In this article, we’ll discuss the rights that every employee in California has regardless of your position or length of time employed. Over the 30 plus years that we’ve been working with employees, we have helped people learn and vindicate their most basic rights at work.

Protected Activities & Rights at Work

  • Keeping copies of signed documents – When getting hired for a job, you are typically told to sign paperwork. This paperwork usually includes arbitration clauses and confidentiality agreements. It is a good idea to get a copy of every paper you sign so if problems arise down the road, you are clear about what their expectations are, and you can better evaluate how you will handle disputes.
  • Having a copy of the employee manual – In most cases, an employer will require you to know everything that is listed in your employee manual. If that is the case, you are entitled to have your own copy whether it is a hard copy or online manual.
  • Discussing working conditions – It is your right as an employee to report unfair or unsafe working conditions. If you have concerns about safety conditions or believe certain policies are unfair you have every right to discuss those issue with your colleagues and direct supervisor. If you have been prohibited to do so, there is a chance that your employer is breaking the law.
  • Discussing Pay & Wages – While it’s often an unwritten rule that you’re not supposed to discuss your pay with your co-workers, it’s actually a right protected under the National Labor Relations Act, enacted in 1935. This means that private-sector employees have the right to engage in “concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.” This basically means that conversations involving salary & compensation packages are fair game for discussion.
  • Receiving overtime pay after 40 hours of work – As an hourly employee in the state of California, you must be paid time and a half for any hours worked over eight hours a day or forty hours  in one week. Employers will sometimes try to classify certain employees as salaried in order to get around paying overtime. By, classifying an employee as “salaried”, the employee may end up working over 40 hours while off duty and without overtime pay.

While we’ve discussed the rights all employees have, this does not mean that employees have the right to do whatever they want at work. There are many times that employees will engage in activities at work thinking they have the right to, but can ultimately lead to legitimate trouble with their employer. Knowing what you aren’t protected from is as critical as understanding the rights you do have at work.

Non-Protected Activities at Work

  • Arguments with a co-worker – You would think that getting into an argument with a co-worker may not have anything to do with your employer, but at the end of the day you are being paid to do a job. Whether talking about politics, immigration, education, or any other topic, disruptive arguments that impede work flow or negatively impact co-workers should not be occurring in the workplace.
  • Complaining about your job – Discussing dangerous or unfair working conditions is your right. However, publicly complaining about your job, customers, co-workers or management at work can get your fired. You always have a right to free speech, but your employer doesn’t have to keep you employed if they feel you are bringing down morale of coworkers or are negative about your job or your employer.  Do not post anything negative about your job on social media.  And if you have a legitimate complaint, consult your employee handbook and put that complaint in writing through the proper channels.

If you feel your rights have been violated or serious concerns arise at work, make sure to contact an experienced employment attorney for help. As an employee, you have rights and at V. James DeSimone Law, we work diligently on behalf of clients whose workplace rights have been violated. Call us today for a consultation at 310-693-5561.