As a California-based firm that represents employees in wage and hour claims, we’ve witnessed firsthand how important it is to safeguard workers' rights and seek justice for unfair workplace behavior. Wage and hour rules in California are in place to ensure that employees receive equitable pay, breaks, and reimbursements for expenditures incurred while performing job obligations. Employers may, however, occasionally breach these laws, resulting in unpaid wages, missed breaks, and other injustices for employees. In this column, we will illuminate several common violations of California wage and hour rules, empowering potential clients to identify these violations and take action to preserve their rights and get the compensation they deserve.
Unpaid Overtime Wages:
One of the most prevalent violations is the failure to pay employees overtime wages. California's overtime laws require non-exempt employees to be paid one and a half times their regular hourly rate for any hours worked beyond 8 hours in a workday or 40 hours in a workweek. Additionally, employees should receive double their regular hourly rate for any hours worked beyond 12 hours in a workday.
Unpaid Minimum Wages:
Employers must adhere to California's minimum wage laws, ensuring that employees receive the state's mandated minimum wage for every hour worked. Failure to pay the minimum wage is a significant violation and can lead to significant financial losses for employees.
Missed Meal and Rest Breaks:
California labor laws mandate that non-exempt employees receive meal breaks and rest breaks during their work shifts. Employees are entitled to a 30-minute unpaid meal break if they work more than five hours in a day, and a second 30-minute meal break if their shift exceeds ten hours. Additionally, employees should receive a paid 10-minute rest break for every four hours worked. Employers who deny or discourage employees from taking these breaks are violating wage and hour laws.
Misclassification of Employees:
Some employers may misclassify employees as independent contractors or exempt from overtime pay to avoid paying certain benefits and complying with wage and hour laws. Misclassification can lead to employees being denied their rightful entitlements, such as overtime pay, meal breaks, and other protections under California law.
Employers may require employees to perform work-related tasks before or after their scheduled shifts without compensation. This off-the-clock work is a violation of wage and hour laws, as employees should be paid for all hours worked, including any time spent preparing for work or completing tasks after their shift ends.
Failure to Reimburse Expenses:
Employees who incur expenses while performing their job duties, such as business-related travel expenses or the cost of required tools or uniforms, should be reimbursed by their employer. Failure to reimburse these expenses is a violation of wage and hour laws.
Understanding common violations of California wage and hour laws is essential for employees to protect their rights and seek justice in the workplace. Employers who engage in these violations may be subject to legal action, and affected employees have the right to seek compensation for unpaid wages, missed breaks, and unreimbursed expenses. If you believe you have experienced any of these violations, it is crucial to consult with an experienced employment attorney to understand your rights and pursue the appropriate legal remedies. By being aware of your rights and standing up against these violations, you contribute to a fair and equitable working environment for all employees in California.