Question: I work in a city agency which claims it is regulated by the Federal Labor Laws, and not regulated by the CA State Labor Laws…Does this make sense? I am confused by that…

“Wondering” in Walnut Creek, CA

Answer: It may surprise you, but it’s far from easy to explain which labor laws – city, state or federal – apply to your issue. Sometimes a federal law is considered to displace, or preempt, a local or state one. (That is called the “doctrine of preemption.”) Sometimes a federal law applies, but a state law gives added protection, as is the case in minimum wage laws: California law demands a higher minimum wage than does the federal law. Sometimes state laws provide that state law does not apply to public employees of its cities and towns, and the federal law applies because the state law does not. Like I said, it can be confusing. A better answer can be obtained from your California authorities: contact the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency at (916) 327-9064, located at 801 K Street, Ste. 2101, Sacramento, California 95184.

Best, Al Sklover

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