CALIFORNIA WAGE VIOLATIONS
As an employee, you deserve fair compensation. You have important rights regardless of whether you earn an hourly wage or salary. You might also have additional rights under an employment contract or collective bargaining agreement.
We are fortunate to live in a country where the law protects employees’ rights to a reasonable wage. Both state and federal laws regulate wages. They give employees a path to enforcing their rights and reporting violations.
As an employee, you deserve fair compensation. You have important rights regardless of whether you earn an hourly wage or salary. You might also have additional rights under an employment contract or collective bargaining agreement. We are fortunate to live in a country where the law protects employees’ rights to a reasonable wage. Both state and federal laws regulate wages. They give employees a path to enforcing their rights and reporting violations.
California law specifically protects your wages and hours as a worker. Oftentimes, employers violate both federal and state laws regarding wage laws. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, these employers have treated workers unfairly according to the law, by not paying them the wages to which they are entitled. To better understand your rights, these are the seven most common violations of wage laws in California.
- Misclassification as an independent contractor. An independent contractor is technically in business for themselves, and not an employee of a company. As such, they are not afforded the same right and benefits as an employee including overtime pay and meal breaks. If an employer misclassifies an employee as an independent contractor, they would not have to pay that employee for overtime or ensure that they are paid and treated the same as other similarly situated employees in the company.
California requires that an employment relationship exists when the employer has the right to control the manner and means by which the employee gets a job done. If for an employer the following is true, the worker may be an independent contractor instead of an employee:
- Little to no supervision of the worker
- The worker cannot be fired because of a separate contract that needs to be fulfilled
- The worker works for more than one company and owns their own business
- The worker makes business decisions
- The worker provides their own equipment
- The work is for a fixed period of time
- The worker is paid through invoices after a project is completed
- The worker was not trained by the business
There are other considerations as well, but ultimately if an employee is truly an employee of the company, then they will have the rights of an employee including comparable pay to other employees, pay during mealtimes, and overtime pay.
- Misclassification as an “exempt” employee. An exempt employee is a worker who is not subject to the wage and hour laws of California. The three requirements to obtain an exempt employee status are a salary at least twice that of the minimum wage for full-time employment, the job is a white-collar job, and the employee’s duties require independent judgment and discretion. If an employer attempts to misclassify an employee incorrectly as an exempt employee, it will violate wage and hour laws.
- Failure to pay employees timely. An employer must pay employees timely. While there are different types of payment schedules and arrangements that can be made between an employer and an employee, whatever schedule is decided upon must be honored. If an employer fails to pay employees, or fails to pay them in a timely manner, this would be a violation of the wage and hour laws.
- Final paycheck violations. The final paycheck of an employee is likely an important one as they either are fired or have quit their employment with the company. If an employee is fired in the State of California, typically all unpaid wages up to the date of termination must be made on the same day the employee is terminated. If an employee resigns from employment giving at least 72 hours of notice, they must be also paid their final wages on their last day of employment. If they do not give notice, their final paycheck must be provided within 72 hours after their last day of work. An employer can receive penalties if they do not provide final paychecks according to the law in a timely manner.
- Failure to relieve employees of duty during breaks. Employers are required to give employees breaks during the working day. The number of rest breaks and meal breaks differs among different classes of employees. However, once it is established what meal and breaks are provided for employees, an employer must honor that agreement. If they fail to provide a rest or meal break, the employee is entitled to one extra hour of pay at the regular hourly rate.
- Failure to pay overtime. Employers are required by law to pay overtime to employees who work more than 40 hours in a workweek or a seventh consecutive day in any workweek. There are complex laws that relate to overtime, however, if you are an employee working over 40 hours a week and not considered a non-exempt employee, your employer by law, has to pay you overtime pay, which is time-and-a-half of your regular wages.
- Retaliation against employees who challenge wage violations. In California, employees have a right to report unlawful activities of employers regarding wage and hour violations. Employers are legally prohibited from retaliating against employees, punishing or firing them for disclosing information or voicing concerns regarding wage and hour violations to the government, law enforcement or their superiors.
Standing Up for Employees’ Wage Rights
If your employer fails to comply with the law concerning pay, benefits or any other form of compensation, you can pursue accountability through the legal process. Turn to the lawyers at Perkins Asbill in Sacramento for an evaluation of your wage and hour claim.
Our employment law attorneys represent workers in the public and private sectors. Clients come to us from all backgrounds and industries — including restaurant and hotel workers, laborers, tech workers, and high-level managers. We have the experience to stand up against even the most powerful corporations.
Our firm represents employees in claims involving all manner of wage violations, such as:
- Failure to pay minimum wage
- Per diem wage violations
- Unpaid overtime
- Prevailing wage disputes
- Failure to provide benefits
- Vacation/paid time off violations
- Failure to pay employees in a timely manner
- Unpaid commissions or bonuses
- Failure to pay you for being “on-call”
- Failure to provide pay stubs or wage statements
With more than 30 years of employment law experience, our lawyers know how to work through the intricacies of the California Labor Code, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and other applicable law. Let our legal team stand by your side in challenging unfair wage practices. To get started, arrange a confidential consultation by calling (916) 446-2000.