California employment law protections: Quick reference

Below is a summary of commonly-cited California Labor Code sections.

Labor Code § 96: Employees cannot be discharged because of lawful off duty conduct.

Labor Code § 98.6: No discrimination for Labor Commissioner Complaints.

Labor Code § 98.7: No discrimination for Labor Code Rights Enforcement.

Labor Code § 132a: No discrimination for filing workers’ compensation claims.

Labor Code § 200: “Wages” are defined as including all amounts for labor performed by employees of every description, whether the amount is fixed or ascertained by the standard of time, task, piece, commission basis, or other method of calculation.

Labor Code § 201: Discharged employees are entitled to immediate payment of all wages earned and unpaid at the time of discharge.

Labor Code § 202: Resigning employees are entitled to payment of all wages within 72 hours of notice of intention to quit.

Labor Code § 203: 30 Day Waiting Time Penalty: Provides penalty for failure to timely pay wages upon quitting, termination or layoff. Wages continue to accrue for up to 30 days until the employee is paid, at the rate of pay at the time of quitting, termination or layoff. This provision can apply where there is a dispute about the payment if the refusal to pay is “willful.”

Labor Code § 203.1: 30 Day Waiting Penalty for Bounced Checks. Penalty does not require willfulness on the part of the employer, although the penalty is excused if the violation was unintentional.

Labor Code § 204: Time Period for Payment of Wages. Wages must be paid at least twice monthly on days designated in advance by the employer. Wages earned between the 1st and the 15th of each month must be paid before the 22nd. Wages earned between the 16th and the end of the calendar month must be paid before the 10th of the next month. If a collective bargaining agreement provides a different arrangement, that arrangement governs. Payment of wages on a weekly, bi-weekly or semi-monthly basis is allowable provided the employer does not withhold more than seven days of pay.

Labor Code § 204.3: Compensatory Time Off: In limited circumstances, an employer may compensate employees for overtime with time off at the rate of one and one-half hours per hour worked after 40 per week instead of paying employees at one and one-half their rate of pay.

Labor Code § 206.5: Any release of a claim for unpaid wages shall be void if wages have not actually been paid.

Labor Code § 207: Posting Requirement: Employers must post notices defining the regular payday and the time and place of payment.

Labor Code § 208: Discharged (including laid-off) employees must be paid at the place of discharge. Where an employee quits, the employee has to be paid at the office of the employer in the county where the employee was working.

Labor Code § 209: Striking employees are entitled to all unpaid wages on the next regular payday. Failure to pay on the next regular payday may also be an unfair labor practice under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Enforcement may be preempted by NLRA.

Labor Code § 210: Civil Penalty for Failure to Pay: Failure to pay wages in accordance with §§ 204, 205 and 1197.5 results in a civil penalty of $100 for each initial violation. The penalty for subsequent violations increases to $200 plus 25% of the amount withheld. The Labor Commissioner recovers this penalty and the penalty goes to the State Treasury.

Labor Code § 212: Employers must pay employees in negotiable instruments (checks) or cash. The employer must maintain sufficient funds to cover the check for at least 30 days. Scrip or coupons redeemable in goods or services are not legal forms of payment.

Labor Code § 213: Employer may not require direct deposit into a bank account, but may do so if employee voluntarily authorizes it.

Labor Code § 218: District attorneys have the authority to file Labor Code actions, and any wage claimant is given the authority to sue directly in court for wages or penalties due under various Labor Code sections.

Labor Code § 218.5: The “prevailing party” is entitled to fees and costs incurred in the action, if requested in the pleadings.

Labor Code § 218.6: Interest must be paid in successful actions for unpaid wages.

Labor Code § 221: Employers may not collect or receive any part of wages previously paid, nor may they recoup overpayments.

Labor Code § 222.5: Employers may not require current or prospective employees to pay for medical or physical examinations required for employment.

Labor Code § 223: It is illegal to secretly pay less than required by statute or contract.

Labor Code § 224: Employers may not make wage deductions except where authorized by law.

Labor Code § 225.5: A civil penalty applies to violations of §§ 212, 216, 221, 222 and 223.  The civil penalty is $50 for the first violation and $100 for each subsequent willful violation, plus 25% of the amount unlawfully withheld. The penalty recoverable by Labor Commissioner or on behalf of State Treasury.

Labor Code § 226: Accurate/Itemized Wage Statements: Entitles employees to a written statement of gross wages earned, total hours worked, all deductions, net wages earned, inclusive dates of pay period, name of the employee and social security number and name and address of the employer.

Labor Code § 226.3: There is a penalty for failure to provide accurate itemized wage statements in violation of § 226 or § 226.3. The penalty is $250 per employee for the initial violation and $1,000 per employee per violation thereafter.

Labor Code § 226.7: Protects employees from working during meal and rest periods and entitles workers to one hour’s pay for daily violation of each.

Labor Code § 227.3: Terminated employees are entitled to payment of unused vacation time.

Labor Code § 230: No discrimination for serving on jury or appearing as a witness in a court proceeding.

Labor Code § 230(c): Time off for victims of domestic violence.

Labor Code § 230.2: Employees who are felony victims may attend judicial proceedings, and proceedings involving relatives and domestic partners.

Labor Code § 230.3: Time off for serving as a volunteer firefighter.

Labor Code § 230.8: Employers may not discriminate against employees with K-12 grade children for taking off up to four hours each year per child for school visits.
Labor Code § 231: Any employer requiring a driver’s license for work must pay cost of any physical examination required.

Labor Code § 232: Employers may not require employees to refrain from disclosing amount of wages, or prohibit employees sharing such information.

Labor Code § 232.5: Employers may not require employees to refrain from disclosing working conditions, or prohibit employees sharing such information.

Labor Code § 233: Use of sick leave to attend to illness of child or parent.

Labor Code § 234: No discrimination for using sick leave provided by §233.

Labor Code § 351: Tips/Gratuities: Employers may not take any portion of gratuities left for employees. No deductions is allowed for cost of processing tips left on credit cards.

Labor Code § 407: Illegal Consideration to Secure Employment: Employer cannot condition employment upon investment or purchase of stock in business.

Labor Code § 432: Employees are entitled to a copy of any document that they are required to sign as condition of employment.

Labor Code § 432.2: No polygraph or truth tests as a condition of employment.

Labor Code § 432.5: Employers cannot require applicants or employees to agree to any illegal employment terms or conditions.
Labor Code § 432.7: Employers may not ask employee or applicant about a detention not resulting in a conviction. Employers may not ask about the use or enrollment in any pretrial diversion program. Employers may not use the fact of detention in any employment decision unless it resulted in a conviction.

Labor Code § 432.8: Labor Code § 432.7 also applies to disclosure of certain marijuana arrests and convictions.

Labor Code § 435: It is unlawful for an employer to tape or video record in locker room, restroom or area where employees change their clothes.

Labor Code § 450: Employees cannot be coerced to patronize the employer or other person in the purchase of any item of value. This is also a misdemeanor under Labor Code § 451.

Labor Code § 500: “Workday” and “day” mean any consecutive 24-hour period commencing at the same time each calendar day. “Workweek” and “week” mean any seven consecutive days, starting with the same calendar day each week. “Workweek” is a fixed and regularly recurring period of 168 hours, seven consecutive 24-hour periods. “Alternative workweek schedule” means any regularly scheduled workweek.

Labor Code § 510: Overtime Pay: Work in excess of eight hours in one workday and/or 40 hours in one workweek, and the first eight hours on the seventh day of work in any workweek must be compensated at no less than one and one-half times the employee’s regular rate of compensation. “Double time” is required after twelve hours in any workday, after eight hours on the seventh day of work. Exemptions provided for certain employees who satisfy multi-part test.

Labor Code § 511: Alternative Workweek: Employers may adopt a four-day ten-hour regular workweek without paying daily overtime. Two-thirds of the employee population must vote in favor in a secret ballot election. Employer must make reasonable effort to accommodate those who cannot work more than eight hours per day. Employers must file results of elections with Labor Commissioner. Strict rules regarding elections established by the IWC.

Labor Code § 511(c): No reduction of pay level due to alternative workweek.

Labor Code § 512: Employers must provide a meal period of at least 30 minutes if the employee works more than five hours. Meal periods may be waived by mutual agreement if work period is less than six hours. Second meal period is required after 10 hours of work unless the work period is less than 12 hours, in which case the meal period may be waived by mutual agreement of employer and employee. Cannot waive both meal periods.

Labor Code § 513: Makeup Time: Employers may approve the written request of employee to make up lost time at the straight time rate, provided the request is not solicited by the employer and provided employee does not work more than 11 hours in any workday or 40 hours in the work week.

Labor Code § 514: CBA Exemption from Code § 510 and 511: Sections 510 and 511 inapplicable to employees covered by valid collective bargaining agreement if CBA provides premium wage rates for all overtime hours worked and a regularly hourly rate of pay at least 30 percent more than the state minimum wage.

Labor Code §§ 551/552: Day of Rest, One Day in Seven: No employer may require employees to work more than six days in seven. Misdemeanor under Labor Code § 553.
Labor Code § 558: Section 510-552 Penalties: The first violation of §§ 510-552 triggers $50 penalty per employee for each pay period. For each subsequent violation, penalty rises to $100 per pay period.

Labor Code § 921: Employers cannot interfere with employee decisions regarding union participation or support. Misdemeanor under Labor Code § 922.

Labor Code § 970: It is illegal to induce employee to move from one location to another whether in the state or outside the state by misrepresenting the kind, character, length of work, housing conditions of work or the existence or non-existence of labor dispute.
Labor Code § 973: Employers must include notice in any advertisement if strike, lockout or trade dispute exists.

Labor Code § 1025: Reasonable accommodation required for employees voluntarily entering drug or alcohol rehabilitation programs.

Labor Code § 1026: Employer must protect privacy of an employee who has entered into a drug or alcohol rehabilitation program.

Labor Code § 1030: Lactation accommodation.

Labor Code § 1041: Reasonable accommodation for illiterate employees.

Labor Code § 1050: Employers cannot interfere with reemployment of employee via misrepresentation.

Labor Code § 1051: It is illegal to require applicant or employee to be fingerprinted or photographed where employer intends to give fingerprints or photographs to third person to possible detriment of employee.
Labor Code § 1054: Treble Damages: Treble damages are available for violations of §§ 1050-1052.

Labor Code §§ 1060, et seq.: Displaced Janitor Opportunity Act: Certain successor employers must hire janitors of predecessor employers and retain them for 60 days.

Labor Code §§ 1101: No Rules Interfering with Employee Political Activity: No employer may adopt or enforce any rule/policy interfering with employees’ political activities.

Labor Code § 1102: No Coercion Regarding Employee Political Activity: No employer may influence or coerce employees in relation to their political activities.

Labor Code § 1102.5: Whistleblower Retaliation: Cannot retaliate or enforce rules that prohibit employees from providing information to state or federal agencies where the employee has reasonable cause to believe that information discloses a violation of law, or discloses non-compliance with such a rule. Penalty is up to $10,000 for violation.

Labor Code § 1127: Successor Clause Enforceable Where NLRA Inapplicable: If the National Labor Relations Act does not apply to employer, a successor clause renders CBA enforceable against successor until its expiration or for three years, whichever comes first.

Labor Code §§ 1130 and 1136.2: No Use of Professional Strikebreakers: Unlawful to use professional strikebreaker (i.e., person who has been hired twice before during the course of a lockout/strike and who worked the duration of the strike for the purpose of replacing locked-out or striking employees). May be preempted by NLRA.

Labor Code § 1174: Employers Must Maintain and Disclose Records to DLSE: Employers required to furnish to DLSE, upon request, information needed by Labor Commission to enforce Chapter an allow employees of Commission/DLSE access to the place of business to conduct investigations. Employers shall also keep name and address records of all employees and ages of minors, in particular format and including particular information as set forth in statute, for at least two years.

Labor Code § 1186: Pharmacists Not Exempt “Professionals”: A pharmacist is not exempt from of IWC Wage Order overtime requirements unless an administrative or executive employee. “Professional” employee exemption inapplicable.

Labor Code § 1191: Special License for Handicapped Workers: For any occupation in which a minimum wage has been established, Labor Commission may issue to an employee who is mentally or physically handicapped, or both, a special license authorizing the employment of the licensee for a period not to exceed one year from date of issue, at a wage less than the legal minimum wage. The commission shall fix a special minimum wage for the licensee. Such license may be renewed on a yearly basis.

Labor Code § 1191.5: Special License to Nonprofit Organization: Notwithstanding the provisions of § 1191, Labor Commission may issue a special license to a nonprofit organization to permit the employment of employees who have been determined to meet the requirements in § 1191 without requiring individual licenses of such employees. The commission shall fix a special minimum wage for such employees. Such license may be renewed on a yearly basis.

Labor Code § 1194.2: Liquidated Damages for Failure to Pay Minimum Wages: Liquidated damages in an amount equal to unpaid wages recoverable in an action to collect minimum wages.

Labor Code § 1197.1: Civil Penalty for Minimum Wage Violation: A civil penalty of $100 per pay period, per employee, recoverable where employees are not paid minimum wage. Civil penalty rises to $250 per pay period, per employee, for subsequent violations.

Labor Code § 1197.5: Equal Pay Act: Employers may not discriminate in wages due to gender.

Labor Code § 1198.3: Refusal to Work Hours in Excess of Time Permitted by IWC Order: No employer shall discriminate against an employee for refusing to work time in excess of the hours permitted under an Industrial Welfare Commission Order.

Labor Code § 1198.5: Employee May Inspect Personnel Records: With certain exceptions, employers must make personnel records available at work for employees to inspect at reasonable times.

Labor Code § 1199: Penal Liability for Wage Violations: Employers, persons, officers, agents, or other employees are guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to a fine of at least $100 for (1) requiring or causing any employee to work for longer hours than those fixed, or under labor conditions prohibited by a Labor Commissioner Order, (b) paying or causing to be paid a sub-minimum wage, (c) violating, refusing or neglecting to comply with any provision of the particular Labor Code chapter or any order or ruling of the Commission.

Labor Code §§ 1285, et seq.: Restrictions on Employment of Minors: Substantial restrictions on the employment of minors under sixteen year of age; less severe restrictions exist regarding employment of minors under eighteen and over sixteen years of age.

Labor Code §§ 1400-1408: State WARN Act: Notification required before mass layoff, relocation or termination. Similar to Federal WARN Act but broader in some respects (e.g., covers employer with 75 employees and where layoff affects 50 or more employees).

Labor Code §§ 1682-1699: Restrictions on Farm Labor Contractors: Farm Labor Contractors must register with the Labor Commissioner; sections provide various safeguards.

Labor Code §§ 1700-1701: Talent Agencies Subject to Regulation: Imposes restrictions on talent agencies.

Labor Code §§ 1720, et seq.: “Public Works” and Related Terms Defined)

Labor Code § 1777.6: Discrimination on Public Works Projects: Contractors on public works projects may not discriminate on the bases listed in the Fair Employment and Housing Act (i.e., race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical and mental disability, medical condition, marital status and/or sex).

Labor Code § 1810 and § 1811: Eight-Hour Day for Public Sector Labor: Most work performed under public contract or authority of State or municipal corporations is limited to eight hours per day and forty hours per week.

Labor Code § 1812: Record of Public Work Hours: Accurate record of name of and daily and weekly hours of workers required for public work and be reasonably available for inspection. Misdemeanor under § 1814.

Labor Code § 1813: Penalty for Public Work Overtime: $25 penalty available for public work beyond eight hours per day or 40 hours per week.

Labor Code § 1815: Overtime Pay for Public Work: Overtime for public works employees due and calculated at one and one-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay.

Labor Code § 2350: Effluvia- and Other-Nuisance Free Workplaces; Toilets: Employers must provide workplace free of effluvia and other nuisances arising from drains. Sufficient number of separate bathrooms for each sex required. Violation is misdemeanor under § 2354.

Labor Code § 2351: Sufficient Workplace Ventilation: Employers must provide sufficiently ventilated workplaces. Violation is misdemeanor under § 2354.

Labor Code § 2353: Workplace Exhaust Fans or Blowers: Workplaces producing dust, filaments or injurious gases must have exhaust fans or blowers. Violation is misdemeanor under § 2354.

Labor Code § 2441: Workplace Drinking Water: Employers must provide fresh, free and pure drinking water.

Labor Code §§ 2650-2667: Industrial “Homework” Defined and Regulated: No industrial homework permitted in various industries, including the manufacture of food items and garments. Licenses required for other industrial homework.

Labor Code § 2670: Garment Industry Penalty Statement of Intent: Criminal and civil sanctions imposed by this part of Labor Code augment other available penalties.

Labor Code § 2673: Record of Work in Garment Industry: Employers must maintain accurate records of persons and work details for a period of three years.

Labor Code § 2673.1: Garment Industry Pay Regulations and Claims: Overtime and minimum wage regulations provided for garment industry workers; claims procedures detailed.

Labor Code §§ 2698-2699.5: Private Attorneys General Act of 2004: Aggrieved employees may bring actions otherwise available to the Labor and Workforce Development Agency or its departments, etc. Action may be brought on behalf of other current or former employees pursuant to the procedures specified in § 2699.3. Discusses notice requirements, enforcement and penalties available.

Labor Code § 2800: Employer Indemnity of Employees for Losses: Employer shall indemnify employee for losses caused by the employer’s want of ordinary care.

Labor Code § 2800.1: Employer Must Safeguard Musical Instruments: Employer who fails to take reasonable precautions to safeguard musical instrument liable to employee for instrument’s loss or damage.

Labor Code § 2802: Indemnification by Employer of Losses or Expenses Incurred by Employee: Employer must indemnify employee for all losses or expenses suffered as a direct consequence of employee’s work duties or at the direction of employer. Attorneys’ fees available in successful employee suit.

Labor Code § 2922: “At Will” Employment: Employment without specified term may be terminated at the will of either party on notice to the other.

Labor Code § 2926: Pre-Dismissal Compensation for “At Will” Employees: At will employees entitled to wages for all work performed prior to dismissal.

Labor Code § 2927: Pre-Resignation Compensation for “At Will” Employees: At will employees entitled to wages for all work performed prior to voluntary resignation.

Labor Code § 2928: Tardiness Deductions Must Be Proportionate: Employer may deduct for tardiness in amount proportionate to time missed; employer may deduct one half hour of pay for tardiness of less than 30 minutes.

Labor Code § 2929: Discharge for Wage Garnishments: Employee shall not be discharged for garnishment or threat of garnishment of wages.

Labor Code § 2930: Shopping Investigator’s Report: Employee cannot be discharged, based upon a shopping investigator’s report, until the employee has been shown the report.

Labor Code §§ 3200, et seq.: Workers’ Compensation: Establishes system of workers’ compensation for work-related claims of injuries and Illnesses. Recognizes collective bargaining agreements that meet particular criteria as an independent alternative dispute resolution mechanism.

Labor Code § 3602: Workers’ Compensation Exclusivity and Exceptions: Provides exceptions (e.g., employer’s physical assault, fraudulent concealment of existence of injury by employer, where employer is also manufacturer of product causing injury) to the exclusive remedy of the Workers’ compensation system established by statute.

Labor Code § 3751: No Employee Payment of Workers’ Compensation Costs: Employees cannot be forced to pay any costs of workers’ compensation coverage; no reduction of wages or participation in profit sharing to offset workers compensation costs.

Labor Code § 3852: Civil Suits Against Third Parties for Workplace Injury/Illness: Injured workers may sue third parties who are not their employers for damages independent of workers compensation remedies.

Labor Code §§ 6300, et seq.: California Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1973: Cal. OSHA enacted to assure safe and healthful working conditions.

Labor Code § 6310: Safety or Health Complaints: No employment discrimination for complaining or testifying concerning workplace safety or health concerns, or participating on safety committees.

Labor Code § 6311: Refusal to Work in Unsafe Conditions: Employees may not be discharged for refusing to work in conditions violating any occupational safety or health standard.

Labor Code §§ 6360, et seq.: Hazardous Substances Information and Training Act: Employers must provide information (e.g., Material Safety Data Sheets) to employees regarding hazardous substances present in the workplace.

Labor Code § 6399.7: Hazardous Substances Information and Training Act Complaints: No employment discrimination for complaining or testifying concerning alleged violations of the Hazardous Substances Information and Training Act.

Labor Code § 6401: Employer Must Provide Safety Devices: All devices required for safe and healthful work environment must be supplied by employer.

Labor Code § 6404.5: Smoking Restrictions in Workplace: Prohibits smoking in all enclosed places of employment; includes workplace areas where no labor is performed.

Labor Code § 6408: Posting of OSHA Information: Employers must post information regarding protections and obligations of employees under occupational safety and health laws.

Labor Code § 6409.1: Injury/Illness Reporting by Employer: Requires employers to file reports of occupational injuries/illnesses resulting in lost time beyond date of injury/illness, or which requires medical treatment beyond first aid.

Labor Code §§ 7950, et seq.: Tunnel and Mine Safety Act: Specific safety procedures and protections apply to mining and tunneling work.

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