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Wage and Hour Attorney Beverly Hills & Rancho Cucamonga

wage and hour

Wage and hour violations are extremely common, and often times the employer or the employee does not even realize that they are being committed. Wage and hour violations include, but are not limited to, unpaid wages; violations of California minimum wage laws; non-compensation or denial of regular meal and rest breaks; illegal wage deductions and payroll errors; late payment of wages; denial of reimbursement for work-related expenses; failure to provide wage statements; failure to pay wages upon termination; and misclassification.

Among the very many relevant state laws, the primary state laws that protect employees from wage and hour violations in California are the various Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Orders that are codified in the relevant California Labor Code sections, the new Fair Wage Act of 2016, codified in the California Labor Code starting with Section 1182.12, and the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (as amended) (PAGA), codified in the California Labor Code starting with Section 2698.

If you are an employee, and you can demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence (the legal standard in civil cases) that your employer has committed any of the violations listed above with regards to wage and hour, and that you suffered damages as a result of such violation, you likely have a claim for wage and hour violation under the relevant Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Orders, the new Fair Wage Act of 2016, PAGA, and the relevant California Labor Code sections.

The primary federal law that protects employees from wage and hour violations in California is the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (as amended) (FLSA), codified in Chapter 29 of the United States Constitution starting with Section 201.

The FLSA and the relevant state laws on wage and hour are very similar; however, there are some material differences. For one, under the FLSA, employers are required to pay overtime compensation only to employees who work more than 40 hours in a single workweek. Under the California Labor Code, employers are also required to pay overtime to employees who work more than 8 hours in a single workday, and when employees work on seven consecutive days in the same workweek.

Another very important disparity is with the different minimum wage rates. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour; whereas, in California, the minimum wage is set at $10 per hour.

The money that goes into your bank account often ends up being much less than what your employer promises to pay. Politicians will tell you that this is because of taxes, but that is only part of the reason. In many cases, employers do not pay workers as much as the law requires them to pay. Your employer might make excuses about why you are not entitled to overtime or why you are not really an employee, with all the benefits that the law guarantees to employees but not to the independent contractors who make up the gig economy.

California laws provide workers with more financial stability than they get in most other states, but employers do not always make it easy for you to exercise your rights. The Beverly Hills wage and hour dispute lawyers at Mehtani Law Offices, P.C. can help you exercise your right to fair pay and fair classification of employment status.

Which Workers are Entitled to at Least the Minimum Wage in California?

Federal law increased the minimum wage to $7.25 in 2009, where it has remained since. Many states, including California, have set higher minimum wages and increased them more frequently to keep up with the cost of living. As of 2023, the statewide minimum wage in California is $15.50 per hour, and in Los Angeles County, it is $15.92 per hour.

Minimum wage laws have always come with a host of loopholes in the form of exemptions, but California does a much better job than most other states at ensuring that all workers get fair pay. For example, some states exclude domestic workers (employed in jobs such as babysitting and house cleaning) and agricultural workers from entitlement to the minimum wage, but California workers in the domestic and agricultural sectors are entitled to receive at least $15.50.

Likewise, tipped employees, defined as those who derive at least 20% of their income from customer tips, have a lower minimum wage in most states than employees whose entire pay comes from an hourly wage from their employer.

In California, the minimum wage for tipped employees is $13.75 per hour, which is nearly twice the federal minimum wage for non-tipped employees. Most tipped employees in California are restaurant servers or other restaurant employees who interact directly with customers.

California Overtime Pay Laws

In most states, your employer must pay you 1.5 times your hourly wage for hours beyond the 40th hour that you work in a seven-day period. For example, if you work 45 hours in one week, and your usual pay rate is $16 per hour, then you get $16 each for the first 40 hours and $24 per hour for the additional hours. This is based on the assumption that 40 hours is a full workload for a week.

California follows this rule and also adopts the rule that eight hours is a full workday. Therefore, regardless of your total number of hours worked during the week, every hour past the eighth that you work in a given day is eligible for overtime.

For example, if your wage is $16 per hour and you work a 10-hour shift one day, even if it is the only day that you work that week, then you get $16 each for the first eight hours and $24 each for the last two. If you work more than 12 hours in one day, then you get your usual pay rate for the first eight hours, 1.5 times your wage for the ninth through 12th hours, and double your wage for each additional hour starting with the 13th.

California law also considers that 80 hours is a full workload for a 14-day period. This means that, if you worked 42 hours last week, then this week, you start earning overtime pay after you finish your 38th hour of work.

Employees whose pay is based on an hourly wage are entitled to overtime pay. Salaried employees are exempt if their monthly salary amounts to at least twice the minimum wage when you divide the amount that the employee earns in a month by 160 or the amount that the employee earns in a year by 2080.

Employer Misclassification and Other Forms of Wage Theft

Even though California law has closed many legal loopholes so that almost every worker in California is entitled to overtime pay and at least the minimum wage, one glaring loophole remains. These protections apply only to employees and not to independent contractors, also known as freelancers or gig workers. On the surface of it, the difference between an employee is clear; you are an employee if your employer issues a W-2, and you are an independent contractor if your employer issues a 1099.

In practice, the work that many 1099 workers do qualifies them for employee status; many of them spend more than 40 hours per week on gigs for a single employer, week after week and year after year. By classifying the workers as independent contractors, employers skip out on the responsibility not only to provide overtime pay but also to contribute to employer-provided health insurance and CFRA family and medical leave; furthermore, 1099 workers may a higher income tax rate than W-2 employees. Employer misclassification is a form of wage theft, and an employment lawyer can help you claim the money your employer owes you.

Contact Our Wage and Hour Disputes Lawyers in Beverly Hills & Rancho Cucamonga today at Mehtani Law Offices, P.C.

If your employer is not paying you what they owe you, the employment lawyers at Mehtani Law Offices, P.C. can help. We have represented workers in cases ranging from employer misclassification to unfair denial of family leave to employment discrimination and employer retaliation. We have offices in Los Angeles County and many other locations in California.

Mehtani Law Offices, P.C. is dedicated to helping workers in California get fair pay, including overtime pay, even when their employers try to put up obstacles to prevent this. Contact Mehtani Law Offices, P.C. in Beverly Hills, California, to schedule a consultation.

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