Business law varies based on state. Whether you are a current employee or potential job seeker, or you manage a business of your own, you should be aware of the laws of your state. This is important not only in ensuring that you are being treated fairly if you are an employee, but also to ensure you are acting in accordance with the law if you hire individuals to work for your own company. This article will discuss some of the basics of business law as it applies to the state of California.
The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, but the state of California’s minimum wage is $9.00 an hour. There are some municipalities that have exceptions. For example, San Francisco’s minimum wage is $11.05 an hour presently and will increase to $12.25 an hour as of May 2015. Cost of living in certain municipalities is the general reason for this. It’s important to be aware of what you are required to pay employees as an employer, and what you should be paid as an employee.
Providing a Safe Work Environment
Employees have the right to a safe work environment. Employees and employers should be equally aware of this fact. If you are an employer, you should be interested in the safety of your employees not just due to moral obligation, but also due to the fact that a workplace accident, if avoidable, could result in a lawsuit and you could lose your company. It’s important to implement a clear, comprehensive policy on safety and ensure that the policy is being followed at all times. Employees should be aware of the policy and hold their fellow coworkers accountable for following it as well.
If you are an employee who has been injured due to a workplace accident that resulted from safety procedures not being implemented or followed by anyone other than yourself, you may be entitled to compensation through a business lawsuit or class action lawsuit. Even if the injury was due to an accident that is a typical hazard due to the nature of your job, you should be entitled to worker’s compensation.
Workers that are injured on the job in line with their duties and within safety regulations are entitled to medical, rehabilitation wage, and disability benefits if they apply without having to prove any kind of negligent conduct. In the event that a workplace accident results in the death of the employee, the family may be entitled to death benefits.
The federal Family Medical and Leave Act (FMLA) applies to companies that have reached a certain size of employees. It applies to companies employing at least 50 employees and to all public employees. Employees who have worked at least 1250 hours are allowed up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for certain circumstances. Some situations include caring for a newborn child, taking care of a sick relative, or to manage affairs if a family member or loved one has passed.
Companies are prohibited from allowing harassment to exist in any form within the workplace. Harassment is considered to be any kind of verbally or physically offensive behavior directed towards an individual due to their sex, religion, race, disability, or national origin. In California, sexual orientation is also a factor.
The behavior is considered harassment and may end in legal recourse if it is ongoing and pervasive, creating a hostile work environment for the employee. If the employee is fired through no fault of their own following harassment, legal recourse is especially possible for the employee to consider and initiate.
Often times, harassment is not intentional, but the consequences can still be severe. Sexual harassment is a very common type of workplace harassment for which legal recourse is sought. It’s not uncommon for the individual or company being sued for allowing or perpetrating the harassment to have not intended to create a hostile work environment. However, this doesn’t usually affect the outcome of the lawsuit. Ignorance is certainly not bliss in this case.
Similar to harassment, discrimination of any form is not allowed in the workplace. Discrimination should never happen during the hiring process either. The same factors that individuals may use as a basis for harassment that are not permitted additionally may not be used as a basis for selecting some employees while denying others. Selecting management based on race instead of merit is an example of this.
In California, employment is considered to be “at will” unless a written contract states otherwise. “At will” means that an employee can be terminated for any reason or no reason at all, unless discrimination or some form of harassment can be proven in a court of law to play a factor. This is an important consideration potential employees should make. As an employee, you have no guarantees to be employed for any length of time unless you request a contract stating such or one is offered to you by your company.
Breach of Contract
If you are a business working with another company or individual, or if you hire a business to fulfill a contract, you may have the right to sue for breach of contract if the company did not fulfill their end of the contract. California requires that for most cases, the breach of contract resulted in a monetary loss and that the loss was substantial in order for you to be able to sue for a breach of contract and obtain a monetary reward.
Hiring a Business Law Attorney
These are just some of the many business regulations that apply to California, but there are many more factors involved in business law within this state. If you feel your rights have been violated, you may be entitled to compensation. Hiring a professional business lawyer for representation in such a matter is often the best course of action.
WB Law Group is a professional law firm happy to assist you with your business related legal issues. For questions, or to schedule a consultation, contact us today at 559.431.4888 (Fresno) or 619.399.7700 (San Diego).