No one wants to work for their employer for free, so employees are often very interested in learning about wage and overtime laws. To ensure you are being fairly compensated for your work, it’s important to understand how these laws apply to you and what you should do if you feel your employer is not paying you what you deserve.
California employers must comply with state minimum wage laws. As of 2017, this means employers with over 25 employees must pay their employees a minimum of $10.50 per hour, and employers with less than 25 employees must pay $10.00 an hour. Some cities have their own laws that require employers to pay a higher minimum wage than the wage set by the state. For example, the city of Los Angeles will raise its minimum wage to $12.00 beginning in July of this year. Employers who are subject to more than one law have to comply with the one that is more beneficial to the employee. This means employers in Los Angeles have to comply with the city’s minimum wage law instead of the state’s law because employees benefit more from the city’s higher minimum wage.
Although some states do not require employers to pay tipped employees the minimum wage, California is not one of these states. If you are an employee who receives tips, you are still entitled to receive minimum wage on top of your tips.
There are many other wage laws that California employers must follow. For example, most employers have to issue paychecks to their employees at least twice per month and notify their employees in advance of the dates that they will be paid. California employees can pay their employees in cash, check, or through direct deposit, but they cannot require their employees to sign up for direct deposit. These are just a handful of the laws that protect employees in California from being paid unfairly by their employers. If you believe your employer is violating a wage law, it’s best to speak to an attorney to discuss the specifics of your case.
Some employees are also entitled to receive overtime pay if they work more than eight hours in a single day or 40 hours in a week. In some cases, employees may be entitled to receive one and one half times pay for their overtime, while in other cases, they may be entitled to receive double their pay. The law outlines exactly how employers should pay their employees for overtime. For example, if you are eligible for overtime and work 12 hours in one day, you will receive one and one half times pay for the four hours of extra work that you put in that day. However, California law requires your employer to pay you double your regular rate for every hour that you work in excess of 12 hours in a workday. This means if you work 13 hours in a single day, you will receive one and one half times the pay for the 9th through 12th hours of your work, and double the pay for the 13th hour of your work.
However, there are exceptions to the overtime rule. Some employees are not eligible to receive overtime, and therefore should not expect to receive it regardless of the number of hours that they work. Some of the employees that are not eligible for overtime pay include outside sales representatives, professional drivers, actors, news editors, and sheepherders.
Initiating Wage & Overtime Cases
When an employer refuses to pay an employee the wages or overtime pay that he deserves, the employee has a right to take legal action. If this happens to you, there are two options that you can choose from to recover the money that you deserve. First, you can file a claim with California’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). The DLSE will immediately begin to investigate the claim and determine whether your employer has violated any state laws. If a violation is found, you will be able to recover compensation from your employer.
Employees also have the option of hiring an attorney and filing a lawsuit in court to recover the money that they are owed. If there are complex legal issues in your case, or if you are attempting to recover a significant amount of money, you should always work with an attorney instead of filing a claim with the DLSE.
Documenting the Wage or Overtime Violation
If you want to file a claim or a lawsuit against your employer for violating wage and overtime laws, it’s important that you gather as much evidence as possible. It’s not required that you have evidence to support your claim because your attorney or the DLSE can subpoena your employer for the documentation, but it’s strongly recommended.
Keep copies of pay stubs, dishonored paychecks, and time records that show the hours you have worked. If your employer provided you with documentation that outlines how you will be compensated for your work, keep a copy of this as well so you can show that your employer violated the written agreement.
The Outcome of Wage and Overtime Cases
Regardless of which method you choose, you may be able to recover unpaid wages, unpaid commissions, unpaid overtime pay, and unpaid vacation wages. The court may award you interest on your unpaid wages or penalties for making you wait so long to receive the money that you legally earned. You may also be awarded compensation for your employer’s failure to pay you in a timely manner or failure to provide you with meal or rest breaks. If you chose to work with an attorney, the court may order your employer to pay for your attorneys’ fees as well.
If you believe your employer has violated any of these wage and overtime laws, seek legal representation right away. Schedule a free consultation with our team of knowledgeable attorneys by calling 1-800-GOT-FIRED or visiting us online.