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Legal Information: California

Workplace Protections

January 11, 2024

I am afraid that my employer will harass me or tell other co-workers about my situation. Is this legal?

Your employer cannot fire you, threaten to fire you, harass you, put you at a lower-ranked position, suspend you, or punish you in any way for asking for time off, for taking time off, or for asking for reasonable accommodations.1 Also, the law requires your employer to keep your crime or abuse situation confidential. For example, your employer cannot tell your co-workers, your clients, or other employers that you took time off to deal with a crime or abuse. Your employer also cannot talk about or write about (disclose) the reason for your time off. The employer must also keep private any documents that you give him/her that relate to your crime or abuse situation.2

1 Cal.Labor Code §§ 230(c), (e); 230.1(a), (c)
2 Cal.Labor Code §§ 230(d)(3); 230.1(b)(3)

After taking time off from work under this law, I was one of many people laid off by my employer. Is this legal?

The law says that your employer cannot fire you or punish you because you took off time from work to address your crime or abuse issues.1 However, your employer can still fire you or punish you for other valid reasons, such as budget cuts, not doing your job well, or reasons that have nothing to do with your crime or abuse situation.

Note: Sometimes, an employer will offer a fake reason for firing someone, to hide the real reason. If you have facts or evidence that (1) your employer is not being truthful about why they fired you, and (2) that the real reason they fired you was because you took off time for issues related to a crime or abuse, then you might want to contact an attorney who specializes in employment discrimination or the California Fair Employment and Housing Commission.

1 Cal.Labor Code §§ 230(c); 230.1(a)

My employer has done something illegal under this law. What can I do?

Your employer cannot fire you, threaten to fire you, demote you, suspend you, discriminate against you in any other way, or retaliate against you because you:

  • take time off of work to try to get protections to help ensure your safety;
  • are a victim of a crime or abuse; or
  • requested reasonable accommodations.

If your employer does any of the above prohibited actions, you will be entitled to get your job back and be reimbursed for any lost wages or work benefits because of your employer’s actions.1 You are also entitled to seek any other equitable relief you are entitled to (such as other money damages in civil court). If your employer refuses to rehire you, promote you, or restore you to your employment after it has been determined that you are eligible for relief through a hearing or grievance procedure, that employer may be guilty of a misdemeanor.2 If your employer has done any prohibited action, you can file a complaint with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement of the Department of Industrial Relations for up to one year after the violation.3

1 Cal.Labor Code § 230(g)(1), (2)
2 Cal.Labor Code § 230(g)(3)
3 Cal.Labor Code § 230(h)