Some employers try to save money any way they can, even at the expense of their employees. Employers who pay employees less than minimum wage, fail to pay them overtime, require employees work on meal or rest breaks, or misclassify workers are in violation of state and federal wage and hour laws.
California offers employees a path to recover these unpaid wages. If you believe your employer is violating wage and hour laws, an unpaid wages lawyer in Los Angeles at the Law Office of Joshua Cohen Slatkin can help. Call us today at 310-923-7839.
If you are owed a small amount of wages but work for a company with many employees, a wage and hour class action may also be the best course for your case. We have the experience and resources to handle class action matters for unpaid wages. So, no matter the amount of wages you may be owed, call us today at 310-923-7839 so we can discuss your legal options.
How do employers violate California’s wage and hour laws?
Minimum Wage Violations
California’s minimum wage is higher than the federal law requirement. As of 2017, the minimum wage is $10.50/hour for employers with 26 or more employees and $10.00/hour for employers with fewer than 26 employees. And some municipalities set an even higher minimum wage. The minimum wage in Los Angeles is $12.00/hour for employers with 26 or more employees and $10.50 for employers with fewer than 26 employees.
But some employers fail to pay this minimum wage, or try to find loopholes to avoid it. For example, some employers may pay workers a salary but expect them to work so many hours that their effective per-hour rate does not equal the minimum wage. Others may expect employees to work off the clock, such as during breaks or before and after they clock in.
Violations in Overtime Pay
California law provides specific overtime pay scales:
- Time and a half pay for any work over 40 hours in a workweek
- Time and a half pay for working over eight hours in a single day
- Time and a half pay for the first eight hours on the seventh workday in a row
- Double time for working more than 12 hours in a single day
- Double time for any work after the first eight hours on the seventh workday in a row
Employers may violate state laws by paying only time-and-a-half pay when workers are owed double time instead. And while some employers may outright refuse to pay earned overtime wages, others may misclassify employees as independent contractors, when in reality they are regular non-exempt employees, to avoid paying them overtime. All these scenarios are illegal.
Some workers are exempt from overtime pay. Employers may take advantage of these exemptions by misclassifying workers as exempt when they should be non-exempt. And some employers attempt to classify workers as independent contractors when they do the work of an employee because overtime, minimum wage, and other employment laws do not apply to independent contractors.
Exempt employees (i.e., not entitled to overtime and other wage and hour law protections) include:
- Administrative workers (e.g., administrative assistants)
- Highly-compensated employees
- Learned professionals (e.g., registered nurses, doctors, teachers, lawyers, etc.)
- Computer professionals
- Outside sales employees
Non-exempt employees (those who qualify for overtime) include:
- Tipped employees (e.g., servers)
- Manual labor and other hourly paid work
- First responders (e.g., police officers, firefighters, paramedics, etc.)
To determine whether you are an exempt employee, consider your position, your job duties, and how much you make. Exempt employees must make more than $913 a week ($47,476 a year) and perform exempt duties. Examples of exempt duties include:
- Managing a company or department (executive exemption)
- Performing office work that directly affects the company (administrative exemption)
- Performing work that requires advanced knowledge (professional exemption)
- Making sales (outside sales exemption)
- Systems analysis (computer employee exemption)
Meal and Rest Break Violations
California law requires, per the court’s decision in Brinker Restaurant Corporation v. Superior Court, employers to offer duty-free meal breaks. Employers must offer employees a meal break within the first five hours after the beginning of an employee’s shift. Employees must also offer a 10-minute rest break during a shift that lasts between 3.5 and six hours and another for shifts that last between six and ten hours.
Employers who fail to offer these breaks or require their employees perform job tasks during their breaks are in violation of state law, and may be responsible for repaying employees’ unpaid wages.
How do I file a claim?
The Law Office of Joshua Cohen Slatkin can help you file a lawsuit against your employer to seek damages for your unpaid wages. We build unpaid wage claims by reviewing documentation of your hours and earnings, as well as compiling any other available evidence so we can establish your employer broke the law and owes you unpaid wages. Other evidence that may help prove your case includes:
- Internal company policies
- Internal company memos and other correspondence
- Testimony from coworkers
- Surveillance video of employees working off the clock
- Time clock data
- Pay stubs
- Any and all records of your hours worked
Is there a statute of limitations for unpaid wages claims?
California law gives you three years to file a claim for unpaid wages. This means you need to file a claim within three years of the time the violation occurred. If the violation lasted more than three years, the claim will only cover the three years immediately before you filed the claim. However, under Business and Professions Code section 17200 (which adds one additional year beyond the three-year statute of limitations) claims for unpaid wages can go back as far as four years.
This time limit for filing a claim is one reason it is important to talk to us as soon as possible. In addition to preparing your claim and managing the process, we will ensure you do not miss these important deadlines.
How can the Law Office of Joshua Cohen Slatkin help me recover my unpaid wages?
At the Law Office of Joshua Cohen Slatkin, we understand the tricks employers use to violate wage and hours laws, and work to help employees recover all the compensation they earned. The value of your claim depends on the amount of unpaid wages your employer owes you. You can recover unpaid wages due to minimum wage violations, overtime violations, break violations, or other wage and hour violations.
We will analyze your case to determine its value and collect all available evidence to build a solid case that demonstrates your employer’s liability. We will also protect your rights if your employer attempts to retaliate against you for filing a claim.
Call us today at 310-923-7839 to schedule a free case evaluation.