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Santa Barbara Employment Law Blog

Were you retaliated against and lost your job?

Workers in California have specific rights that protect them from getting fired or being punished for asserting certain rights against discrimination or unsafe conditions. If you lost your job because you stood up to your employer, or your work conditions have changed as a result, you can take legal action.

What is retaliation? The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission discusses activities that are considered to be retaliation against the employee. It occurs when an employer takes negative action against an employee who took part in certain protected activities. An employer may not retaliate against someone who:

  • Participated in an harassment investigation
  • Filed an EEOC or OSHA complaint
  • Resisted sexual moves or harassment
  • Requested information potentially related to discriminatory pay
  • Refused to discriminate against others
  • Requested a religious or disability-related accommodation

Wrongful termination during a pregnancy

When someone loses their position in a way which violates employment law, they may struggle to move forward in life, regardless of their circumstances. From financial problems to a shattered career, this is a matter that must be taken seriously. For some people, however, wrongful termination can be especially challenging. Consider someone who is pregnant and finds out that their job has been brought to an end as a result of their pregnancy, even though they are fully qualified to carry out their job duties. This is just one example of the challenges some people face in the workplace.

Perhaps you are pregnant and have recently been fired illegally, in which case our law office knows how hard daily life may be for you. Setting aside the negative emotions that can come with wrongful termination (anger, depression, and anxiety), you may be facing real financial problems and you could be worried about your ability to provide for your child and family in the future. Sadly, many people have found themselves in this tough position and those who break the law by firing someone due to their pregnancy, or any other illegal factor, must not be let off the hook.

A deeper look into denied overtime

We have given various examples of employee rights violations, but wage violations can be especially tough for many workers. Whether someone is living from one paycheck to another and struggling to make ends meet or a hard-working employee cannot pay the child support they owe, each worker's situation is different. Unfortunately, many workers are taken advantage of and in this post, we will analyze some of the ways in which denied overtime occurs.

The unlawful denial of overtime pay may be accidental or intentional. Whether an employer mistakenly overlooks the fact that one of their workers was entitled to overtime pay, or they deliberately refuse to provide someone with overtime, employers should not be allowed to get away with this behavior. Some may take advantage of workers who do not know that they are entitled to overtime pay or an employer may change a worker's record and claim that they worked fewer hours than they actually did. Either way, this behavior is unacceptable and remains too prevalent in work spaces across the U.S. Some employers ask employees to stay late and work off of the clock, since they would be entitled to overtime if their work was logged.

Are labor laws different for minors?

If minors want to work in California, there are federal and state rules that regulate how many hours they can work, school attendance, restricted occupations and wages. Employers who do not follow these laws are subject to civil and criminal penalties.

According to the Department of Labor, a minor is considered to be anyone under the age of 18. The Fair Labor Standards Act outlines certain jobs that minors may not work, and these include ones that pose hazardous risks. Some of these jobs include the operation of a vehicle or powered equipment, excavating, mining and making explosives. 

Age discrimination and your right to work

As an aging individual, you look forward to the days when you can retire and fall back on your retirement and savings to keep you satisfied and comfortable. One thing that you're concerned about is the potential for age discrimination, which could hurt your chances of getting the retirement you want or working as long as you'd like.

Age discrimination protection usually covers those ages 40 and older. The goal is to prevent these individuals from being harassed because of their age.

How do you pay bills if you lost your job?

Most workers in California depend on their paychecks to pay for living expenses and other bills. Many workers are considered to be at-will employees, which means they can be terminated for any reason at any time. If you have lost your job, and you were not at fault for the termination, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits. This money is available for a certain amount of time to help you stay afloat while you look for different employment.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, participants can collect unemployment compensation for up to 26 weeks in California. While the dollar amount is less than what workers received as employees, it is helpful during the job-search process.

Is my employer required to give me breaks?

Employers in California are required by law to give their employees breaks, the quantity and length determined by the number of hours they are on duty. These laws apply to nonexempt employees only. If workers are not being given these breaks, the employer is required to compensate them monetarily.

According to the Department of Labor, employees who work five hours are to be given a half-hour break for a meal. If the employee is only working six hours in a shift, he or she may waive the break, as long as the employer agrees. Workers who are on duty for 10 hours must be given a second half-hour break, which can be waived if the total amount of working hours is no more than 12 hours and the first break was not waived.

What constitutes religious discrimination?

Workers in California have a number of rights and protections under federal law. One is that they are protected against discrimination and harassment because of their religious beliefs and practices. Employees should be aware of what constitutes discrimination so they can take action if they conclude they are a victim.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, an employee's religious belief or status cannot affect terms of employment or firing or hiring status. It is also illegal to assign the employee to a position because of perceived customer predilections. The law also requires employers to give employees accommodations as they relate to their specific religions. This may include:

  • Exceptions to uniform or dress rules
  • Flexible scheduling
  • Voluntary shift swaps
  • Job reassignments such as lateral transfers
  • Designation of private work location for religious practice

Can my employer fire me for an OSHA complaint?

Employees in California are protected from unsafe work environments by both state and federal laws. If an employer takes action against an employee who reports unsafe conditions, the employee has the right to fight back.

According to FindLaw, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration sets up policies to protect workers from illnesses, hazards and injuries that can occur in the workplace. If an employee notices a safety hazard, the first step should be to inform the employer so he or she can take appropriate action to fix it. If the employer does not take steps to remedy the issue, or if the hazard presents imminent danger, the worker has the right to decline work until conditions are safe. 

You have a right to payment as an employee

As an employee who has been with your company for over a decade, you expect to receive pay on time and accurately. If you receive a check that isn't the right amount or don't receive a paycheck on time, it's important to speak up immediately.

There are regulations in place to prevent employers from cheating their employees out of money. For instance, requirements normally state how frequently employees receive payments from employers. If an employer doesn't provide a timely payment, then the employee has a right to complain and seek compensation.


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Santa Barbara, CA 93103

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