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Wages and Hours Lawyer in California

Employers in California must ensure their employees to receive proper labor treatment according to their legal rights. One very important right is the right to wages and hours. At a minimum, employers must pay their employees the minimum wage established by law. An employer must pay employees for all hours worked. Employers must pay hourly employees overtime for overtime hours worked. Employers must classify their employees properly in terms of whether they are hourly, salary, or contract. Employers must comply with the law to ensure employees are protected and paid properly.

More ways than one exists to violate these wage and hour law. At Law Offices of Albert Chang, our employment lawyer can help you identify and resolve a wage and hour violation. Contact us by our ONLINE FORM or calling us at (310) 769-6836 to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can make sure you compensate your employees according to law. 

Protections for Employee Wages and Hours

There are a number of federal and state laws that provide protections for employees as to their wage and hour rights. Key protections are found in federal law with state law often providing the same, if not better, protections. Note that some types of jobs and employees are exempt from these requirements and we will address it later. 

Minimum Wage Laws

Federal law sets the federal minimum wage, and California has its own minimum wage laws that provide even greater protections. These laws ensure that employers pay employees at least a certain amount for their work. See more about California minimum wage law in our blog "See more about California overtime law in our blog post Navigating California's Minimum Wage Laws for Employers.

Overtime Pay Laws

Federal law also requires employers to pay overtime at a rate of at least one and a half times an employee's regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek. California has its own overtime laws that provide additional protections. See more about California overtime law in our blog post Navigating Overtime Requirements for Employers in California.

Meals and Rest Break Laws

Employers are required to provide meals and rest breaks to their non-exempt employees and meal break for their exempt employees. See more about California break law in our blog post Navigating California's Meal and Rest Break Requirements: What Employers Need to Know.

Timekeeping Requirements

Employers are required to keep accurate records of all hours worked by their employees. This includes both regular and overtime hours, as well as any meal and rest breaks taken. Employees should also be able to access their own records of hours worked.

Classification Rules

Federal and state law provide rules for classifying employees as either exempt or non-exempt from overtime or certain other labor law requirements. Employers must ensure that employees are properly classified and are not misclassified in order to avoid paying overtime or certain other labor law benefits. See our blog posts "Employee Misclassification - Exempt v. Non-Exempt" and Employee Misclassification - Employee v. Independent Contractor" to learn more about this topic.

Protections for Tipped Employees

Employers must ensure that employees who receive tips are paid at least the minimum wage. Tips cannot be used to offset the employer's minimum wage obligations.

Retaliation Protections

Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who file wage and hour claims or raise concerns about violations.

Consequences of Wage Theft in California

Employees whose employer has violated wage and hour laws can file a complaint with the appropriate government agency, such as the U.S. Department of Labor or California Labor Board, or they can file a lawsuit. Employers found to have violated these laws can face penalties, fines, and other consequences.

The range of consequences facing employers who violate any of these laws include but are not limited to:

Back Wages. Employers may be required to pay employees the wages for work performed but not properly compensated. This payment may include unpaid wages, overtime pay, and other benefits like paid time off. 

Penalties. Employers may be subject to civil or criminal penalties for violating wage and hour laws. These penalties can be significant and may include fines, damages, and other fees.

Legal Costs. Employers may incur significant legal costs in defending against wage and hour claims. Legal costs include attorney fees, court costs, and other expenses.

Reputational Damage. Employers who violate wage and hour laws may suffer damage to their reputation and brand, which can negatively impact their ability to attract and retain customers, employees, and investors. 

Government Audits. Employers who violate wage and hour laws may be subject to audits and investigations by government agencies, which can be time-consuming and disruptive to their business operations.

Lawsuits. Employers who violate wage and hour laws may face lawsuits by employees or class action lawsuits, which can result in significant damages that go well beyond the total sum of back wages but can include other damages and losses.

In addition to these consequences, employers may also face increased scrutiny and monitoring from government agencies, which can make it more difficult for them to operate their businesses. Employers should make sure they comply with all wage and hour laws to avoid these consequences.

Examples of Wage and Hour Violations in California

Wage and hour claims are legal disputes that arise when an employer fails to comply with federal or state laws related to minimum wage, overtime, and other aspects of compensation for employees. These claims typically involve allegations that an employer has not paid an employee the wages or benefits to which they are entitled.  

Examples of wage and hour violations include:

  • Failing to pay an employee the minimum wage required by law
  • Failing to pay an employee overtime for hours worked over 40 in a workweek – often this failure includes time worked as well as on-call time (where an employee waits to be engaged to perform their tasks)
  • Failing to pay an employee for all hours worked, including time spent on tasks like opening or closing the business, work performed off-the-clock, and on-call time
  • Misclassifying an employee as exempt from overtime pay when they are actually eligible
  • Misclassifying an employee as a contractor to pay a wage lower than the minimum provided by law
  • Failing to provide required meal and rest breaks
  • Failing to pay an employee for unused vacation or sick time upon termination
  • Failing to pay the difference between a worker's tips and the legal minimum wage
  • Taking tips from workers even if what the employee is left with after paid meets minimum wage laws

When an employee believes that their employer has violated wage and hour laws, they may file a claim with the federal or state labor department or file a lawsuit against their employer. 

California Wage and Hour Claims Process

The wage and hour claims process can vary depending on the specific laws and regulations in the employee's jurisdiction. However, six general steps are typically involved in the process.

1. File a Complaint. The first step in the process is for the employee to file a complaint with the appropriate government agency. This may be the U.S. Department of Labor or California Labor Board. The complaint should include details about the alleged violation, like dates and times worked, the amount of pay received, and any other relevant information.

2. Investigation. The government agency will investigate the complaint to determine if there has been a violation of wage and hour laws. This may involve interviewing the employee and the employer, reviewing records and documentation, and conducting on-site inspections.

3. Determination. After the investigation, the government agency will make a determination as to whether there has been a violation of wage and hour laws. If there has been a violation, the agency may require the employer to pay back wages, penalties, and other damages.

4. Negotiation or Mediation. In some cases, the government agency may attempt to negotiate a settlement between the employee and the employer. This step may involve mediation or other forms of dispute resolution.

5. Administrative Hearing. If a settlement cannot be reached, the employee may request an administrative hearing to adjudicate the claim. This is a formal legal proceeding in which a judge or administrative law judge will hear arguments and evidence from both sides and make a decision.

6. Lawsuit. If the employee is not satisfied with the outcome of the administrative hearing, they may choose to file a lawsuit against the employer to pursue their claim.

The wage and hour claims process can be complex and time-consuming. Employers who receive a complaint or lawsuit from their employees claiming their wages or hours being violated should seek the advice of an attorney to help them navigate the process. 

Contact Our Office Today

Although you ensure you properly treat your employees according to law, violations can occur due to the complexity of law. If you receive a complaint or lawsuit from your employee for wage and hour violations, contact Law Offices of Albert Chang immediately and our employment law lawyer will provide smart legal guidance on the matter. 

At Law Offices of Albert Chang, we can be with you at the start of step one, so that you can defend any labor law complaints or lawsuits successfully. In fact, at any step of the process, we will be there to guide you and advocate your interests. Contact us today by filling out the ONLINE FORM or calling us at (310) 769-6836 to schedule a free consultation.

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