Employment Law Basics for Veterinarians


In California, four primary laws govern veterinarians’ interactions with their employees: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, federal wage and hour laws, state wage and hour laws and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

This section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of race, age, sex, religion, national origin or color. This law applies to all aspects of employment, including hiring, firing, recruitment, benefits, pay, promotions, layoffs, assignments, use of company facilities and more. If a prospective, current or former employee believes he or she has been a victim of discrimination, he or she can file a complaint against your veterinary practice with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. If the complaint cannot be resolved, it may lead to a lawsuit.

Federal Wage and Hour Laws

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the minimum wage you can pay an employee in the United States is $7.25 per hour. In addition, when an employee works more than 40 hours in a single week, federal law requires you to pay a wage equal to at least 1.5 times the employee’s usual rate.

State Wage and Hour Laws

The state of California mandates a minimum wage of $9.00, which is higher than the federally-mandated minimum wage. As a result of this law, veterinarians in California must pay their employees at least $9.00 for every hour worked. As of January 1, 2016, the minimum wage in California will increase to $10.00. Likewise, California requires overtime pay equal to at least 1.5 times the employee’s regular hourly rate for every hour worked in excess of 40 per week or 8 per day. The minimum amount of overtime pay increases to double the employee’s regular rate for hours worked in excess of 12 in a single day.

Fair Employment and Housing Act

The Fair Employment and Housing Act’s requirements for veterinarians are similar to those of the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, in addition to all of the protections provided by the Civil Rights Act, the Fair Employment and Housing Act also prohibits employers from discriminating against current or prospective employees because of sexual orientation, gender, gender expression, gender identity, pregnancy, breastfeeding, military of veteran status, medical conditions, marital status, ancestry, disability or genetic information.