Even though the California laws for overtime and wages are clear and simple, there are hundreds of cases of employer violations every year. Employers who fail to follow the law can find themselves at the center of individual and class action suits aimed to recover employee wages and hold employers accountable for their violations. Penalties for wage and hour violations in California tend to be severe.
There are several types of wage and hour violations for which an employer may be held accountable:
- Failing to pay overtime. Employees who are non-exempt must receive time-and-a-half pay for hours in excess of 8 hours per day and over 40 hours per week.
- Failing to provide breaks. Part-time and full time employees are entitled to breaks throughout the workday. Failing to allow for breaks for meals and rest is illegal.
- Failure to pay. Working off-the clock can include hours requested and not requested by employers. Any work done while an employee is off the clock and an employer is aware of the work being done deserves compensation.
- Minimum wage. Minimum wage in California is currently $9.00. Employers who do not pay the legal minimum wage may be held liable for back pay as well as penalties for the violation.
- Employee misclassification. Writing off an employee as a manager to avoid paying overtime, misclassifying an employee as a contract worker, or otherwise improperly classifying an employee for the purpose of avoiding costs is illegal.
- Failing to pay promptly. Employers must also pay employees regularly and provide terminated (those who quit or are fired) employees with all wages due.
Employers who fail to adhere to the legal standards for wages and hours may be required to pay back up to 4 years of overtime and minimum wages, up to a month’s worth of penalties for any delay, and penalty wages based on individual circumstances.
Employer and Employee Responsibilities
Employers should regularly reevaluate their record-keeping and payroll practices to avoid penalties. Many employers find themselves targeted in a lawsuit because of inaccurate accounting and record-keeping. Job descriptions, daily operations, and types of work all figure into how employees are classified and should be compensated for their work.
Because employer violations are fairly typical, it is important that all employees take a proactive role during their employment. Understanding what you should be fairly compensated for could prevent egregious errors in accounting or deliberate employer violations. If you feel your employer is violating any of the hour and wage regulations as listed above, you may want to consult a labor and employment attorney for more information.
Proving Hour and Wage Violations
Although hour and wage regulations appear clear cut, many cases are complex. The circumstances surrounding an employee’s breaks, for instance, may come into play. An employer cannot tell or ask that an employee remain at his or her desk for the duration of a break in order to answer phone calls. However, an employee who chooses to work during a lunch break may not be able to claim a violation.
Keep any supporting documentation you have that indicates employer violation. Hours and payment records, emails, witness statements, and other information can be helpful in proving a violation.
The attorneys at Curran & Curran Law understand how terrible it can be to recognize you have not been properly compensated for your work. The realization can be emotional and make continuing to work for your employer difficult. We have the labor and employment law experience needed to help you file a complaint and get the compensation that is rightfully yours. Never accept an employer’s accounting is right. Contact us today in San Diego to learn more about whether your situation is part of a wage and hour violation.