If you live or work in California, you’re lucky! California has arguably the most pro-worker employment laws in the country. Workers are entitled to numerous rights and protections under California labor law, and can recover large penalties if employers violate those rights.

Your rights under California labor law

  • California Independent Contractor Law – Employers sometimes misclassify workers as “independent contractors” rather than “employees.” Incorrect classification can keep workers from getting their full rights under the law. Workers can recover labor code penalties of up to $25,000 per violation if they are misclassified.
  • California Overtime Law – Under California labor law, non-exempt employees are entitled to 1.5x their regular pay for hours worked beyond 8 per day (or 40 per week) and 2x their regular rate for hours worked beyond 12 per day. There are also other scenarios where workers are entitled to overtime in California.
  • California Minimum Wage Law – The minimum wage in California for 2018 is $11 per hour. All non-exempt employees in California are entitled to a guarantee that they will be paid at least this much for every hour they spend “on the clock.” Some local areas in California have even higher minimum wages.
  • California Exempt Employee Law – The California labor code, by default, gives all employees a right to minimum wage and overtime, but some types of salaried employees are considered exempt. Read more about which workers are exempt from California minimum wage and overtime requirements.
  • California Vacation Pay Law – If an employer has vacation pay benefits (also known as paid-time-off), California labor law says those vacation days never expire and can be cashed out if an employee leaves or gets fired.
  • California Mass Layoff Law – If an employer lays off 50 or more workers in a one-month period, or closes down a store, or relocates, the California labor code requires they give 60-days’ advance notice. If they don’t, workers are entitled to two months’ pay and benefits.
  • California Final Paycheck Law – If you’re fired, you must be paid your last check that same day. If you quit, your employer has 72 hours to give you a final check.
  • California Off-the-Clock Work Law – If you are forced to work off-the-clock or your employer knows or should know you are voluntarily working off-the-clock, you are entitled to be paid for those unclocked hours.

Differences Between California Employment Law & Federal Employment Law

Generally, California labor law is more pro-worker. And typically, the damages and penalties a worker can recover are higher under California labor law than under federal labor law.

Chart summarizing California employment law (2018)

chart summarizing california labor law in 2018


Steven Tindall

An employment-law litigator with over 20 years’ experience, Steven Tindall is well-acquainted with litigating under California labor law. His largest recovery in a single employment case is $29 million.

Linda Lam

Prior to joining us at Gibbs Law Group LLP, Linda Lam worked at a national employment law firm, where she represented workers in lawsuits to recover unpaid wages and benefits.

Steve Lopez

Steve has prosecuted a variety of complex employment cases involving misclassification of independent contractors. He is fluent in English and Spanish.

Our California Employment Law Practice

Gibbs Law Group LLP is consistently ranked on U.S. News’ list of “Best Law Firms.”

The attorneys in our California employment law practice have all be selected as 2018 Northern California Super Lawyers or Risings Stars.

Talk to a California employment lawyer

If you believe your employer has violated California labor law, one of our California employment attorneys can provide a free case evaluation and estimate your damages. Call or message us. No costs or obligations.

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