West Coast Employment Lawyers is open 24/7 and fully operational during the COVID-19 quarantine. We are available to serve all of our personal injury clients, as well as potential new clients. Please feel free to contact us anytime.
Free Consultations / No Fees Until We Win  (213) 927-3700
West Coast Employment Lawyers is open 24/7 and fully operational during the COVID-19 quarantine. We are available to serve all of our personal injury clients, as well as potential new clients. Please feel free to contact us anytime.

Top Ranked

Employment Law Firm in California

Top Ranked

Employment Law Firm in California

Wage and Hour Attorney

Unpaid Wages? Take Back Your Hard Earned Money

Wage and hour violations encompass one of the most common and serious workplace issues throughout the state of California. While it’s true that many employers mistakenly misclassify their workers as independent contractors, it is also an unfortunate reality that some employers deliberately misclassify their employees to help reduce operating costs and avoid paying state and federal taxes.

California requires that most employers abide by certain rules, such as tracking hours, paying overtime, and providing rest and meal breaks for their employees. Unfortunately, many employers often take advantage of their employees by violating wage and hour laws and not paying them their hard earned wages and overtime pay.

1) What Are Wage And Hour Violations?

The state of California has some of the strongest legal protections when it comes to wage and hour violations. Wage and hour violations essentially encompass instances of an employer not paying or underpaying their employees. For example, minimum wage in the state of California is $12.00 per hour, which is more than the Federal Minimum Wage of $7.25. As an employee in the state of California, that means you are entitled to be paid the higher state

minimum wage. Therefore, an illegal and very common wage and hour violation for a California employer would be to pay you less than $12.00 per hour or to instead pay you the federal minimum wage. 

Below are more common wage and hour violations:

  1. Misclassifying employees as exempt or non-exempt.
  2. Classifying employees as independent contractors instead of as employees.
  3. Failing to compensate employees for all overtime hours worked and/or making employees work “off the clock” without compensation, and
  4. Denying employees their legally mandated meal and/or rest breaks.

Can I get in trouble for reporting a potential wage and hour violation?

In short, no. Your employer cannot retaliate or discriminate against you in any way, shape, or form for filing or threatening to file a wage claim. If this happens, you can file a discrimination/retaliation complaint with the Labor Commissioner’s Office. Please be aware that you have rights and you are entitled to protect yourself and your hard earned wages.

2) How Do California Wage And Hour Laws Apply To Me?

Minimum Wage

The $12.00 per hour minimum wage will be effective from January 2018 and onward for all employers in California that have 26 or more employees. Any employers with 25 or less employees will have a minimum wage of $11.00 per hour. (California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement)

As of Jan. 1, 2019, the minimum wage in California will increase from $11 to $12 per hour for all employers with 25 or more employees. Minimum wage in the state of California will not apply to outside salespersons or any employees who are in the immediate family of his or her employer. A student worker can also be paid as little as 85% of the minimum wage for his or her first 160 hours of work. 

Further, minimum wage exemptions may exist for a disabled employee or a nonprofit employee once the employer has obtained the appropriate certificate from the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.

Finally, an employer in the state of California cannot pay you less than $12.00 per hour unless you or your occupation are exempt from the minimum wage under state or federal law.


Overtime provisions in the state of California state that a nonexempt employee who is 18 years of age or older — or a minor employee who is 16 or 17 years of age and is not required to attend school, and/or is not prohibited by law from participating in the subject work — cannot be employed for more than eight hours in one workday or for more than forty hours in a workweek, unless that employee receives 1.5 times his or her regular pay rate for all hours that are worked over eight hours in a single workday and over 40 hours in a workweek.

Meal and rest breaks

The majority of California employees — this includes most exempt employees — are entitled to one (1) 30 minute meal break if they work for at least five hours in one day. A second meal break must be allowed for any employees who work over ten hours in one day. (Labor Code, § 512)

An employee also has the option of waiving a meal break only if he or she works less than six hours in one day. Further, an employee can choose to waive a second meal break only if he or she works less than twelve hours in one day and if his or her first meal break was also not waived. (Labor Code, § 512)

An employee must also be relieved of his or her job responsibilities during a meal break and he or she must be free to leave work premises. An employee must be paid for his or her meal break if their employer requires them to remain on the employer’s premises. (Cal. Code of Regs., tit. 8, § 11050)

If an employer does not provide their employees a meal break, they must pay their employees one more hour of pay at the regular rate. An employee is only allowed to earn one more hour a day if the employer does not provide them with a meal break. (Cal. Code of Regs., tit. 8, § 11050)

Finally, regarding rest breaks, California employers must permit a 10 minute paid rest break for every four hours worked. The rest period should ideally be provided in the middle of the work period.

3) What Is Wage Theft?

Typically, wage theft is most commonly seen when employees are not paid minimum wage or are not paid time and a half for any hours worked above forty hours in one workweek. 

Common forms of wage theft also include:

  1. Not paying an employee at all.
  2. Not giving an employee his or her last paycheck after leaving a job.
  3. Not paying all hours worked.
  4. Not paying the minimum wage.
  5. Not paying for overtime.

Wage theft is more likely to happen in non-union workplaces. This is because a union worker will be paid according to his or her negotiated contract, and any instances of wage theft are immediately challenged by the union. Wage theft is generally reported in janitorial services, agriculture, restaurants, poultry processing, garment manufacturing, and retail.

Who should I report wage theft to?

Make sure to communicate with your employer before taking any action. Ask your employer for an explanation. This will help determine whether a processing error or even a bank mistake was responsible for your reduced or missing wages, and not because your employer just did not want to pay you. 

If there was indeed a clerical mistake, your employer should voluntarily agree to cover any charges you incurred as a result of their mistake. Engaging in dialogue also has the added benefit of showing you didn’t fail to submit records for your hours worked.

However, if there is an established pattern of not being paid on time or in full, or if it’s apparent that you have not been paid on purpose, you can contact the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD). This agency is responsible for administering and enforcing many of the nation’s important worker protection laws. 

Finally, an employment lawyer with West Coast Employment Lawyers is always here to help you understand your rights if you were the victim of wage theft in the workplace.

Can my employers refuse to pay me?

Absolutely not. Employers are required to pay their employees for all hours worked. They must also pay their employees at regular intervals, such as biweekly or semimonthly. Employers who do not pay their employees are subject to penalties and even criminal prosecution.

Furthermore, a typical workday is eight hours. Any work that is done in excess of eight hours in a single workday, which is in excess of 40 hours in one workweek, or during the

irst eight hours worked on the seventh day of work in any single workweek, must be paid at the rate of one and one-half times the normal rate.


Return to Top
Call| Text | Chat