Sacramento Wage and Hour Claims Attorney

labor law

In California, there are federal and state laws that protect you from unscrupulous employers. Employees who do the job a business hired them to have rights that the employer must abide by. If these rights are violated, the employee can collect compensation. As simple as that seems, employment rights can be complicated, and the legal assistance a California employment lawyer can provide is invaluable. Let's review wage and hour laws in California, what they are, how they are violated, and an employee's recourse.

Can My Employer Retaliate Against Me for Complaining or Reporting This?

No, your employer cannot retaliate against you if you complain or report wage/hour law violations. The state protects employees in California under civil and whistleblower laws that prevent actions that punish the employee from asserting their rights. This retribution can range from being fired, suffering a wage decrease, to being transferred. 

Am I Covered Under Wage and Hour Laws?

If you are a non-exempt employee in California, you are covered. A non-exempt employee is eligible for meal breaks and overtime and is protected under the state's minimum wage law.

What Laws Protect Me From Wage Theft in California?

There are two sets of laws that protect employees in California. One is a federal law called the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and the other is the  California Labor Code.  

What Rights Do Employees Have?

Under wage and hour laws, employees have certain rights that can lead to a lawsuit if not upheld by the employer. The rights a wage and hour attorney can help you protect are:

  • Right to overtime pay: The right to receive overtime is fundamental under the wage/hour laws. This right applies to non-exempt employees. Employers must pay one and one-half the regular pay rate if the overtime is more than 40 hours in the workweek or eight hours in one day. In addition, the employee is entitled to time and a half in the first eight hours of a seven-day workweek. Likewise, employers must pay double-time, or twice the employee's regular pay rate, if the employee is working more than 12 hours in a single workday or for the first eight hours of a 40-hour workweek. 
  • Right to minimum wage: All non-exempt employees in California must be paid the minimum wage. 
  • Right to rest breaks: California workers are entitled to rest breaks consisting of 10 minutes for every four hours worked. If the employee's shift is three and one-half hours, no rest break is required. In addition, the rest break is not to be considered an "on-call" period.
  • Right to meal breaks: A 30-minute meal break is required for employees who work a minimum of five hours a day. If the workday is six hours, the employee may waive the meal break. If the employee's workday is 10 hours, then another meal break is applicable. 

If the employee was denied rest or meal breaks, they have the right to be paid one hour's pay rate earned by the employee for every break they missed. 

Employee Misclassification

One way for employers to shirk their responsibilities under the wage/hour laws is to misclassify employees. By doing this, the employers are no longer required to adhere to employee rights. Two main types of misclassification are:

  • Classifying an employee as an independent contractor: Independent contractors are not considered employees protected by the wage/hour laws. To avoid payroll tax and wage/hour laws, an employer cannot label someone an independent contractor willy nilly to avoid payroll tax and wage/hour laws.
  • Other factors to consider when deciding whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor are:
    • Skills required for the job
    • The independent contractor uses their own tools/equipment to do the job
    • The independent contractor has their own workplace
    • The independent contractor has a specific occupation needed for this type of work
    • How the independent contractor is paid (job-based vs. time-based)
    • The work that is performed is consistent with the employer's business
    • The worker can use their own judgment when making work-related decisions
What You Can Do If Your Employer Violates Wage/Hour Laws

To file a claim for wages stolen from you (wage theft), an employee can go to the Division of Labor and Standards and file with the Wage Commissioner's Office. The wage claim gets this process started.

Under the California Labor Code, you can sue your employer if they fail to pay earned wages, overtime, or minimum wage. The employee can sue to collect earned wages, overtime, unpaid minimum wage, the interest accrued on unpaid wages, and attorneys fees. 

Sacramento Wage and Hour Lawyer

I'm Ed Smith, a Wage and Hour attorney in Sacramento. If you have an unpaid wage claim, you would like to discuss, please reach out to our law firm for free, friendly advice. No one has the right to deny you the pay and benefits you deserve as an employee in California. This is known as wage theft. Our skilled lawyers can assist you with righting this wrong. Reach out to our experienced Sacramento wage and hour lawyers at (916) 921-6400 or at (800) 404-5400. 

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More information about our law office and how we've helped others can be found at the links that follow:

Editor's Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 9.28.21]

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay 

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