6 Things Your California Boss Cannot Legally Do

Jan 10, 2023 | Employment

Have you ever found yourself wondering if something your boss is doing or saying is legal or not? Maybe you can recall a few uncomfortable moments or conversations with a manager or supervisor, or not receiving the correct amount on a paycheck, or being asked to do a task that you were pretty sure wasn’t in your scope of work. One of the harsh realities for the working class is the potential of having a boss who either knowingly or unknowingly volates your rights as a worker. However, The National Labor Relations Act and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has created laws meant to protect employees from discrimination, unfair work practices, and more. 

You shouldn’t have to feel uncomfortable, unsafe or unwanted in your place of work. Knowing what your boss is legally prohibited from doing is a step in the right direction to avoiding these things! Below are 6 things your California boss cannot legally do under California labor laws.  

Your boss…

1 – Cannot deny you overtime wages

California’s overtime wage law states that employers are required to pay non-exempt employees one and a half times their standard rate of pay for every hour that exceeds a standard 8-hour work day, or 40-hour work week. If they work more than 12 hours in a single work day, or more than 6 consecutive 8-hour shifts, they are entitled to double their standard rate of pay per additional hour. 

Employers cannot require that you complete any “off-the-clock” work, by asking you to delay clocking in or stick around once you’ve clocked out. When you are working, your employer is legally required to pay you for your time! 

California’s exempt employees are employees in executive, administrative and professional positions, most of which are salaried positions. However, not all salaried employees are exempt from overtime, so this is something to ensure you clarify with your boss or with an experienced labor law attorney. 

2 – Cannot turn down an employee who is eligible for FMLA

Employers cannot deny leave to employees who meet the criteria for the Family and Medical Leave Act, and have completed the proper steps for their leave. There are several guidelines and qualifications that must be met to take the 12 week leave, with a guarantee that you can return to your same job when your leave is up. 

If any employer attempts to deny your leave, or put you in a new position when you return to work, they are breaking the law and you are entitled to take legal action against them. 


3 – Cannot discriminate against you 

Workplace discrimination is prohibited by both California and federal laws. Discrimination is classified as less favorable or different treatment on the basis of your race, color, religion, age, sex, national origin, disability, or genetic information. Any unfair treatment, harassment, retaliation, or denial of workplace change or accommodation is considered to be discrimination. 

Some examples include but are not limited to the following: 

  • An employer demotes or changes an employee’s position when they surpass the age of 40.
  • An employer refuses to arrange special accommodations for a disabled employee 
  • An employer pays a male a higher wage than a female.

If you believe your employer is discriminating against you, you can file a lawsuit and even win compensation for the wrongs that you’ve faced. 

4 – Cannot get away with having an unsafe work environment

Employers are required by law to provide their workers a space that is free of danger, according to the OSH Act of 1970. OSHA also handles the Whistleblower’s Protection Program, which protects employees who report hazardous or dangerous workspaces from retaliation on behalf of their employer. If your employer is failing to follow safety protocols/guidelines, purchase proper safety equipment or more, you can take legal action against them, and receive compensation for the danger you’ve been put in while at work. 

5 – Cannot ask illegal interview questions

Because you’re excited about the potential for employment, you might overlook inappropriate interview questions from an employer. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits employers from asking employees or applicants any non-job related questions either during an interview or on an application. Any direct or indirect indication or questioning in regards to your race, religion, age, creed, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, or intent to specify or discriminate is unlawful. 

Some examples of questions an employer cannot ask you include but are not limited to the following:

  • Are you married?
  • Are you pregnant?
  • Do you have children?
  • What is your weight or height?
  • Do you have any mental illnesses or disabilities? 
  • And others!

6 – Cannot ignore a workers comp claim

If you were injured while working at your job, it is likely that you are eligible to file for worker’s compensation. Unfortunately, there are many reasons an employer might ignore workplace compensation claims. They may not have the worker’s comp insurance, they might not believe they are responsible for the injuries, or they may be trying to avoid their own insurance costs going up. When you are injured on the job, you have the right to have your medical treatment and more covered by your employer’s insurance. If your employer refuses your worker’s compensation claim, you have the right to take legal action against them!

Remember that you have 30 days to inform your employer of any injuries suffered on the job. Your employer must then give you a claim form within one working day of your injuries. 

What Do I Do If My Boss Has Done Something Illegal?

Has your boss done one or more of these things on this list? Have you been the victim of harassment or discrimination, or maybe been denied wages that are rightfully yours? If so, we can help you get justice and hold unlawful employers accountable. Southern California Attorneys, A.P.C. has employment lawyers who have 60+ years of combined experience navigating employment law. They are well equipped with the knowledge that can give you an advantage! Don’t wait to get the legal representation you deserve when your employers should already know what they are and are not allowed to do! Call today for a free, confidential consultation with a firm that is ranked in the top 10% of California law firms. We can discuss your legal options, explain next steps, and answer any questions you may have. Gain peace of mind by working with seasoned employment lawyers today. 

Southern California Attorneys, A.P.C.

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