California is known for its employee-friendly laws, which provide a higher level of protection and benefits to workers than many other states. As a result, it is important for employers and employees alike to be familiar with California’s employment laws and how they may be impacted by recent court cases.
The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), which bans discrimination and harassment at work, is an important California employment law. The FEHA protects workers based on their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and other protected characteristics. It applies to employers with five or more workers. In addition, California’s laws also provide protection for employees who take time off for pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition, as well as for those who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) is another important California employment law. It gives eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year for the birth or adoption of a child, to care for a family member with a serious health condition, or to deal with certain qualifying exigencies caused by the covered active duty of an employee’s spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent in the U.S. Armed Forces. CFRA says that employers must follow the rules if they have at least 50 workers within 75 miles of their workplace.
California also has its own wage and hour laws, which set a higher minimum wage and stricter rules for overtime pay than the federal government. Employers must also provide certain meal and rest breaks and keep accurate records of employee hours.
In addition to state laws, federal laws like the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) also protect California employees.
California’s employment law has also changed a lot because of recent court cases. In the important case Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court, the California Supreme Court set a new standard for deciding whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee. Businesses find it harder to classify workers as independent contractors because of the court’s decision. This has led to more wage and hour claims. This case also led to the passing of California Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5), which makes the Dynamex decision official and applies the new standard to different state labor and employment laws.
Another recent case, Walmart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, which was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, limited the scope of class action lawsuits under the federal Equal Pay Act. The case involved a class action lawsuit brought by female Walmart employees who alleged that the company had engaged in a pattern of pay discrimination. The Supreme Court’s decision made it more difficult for employees to bring class action lawsuits under the Equal Pay Act and could have a significant impact on employment discrimination cases in California and throughout the country.
Additionally, in the recent case of Harris v. Lyft, the court of appeals of California held that Lyft drivers are to be considered employees and not independent contractors, and this could mean that the drivers would be entitled to the benefits and protections provided by California’s labor laws.
In the end, California’s employment laws give workers a lot of protection and benefits, and recent court cases have made these laws even clearer and stronger. Employers must stay informed about these laws and court decisions in order to ensure compliance and avoid liability for employment law violations. On the other hand, employees should also be aware of their rights under California’s employment laws and seek legal advice if they believe their rights have been violated.