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Community Legal Information Clinic

Workers' Right Program

The Workers’ Rights Program provides free legal information to clients’ regarding their legal rights and responsibilities related to their employment. Typical questions from employees include: worker’s compensation, sexual harassment in the workplace, wrongful termination, discrimination, at-will employment, wage claims, immigration, and wage and hour issues. 

DIsclaimer
The Community Legal Information Clinic (CLIC) is an undergraduate law clinic comprised of paralegal interns only.  WE ARE NOT ATTTORNEYS AND CANNOT PROVIDE YOU LEGAL ADVICE NOR LEGAL REPRESENTATION.  We are paralegal interns and provide legal information only. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What happens to my earned and accrued but unused vacation if I am discharged or quit my job?
According to the California Labor Commissioner’s Office, under California law, unless otherwise stipulated by a collective bargaining agreement(opens in new window), whenever the employment relationship ends, for any reason whatsoever, and the employee has not used all of his or her earned and accrued vacation, the employer must pay the employee at his or her final rate of pay for all of his or her earned and accrued and unusedvacation days. California Labor Code Section 227.3.(opens in new window)Because paid vacation benefits are considered wages, such pay must be included in the employee's final paycheck. https://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/FAQ_Vacation.htm(opens in new window)

2. Where do I go to file a discrimination complaint w/the California Labor Commissioner?According to the California Labor Commissioner’s Office, you can file a discrimination complaint with any local office of the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.(opens in new window)

Labor Commissioner's Office
Retaliation Complaint Investigation Unit
2031 Howe Ave., Ste. 100
Sacramento, CA 95825

Labor Commissioner's Office
Retaliation Complaint Investigation Unit
320 W. Fourth St., Ste. 450
Los Angeles, CA 90013

https://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/FAQ_Retaliation.htm(opens in new window)

3. Are there penalties for misclassifying workers as independent contractors?
According to the California Labor Commissioner’s Office, in addition to penalties that may be assessed for wage violations associated with a worker being misclassified as an independent contractor, there are civil penalties for willful misclassification. Under California Labor Code section 226.8(opens in new window), which prohibits the willful misclassification of individuals as independent contractors, there are civil penalties of between $5,000 and $25,000 per violation. Willful misclassification is defined as voluntarily and knowingly misclassifying an employee as an independent contractor.   https://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/FAQ_IndependentContractor.htm(opens in new window)

4. Could it be possible that my employer retaliated against me?
According to the legal encyclopedia (nolo.com), retaliation occurs when an employer punishes an employee for engaging in legally protected activity. Retaliation can include any negative job action, such as demotion, discipline, firing, salary reduction, or job or shift reassignment. But retaliation can also be more subtle. https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/workplace-retaliation-employee-rights-30217.html(opens in new window)

5. What are the laws that protect employees from disability discrimination?
According to the US Department of Labor, there are five (5) important federal laws that protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination in employment and the job application process: The Americans with Disabilities Act, The Rehabilitation Act, The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, The Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act, and The Civil Service Reform Act. https://www.dol.gov/odep/pubs/fact/laws.htm#:~:text=The%20Americans(opens in new window)
%20with%20Disabilties%20Act%20(ADA)%20prohibits%20discrimination%20against(opens in new window)
%20people,local%20government%20services%2C%20and%20telecommunications(opens in new window).

6. What would be considered sexual harassment?
According to the legal encyclopedia (nolo.com), sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that creates a hostile or offensive work environment. Not every offensive comment will qualify as sexual harassment as the law defines it. https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/sexual-harassment-when-you-should-talk-lawyer.html(opens in new window)

7. What can I do if I think that my employer made an illegal deduction from my paycheck?According to the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (the Labor Commissioner's Office), you can either file a wage claim(opens in new window) with them, or file a lawsuit in court against your employer to recover the lost wages. Additionally, if you no longer work for this employer, you can make a claim for the waiting time penalty pursuant to California Labor Code Section 203(opens in new window)https://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/FAQ_Deductions.htm(opens in new window)

8. What is “at-will” employment?
According to the legal encyclopedia (nolo.com), at-will is when an employee can be fired at any-time, for any reason, except for illegal reasons.

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/employment-at-will-definition-30022.html(opens in new window)

9. My employer is not allowing me to take a meal break or rest period, is there anything I can do about the situation?
According to the Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Orders(opens in new window), if your employer fails to authorize and permit the required rest period(s), you are to be paid one hour of pay at your regular rate of compensation for each workday that the rest period is not authorized or permitted. If your employer fails to pay the additional one-hour's pay, you may file a wage claim(opens in new window) with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. https://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/FAQ_MealPeriods.htm(opens in new window)

10. Who is protected from employment discrimination?
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), applicants, employees and former employees are protected from employment discrimination based on race(opens in new window)color(opens in new window)religion(opens in new window)sex(opens in new window) (including pregnancy(opens in new window)sexual orientation(opens in new window), or gender identity(opens in new window)), national origin(opens in new window)age(opens in new window) (40 or older), disability(opens in new window) and genetic information(opens in new window) (including family medical history).

https://www.eeoc.gov/employers/small-business/3-who-protected-employment-discrimination(opens in new window)

In California there are similar protections for employees based in the above referenced protected categories. https://www.dfeh.ca.gov/employment/(opens in new window)

                  Workers' hours in office

                     Wednesday  9-3
                     Friday        12-2

Director of Workers' Rights