Is Your Employment Contract Legal?

The job market is at the top of the news cycle right now. From employers claiming that it’s impossible to find people to work to unions fighting to make working conditions better, it’s clear that workers currently hold the cards. There’s never been a better time to look more closely at your own employment contract.

Why? Because you may be subject to illegal requirements in your contract. If so, you can and should take action to get a fair and honest agreement. Here’s what you need to know about California’s employment laws, what’s considered a violation, and what to do about illegal agreements.

California Employment Contract Requirements

California has strict laws regarding employer-employee relationships. The state considers all employment relationships to involve a contract, even a verbal one. An employment agreement should cover the basics of the arrangement between both parties, and it cannot force the employee to break any laws or accept illegal working conditions.

Contracts should include information such as:

  • Rate of pay
  • Hours of work
  • Job title or duties
  • Length
  • Start date
  • Notice period
  • Disciplinary and grievance procedures
  • Relevant Collective Bargaining Agreements

All contracts are enforceable, but written agreements are more reliable. The written document provides a paper trail that clearly explains what both parties agreed to. It also acts as evidence if an employer attempts to require an employee to agree to or perform illegal actions.

Common Employment Contract Violations

Unfortunately, too many businesses rely on their employees’ lack of knowledge to trick them into signing and abiding by illegal contracts. Understanding common violations can help you spot them and take action against your employer.

  • Requirements to work below minimum wage: If your employer pays you hourly, they cannot force you to accept less than minimum wage for your position.
  • Requirements to skip mandatory lunch and rest breaks: Your rest and lunch breaks are considered part of your compensation. If your employer forces you to skip them in the agreement, they are committing wage theft.
  • Non-compete and non-solicitation clauses: In California, non-compete and non-solicitation clauses are unenforceable unless written very strictly. Your employer can’t ban you from applying to competitors’ companies or from trying to get your coworkers hired at your new business.
  • Bans on union activity: No employer can ban union activity in a work agreement. This includes discussing your pay with coworkers, unionizing, or other forms of collective action.

If you notice any of these requirements in your work contract, you can and should fight against the illegal clauses.

Take Control of Your Employment

Contracts that violate employment law are unfair and unjust. More importantly, they aren’t legally binding. If your agreement has one of the violations listed above, it’s your right to fight for truly fair employment.

The first step is to get in touch with a qualified workers’ rights and contracts lawyer. They can help you understand your contract and decide on the best course of action. You deserve fair employment; let the attorneys at AM&F LLP help you get it.