California has some of the strongest employee protection laws in the nation. California law prevents discrimination in employment, ensures fair pay for all workers, and protects employees who exercise their legal rights.
Nevertheless, California employers sometimes try to evade the law by inserting illegal provisions into their employment contracts and employee handbooks. Here are some examples of provisions that may violate California law:
- Non-compete clauses: These clauses prevent or discourage employees from accepting a job with the employer’s competitor.
- Confidentiality clauses: These clauses attempt to prevent employees from discussing wages or working conditions with their co-employees or with government investigators.
- Forfeiture clauses: These clauses cause employees to forfeit wages or deferred compensation in the event they leave the company or do something else the employer doesn’t like.
Fortunately, employees have a way to challenge these illegal provisions. California Labor Code section 432.5 states that it is illegal for an employer to require an employee to agree in writing to any term that the employer knows is illegal. Violations of Section 432.5 are actionable under the California Labor Code Private Attorneys’ General Act (“PAGA”). Employers who include illegal provisions in their employment contracts and handbooks may be liable for substantial penalties under PAGA.