Employers have a legal responsibility to follow California wage and hour laws, but unfortunately, violations can occur both through willful disregard or ignorance.
There are five common ways for an employer to violate these important laws.
1. Failing to pay minimum wage
California has a minimum wage higher than the federal standard. As of January 1, 2023, the state minimum wage increased to $15.50 under Senate Bill 3. Local municipalities may have even higher minimum wage standards. It is also important to note that immigration status does not affect your legal right to be paid a proper minimum wage.
2. Misclassifying employees
Employees in California are generally afforded more benefits and protections than independent contractors. Unscrupulous employers sometimes purposely misclassify their employees as independent contractors in an attempt to circumvent these protections.
3. Failing to provide proper breaks
All nonexempt employees working full time hours are entitled to receive proper uninterrupted meal and rest breaks throughout the workday. Employers often infringe on these rights by either pushing their employees to work throughout their breaks or interrupting the breaks with orders to do work.
4. Failing to pay proper overtime wages
Nonexempt employees who work more than 8 hours in a day or more than 40 hours in a week are entitled to overtime pay. Nonexempt employees working more than 12 hours in a day are entitled to double time pay. Employers often fail to properly track their employees’ hours, force employees to work off the clock, or misclassify them as “exempt”, thus depriving them of overtime compensation.
5. Delaying final paychecks
Employers have a deadline for paying the final wages to a terminated employee. The timing requirements depend on who terminated the employment relationship and whether notice was given. Employers often delay issuing the final paycheck to a terminated employee, thus adding on to the harm caused by the termination itself.
Companies that violate California’s wage and hour laws face serious consequences, including statutory penalties. Knowing your rights helps guarantee you receive fair and timely compensation for your work.