadena
  • And more…

Arcadia Office
150 N. Santa Anita Ave,
Suite 200
Arcadia, CA 91006
Phone: (626) 446-6442
Fax: (626)-446-6454


Beverly Hills Office
9465 Wilshire Blvd.
Suite 300
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
Phone: (310)-880-5733


La Mirada Office
Cerritos Towne Center
17777 Center Court Drive ,
Suite 600
Cerritos, California, 90703
Phone: 888-888-6542


Los Angeles Office
Gas Company Tower
555 West Fifth Street,
31st Floor
Los Angeles, California, 90013
Phone: (213)-400-4132


Long Beach Office
Landmark Square
111 West Ocean Blvd.,
Suite 400
Long beach, California, 90802


Irvine Office
Oracle Tower
17901 Von Karman Avenue,
Suite 600
Irvine, California, 92614
Phone: (949)-203-3971
Fax: (949)-203-3972


Ontario Office
Lakeshore Center
3281 E. Guasti Road,
7th Floor
City of Ontario, California, 91761
Phone:(909)-996-5644


Riverside Office
Turner Riverwalk
11801 Pierce Street,
Suite 200
Riverside, California, 92505
Phone: (909)-996-5644


San Diego
Emerald Plaza
402 West Broadway,
Suite #400
San Diego, California, 92101
Phone: (619)-885-2070


Aliso Viejo
Ladera Corporate Terrace
999 Corporate Drive,
Suite 100
Ladera Ranch, California, 92694
Phone: (714) 721-3822