Is Health Insurance a Right for California Workers?
Nick Ferraro | July 1, 2021 | Employment Law
Health insurance laws can be complicated as state and federal laws sometimes conflict. Moreover, the laws related to health insurance coverage change frequently, making it difficult for employees and employers to keep up with the changes.
There is no state law in California requiring employers to provide health insurance coverage for employees. However, many employers offer group health insurance as part of their employee benefits packages.
California insurance laws do require employers to include certain mandated benefits in their health insurance coverages when they provide such insurance. However, if federal law (ERISA health plans and benefits) conflicts with California mandated benefits law, federal law will supersede state law.
There is No Law Requiring Employers to Offer Health Insurance Coverage
There is no federal or state law requiring an employer to provide health insurance coverage to an employee. Still, some employees may be entitled to health insurance coverage, including members of a union or employees with employment contracts that include health insurance coverage.
However, the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) charges fines for larger employers (over 50 full-time equivalent employees) that do not offer health insurance to employees. The health insurance coverage must meet minimum standards for coverage and affordability.
Many larger employers throughout California provide health insurance coverage to avoid the penalty. The penalty can cost several thousand dollars per employee.
The employer has the right to provide health insurance coverage for employees that meet the minimum standards required by the ACA or choose to pay the penalty. An employee cannot compel an employer to provide health insurance coverage under the ACA.
California Employees Have Many Rights
All California workers have certain rights as an employee. Employers who violate these rights could be fined by various government entities. The employer could also face a civil lawsuit from the employee(s).
California is one of the best states for employees; some of the rights employees have in California include, but are not limited to:
- Accommodations and leave in specific circumstances, such as special accommodations for disabled workers and leave for pregnant workers and new parents
- Reimbursement for many work-related expenses, such as cell phones for work use, work uniforms, costs of remotely working from home, and work-related use of an employee’s personal vehicle
- Required meal and rest breaks based on hours worked
- A safe work environment free from employer retaliation, sexual harassment, and workplace discrimination
- Protection for filing whistleblower complaints or participating in whistleblower investigations
- Standards for wages and benefits, including minimum wage, overtime pay, vacation time, and PTO (paid time off)
There are many other protections available for workers, including laws against wrongful termination. There are also protections against unfair work environments and laws against sexual harassment.
What Should You Do if You Believe Your Employer is Violating Your Rights as an Employee?
If you believe that your employer has violated your rights, you may have several options.
Consulting with a San Diego employment law attorney should be one of the first steps you take. An employment law attorney is on your side. They will fight for your rights to fair and equal treatment at work.
Steps to take after an employer violates your rights include:
- Try to remain calm and avoid making any rash decisions or comments
- Gather all documentation you will need to file a complaint or lawsuit
- File a complaint with your Human Resources Department or supervisor according to company policy
- Document all efforts to file a complaint or communicate with your employer regarding the violation of your employee rights
- Seek legal advice regarding filing a complaint with the appropriate federal or state agency
- Consider filing a civil lawsuit seeking compensation for damages
If your employer retaliates against you for trying to file a report, the retaliation could result in a separate claim. An employer cannot retaliate against an employee for exercising their legal rights. That includes firing an employee, demoting the employee, reducing work hours or wages, giving an unreasonable workload, etc.
You Are Not Alone
Many employees feel they must endure mistreatment because they need a job. That is not the case. State and federal agencies give you access to numerous resources and assistance for labor law violations.
You also have the option of contacting an employment lawyer near you. You can discuss your case and get skilled legal advice regarding your options for seeking justice.