Laws for Small Business Owners in California

Laws ensuring non-discrimination
There are multiple laws in force in California. These laws span issues such as discrimination and harassment in the workplace, wage-hour laws and rules on compensation for workers. Federal and State laws and rules protect the rights of employees. In California, the laws protect job applicants and employees of private firms, local and state governments, educational institutions and labor organizations. The laws that apply include – laws ensuring non-discrimination, and laws accruing benefits to the employees. We’ll discuss each of this briefly in this article.

Laws on employee rights
These laws include the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This Act makes discrimination of any sort of illegality in hiring, discharging, promotion, job training, classification, fringe benefits, and referral in employment.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, people with disability conditions are protected against the discrimination based on the aforesaid ground. This law also mandates covered employers to facilitate accommodation that do not lead to difficulties for the qualified job applicants and employees.

The Civil Rights Act and the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (amended) addresses discrimination based on gender with respect to payment of wages, and requires men and women to be paid equally for doing identical work at the same workplace.

Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act of 1959, employees are protected against harassment or discrimination based on the grounds of gender, age, color, race, religious, nationality, sexual orientation, marital status, disability (mental and physical, including HIV and AIDS).

This law penalizes in terms of fines and remedies such as hiring, back pay, reinstatement, promotion, punitive damage, cease-and-desist order and damage for emotional distress.

Laws against wrongful firing
Under California’s labor law, an employment with no certain period of time is termed employment ‘at will.’ Under such a situation, either the employer or the employee can terminate the employment relationship at any time – that too – without showing any reason. The exception to eliminate an employee is on the grounds of discriminatory reasons, for taking part in union activity or unwilling to do an activity that leads to violation of the law.
As an employer, you can reduce the potential liability of wrongful discharge using an ‘at-will’ language in all written and verbal interaction with employees.

Employee health and safety
California law ensures safety at workplace, and protection of health for workers under Cal/OSHA program. Employers and employees must comply with the relevant rules to make sure workplace is safe and healthful. There are separate rules to deal issues involving hazardous substances.

It is helpful for your business to avoid potential risk of civil or criminal liability by having awareness of these laws and various rules that are applicable.