What happens if an employer in California violates the wage and hour laws of the state? Under California law, employees have a right to compensation for a variety of different reasons. For bigger companies of 26 employees or greater, the minimum wage sits at $12 per hour, and for 25 or fewer employees, the minimum wage sits at $11 per hour. Some of the most ways that an employer will violate California wage and hour laws include:
- Failure to pay overtime
- Failure to pay the minimum wage
- Requiring someone to work off the clock
- Misclassifying employees as an independent contractor
- Misclassifying employees as exempt from the wage and hour laws
Whenever an employer acts in violation of these laws, an individual should hire a wage and hour attorney because they can fight for them to see them get the compensation that they deserve. With someone having an experienced attorney on their side, this can help them in all the major ways.
Based on the laws in California, employers must provide employees with a minimum lunch break of 30 minutes if they work over five hours in a single day. Unless the employee has not been allowed to leave the premises, they must count this as a paid lunch break at the regular rate of pay. The non-exempt employees must be granted a 10-minute break of paid rest for every four hours that they were working. For employees that only work three-and-a-half hours, they do not need to provide a rest period.
When the Wage and Hour Laws Don’t Apply
People do have cases where the wage and hour laws don’t apply. For example, under California law, the laws based on meal breaks and overtime don’t apply if someone is an exempt employee under the California statutes or if they work as an independent contractor, rather than an employee.
How Employees and Independent Contractors Differ
For people who work as independent contractors, they don’t get as much protection as what employees get. Anyone who serves under employer will give of their time. However, just because an employer says that someone is an independent contractor doesn’t necessarily mean that they are. For example, independent contractors render service and produce a specific result for pay. They control the result that happens.
What Decides if Someone is an Independent Contractor?
West Coast Employment Lawyers will tell a person that a number of factors go into deciding if someone works as an independent contractor. In some cases, they’re classified as an independent contractor when they should be an employee. In these cases, people need to speak with an employment attorney as soon as possible to make these companies play fair.
First, they’re considered an independent contractor if they work in a distinct profession or business. Second, West Coast employment lawyers will tell a person that it depends on who typically does the work considered. For example, someone doing lawn mower work might be considered an independent contractor. Also, it looks at the level of skill required for the occupation and the method of payment. For example, is it job-based or time-based? Job-based will normally be an independent contractor, while time-based will usually be an employee. They also look at whether the work being done is part of the business’s daily operation or if the individual comes in, does something for the business and leaves. The latter is an independent contractor.
How Does Overtime Work?
Based on California law, people speaking with an employment attorney will learn that overtime is another key right that is covered under California wage and hour law. Employers in the state cannot require that employees put in overtime. They can’t pressure them to work off the clock. In addition, a non-exempt employee must be given time-and-a-half for their overtime work. Time and a half mean that people take 1.5 times their normal hourly wages. Any work that goes more than eight hours or 40 hours in a single week is considered time and a half in California. An employee could also be entitled to time and a half if they work for seven days straight in a single week. Someone who has not received this should hire a wage and hour attorney because it is required under California law.
What Options Does a Person Have if These Rights Get Violated?
If an employer violates the California wage and hour laws, they can hire an employment lawyer to go after the company in violation of these laws. Failing to provide the required break times or overtime is grounds for a lawsuit under California law. Based on this law, individuals can go back to collect on a couple of different things that include back pay and back wages, interest on the amount, unpaid balances for minimum wage and overtime and reasonable litigation and attorney’s fees.
People Asserting Their Rights
Having an employment lawyer to defend an individual’s right does matter at the end of the day. Employees can even join in a class action lawsuit against an employer. Under California Labor Code, people have rights, and if they’re being violated, they can fight back. The advantage of a class action lawsuit is that it allows people to file a lawsuit under circumstances where they may not have been able to do so otherwise. Many times, employers will find a class action lawsuit against their business far more intimidating than if a single employee were to attempt to sue them. That’s because this can put a serious dent in the prosperity of their business, and if they’re not playing fair, they most likely will start when they see a class action lawsuit filed against them.
The advantage of a class action lawsuit is that employers will often be more willing to negotiate. They may agree to a settlement with the employee, rather than them having to take it all the way to courts for a decision.
Severance Pay in California
Based on the laws in California, employers don’t have to provide employees with severance pay. The employer could choose to pay severance, but it is not required. Should an employer decide to allow for severance pay, they will need to make it compliant with the employee’s contract. Having an employee handbook on hand can help an individual to understand their rights and where they will be covered and where they won’t be covered. In understanding this, they can make the wisest decisions for themselves.
What is an Exempt Employee and a Non-Exempt Employee?
Overtime rules don’t apply to certain types of employees. Professional, executive and administrative employees classify under the exempt employees. Anyone who works with a computer doing administrative tasks or they must exercise their discretion to perform these duties will classify as an exempt employee. Sometimes employers will misclassify exempt and non-exempt to avoid paying the rightful overtime.
Understanding wage and hour laws and how they apply to an individual can help them to figure out if their employer is taking advantage of their labor without giving back. When employers refuse to play fair, that’s when it’s time to hire a wage and hour attorney. This can force employers to pay attention and realize that they can’t simply get away with abusing employees in the workplace. Someone who understands their rights will be less likely to be abused in this way.