Employment Law in the Public Sector: Fighting for Governmental Employee Rights

If you work for the government, you’re probably aware that you’re subject to different rules than private workers. The problem is that those rules aren’t always clear. If you believe your employment rights are being violated, you need to understand how public and private employment laws are different. Here’s what you need to know about government employment law and how to fight for your rights.

Who’s Considered a Government Employee?

There are many more people who qualify as government employees than you might realize. Public sector workers include everyone who works for:

  • Cities
  • Counties
  • The State of California
  • The federal government
  • Public school districts
  • Transportation agencies
  • Law enforcement
  • US Postal Service

Basically, if you’re employed by a government or government-run agency, you’re a public sector worker and subject to those rules and regulations. 

The Laws Regarding Government Employees

Some wage, hour, and termination laws work the same for public employees, while others don’t. Here’s a breakdown of how government employees like you are likely affected by important employment laws.

Minimum wage: All public and private workers are guaranteed the minimum wage in their municipality. You’re owed the highest minimum wage required in your city. For example, while the federal minimum wage is $7.25, the California minimum wage is $13.00. If you work in California, you’re guaranteed $13.00 per hour as a public employee. 

Breaks and overtime: The case Johnson v. Arvin-Edison Water Storage Dist. (2009) set the precedent that public employees are not guaranteed breaks and overtime like private employees. 

Wage payment after termination: You may or may not have the right to receive your wages immediately after your termination or resignation. The Labor Code states that workers employed by counties, towns, cities, and other “municipal corporations” are exempt from this requirement. You’ll receive your final paycheck on the next regular pay date. 

Free speech: All employees are protected by the First Amendment. Your employer can’t retaliate against you for exercising your free speech. However, you are still held to confidentiality agreements and NDAs, so you can’t talk about any information that you’ve signed a contract to conceal.

For cause termination: Many government employees, but not all, are subject to “for cause” termination instead of “at-will” termination. That means that you may only be fired if your employer gives a specific reason that was covered in your employment contract. However, this depends on your position, so you should check your specific employment contract. 

What You Can Do to Fight for Your Rights

If you believe your employment rights have been violated, you need to jump through a few extra hoops to sue as a public employee. Specifically, you need to meet the requirements of the California Tort Claims Act. You cannot sue any government organization without filing a written claim following the Act’s requirements within a specified timeframe. Once you’ve filed your claim, the government will investigate it and attempt to settle with you before the lawsuit begins. 

Get Public Sector Employment Law Help Today

Employment law is dense and confusing. You don’t need to handle it all alone. You should reach out to an experienced California workers’ rights lawyer to start fighting back. They can help you understand your rights and file your claim on time. Reach out for your initial consultation today.