Employment law in California is a complex and ever-changing area of the law. There are many misconceptions about what is and is not allowed under California employment law. In this article, we will dispel some of the most common myths about employment law in California.
Myth 1: Employees can be required to sign non-compete agreements.
Non-compete agreements are generally not enforceable in California. California courts have held that non-compete agreements violate an employee’s right to earn a living. If you have been asked to sign a non-compete agreement, you should consult with an experienced employment law attorney to determine whether the agreement is enforceable.
Myth 2: Employees can be required to work overtime without being paid.
Overtime must be paid at 1.5 times the employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 8 in a day or 40 in a week. Some exceptions may apply, such as for highly compensated employees or certain computer professionals. If you are not being paid overtime, you should consult with an experienced employment law attorney to determine whether you are entitled to overtime pay.
Myth 3: Employers can require employees to take drug tests.
Employers in California can require employees to take drug tests if there is a legitimate business reason for doing so. However, the employer must have a policy in place that is applied consistently to all employees. The policy must also state the consequences of failing a drug test. If your company is making you take a drug test but does not have a policy in place, you should consult with an experienced employment law attorney to determine whether the drug test is legal.
Myth 4: Employees can be fired for any reason.
While it is true that employees in California are considered at-will employees, meaning they can be terminated for any reason, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, an employee cannot be fired for a discriminatory reason based on race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, creed, age (40 and over), disability, mental and physical, sex, gender (including pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding or related medical conditions), sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, military or veteran status. Additionally, an employee cannot be fired in retaliation for reporting illegal activity or filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Myth 5: Employees do not have to be paid for time spent on call.
If you are required to be available to work during a certain time period, you must be paid for that time even if you are not actually working. For example, if you are required to be on call from 9pm to 7am, you must be paid for those hours even if you are not called into work.
Some professions and businesses require irregular hours. In a hospital, doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel may be required to work 48 to 72-hour shifts. During that period, they sleep whenever possible, but do not leave the hospital.
Also considered on-call are firefighters who remain at the fire station for multiple days and security officers who remain on-site for several days. These hours are often known as “standby time.” The staff are on-site and ready to work, despite the fact that they may be doing other things or sleeping during a portion of their on-call or standby period.
Now that you know some of the most common myths about employment law in California, you can be sure that you are protected from illegal practices by your employer. If you have any further questions, please consult with our team of experienced employment law attorneys.
The above content is intended to be general information only and should not be taken as legal advice. You should always consult with an experienced employment law attorney to ensure that your rights are protected.
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