Employment law varies based on state, with each state having its own unique set of laws that apply to its employers that employees would be empowered to familiarize themselves with. Surprisingly, while employment is clearly one of the most important and common things an individual will be involved with, there are a surprising number of job seeking potential employees and even current job holders who are completely unaware of their rights in applying for employment, during employment, and in the unfortunate event of termination. Below are some of these rights in detail as they apply in California, which you may or may not already be familiar with.

employment law

Rights While Applying for Work

With unemployment rates as high as they are, there are tons of out of work individuals in California seeking employment. Shockingly, several of these individuals are not familiar with their rights as they seek employment. Many of them may be having their rights violated without even knowing it.

A good example lies in the questions potential employers are allowed to ask of applicants versus those they are not permitted to ask. For example, an employee must not be asked their age, sexual orientation, marital status, familial relations, religious affiliation, if they have disabilities, or if they are pregnant. Furthermore, potential employers are not permitted to make reference to any of these characteristics in advertisements for the hiring position as a prerequisite for employment.

Violation of this law either in asking questions that are prohibited or displaying inappropriate job prerequisites in advertisements or media for the position could leave the potential employer open to liability.

It’s also important to note that due to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), employers are required to notify you if they intend to request and review a copy of your credit report as a basis of employment. If an employer requests a copy of your credit report without your consent at any time, you may have potential rights in filing for a lawsuit against the company.

Rights as a Current Employee

In the state of California, employees who are not offered a written contract or letter of employment may be terminated “at will”.  Generally, employees are considered “at will” as this written contract isn’t usually entered unless requested by the employee or offered by the company for a special position. However, it is important to know as an employee of a company where your salary is your lifeline that without a written contract or letter of employment, you are considered to be “at will” and may be released for any reason or no reason at all. It’s the potential employee’s responsibility to request such a contract if they wish to have any guarantees in terms of how their employment may be terminated.

Even if you are an “at will” employee, there are still certain rights you are required to be given as an employee by your employer. Some basic examples are following the requirements in paying the minimum wage, and overtime pay if your specific industry does not provide certain exceptions under law. Additionally, an employee is required to be given a minimum thirty minute lunch period following five hours of continuous work. During this time, the employer is not permitted to require any work be done, have any control over their, nor can they discourage or impede the employee from taking a break in any way. Finally, if the employee is to work more than ten hours continuously, a second break of thirty minutes or more must be provided. Ten minute rest breaks are also required periodically for shifts at or exceeding three and a half hours.

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) are among the most litigated of all employment law cases. They apply to all employers with fifty or more employees and require that time off be provided for personal illness, attending to illness with a family member, and when related to the birth or adoption of a child. If you feel your rights have been violated in this regard, you should consider reviewing the FMLA and CFRA in full and may want to consider speaking with an attorney.

Rights in the Event of Termination

The most common mistake employees make is not following logical, consistent policies in all situations regarding employee termination. In other words, if several employees make the same mistake and one employee is fired for the error, the same should be true for the rest of the employees. Even in the majority of cases where employees are considered “at will”, it is still required that the employer follows consistent policies in the employees they choose to terminate and in those they choose to retain.

The most important thing to understand about your rights in a potential termination situation is that your employer has no right to make a decision of termination on the basis of discrimination. The same prohibited prerequisites for employment as mentioned previously in this article may not be used against you as a basis for termination.

As an employee of a company, it is important to know and exercise your rights. If you feel your rights have been violated, it’s important that you consider hiring an attorney as you may be owed compensation.


In conclusion, knowing your rights as a job seeker, current employee, or while being terminated is essential in ensuring that they are not being violated and that you are getting fair treatment. If you truly feel that your rights are being violated, it’s important that you consult with an attorney to consider the best course of action. Whether you are prevented from applying for a job unjustly or fired based upon discrimination, you may have the potential to file a lawsuit against your company for fair compensation. Regardless of the situation when it comes to employment law, if your rights are violated, you need representation.

The attorneys at Webb & Bordson Law Group have years of experience in employment law and are happy to serve you in answering your questions and concerns. Call the WB Law Group at (619) 399-7700 (San Diego) or (559) 431-4888 (Fresno). You can also send an email to Office@WebbLawGroup.com for more information.

Take charge of your rights as an employee. Contact WB Law Group today!

Employment Attorney San Deigo