Congress is Considering National Right-to-Work Laws – But What Does Right To Work Mean?

You’ve probably heard the term “Right to Work” recently. The ideas behind right to work laws have been in the news, on political ads, and seem to be gaining support. But do you know what right to work means? It might feel like you have to be a labor lawyer to understand what these employment laws are about.


On this page, you’ll receive a breakdown of what the right to work law means, and what it does. Even if you’re in California with strong employment laws, federal right to work laws could affect you.


What is a Right to Work Law?

Right to work laws are employment laws regarding unionization. If you’re in a state like California, a company’s union might require you to join as a condition of employment. This means you’ll have to pay dues, and your union will bargain for you. In states with right to work laws you cannot be required to join your union, or pay dues to your union. However, those unions will still have to bargain for you.

Organized labor argues that because you’re receiving the benefits of union membership, you should be expected to help pay for the costs of bargaining. Proponents of Right to work laws say these laws just ensure that you have the freedom to make your own choices.

How Can Right to Work Laws Affect Me

There are many instances where you may be affected by right to work laws. When you’re being hired, if you have right to work laws in your state, you don’t have to join a union. However, if your new employer has a union contract, you can still enjoy the benefits of that contract without paying any fees to your union. Opponents of right to work laws say that this will harm the overall power of unions.

If your coworkers are trying to organize a union, or negotiate a new union contract, right to work laws matter. Because the negotiation must cover all the workers, even if you’re not a member or paying fees, you’ll probably find fewer members and even less funds for the unions.

So, are Right to Work Laws Anti-Union?

This depends on who you talk to. Most employment rights and labor groups oppose right to work laws, arguing that these employment laws result in weaker unions and fewer workplace protections. What do you think about right to work laws? Tell the Law Offices of Cathe L. Caraway-Howard on their Facebook page. If you have any question about California employment laws, or you have a dispute with your employer, Contact Cathe L. Caraway-Howard at (310) 488-9020. You can count on decades of experience to fight for your employee rights.

5 California Employment Laws Coming up in 2017 You Should Watch

Whether you’re an employee or an employer, it’s important to know how California employment laws will affect you. You should always contact a labor attorney like Cathe L. Caraway-Howard if you have any specific questions. That said, it’s always good if you have an idea of what’s coming up regarding California employment laws. 2017 is already shaping up to be a big year when it comes to your rights in the workplace. The California State Legislature has already introduced these 5 bills.


A.B. 5

Assembly Members Lorena Gonzalez and Ash Kalra introduced The Opportunity to Work Act, or A.B. 5. Gonzalez said during the press release for this bill, “Even as we’ve won increases in the minimum wage to help part-time workers, that just won’t cut it if you can’t get enough hours of work…The Opportunity to Work Act will provide a boost to the millions of workers in California who want to work more so they can afford the necessities of life and to take care of themselves and their families in a time when housing costs, student debt, and surprise expenses are increasingly difficult to manage.”

According to that press release, this piece to the puzzle of California employment laws makes sure that companies with 10 or more employees must offer more hours to existing part-time employees before hiring. They must have an employee that is qualified to do the job. This is great news if you’re one of the 1 million Californians that involuntarily have your hours limited.

A.B. 168

This bill, introduced by Susan Eggman, D-Stockton, applies to your salary history. The goal of this bill is to prevent employers for asking about your salary history during your interview. Additionally, this bill requires your potential employers to give you the pay scale for the job you’re applying for.

During this bill’s press release, Eggman said “Using Salary History to determine compensation perpetuates a system that pays women less than their male counterparts.”


Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa) Introduced this bill. This bill’s goal is to make sure consumers who’ve been defrauded can sue, even if they signed an arbitration agreement. Arbitration agreements mean if you have a dispute with someone with whom you’ve signed a contract, you must use binding arbitration instead of suing them in court.

During the press release for SB-33, Senator Dodd said, “It’s unacceptable for consumers to be blocked from our public courts to recover damages for fraud and identity theft. Allowing victims their day in court not only allows them to recover, it can prevent more victims by putting an end to illegal business practices.” He added, “With Quick Federal Action on this issue unlikely, it’s critical that California lead the nation to prevent these abuses.

Wells Fargo Bank employees used customers’ personal identification to create more than two million new accounts without consent. These fraudulent accounts caused the victims, who didn’t even know about these accounts millions of dollars of fees. Many of these victims tried to sue to recover their damages.

Wells Fargo however, had a response. They argued that customers had waived their right to sue. As such, this should be handled through arbitration. The courts upheld that argument. Wells Fargo has received over $150 million in regulatory fines Since this information came out. While this bill doesn’t directly address employment, it would affect any employment agreement with an arbitration waiver.

S.B. 62

Senator Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) put this bill forward. The purpose of this bill is to expand which family members you can take protected leave to care for. Under this bill, you can take 12 weeks of leave, while protecting your job, to care for your grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, in-laws, or your adult children. The bill applies only to employers who have 50 or more employees.

This bill, and the next one on the list are being similar bills to other bills Jackson had authored that were vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown. During the press release, Jackson said “I look forward to continuing to work with the Governor to reach an agreement on these important issues.”

S.B. 63

In addition to S.B. 62, Senator Jackson also introduced S.B. 63, or the New Parent Leave Act. S.B. 63 expands the amount of job-protected parental leave, both maternity and paternity leave, for new parents who work at smaller businesses. If congress passes this law, you’ll get 12 weeks of job-protected “Parental Leave” as long as your company has 20-49 employees. Under today’s law, only employers with 50 employees or more must provide job-protected leave.

At the press release, Jackson said, “Any new parent knows that the birth of a new baby comes with a host of changes and challenges. But losing a job should never be among those challenges. The same must be said of the impacts of serious illness of an extended family member. It simply is not right that far too many Californians who already pay into and are eligible for Paid Family Leave benefits fear that if they utilize these benefits they will lose their jobs.”


What do you think about these upcoming California employment laws? Tell the Law Offices of Cathe L. Caraway-Howard on Facebook. If you have a dispute with your employer, the Law Office of Cathe L. Caraway-Howard are ready to fight for you. Call us at (310) 488-9020 to schedule a consultation.

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7th Circuit of Appeals Court Rules the Civil Rights Act Protects Gay Workers, How Can This Affect You?

In what is being hailed as a significant victory for gay rights, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that the Civil Rights Act from 1964 applies protections to gay employees from job discrimination. This expands the protections the landmark law provides to include sexual orientation, great news for anyone seeking the services of California employment lawyers due to discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The case started with Kimberly Hively’s lawsuit against Ivy Tech Community College. Hively alleges that she was fired from her position because she is a lesbian. In the court’s opinion, chief judge Diane P. Wood wrote that “Hively’s claim is no different from the claims brought by women who were rejected for jobs in traditionally male workplaces, such as fire departments, construction and policing.” She also wrote that “Ivy Tech is disadvantaging her because she is a woman.”

However, the court did not rule on Hively’s lawsuit in specific. What their ruling did was allow for Ms. Hively’s employment case to continue. This comes after a lower court had previously dismissed her case. The lower court ruled that the Civil Rights Act did not provide protections for sexual orientation.

Ms. Hively represented herself in the lower court because she could not find a lawyer who thought she would win. In an interview, she said “I wasn’t doing it just for me, but for anyone who was going to be bullied in a job for who they decided to love.”

The results of this case are going to make it easier for California employment lawyers to fight for their clients. This is the highest federal court that has granted these employment protections. Because of this, the chances this issue reaches the Supreme Court are much higher. The Supreme Court has legalized same-sex marriage already, however many legal protections, such as employment and housing have not reached gay people yet. Another ruling in an appellate court in Georgia came to the opposite conclusion. That Georgia court ruled that the Civil Rights Act does not protect against discrimination at work for gay employees.

If you feel that you’ve been discriminated against in the workplace, besides contacting California employment lawyers, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself.

Bring the Issue to Your Employer’s Attention

If you feel you are being harassed or discriminated against, you should make your employer aware of the situation. It is possible that many cases of discrimination or harassment are not recognized, and go unpunished because the victim did not establish that the behavior is unacceptable or unwelcome. While your employer is unlikely to admit to discrimination, or help you draft your legal papers against them, they are responsible for complying with the law. However, you are responsible for ensuring your rights are protected.

As an additional note, if the person you feel is discriminating against or harassing you is your immediate supervisor, you can report it to their superior, or your human resources representative. It is common for employers to designate a specific managerial or human resources person for accepting complaints. If this is the case, you should report directly to that individual with your complaint.

Keep a Diary

Record the date, and if possible time, as well as where the discrimination happened. Write in your diary who was involved in your discrimination, as well as who witnessed your discrimination, and your incident’s details.

Keep or Copy any Objects Used

If pictures or other objects are used to discriminate against you, either keep it, or take a picture of it for your records. For example, if you come to your desk and see anti-gay statements printed and taped to your computer chair. While your immediate urge may be to destroy, and trash those papers, instead either save them, or take a picture of them. It’s helpful to have the actual items used to discriminate against you, rather than simply describing them.

Review Your Company’s Anti-Discrimination Policy

Your Employer probably has an anti-discrimination policy in writing. Here, they have acknowledged they will not act in ways that are discriminatory. Save your copy of your employer’s policy.

Contact California Employment Lawyers

It’s a terrible place to be as the victim of discrimination. It will rip and tear at your emotions, and can make it difficult to separate your feelings from the law. Your labor law attorney can help you look clearly at the situation and make sure your outcome is favorable.

The Law Offices of Cathe L. Caraway-Howard have represented many employees seeking to right injustices they’ve felt in the work place. The Daily Journal named Cathe as one of the 2015 Top Employment Lawyers in California.