Wage and Hour Employee & Worker's Rights
Failure to Pay Minimum Wage
It should be non-controversial that employees should be treated with dignity and paid living wage. Unfortunately, many businesses and employers have historically exhibited a sense of greed and entitlement that they can pay employees whatever the employee will agree to take. These same employers would often hire illegal immigrants or other vulnerable persons and pay them less than others. Fortunately, in California, employers are held to high standards and cannot discriminate against employees whether they are illegal immigrants or not.
Everyone is entitled to make at least the minimum wage. The minimum wage is the lowest amount of hourly compensation that an employer is required to pay employees. California’s minimum wage is higher than the federal required minimum wage. Additionally, certain cities have a higher minimum wage than other parts of the State of California. Also, employers over 25 employees are required to pay more than employers with less employees. By January 1, 2023, when the State of California will implement a minimum wage of $15 per hour. Once the minimum rate reaches $15 per hour, it is supposed to shift annually based on inflation.
In addition, certain Wage Orders require a double minimum wage in certain instances, such as when the employer is required to provide their own tools or equipment for the job. Additionally, your employer is supposed to maintain a Wage Order in a conspicuous place at your jobsite that specifies the current federal and state minimum wages.
Some employers try to evade wage and hour laws by characterizing employees as independent contractors. This is illegal. Under Labor Code section 1182.12, an employer is anybody that directly or indirectly employs or uses control over any person’s working conditions, hours, or wages. An employee is someone doing any type of compensable work for an employer if that person is not a bona fide independent contractor.
If you have not been paid the minimum wage, Shalchi Burch LLP can help you bring a wage and hour lawsuit against your employer under the FLSA, state law, or an applicable ordinance to recover the unpaid wages. When an employer does not pay you at least the minimum wage, you may be able to recover all of the unpaid sums, plus a penalty of liquidated damages. The amount of liquidated damages is an amount equal to the minimum wage that you are owed. Thus, for example, if you are owed $5,000 in unpaid minimum wages for the last two years, you can recover another $5,000 in liquidated damages, thereby doubling your damages.
If you have questions whether you have been denied the minimum wage by your employer, or if your business is facing such claims, please contact the wage and hour employment lawyers at Shalchi Burch LLP today.
Failure to Pay Overtime
Both federal and California law require nonexempt employees to be paid overtime when the employee works more than 40 hours in a workweek. California’s overtime laws protect the employee more than the federal law. For example, in California, overtime must be paid to nonexempt employees in most occupations when the employee works: either over 8 hours in a workday, or 40 hours in week, or if working seven days in a row.
When California law requires an employer to pay overtime, the usual overtime rate of pay is one and one-half the employee’s regular rate of pay. This is often known as being paid “time and a half.”
However, an overtime rate of twice the employee’s regular rate of pay (often called “double time”) applies to hours worked in excess of 12 hours in a workday, or in excess of 8 hours on the seventh consecutive workday in a workweek.
Some of these words have a specific legal meaning. A workday for these purposes is a 24-hour period that begins at the same time each calendar day. A workweek is a period of seven consecutive days beginning on the same calendar day each week.
Employers are responsible for designating the start of the workweek. Knowing how the workweek has been designated is often important for deciding whether overtime is owed.
Additionally, computing the employee’s regular rate of pay can involve some nuance. Regardless, if you believe you have been deprived of overtime compensation, or if your business is facing such claims, you should contact the wage and hour attorneys at Shalchi Burch LLP as soon as possible.