Know Your Rights


Photo by Owen Davis

On Thursday, March 16th, The Press Democrat released a shocking article. The article stated that multiple students from San Antonio High School in Petaluma had been taken advantage of by their jobs at a local Subway. The Subway owner, John Meza, had not been paying the high schoolers the money they had rightfully earned. Not to forget, the students were also not receiving any of the electronic tips customers were leaving. 3 courageous girls, Allesandra Chavez, Lorenza Tapia, and Yaneli Vargas reported the unfair working conditions they were experiencing, especially considering that they were not the first high schoolers that had been taken advantage of by the establishment. They wanted to help prevent this from occurring again and wanted to receive the money they worked hard for. Because of this unfortunate event, Casa Revista wants to remind all Gauchos of their worker’s rights, what they are entitled to, and what to do if they believe their rights are being taken advantage of.

  • “ The right to be paid fair wages for the work that is performed”
  • “The right to a safe environment that is free from dangerous conditions that could cause injuries or illnesses”
  • “The right to a work environment that is free of harassment and discrimination of all types”
  • “The right to not be retaliated against for filing a complaint against an employer/expressing a concern”
  • As of 2023, the minimum wage in the State of California is $15.50 (Sonoma County $17.05)
  • “It is unlawful for a company to prohibit or retaliate against employees for discussing or sharing information related to wages.”
  • Discrimination for race, religion, gender, identity, or any kind is prohibited and should be reported
  • You are entitled to a 10 minute break if you work 4 hours. If you work 6+ hours you are entitled to a 30 minute break. If you work 8 hours you are entitled to two 10 minute breaks and one 30 minute lunch break. If you work 10+ hours you are entitled to two 30 minute breaks. 
  • “While the harassment doesn’t have to be of a sexual nature, it could also include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a female employee by making offensive comments about women in general. The victim and the harasser could be of either gender or of the same sex.” 


Federal and state laws also prohibit employers from punishing job applicants and employees for asserting their rights to participate in “protected activity.” Such activities may include:

  • Filing a complaint or being a witness in a government case against the employer
  • Telling a supervisor or manager about discrimination and/or harassment in the workplace
  • Refusing to follow orders that would result in discrimination
  • Resisting sexual advances or intervening in a situation to protect someone else
  • Asking managers or co-workers about salary information to shed light on potentially discriminatory wages
  • Complains to a state or federal agency about unsafe conditions in the workplace”
  • “The term “wrongful termination” essentially means that the employer has fired or laid off a worker for reasons that are illegal or in violation of state and/or federal employment laws. For example, if an employer laid off an employee over the age of 40 and then hired a younger worker for the same position at a much lower pay scale, that would amount to age discrimination and the laid-off employee may have a wrongful termination lawsuit.”


Please keep in mind these are not all of your rights, but the most essential ones and the ones you should be most aware of. Below, is a link for the California Employment Law Handbook. The handbook specifies and goes into detail about every right and freedom afforded to workers in the State of California.



If you think your rights have been violated, the first step would be to fill out a Retaliation and/or Equal Pay Act (EPA) Complaint Form. Then you would have to wait to hear back from the state.

Retaliation Complaint Form: 

Equal Pay ACT  Complaint Form: