California Laws that Prohibit Retaliation and Discrimination

The following is a list of laws enforced by the Labor Commissioner that specifically prohibit discrimination and retaliation against employees and job applicants. Complaints must be filed within six months of the retaliatory act, unless stated otherwise.

(These are in addition to Employment Discrimination, Harassment, Retaliation laws under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act)

  1. Labor Code section 96(k)
    Provides the Labor Commissioner with authority to be assigned claims for loss of wages that arise from retaliation for lawful conduct occurring during nonworking hours and away from the employer’s premises.
  2. Labor Code section 98.6
    Protects an employee filing or threatening to file a claim or complaint with the Labor Commissioner, instituting or causing to be instituted any proceeding relating to rights under the jurisdiction of the Labor Commissioner, or testifying in any such proceeding, complaining orally or in writing about unpaid wages, or for exercising (on behalf of oneself or other employees) any of the rights provided under the Labor Code or Orders of the Industrial Welfare Commission, including, but not limited to, the right to demand payment of wages due, the right to express opinions about, support or oppose an alternative workweek election, or the exercise of any other right protected by the Labor Code. In addition to other remedies that might be available, a civil penalty of up to $10,000 may be awarded to an employee for each violation.
  3. Labor Code section 230(a)
    Labor Code section 230(a) prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee for taking time off to serve on a jury, provided that the employee has given the employer reasonable notice.
  4. Labor Code section 230(b)
    Labor Code section 230(b) prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee who is a victim of a crime for taking time off to appear in court to comply with a subpoena or court order as a witness in a judicial proceeding.
  5. Labor Code section 230(c)
    Labor Code section 230(c) prohibits an employer from discharging or in any manner discriminating or retaliating against an employee who is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, and/or stalking for taking time off from work to obtain or attempt to obtain relief to help ensure his or her health, safety, or welfare, or that of his or her child or children. (The complaint must be filed within one year from the date of occurrence of the violation.)
  6. Labor Code section 230(e)
    Labor Code section 230(e) prohibits an employer from discharging or retaliating against an employee because of his or her status as a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, provided that the victim provides notice to employer of the status or the employer has actual knowledge of the status. (The complaint must be filed within one year from the date of occurrence of the violation.)
  7. Labor Code section 230(f)
    An employer shall provide reasonable accommodations for a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, and/or stalking who requests an accommodation for the victim’s safety while at work. The employer shall engage in a timely, good faith, and reasonable process with the employee to determinate effective reasonable accommodations. (The complaint must be filed within one year from the date of occurrence of the violation.)
  8. Labor Code section 230.1
    An employer with 25 or more employees is prohibited from retaliating against an employee who is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, and/or stalking, and who takes time off to seek medical attention, to obtain services from a domestic violence program or psychological counseling, or to participate in safety planning. The worker must provide reasonable advance notice if feasible. (The complaint must be filed within one year from the date of occurrence of the violation.)
  9. Labor Code section 230.2(b)
    An employee who is a victim of a crime, an immediate family member of a victim, a registered domestic partner of a victim, or the child of a registered domestic partner of a victim is allowed to take time off from work to attend judicial proceedings related to that crime. (The complaint must be filed within one year from the date of occurrence of the violation.)
  10. Labor Code section 230.3
    An employee who takes time off to perform emergency duty as a volunteer firefighter, a reserve peace officer, or emergency rescue personnel is protected. An employee who is a health care provider must notify his or her employer at the time the employee becomes designated as emergency rescue personnel and when the employee is notified that he or she will be deployed as a result of that designation.
  11. Labor Code section 230.4
    Labor Code section 230.4 protects an employee who is a volunteer fire fighter, reserve peace officer, or emergency rescue personnel and provides that they can take up to 14 days off per calendar year to engage in fire or law enforcement training. This statute applies to employers with 50 or more employees.
  12. Labor Code section 230.5
    Labor Code section 230.5 prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee who is a victim of certain offenses identified in Labor Code section 230.5(a)(2) for taking time off to appear in court at any proceeding. (The complaint must be filed within one year from the date of occurrence of the violation.)
  13. Labor Code section 230.7
    Labor Code section 230.7 prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee who is a parent or guardian of a student for taking time off from work to appear at the student’s school due to a request made under Education Code section 48900.1.
  14. Labor Code section 230.8
    Labor Code section 230.8 prohibits an employer with 25 or more employees from retaliating against an employee who is the parent of a child for taking off up to 40 hours a year, but no more than 8 hours per month, to participate in the child’s school activities or to enroll the child in school or child care. Employees are also protected for taking time off to address a child care provider or school emergency. For the purposes of this section, parent includes stepparent, foster parent, guardian, grandparent, or person who stands in the place of a parent for the child.
  15. Labor Code sections 232
    Labor Code section 232 prohibits an employer from discharging or retaliating against an employee for disclosing his or her wages. Employers also cannot require an employee to sign a waiver or other document denying the employee the right to disclose his or her wages or otherwise require that an employee refrain from disclosing his or her wages.
  16. Labor Code section 232.5
    Labor Code section 232.5 prohibits an employer from discharging or retaliating against an employee who discusses or discloses information about the employer’s working conditions. Employers also cannot require that an employee sign a waiver or other document denying the employee the right to discuss or disclose information about the employer’s working conditions or otherwise require that an employee refrain from disclosing information about the employer’s working conditions.
  17. Labor Code section 233
    Employers providing sick leave for their employees must permit employees to use in a calendar year, the employee’s accrued and available sick leave, in an amount not less than the sick leave that would have accrued during six months. Employees are permitted to use sick leave for any reason specified in section 246.5(a).
  18. Labor Code section 234
    An employer’s absence control policy that counts sick leave taken under Labor Code section 233 as an absence that may lead to discipline, discharge, demotion, or suspension is a violation of section 233.
  19. Labor Code section 244
    Labor Code section 244 provides that reporting or threatening to report the suspected or actual immigration status of an employee, former employee, or prospective employee who has exercised a right under the Labor Code, Government Code, or Civil Code to any government agency constitutes an adverse action.
  20. Labor Code sections 246.5
    An employer cannot deny employees the right to use accrued sick days and is prohibited from otherwise retaliating against an employee who uses sick leave, attempts to use accrued sick leave, files a complaint regarding sick leave, alleges a violation of paid sick leave rights, cooperates in an investigation or prosecution regarding sick leave, or opposes a policy or practice that violates California sick leave law. In addition to other available remedies, additional amounts may be awarded under section 248.5(b)(2) and (b)(3).
  21. Labor Code section 432.3
    Labor Code section 432.3 prohibits an employer from using a prospective employee’s salary history to determine whether to make an offer of employment and to determine at what salary to make the offer of employment. An employer is also prohibited from seeking personally, or through an agent, the applicant’s salary history. An employer must also, upon reasonable request, provide the salary scale for a position to an applicant for employment.
  22. Labor Code section 432.6
    Labor Code section 432.6 prohibits employers from conditioning employment or receipt of benefits on the waiver of any right, forum or procedure for violations of the Labor Code or Fair Employment and Housing Act, including filing a lawsuit or administrative claim. Section 432.6 is currently not enforced pending ongoing litigation, except in cases involving (1) employment contracts for seamen, railroad employees, or workers engaged in foreign/interstate commerce, or (2) arbitration agreements that do not evidence a transaction involving interstate commerce. A federal court injunction currently only prevents the Labor Commissioner from enforcing this section as to waivers related to certain arbitration agreements. Other waivers of rights under the Labor Code are still prohibited by this provision, and the Labor Commissioner has jurisdiction to enforce those prohibitions.
  23. Labor Code section 432.7
    Labor Code section 432.7(a)(1) prohibits an employer from asking for an applicant to disclose information regarding an arrest or detention that did not result in conviction, or information regarding a referral to or participation in a diversion program or a conviction that was judicially dismissed or ordered to be sealed. An employer also shall not seek or use, as a factor of in determining any condition of employment, any record of arrest or detention that did not result in conviction, or any record regarding a referral to and participation in a diversion program or a conviction that was judicially dismissed or ordered to be sealed.
  24. Labor Code section 432.7(a)(2) prohibits an employer from asking an applicant to disclose any information concerning or related to an arrest, detention, processing, diversion, supervision, adjudication, or court disposition that occurred while the person was under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court. An employer also shall not seek or use, as a factor of determining any condition of employment, any record concerning or related to an arrest, detention, processing, diversion, supervision, adjudication, or court disposition that occurred while the person was under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court.
  25. Labor Code section 432.8
    Labor Code section 432.8 applies the limitations from section 432.7 to certain violations related to the possession of marijuana.
  26. Labor Code section 752
    Ensures that employees in non-unionized smelters or underground mines have a right to a fair and impartial election to establish a workday greater than eight hours. An employer shall not retaliate against an employee for exercising any right under this law.
  27. Labor Code section 1019
    Labor Code section 1019 makes it unlawful to engage in “unfair immigration-related practices” against any person for the purpose of retaliating against that person for exercising rights under the Labor Code or local ordinances related to employees. Exercising a right protected by the Labor Code or local ordinance includes: filing a good faith complaint about or informing a person in good faith about an employer’s violation of the Labor Code or local ordinance, seeking information about whether an employer is in compliance with the Labor Code or local ordinance, or informing a person of his or her rights and remedies under the Labor Code or local ordinance and assisting him or her in asserting those rights.  An unfair immigration practice means any of the following practices: requiring more of different documents than required by federal immigration law, refusing to accept documents that reasonably appear to be genuine on their face, using the federal E-verify system to check the work authorization status of a person in a manner not required by federal immigration law,  filing or threatening to file a false report with a state or federal agency, or contacting or threatening to contact immigration authorities.
  28. Labor Code section 1019.1
    Labor Code section 1019.1 provides that it is unlawful for an employer to request more or different work authorization documents than required by federal law, refuse to accept work authorization documents that reasonably appear to be genuine on their face, refuse to honor documents or work authorization based on the specific status or term of status that accompanies the authorization to work, or attempt to reinvestigate or reverify a current employee’s authorization to work using an unfair immigration-related practice. In addition to other remedies that might be available, a penalty of up to $10,000 may be awarded for each violation.
  29. Labor Code section 1019.2
    Labor Code section 1019.2 prohibits an employer, or a person acting on behalf of an employer, from reverifying the employment eligibility of any current employee at a time or in a manner that is not required by Section 1324a(b) of Title 8 of the United States Code. Violation of this section subjects the employer to a civil penalty up to $10,000.
  30. Labor Code section 1024.5
    Labor Code section 1024.5 prohibits the use of a consumer credit report for employment purposes unless the position of the person for whom the report is sought falls under certain enumerated exemptions.
  31. Labor Code section 1024.6
    Labor Code section 1024.6 prohibits an employer from discharging or retaliating against an employee who updates or attempts to update his or her personal information based on a lawful change of name, social security number, or federal work authorization document.
  32. Labor Code sections 1025-1028
    A private employer with 25 or more employees must provide reasonable accommodations for an employee to participate in a drug or alcohol rehabilitation program. Workers who are denied a reasonable accommodation may file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner.
  33. Labor Code sections 1030-1033
    Employers are prohibited from discharging or in any manner retaliating against an employee for exercising or attempting to exercise any right under the state lactation accommodations laws to express milk for the employee’s infant child. Workers have a right to file a retaliation complaint for such violations under section 98.7.
  34. Labor Code section 1041-1044
    A private employer with 25 or more employees shall reasonably accommodate and assist an employee who reveals issues with illiteracy and requests the employer’s assistance in enrolling in an adult literacy program. Workers who are denied a reasonable accommodation may file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner.
  35. Labor Code section 1101
    Labor Code section 1101 prohibits an employer from preventing employees from engaging or participating in politics or preventing employees from becoming candidates for public office. An employer also cannot control or direct the political affiliations or activities of employees.
  36. Labor Code section 1102
    Labor Code section 1102 prohibits an employer from coercing, influencing, or attempting to coerce or influence an employee to follow or refrain from following a particular course of political action or activity.
  37. Labor Code section 1102.5
    Subsection (a) prohibits an employer, or any person acting on behalf of the employer, from making, adopting, or enforcing any rule, regulation, or policy that prevents an employee who believes that he or she is disclosing a violation of state or federal statute, or a violation or noncompliance with a local, state or federal rule or regulation: (1) from disclosing information to a government or law enforcement agency, to a person with authority over the employee, or to another employee who has authority to investigate, discover, or correct the issue; or (2) from providing information or providing to a public body conducting an investigation, hearing or inquiry.  Subsection (b) protects against retaliation for disclosing information, or because an employer believes an employee has disclosed information, to a government or law enforcement agency, to a person with authority over the employee, or to another employee who has the authority to investigate, discover, or correct a violation where an employee reasonably believes that the information discloses a violation of a state or federal statute, or a violation of or noncompliance with a local, state, or federal rule or regulation.  Subsection (c) protects an employee who refuses to participate in an activity that would result in a violation of a state or federal statute, or a violation of or noncompliance with a local, state, or federal rule or regulation.  In addition to other remedies that might be available, a civil penalty of up to $10,000 may be awarded for each violation.
  38. Labor Code section 1171
    Labor Code section 1171 prohibits an employer from retaliating against an individual participating in a national service program, like AmeriCorps, for refusing to work overtime for any legitimate reason.
  39. Labor Code section 1197.5
    Employees cannot be paid less than an employee of the opposite sex or another race or ethnicity for substantially similar work, when the work is viewed in light of skill, effort, and responsibility, and when performed under similar working conditions. However, differences in pay are acceptable where the employer can demonstrate that a payment is made pursuant to a seniority system, a merit system, a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, or a differential based on a bona fide factor other than sex, race, or ethnicity. Workers may file a claim with the Labor Commissioner’s office or pursue a lawsuit. Generally, an employee must file either within two years of the violation occurring, but workers may have three years in circumstances where a violation is willful. Employees who invoke or assist with the enforcement of the Equal Pay Act are protected against retaliation. Employees are protected if they disclose their own wages, discuss the wages of others, inquire about another employee’s wages, or aid or encourage any other employee to exercise his or her rights under this section. A complaint with the Labor Commissioner alleging retaliation must be filed within six (6) months of the adverse action.
  40. Labor Code section 1198.3
    Labor Code section 1198.3 prohibits an employer from discharging or retaliating against an employee who refuses to work hours in excess of those permitted by applicable Industrial Welfare Commission orders.
  41. Labor Code section 1311.5
    Labor Code section 1311.5(c) provides for treble damages when an individual is retaliated against because he or she filed a claim or civil action alleging a Labor Code violation that arose when the individual was a minor. Such damages are available whether the claim or civil action was filed before or after the individual reached the age of majority.
  42. Labor Code section 1512
    Labor Code section 1512 prohibits an employer from discharging or retaliating against an employee who takes a leave of absence for organ or bone marrow donation.
  43. Labor Code section 2814
    Except as required by federal law or as a condition of receiving federal funds, an employer cannot use E-Verify to check the work authorization status of a current employee or applicant for employment who has not been offered employment. After using E-Verify and receiving a tentative non-confirmation, an employer must also provide the employee any notification issued by a federal agency of a possible non-confirmation. In addition to other available remedies, an employer may be liable for a civil penalty up to $10,000 for each violation.
  44. Labor Code section 2929
    Labor Code section 2929 prohibits an employer from discharging an employee because garnishment of the employee’s wages has been threatened or because his or her wages have been subjected to garnishment for the payment of one judgment. The employee shall give notice to his or her employer of his or her intention to make a wage claim within 30 days after being discharged, and file a wage claim with the Labor Commissioner within 60 days after being discharged if he or she desires that the Labor Commissioner take assignment of the wage claim.
  45. Labor Code section 2930
    Labor Code section 2930 protects an employee who is disciplined or discharged based on a shopping investigator’s report of the employee’s conduct, performance, or honesty when the employee was not provided with of copy of the report before the discipline or discharge. The shopping investigator must be licensed under the Business and Professions Code for this section to apply.
  46. Labor Code section 6310
    Labor Code section 6310 prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee who complains about safety or health conditions at the workplace, institutes or testifies in any proceedings relating to the employee’s rights to safe and healthful working conditions, exercises any rights under the federal or California law relating to occupational health and safety, or participates in an occupational health and safety committee established under Section 6401.7. Employees are also protected if they report a work-related fatality, injury, or illness or requesting access to occupational injury or illness reports or records, unless the employee alleges retaliation because he or she has the intention to file or has filed a workers’ compensation claim pursuant to Labor Code section 132(a).
  47. Labor Code section 6311
    Labor Code section 6311 provides the right to refuse to perform work that would violate any occupational safety or health standard or any safety order of the division or standards board if the violation would create a real and apparent hazard to the employee or his or her fellow employees.
  48. Labor Code section 6399.7
    Labor Code section 6399.7 prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee who complains or testifies about non-compliance with the Hazardous Substances Information and Training Act.
  49. Labor Code section 6403.5
    Protects an employee who refuses to lift, reposition, or transfer a patient due to the health care worker’s concerns about patient or worker safety or because of the lack of trained lift team personnel or equipment.
  50. Health and Safety Code section 1596.881 and 1596.882
    Health & Safety Code sections 1596.881 and 1596.882 protects an employee who: (1) complains about the violation of any licensing or other laws relating to child day care facilities (e.g., staff-child ratios, transportation of children, or child abuse), (2) institutes or cause to be instituted any proceeding against the employer relating to the violation of any licensing or other laws, (3) appears as a witness or testifies in a proceeding relating to the violation of any licensing or other laws, or (4) refuses to perform work in violation of a licensing or other law or regulation after notifying the employer of the violation. A claim alleging a violation of section 1596.881 must be presented to the employer within 45 days of the alleged violation and presented to the DLSE within 90 days of the alleged violation.
  51. Unemployment Insurance Code section 1237
    Unemployment Insurance Code section 1237 prohibits an employer from discharging or retaliating against an employee who seeks information from the Employment Development Department (EDD) concerning rights under the Unemployment Insurance Code or Labor Code, cooperates with any investigation undertaken by EDD, or testifies in any proceeding brought pursuant to the Unemployment Insurance Code or the Labor Code.
  52. IWC Orders 1 through 13, section 3(C)(8); IWC Order 16, section 3(C)(7); and IWC Order 17, section 5 “Election Procedures” (H)
    Employees who express an opinion regarding an alternative workweek election or oppose or support its adoption or repeal are protected.