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Common Wage & Hour Law Violations in California


Employment law violations come in many different colors, but those related to wage and hour laws are some of the most difficult for employees to endure. This is because an employer who violates an employee’s rights surrounding how they should be compensated can significantly and adversely affect that employee’s quality of life.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common violations in California when it comes to wage and hour laws.

Employee Misclassification

Companies must distinguish between employees and independent contractors for wage-and-hour purposes. Employers who misclassify their workers as independent contractors can be liable for unpaid wages, overtime pay, unpaid benefits, and payroll taxes.

Employers can also misclassify an employee as exempt from overtime when their title, duties, and/or pay don’t meet the requirements for an overtime-exempt employee.

Improper Overtime Calculations

Overtime is calculated differently depending on the type of employee. In California, hourly employees must be given time-and-a-half pay for any hours worked over eight hours in a day or 40 in a week. Salaried employees who make less than twice the state minimum wage are entitled to overtime regardless of how many hours they work.

These calculations are fairly easy to accomplish, especially with all kinds of tools available to employers for conducting payroll. There should be no excuse for egregious overtime calculation errors.

Off-the-Clock Work

Employers commonly request employees to arrive in advance of their shifts or stay late. These requests are legal, but they become problematic when employers fail to compensate employees for the extra time they spend at work.

Employees should receive wages for all hours worked, even if that work is done outside of their normal shift or without permission from their employer; this includes any unpaid time spent on call, responding to emails or phone calls, and working through lunch breaks.

By a similar token, employees should be paid for all time spent in training sessions or meetings.

Denying Breaks & Meals

California employers must provide their employees with a 30-minute break after every five hours worked as well as an uninterrupted meal period of at least 30 minutes for any shift lasting longer than five hours. Failure to do so can result in penalties for the employer.

Failure to Pay Minimum Wage

As of January 2023, California employers must pay their nonexempt employees a minimum hourly wage of $15.50 per hour. Some tipped employees may earn less than minimum wage as long as their tips allow them to earn at or more than the minimum wage. If tips don’t provide such compensation, then the employer is responsible for making up the difference.

So, even if you earn tips, you should not earn less than the minimum wage rate after tips are taken into account.

Work-Related Travel

If an employee is required to travel outside of their normal working area and away from the office, they must be compensated for any associated time and expenses; this includes transportation costs, meals, and lodging.

This applies to big business trips as much as it does to short trips between worksites each day. Be sure to track your mileage and expenses to ensure your best possible chances for recovering compensation.

Illegal Paycheck Deductions

Employers are prohibited from deducting any costs associated with the business – such as uniforms or tools – from an employee’s paycheck without their written consent. Additionally, employers cannot make deductions for cash shortages or losses due to theft unless authorized by law. This often means filing and winning a lawsuit against the employee.

Do You Need Legal Assistance?

If your employer owes you pay that you earned, K2 Employment Law can help you with your legal wage and hour claim. Our experienced attorneys can help you protect your rights and fight for the pay you deserve.

We can help you understand the laws apply to your situation, how to document any potential violations, and how to determine the compensation you may be entitled to receive. We understand that wage and hour laws can be complicated, so rest assured that we can provide clear guidance at every step along the way.

For more information, contact K2 Employment Law today and request a free consultation.

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