California and Los Angeles in particular, have the unfortunate distinction of being a hotbed of employer wage and hour violations. 30% of all workers in Los Angeles County make less than the minimum wage, which is illegal. That, in turn, translates into $26-28 million in stolen wages every week.
We all expect to be paid fairly for an honest day’s work. When we’re not, California state law allows employees to take legal action against their employers. You don’t have to tolerate being shortchanged on the job. Call the Los Angeles wage and hour lawyers at The Dominguez Firm for a free and completely confidential consultation at (800) 818-1818 today.
Please keep reading to learn more about the different types of employer wage and hour violations and what you can do if your rights as an employee are violated.
What is Wage Theft?
Wage theft is a term used to describe various violations of California labor laws related to unpaid wages to employees. In California, wage theft can take many different forms, including:
- Failure to pay minimum wage
- Failure to pay overtime
- Misclassifying employees as independent contractors
- Denying meal and rest breaks
- Not reimbursing employees for business expenses
- Deducting wages from an employee paycheck without proper authorization
- Failure to provide accurate wage statements
- Not receiving final wages in the legally allowed time period or at all
The legal definition of wage theft in California is the illegal underpayment or nonpayment of wages to employees. Wage theft can result in significant penalties for employers, including fines, back pay owed to employees, and even criminal charges in some cases.
What Are Exempt and Non-Exempt Employees? What is the Difference Between the Two?
In California, labor laws classify employees as either exempt or non-exempt. These classifications are based on the job duties and responsibilities of the employee and are important as they determine whether the employee is entitled to a minimum wage, overtime, and meal and rest breaks.
Non-exempt employees are typically paid an hourly wage and are entitled to receive overtime pay for any hours worked over eight in a day or 40 in a week. They must also receive meal and rest breaks, as well as other labor law protections. The vast majority of wage and hour violations by employers involve non-exempt employees.
Exempt employees, on the other hand, are typically salaried employees who are not subject to certain wage and hour laws. The most common categories of exempt employees are executive, administrative, and professional employees, but there are other categories too. For example, outside salespersons and certain computer professionals may also be classified as exempt. Exempt employees are not entitled to overtime pay under state law, but they must earn a minimum salary each month to qualify for this classification.
I Work on Commission. Do the Same Wage and Hour Laws Apply to Me?
In most cases, yes. California wage and hour laws apply to employees who work on commission, just as they do to other kinds of employees. However, some specific rules apply to employees who earn commissions.
Employees who earn commissions must receive a written contract outlining the method by which their commissions will be computed and paid. This contract must be signed by both the employer and the employee. The contract should also state the formula for determining the commission rate, and when commissions will be paid.
Also, commissions are to be paid no less frequently than once a month, and employers must keep accurate records of commission payments. Employers must also provide commission-based employees with accurate, itemized wage statements showing the total commission earned each pay period.
California law requires that most employees who earn commissions be paid at least the minimum wage for all hours worked. The employer must make up the difference if the commissions do not equal or exceed the minimum wage for any pay period.
California differentiates between inside and outside salespeople regarding wage and hour laws. Outside salespeople are exempt from minimum wage, meal breaks and overtime requirements. They are defined as an employee over the age of 18 that spends more than half their workday away from their employer’s traditional workspace selling goods or obtaining orders for products or services for their employer.
Sometimes, unscrupulous employers classify employees as exempt to avoid paying overtime and a minimum wage. If you think this is happening to you, consult with an experienced wage and hour attorney right away.
Can My Boss Force Me to Work Overtime?
Yes, your employer can legally force you to work overtime if you are a non-exempt employee. Federal and California state laws, which permit employers to require overtime from their employees. Furthermore, employers in California may also discipline, demote, or fire workers who refuse to work overtime. You would receive the standard overtime pay in keeping with California law. That would mean time-and-a-half after 8 hours and double your hourly rate after 12 hours.
There are exceptions to mandatory overtime:
- Your overtime hours can’t put your health or safety in danger.
- It also shouldn’t violate your employment contract.
Is the Legal Minimum Wage in Los Angeles the Same as In the Rest of California?
No, many counties and cities throughout California have minimum wage rates that differ from the state rate of $15.50 per hour in 2023. The current minimum wage for Los Angeles is $16.04 per hour. It will increase to $16.90 on July 1st, 2023. For unincorporated areas of the city and county, the current rate is $15.96 per hour. It will increase to $16.90 on July 1st, 2023.
Among Los Angeles County cities, Long Beach sets the minimum wage at $16.73 per hour for hotel workers and $16.73 per hour for concessionaire workers, regardless of the size of the employer. For its part, Pasadena mandates a minimum wage of $16.11 per hour.
My Boss Fired Me for Filing a Wage and Hour Claim. Can I Do Anything About That?
Yes, if you were fired for filing a wage and hour claim against your employer, you would have grounds for retaliation and wrongful termination lawsuits as well. Employers in California can’t retaliate and fire workers who take legal action against them for workplace violations.
Can I Afford to Hire The Dominguez Firm?
You can afford to hire the employment lawyers at The Dominguez Firm to represent you for your wage and hour case. We work on a contingency basis, which simply means we get paid a percentage of your settlement or verdict amount. You don’t have to worry about legal retainers, out-of-pocket costs or any hidden fees whatsoever. The percentage we receive will be clearly stated in the client representation agreement you sign with us. Plus, it’s a fixed percentage and won’t change, no matter how much compensation we obtain for you.
Call the Los Angeles Wage and Hour Lawyers at The Dominguez Firm Today
From multinational corporations to small local establishments, wage and hour violations can happen in any workplace. That doesn’t mean you have to put up with it. If you’ve had to deal with unpaid wages at work, let the employment law attorneys at The Dominguez Firm help you.
For over 35 years, The Dominguez Firm has been helping employees in California take action against employer wrongdoing. We have a team of in-house employment lawyers and the resources to take on the biggest corporations. Not every law firm can say the same. Call us for a free and confidential consultation at (800) 818-1818 today.