- Do you believe that your employer owes you overtime?
- Does your employer refuse to allow you take a meal break during your shift?
- Do you believe that you are not due overtime because you are paid a salary?
- Does your employer allow you to take a rest break every four hours?
- Do you believe that if you confront your employer about overtime issues you will lose your job?
Wage and hour issues are complex and evolving: however, the law puts the burden on employers to ensure that their employees are lawfully compensated. Common wage and hour law violations include:
- Failure to pay overtime
- Misclassification of employees as exempt from overtime
- Denial of legally mandated meal breaks or rest breaks
- Failure to compensate employees for missed meal or rest breaks
- Minimum wage violations
- Failure to pay compensation in a timely fashion during employment and at termination
Compensation You Can Collect
California law stipulates that workers who have been denied overtime pay can collect all unpaid overtime. In addition, workers may also be entitled to penalties and reimbursement of attorney fees.
For many employees the overtime rate is one and one-half times their regular hourly pay for work performed after 8 hours in a day or in excess of 40 hours per week. Generally, if an employee works over 12 hours in a day she is entitled to double time for the hours over 12.
Some employees are exempt from overtime. Common exemptions are certain administrative, executive and professional employees. However, employers often misclassify an employee as exempt from overtime pay. In a court case the employer has the burden to prove that an employee is exempt. The laws concerning classification are complex, but generally favor inclusion of an employee in the nonexempt category. Just because an employee is paid a salary does not mean the employee is not entitled to overtime.
Meal break and rest break violations
During an eight hour day, a nonexempt employee must be allowed:
- An uninterrupted, unpaid meal period of 30 minutes.
- Two uninterrupted, but paid, rest periods of 10 minutes; one per four hours worked.
- See our December 8, 2011 update on the state of meal break law in California here.
Minimum wage violations
With very few exceptions, workers in California are entitled to a minimum wage of $8.00 an hour.
Waiting time penalties
In California, most terminated employees must be paid all outstanding wages immediately. An employee who quits must be paid within three days of their end date. Failure to do so can lead to an award of civil penalties based upon the number of days the employer delayed or failed to pay the wages due.
How We Can Pursue Your Claim
You may file a claim with the Labor Commission. The Labor Commission has limited authority, and cannot award the employee his or her attorney fees. Nor can the Board handle federal law matters or address any issues outside of wage and hour claims. A lawsuit in state or federal court evens the playing field between the employer and the employee. The employee may be better off as Labor laws provide for the payment of penalties, attorneys fees and costs to the employee who prevails at trial. This often means that the employee may be able to keep all his compensation. Negotiation often leads to a settlement both sides can accept. An employee who files a lawsuit generally has greater bargaining power. The worst that can happen to an employer in a Labor Board case is that it pays what is owed. The employer has little incentive not to oppose the employee’s claim. In a lawsuit the employer has more motivation to reach a fair settlement because the court can award penalties, interest, legal costs and fees.