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California Fast Food Workers Union

Know Your Rights

National Labor Relations Act

Under the Federal National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) workers have the right to join together and advocate for themselves and coworkers around terms and conditions of work–also called working conditions and the right to make demands of their boss or go on strike over those. Employers cannot legally retaliate (including fire) workers for exercising these rights.

Health and Safety Laws under California OSHA

The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration is the state’s version of the federal law. CALOSHA has many stronger protections that the federal laws and requires that employers provide workers with a safe and healthy workplace. CALOSHA has found that acts of violence against workers, from coworkers, customers or the public, violate the law and workers must be protected from these actions. It also provides for health and safety regulations regarding exposure to dangerous working conditions, toxic chemicals or fumes, hazardous materials and more. 

The California Fast Food Workers Union is fighting to ensure all fast food workers have a safe and healthy workplace, free from hazards, violence and unsafe working conditions. In order for the Union to do this, workers need to join us to help us learn of any unsafe working conditions so we can hold employers accountable.

Wage and Hour Laws

California has some of the best wage and hour laws in the country, but they still do not protect everything. The CFFWU will fight to ensure the existing laws are enforced, while fighting to have them expanded to cover all the issues that arise in Fast Food work.

Under the current law, after someone has worked for an employer for 30 days, employees must allow their employees to accrue sick leave up to 40 hours per year and cannot deny a worker’s request to use this earned sick leave. Some localities may have higher amounts of leave you can earn and maintain. 

Employers must give workers a paid, 10 minute break, for every 4 hours of work and a thirty minute unpaid break after no more than 5 hours of work. Any break of less than 20 minutes is to be paid time. If you are made to eat while working, you must be paid for that time! 

Non-exempt employees must be paid overtime at a rate of time and a half after working 8 hours in one day or 40 hours in a week. Employers must pay workers two times their hourly rate for hours over 12 hours worked in a day. 

Timing of being paid: An employer in California must pay its workers at least twice a month on designated, regular paydays. If your employer’s payment to you bounces, you are entitled to penalties until you are paid. If you are fired, you must be paid your final paycheck on your last day of work. 

Failure to comply with wage and hour laws is illegal and is considered wage theft. Wage theft is a crime. An employer who commits wage theft is obligated to pay the worker the money that is owed to them and often requires the payment of numerous penalties to that worker. If you think you have experienced wage theft, CAFFWU might be able to help! We have helped hundreds of workers file complaints for wage theft. Join us and we will do everything we can to help you!

But, there are plenty of areas where the law does not do enough. Workers do not have a right to paid time off, their sick leave is capped at 40 hours days per year and workers do not have a right fair and predicable scheduling. That means a company doesn’t have to tell you in advance your schedule and does not have to give you the same schedule every week, making it extremely difficult to plan your daily life, how you will spend time with your family, go to the doctor for yourself or even pay your bills. 

Additionally, under current law, employers can fire workers for no reason at all–this is called “at will” employment. They are not allowed to fire you for exercising one of our legal rights mentioned above, but can for any reason or no reason at all. And, they don’t even have to give you advanced notice they are firing you–they can just tell you that you are fired immediately. That is why workers should join together with CAFFWU to fight for a “just cause” standard in fast food. Just cause means that an employer cannot fire a worker without a real–or just–reason, like doing something wrong at work. AND, they have to treat all employees the same–so if they let some workers show up 5 minutes late without discipline, they can’t discipline other workers for being 5 minutes late.


It is illegal for an employer with five or more employees to discriminate or harass workers based on a protected characteristic. Protected characteristics include: race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, age (40 or over), marital status, pregnancy, disability, military or veterans status, ancestry, medical condition, or religion. It is also illegal for an employer to retaliate against a worker for complaining of being discriminated against or being a witness to someone else’s’ discrimination. If any supervisor discriminates against an employee, the employer is responsible for that. If a coworker discriminates against a coworker, once management is made aware of that conduct, they become responsible for it and must do something to end the discrimination. 

It is also illegal to pay people of a different sex different wages for the same or similar work.