Workers' Rights

En español

Protecting Rights on the Job

California has strong protections for workers.  The list on this page mentions some of your rights as a worker.  All workers, including all immigrants, are entitled to protections.  I can help you evaluate your situation to understand whether the law can help you. 

Workers whose rights are not being respected can take action in several ways.  If the law is on your side and I believe I can be of assistance, I can:

    • write a letter to your employer explaining the law and telling your employer to follow it;
    • file a wage claim for unpaid wages with the Labor Commissioner’s office in Santa Rosa or coach you on how to do it yourself, and represent you at a wage claim hearing or coach you on how to do it yourself;
    • prepare and file a discrimination or retaliation complaint, or coach you on how to do it yourself;
    • in some cases, represent you during mediation, or coach you on how to do it yourself;
    • in some cases, file a court case in Mendocino County and represent you in court.

Employment and Criminal Records

Cleaning up criminal records:  A criminal record can make it difficult to get a job or a professional license.  You may be able to clean up your criminal record, which can make it easier to get work, a professional license, or to qualify for certain services or programs.  (This process is often called an “expungement” or a “clean slate.”)  I can help you figure out whether you are eligible for a criminal records remedy, and help you with the process if you are.

Criminal records and job applications: When you apply for work, employers likely cannot ask you about your criminal record on your initial application–and if they did, they likely broke the law.  If the employer offered you a job, then asked whether you had a criminal record, and then took back the job offer, the employer may have violated the law.  I can help you understand what your rights are, and can help you negotiate with the employer if they violated the law.

See below for links to free resources about workers’ rights.

The purpose of this web site is to provide general information.  It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your specific situation.  Neither the site nor contact with the attorney creates an attorney-client relationship.   Confidential information should not be sent unless an attorney-client relationship has been established.
El propósito de este sitio en web es proveer información general.  No ofrece asesoriamiento legal relacionado con su situación específica.  Ni el sitio en web ni contacto con la abogada crea una relación abogado-cliente.  Información confidencial no se debe de comunicar a menos de que se haya sido establicida una relación abogado-cliente.

California has strong protections for all workers. 

Some of your rights at work are:

    • getting paid the right amount, on time;
    • usually, earning sick days and, if you have earned sick days, being able to use them when you are sick;
    • often, getting time off to care for yourself or a family member;
    • getting the accommodations you need when you are injured, disabled, or pregnant, or when you are a domestic violence victim and need time off for court;
    • being safe at work;
    • not being racially or sexually harassed or illegally discriminated against on the job;
    • not being threatened that your employer will report you to immigration, and not being asked for new work papers after you have already been working;
    • usually, not being asked whether you have a criminal record until after you have been offered a job, and not having a job offer taken away because of a criminal record unless the crime on the record is relevant to the job;
    • not being retaliated against when you stand up for your rights.

Free Workers' Rights Resources

Your rights at the job you have now

The California Department of Industrial Relations explains how to file a wage claim with the Labor Commissioner if your employer did not pay you what they owe you.

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing explains your rights to family and medical leave (including pregnancy leave), as well as protection from discrimination. You can also file a discrimination complaint to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

Legal Aid at Work, a San Francisco nonprofit focused on protecting workers’ rights, offers free legal services to workers:

Worker cooperatives

In a worker cooperative, workers are in charge of their own workplace.  People starting a business might want it to be a worker cooperative from the beginning.  Employees of an established business may want to turn the business into a cooperative by buying it from their employer, especially if their employer is thinking of retiring or selling the business.  The Sustainable Economies Law Center, an Oakland non-profit, offers valuable free information on and technical support for worker cooperatives

Questions about a criminal record when you apply for a job

The National Employment Law Project explains what a prospective employer can and can’t ask about a criminal record under California’s Fair Chance Act (also known as “Ban the Box”).

Clean slate resources – criminal record cleanup

  • Root and Rebound, a Berkeley nonprofit, offers a Legal Hotline on Fridays from 9-5. They help with expungements and can answer other questions about reentry after incarceration.