You have a legitimate expectation to be paid a fair wage in a timely manner for work you perform for your Los Angeles employer.
This is premise is the bedrock of the employer-employee relationship, so it is shocking that employers in the Los Angeles area attempt to skirt the law and cheat their employees out of due wages.
Violating wage and hour laws undermines any trust employees have in their employers, but can put the employee in a difficult financial spot.
This is where a wage and hour lawyer comes in. By working with a skilled wage and hour lawyer, you can ensure your employer complies with California wage and hour laws and pays you your earnings promptly.
Do not heed the advice of any employer or fellow employee who attempts to dissuade you from asserting your legal rights. If you believe your employer may be violating wage and hour laws, contact the Workplace Rights Law Group as soon as possible.
What Are California Wage and Hour Laws?
Both federal guidelines and California laws determine the Golden State’s minimum wages.
The California Department of Industrial Relations overviews the state’s past and current wage increases over the last several years.
For example, in 2017, companies with 26 or more employees had a minimum wage of $10.50 per hour. Those with 25 or fewer employees had a rate of $10.00 per hour.
In contrast, by January 1, 2023, California had revised its minimum wage rate to $15.50 an hour for all employees working for companies of all sizes.
It’s also important to note that some cities and counties have higher minimum wages than the state’s rate. For example, the minimum wage in Berkeley, CA, is $18.07 per hour.
To check your city’s minimum wages, visit the University of California at Berkeley’s online list of California’s current city and county pay rates.
What Are California’s Overtime Laws?
Beyond the basic wage structure, it’s essential to understand California’s overtime regulations.
Overtime regulations ensure employers compensate employees fairly for extra work hours beyond a standard workweek.
These laws acknowledge the negative impact extended work hours have on workers and encourage employers to hire more staff instead of burdening existing employees.
Let’s take a look at a breakdown of California’s primary overtime pay rates and provisions:
- Daily overtime—employees receive one and a half times their regular rate of pay for any hours worked beyond eight hours in a single day up to 12 hours, and for the first eight hours worked on the seventh consecutive day of work in a workweek.
- Double time—employees earn double their regular rate for hours worked beyond 12 hours in a single day and for all hours worked beyond eight on the seventh consecutive day of work in a workweek.
Employers must pay overtime no later than the payday for the next regular payroll period.
Furthermore, although the state’s overtime regulations cover most California workers, there are exemptions. For example, salaried employees in managerial, administrative, or professional positions might not be entitled to overtime.
Since exemptions vary based on types of employment, familiarizing yourself with California’s overtime laws can help safeguard you from missing out on overtime wages.
While California’s overtime laws can initially seem complex, a skilled wage and hour lawyer can walk you through the details and help you understand your rights.
Common Types of Wage and Hour Disputes in Los Angeles
State and federal laws clearly set forth an employer’s duties regarding how many hours an employee can work as well as how the employer must go about compensating that employee.
Many of the wage and hour disputes that arise in Los Angeles erupt because the employer failed to abide by these laws and regulations, such as when the employer:
- Does not pay employees promptly. Employers cannot unreasonably withhold their employee’s paychecks or fail to pay their employees according to a reasonable agreed-upon schedule;
- Makes the employee work without pay. Employers must compensate their employees for all time worked, even time worked in excess of the normal 40-hour workweek (commonly called overtime, which must be compensated at a greater rate). An employer may not direct an employee to perform work off the clock.
- Does not provide the employee with the agreed-upon compensation: An employer cannot unilaterally change the amount of compensation payable to the employee nor deny the employee benefits such as vacation time or sick leave time that they have already accrued.
Employers who violate wage and hour laws and regulations may find themselves named as defendants in civil lawsuits and ordered to pay back wages and penalties to their aggrieved employees.
If the wage and hour dispute is especially heinous and egregious, civil and/or criminal penalties may also be levied against the employer as well.
An experienced wage and hour attorney can help you determine if your employer violated your rights and work with you to collect the compensation your employer owes you.
Wage and hour lawyers understand the ins and outs of employment law and can help you figure out your best course of action. They’ve got your back, ensuring you get paid what you deserve.
How Do I Report Wage and Hour Violations?
If a California employer infringed on your employee rights and you believe they violated wage and hour laws, you can report the violation to the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE).
The DLSE, often referred to as the Labor Commissioner’s Office, acts as the watchdog for California’s labor laws. Its primary function is to decide wage claims, investigate discrimination and public works complaints, and enforce labor laws and Industrial Welfare Commission orders.
Submit a Wage Claim
You can report employer violations by submitting a wage claim to the DLSE. To do so, fill out an initial report or claim detailing the nature of the violation.
Along with the claim, you must provide supporting documents, such as pay stubs, work schedules, or any relevant communication you had with your employer.
Once you’ve submitted the claim, you may need to attend a conference or hearing to mediate or settle the issue.
Although you can represent yourself during DLSE proceedings, you also have the right to hire an attorney or have someone else represent you.
Working with an experienced employment lawyer who understands wage and hour law can be particularly useful if you have a complex case involving multiple issues.
Review and Penalties
Once the DLSE reviews your case, if it finds your employer violated a California labor law, your employer could face a range of penalties.
These include repaying wages with interest to potential fines and, in severe cases, criminal charges. If you or your employer disagree with the DLSE’s decision, you can appeal it in civil court.
It’s also important to note that California explicitly protects employees against any form of employer retaliation for filing a claim with the DLSE, disclosing, discussing, or questioning their wages, or exercising their legal rights.
This means that any punitive actions your employer takes, such as firing or demoting you, reducing your pay, or altering your work conditions in response to your claim, can lead to further legal consequences for them.
Why Do I Need a California Wage and Hour Attorney?
California wage and hour attorneys offer invaluable services, including, but not limited to:
- Expertise in complex laws. The California Labor Code sets forth provisions related to wages, hours, and working conditions. These provisions can be intricate and often include exceptions, but a knowledgeable attorney can help interpret and navigate these laws.
- Helping recover unpaid wages. Unfortunately, wage theft is not uncommon. Luckily, a wage and hour lawyer can help you collect unpaid overtime, missed meal and rest breaks, or even regular wages, often with additional penalties owed by the employer.
- Protection against retaliation. Having an attorney by your side means you have a professional advocating on your behalf, reducing the chance of unfair repercussions.
- Updated knowledge. Labor laws constantly evolve. Wage and hour attorneys are up-to-date with changing statutes, labor codes, and court decisions, ensuring you benefit from the most current legal protections.
- Negotiation and litigation skills. Many wage and hour disputes settle outside the courtroom, but some require litigation. An experienced employment law attorney has the skills and experience to represent you, whether in negotiations or before a judge.
A California wage and hour attorney isn’t a luxury. Ensuring your employer upholds your rights is necessary for both your well-being and a just and healthy workplace environment.
In the complex maze of state labor laws, having someone who knows the way can make all the difference.
Call the Workplace Rights Law Group Today
Your wage is your method of providing for your family and securing your financial future: when your employer fails to take their responsibilities seriously under the law, know that the experienced and dedicated wage and hour lawyers at the Workplace Rights Law Group is ready to help you take action.
We work efficiently and professionally to help you obtain the compensation you earned from your employer as quickly as possible. The sooner you speak with us, the faster we can help you achieve results. Call or contact the Workplace Rights Law Group today.