State and federal employment laws require employers to pay workers for the wages they earn.
If an employer fails to fairly compensate a worker, by failing to provide either statutorily required wages or wages outlined in an employment agreement, the employer may face a California unpaid wages lawsuit.
Send us an online message today for help with your claim.
Types of California Unpaid Wages Lawsuits
Unpaid wages lawsuits, also referred to as wage-and-hour claims, are cases brought by employees who were not paid for the work they performed. Unpaid wages fall into several categories.
Employers must pay eligible employees overtime pay any time they work more than a set number of hours. Federal overtime laws require employers to pay 1.5 times a worker’s regular rate for any hours over 40 per week. However, California is more generous to employees. Under California labor laws, employers must pay 1.5 times a worker’s regular pay if they work more than 40 hours per week or more than eight hours in a single day. Additionally, employers must pay workers twice their regular rate for any hours over 12 per day or if an employee works more than eight hours a day for seven or more consecutive days.
Employees can pursue a claim for unpaid wages against an employer who failed to pay them overtime wages.
Minimum Wage Violations
Both state and federal law provide a minimum wage that employers must pay to all qualifying employees. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. However, the federal minimum wage acts as a floor, and many states set a higher minimum wage. California is one of these states.
California is unique in that the minimum wage depends on the number of employees working for an organization. For example, in 2021, employers with fewer than 25 employees must pay a minimum wage of $13 per hour, and employers with 26 employees or more must pay a minimum wage of $14 an hour. However, beginning in 2023, all employers must pay employees at least $15 an hour, regardless of the number of employees.
Often, when an employer commits a minimum wage violation, it may affect many employees. This may lead to a California wage-and-hour class action lawsuit.
Meal and Rest Breaks
Qualifying California workers are entitled to meal and rest breaks. Specifically, employees must receive a 30-minute meal break for every five hours they work. Employers must also provide rest breaks for any employees who work more than a 3.5-hour shift. Rest breaks must be ten minutes for every four hours worked.
If an employer fails to provide employees with meal or rest breaks, the employer must pay the employee one hour of pay for each day the employee did not receive the required breaks.
Employers cannot force employees to work without compensation. This is referred to as off-the-clock work.
Examples of off-the-clock work include:
- Administrative duties,
- Working through meal or rest breaks,
- Pre-shift duties, and
- Post-shift duties.
Employees required to work off the clock can pursue a wage-and-hour claim against their employer to recover all wages unpaid.
Which Employees Are Protected?
Not all state and federal employment laws apply to every worker. For example, independent contractors are not technically considered employees and do not enjoy many of the protections employees receive.
Regarding employees, a worker’s rights depend, in part, on how they are classified. Most employees are either exempt or non-exempt. Minimum wage and off-the-clock work laws apply broadly, and very few workers are not covered. However, only non-exempt employees are entitled to receive overtime pay and meal and rest breaks.
Non-exempt employees include “persons employed in professional, technical, clerical, mechanical, and similar occupations.” The most common exemption pertains to employees who spend at least 50% of their time fulfilling administrative, professional, or executive duties. However, to be considered exempt, an employee must also receive at least twice the minimum wage, even if they are salaried.
I Was Not Paid for Time I Worked, What Should I Do?
If your employer did not pay you for the time you worked, you should consider bringing a claim for unpaid wages. At the Law Offices of Corbett H. Williams, we handle all types of California wage and hour claims, including those involving overtime pay violations, minimum wage violations, meal and rest break violations, and more. We can help you obtain the wages you earned. To learn more and to schedule a free case evaluation, give us a call or reach out through our online form, and one of our Orange County unpaid wages lawsuit attorneys will contact you.