Common Issues Involved In Wage And Hour Disputes
Most people don’t expect to be involved in a wage and hour dispute with the company they work for. However, it’s not unusual for employers to violate wage and hour laws, especially for contract work or jobs that pay by the hour. If you feel that you’re being unfairly compensated, you may want to pursue legal action against your employer but fear retaliation from your company if you do. You may fear that you’ll be fired or face backlash for your decision to speak out. But it’s important to know that California law protects you from any illegal action against you by your employer.
California Overtime Laws
Overtime is the most common reason for wage and hour disputes, and California has stricter laws for overtime pay compared to most other states. According to the Department of Industrial Relations, employers in California must pay authorized and unauthorized overtime in the following ways:
- Overtime pay. In California, you are entitled to time and a half—(1.5) times your regular rate of pay for every hour you work over 40 during the work week (five days).
- Double-time pay. In California, you’re entitled to two (2) times your regular pay rate for any hours worked over 12 hours in any given work day or for hours worked over 8 hours on the seventh day of the work week. If you work consecutively for seven days, you must be paid 1.5 times your usual rate for the first 8 hours you work on that seventh work day and double time for hours worked over those 8 hours.
- Additional work. If you arrive at work early to start your shift and do actual work during that time that is requested by your employer or are asked to work through a lunch break, you are entitled to overtime pay. California wage and hour laws require that employees be compensated for any hours they are “suffered or permitted to work, whether or not required to do so.” In these cases, “suffer or permit” means that the employer knew or should have known about the overtime work. Consequently, an employee can’t purposely prevent his employer from learning about the overtime and then come back to claim it later.
It’s important to note, however, that an employee can be disciplined for violating the employer’s overtime policy if he works without the proper authorization.
If you’re a salaried employee, you must be paid overtime for hours worked over 40 hours per week unless you meet certain requirements for exempt status or for reason stated in the Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Orders.
How Do Employers Violate Wage and Hour Laws?
There are many ways your employer can violate wage and hour laws. Here is a brief look at these violations:
- Unpaid overtime. This is one of the most common types of wage and hour violation claims. If you are a nonexempt employee in California, you are allowed overtime pay if you work more than 40 hours a week or more than 8 hours a day. This pay must be time and a half for every hour exceeding 40 hours.
- Minimum wage violation. If you’re employer is not paying you the required minimum wage in the state of California, this is grounds for a dispute.
- Misclassification as an independent contractor. If you are classified as an independent contractor when a number of factors may qualify you as an employee, you may have a wage and hour violation claim. Employers have a financial incentive to classify employees as independent contractors instead of employees to avoid paying overtime wages.
- Meal breaks. If you are a nonexempt employee, you are required a 30-minute meal break if you’ve worked more than 5 hours in one day. More than 10 hours of work in a day allows you a second 30-minute meal break. Your employer does not have to pay you during these breaks.
- Rest breaks. Similar to meal breaks, if you are a nonexempt employee you are required a 10-minute break for every 4 hours of work. You are not required to work during this break.
- Missing meal or rest breaks. If your employer fails to give you a break, you must be paid one hour of pay at your usual rate.
- Failure to reimburse expenses. If you purchase supplies or travel for your company, you should be compensated for these expenses and receive mileage reimbursement.
- Working off-the-clock. As an employee, you are not required to work off-the-clock. However, any time you do work requires payment.
- Late payments. It is illegal for an employer to make an employee wait past the required pay date to receive his salary.
- Vacation and sick time. Paid time off (PTO) is part of an employee’s wages in the state of California. If your employer does allow for PTO, they must pay you for each hour you do not work.
- Not paying wages at termination. If you get fired or quit your job, you should receive your paycheck before you leave. It is illegal for your employer to delay paying you for earned money.
Take Action If You’ve Been Unfairly Compensated
If you think your employer has violated wage and hour laws, you may be worried and overwhelmed by the thought of pursuing legal action. However, you shouldn’t hesitate to seek legal counsel. The Law Offices of Corbett H. Williams will fight for your right to fair pay. Our lawyers have years of experience handling these types of cases and are prepared to handle yours. We will help you move on from this stressful time and get exactly what you deserve for your hardship and unfair treatment. Call our office at 949-679-9909 to schedule a free case analysis.