Assemblymember Ortega and the California Labor Federation Introduce Bill to Teach Workers’ Rights to High School Students

Assemblymember Liz Ortega and the California Labor Federation have announced the introduction of Assembly Bill 800, which will direct California high schools to educate students about workers’ rights on the job. The program will also include information about high-road apprenticeship programs that provide a path to a good career.

“Many students have to find jobs while in high school to help their families make ends meet. They often experience sexual harassment, wage theft, and misclassification without knowing there are laws to protect them,” said Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, principal officer of the California Labor Federation. “This bill will ensure that as young people enter the workforce, they know about their rights to a fair wage, a safe workplace, and to join a union.”

Wage theft is prevalent throughout California and young workers are particularly vulnerable since they often do not know their rights or know what to do when their rights are violated. Many young workers aren’t aware of their right to refuse unsafe work or receive workers’ compensation benefits following on-the-job injury or illness. And even more don’t know they can organize a union with their co-workers.

“As a labor champion who has fought for workers for over two decades, I know firsthand how important it is to teach young workers their rights,” said Assemblymember Liz Ortega (D-Hayward). “By requiring that high school students be taught their rights as employees, AB 800 will empower them with the tools and knowledge to know their rights and advocate for themselves in the workplace.”

In addition, in immigrant families, many young people serve as translators and advocates for their parents, who are also disproportionately impacted by labor law violations. This bill would arm young people entering the workforce or assisting their parents with basic information about rights on the job, how to determine if they are being paid and treated fairly, and where to go to report violations.