Types of California Wage and Hour Law Violations
As an employee in California, you are protected by a range of wage and hour laws that ensure you are fairly compensated for your work.
However, not all of California’s employers follow these laws. Because of their negligence, thousands of California employees may be missing out on wages that they rightfully earned.
The most common types of employer wage and hour violations in the workplace are:
- Failure to pay correct overtime wages
- Failure to pay the city, county, or state minimum wage, whichever is highest
- Failure to provide meal and rest breaks, as well as payment for missed meal and rest breaks
- Failure to pay for time worked while not clocked in, or “off-the-clock” work
- Failure to provide accurate pay stubs
- Misclassification of employees as salaried exempt
- Misclassification of employees as independent contractors
Our Lancaster, CA Wage and Hour Lawyers
If you have been denied meal and rest breaks, forced to work off the clock, or been incorrectly compensated for your overtime work, it may be time to speak with an employment attorney.
The wage and hour lawyers at PARRIS Law Firm have been fighting for victims of wage theft since 1985, winning hundreds of millions for clients. Our legal team is committed to protecting your right to fair compensation—and we won’t stop until you see the justice you deserve.
Some of our notable results for clients include:
- A $135 million settlement on behalf of insurance claims adjusters who were denied overtime and meal breaks due to being misclassified as salaried.
- A $120 million settlement for personal property lines and casualty insurance adjusters misclassified as salaried exempt.
- A $29.5 million settlement for home improvement company workers who were not compensated for working off the clock.
- A $15 million recovery for employees who were provided with confusing and misleading wage statements that failed to break down employees’ regular and overtime hours.
- A $7.8 million settlement for hourly workers at a chicken processing plant that were forced to don and doff protective gear while off the clock.
When your employer has failed to pay you the proper wages, our legal team is here to ensure justice is restored.
Below, our team has outlined your wage and hour rights under California law. If you feel as if these laws have been violated at your workplace, speak with a PARRIS employment lawyer right away.
Non-Payment of Overtime Wages
Non-exempt employees in California are eligible for overtime pay in the following circumstances:
- The employee works more than 8 hours in one workday.
- The employee works more than 40 hours in one workweek.
- The employee works more than 6 days in one workweek.
Overtime pay is equal to 1.5 times your regular rate of pay.
California’s Regular Rate of Pay
Your regular rate of pay is more than your hourly rate (or “base rate”). Your regular rate factors in the following:
- Shift differentials
- Nondiscretionary pay
- Certain other payments
You can calculate your regular rate by adding your additional income to your base income and dividing the sum by the hours you worked. (You can view an example of this calculation here.)
Employers Can Miscalculate Overtime Pay
Unfortunately, some employers confuse your “regular rate” with your “base rate,” which may cause them to withhold the full extent of the overtime wages you’re owed.
In such a case, your employer may be liable for back pay and interest on the amount they withheld from you.
Failure to Pay Minimum Wage
In an effort to save costs, some employers avoid paying their workers the applicable minimum wage. Oftentimes companies achieve this by misclassifying employees as independent contractors.
It is illegal for your employer to pay you less than the applicable minimum wage. For more information about the minimum wage where you work, visit our Minimum Wage Lawyers page.
California Meal and Rest Break Laws
California law requires non-exempt employees who work more than five hours in a day to receive a 30-minute, unpaid lunch break before their fifth hour of work. If an employee in Lancaster, CA works more than 10 hours, they are entitled to a second 30-minute unpaid break.
In addition, California employees must take a 10-minute, paid rest break for every four hours of work for any shift longer than three and a half hours.
When an employee is on their meal or rest break, their employer is prohibited from interrupting it in any way. Requiring employees to work or be “on call” during a meal or rest break is against the law.
If your employer fails to provide meal and rest breaks, your employer owes you one hour of pay for each violation. Following the California Supreme Court case Ferra v. Loews Hollywood Hotel, LLC, these meal premiums must be calculated using the employee’s regular rate of pay—not the base rate.
If your employer has failed to provide proper meal and rest breaks for you (or has forced you to work or be on call during your meal or rest break), then you may be eligible for compensation for these meal violations.
Working Off the Clock in Lancaster, CA
In the eyes of California law, “work off the clock” includes any task that employees complete as part of their work, with their employer’s knowledge, without pay. This can include a number of duties that may seem innocuous to some employers, such as:
- Putting on/taking off (donning and doffing) protective equipment, work uniforms, or other work-required outerwear
- Performing opening or closing duties
- Driving from one work location to another
- Filling out paperwork
- Walking coworkers to their cars
- Working during your meal or rest break
In the landmark case Troester v. Starbucks, the California Supreme Court ruled it illegal to complete even minor tasks off the clock. In the eyes of the court, those missing minutes of off-the-clock work can add up to a significant amount of pay over time. Employees who perform these duties off-the-clock have a right to be compensated for them.
Illegal Pay Stubs
California Labor Code section 226 lays out the state’s requirements for wage statements. The law is designed to protect employees by compelling employers to be transparent about how wages are calculated.
Your pay stub must include the following information to be legally compliant:
- The total hours you worked
- The gross wages you earned (your total before deductions)
- Your net pay
- The dates of your pay period
- Your hourly rates, including your overtime rate
- Your identification information
- Your employer’s identification information
- An itemized list of any deductions
If any of this information is missing from your wage statements, you may be entitled to compensation from your employer.
You have a right to know how your pay is calculated—and our legal team is here to protect those rights. Call our Lancaster unpaid wages lawyers today if you suspect your employer is not being transparent about the wages you’re owed.
Employee Misclassification: Salaried Exempt Workers
Certain salaried employees, called “exempt” employees, are free from the wage and hour provisions that protect non-exempt salaried and hourly workers. Though they are entitled to meal breaks, they are not entitled to rest breaks or overtime pay.
Some employers may classify their workers as salaried exempt to avoid paying overtime. However, California lays out strict requirements for who qualifies for exempt status.
A salaried exempt employee must:
- Earn a salary that is at least twice California’s state minimum wage over the course of a year.
- Regularly use “discretion and independent judgment” while at work.
- Complete managerial, administrative, intellectual, or creative work, among other factors.
Though there are exceptions, the vast majority of salaried exempt workers are white-collar professionals and managers.
If your employer has classified you as salaried exempt and your job does not conform to the requirements listed above, then your employer may be robbing you of the overtime wages you are owed. Speak with our salary lawyers in Lancaster to discuss your case today.
Employers may try to avoid paying overtime wages through another way: misclassifying employees as independent contractors.
Independent contractors are self-employed: they choose their own hours, bring their own equipment, and frequently choose their own tasks and clients. This freedom bars independent contractors from protection under California’s strict wage and hour laws.
Employers find this appealing: if they can classify their workers as independent contractors, they don’t need to worry about paying them the minimum wage or overtime pay. Though this may benefit employers in the short run, it strips workers of their rights under California law.
Several stringent new laws lay out the difference between employees and independent contractors in California. Under these laws, misclassifying workers as independent contractors carries significant penalties for the at-fault employer.
You can read more about these laws—and your rights—at our Independent Contractor Lawyers page.
Get a Free Case Review with our Lancaster Wage & Hour Lawyers
The employment law team at PARRIS has decades of experience taking on big corporations—with excellent results for our clients. When your employer has failed to correctly pay you for your work, give PARRIS Law Firm a call. We’ve rightfully restored the wages of thousands of employees. Let us fight for your just compensation, too.
Employment law encompasses various legal matters related to the rights and obligations of employees and employers in the workplace. It encompasses a wide range of cases concerning employment relationships.