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Wage Violations


Wage and hourly law in California is both complicated and easily abused. As an employee, you have certain rights and entitlements, the violations of which are unlawful. If your employer has violated wage and hourly laws, you may be entitled to compensations and penalties. It is vital to ensure that you are receiving fair and correct payment and benefits from your employer.

Common Wage Claims

Here are some of the most common wage and hour class claims:

  • Misclassification as Exempt from Overtime
  • “Off-the-Clock” Work
  • Improper Overtime Calculation Methods
  • Compensable Time
  • Minimum Wage Violations
  • Meal & Rest Breaks
  • Vacation and Sick-Leave Forfeitures
  • Improper Wage Deductions or “Chargebacks”
  • Inaccurate Wage Statements
  • Expense Reimbursements

These claims can be divided into two main categories: wage violations, and claims related to time off.

The Fair Labor Standards Act and Wage Violations: Minimum Wage & Overtime Wage Payments

The Fair Labor Standards act is a government act that establishes standards for minimum wage, overtime, and other labor laws. Most business and employees are required by law to abide by the rules set forth under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Minimum wage in California is $8.00 per hour. As of January 1, 2012, minimum wage in San Francisco is $10.24 per hour. All employees in California are entitled to a minimum wage of at least $8.00 per hour (depending on the city), and all employees in San Francisco are entitled to at least $10.24 per hour. It is important to be aware of the following ways in which employers might potentially violate minimum wage:

– Paying Less Than Minimum Wage:
Any hourly rate that is less than minimum wage is a violation of minimum wage law. This includes salaried pay that averages out to less than minimum wage hourly.

– Failure to Pay Overtime:
Minimum wage for overtime work in California is $12 per hour and $15.36 per hour in San Francisco. Any work done past 8 hours per day must be treated as overtime, even if the total hours worked per week does not exceed 40 hours. This is an overtime law specific to California. While Federal law does not require that overtime pay apply to work-weeks of fewer than 40 hours, California labor law requires that overtime be determined on a daily and not weekly basis.

– Improper Overtime Calculations:
The Fair Labor Standards Act requires that employees must receive minimum wage and be compensated for over time at the rate of at least one and one-half times their regular rates of pay. This means that overtime payment depends on regular time wage. Thus, if an employee receives more than minimum wage for regular time, he or she should expect to receive more than 1.5 times minimum wage for overtime, depending on the regular wage rate.

Underpaying Tipped Employees:
In California, tips may not be treated as wages. Thus, a tipped employee must earn minimum wage before accounting for tips.

“Under the Table” Payments:
Unofficial forms of payment in exchange for employment or services may be constitute wage and hour violations, especially if these payments are less than minimum wage.

“Off the Clock” Work:
Like “under the table” payments, an employer may ask you to work or provide services while not technically “on the clock.” For example, after working 8 hours a day, you might be asked to perform an additional task that takes half an hour. If your employer then pays you for 8 hours of work instead of 8.5, this would be an “off the clock” violation.

Incorrect Exemptions:
The United States Department of Labor has release a list (http://www.dol.gov/compliance/guide/minwage.htm) of employees exempt from minimum wage laws and overtime laws. This list is very specific and narrowly defined. If your area of employment is not on the list, then you should not be labeled as “exempt” from minimum wage rules.

– Compensable Time Violations:
Compensable time is time that employees may charge for being on the job. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, both “waiting time” and “on-call time” must be compensated under certain circumstances. If an employee is engaged to wait, this constitutes compensable waiting time. Similarly, if an employee is required to remain on call on the employer’s premises, he or she is eligible for compensable on-call time.

– Improper Wage Deductions or “Chargebacks” :
According to the California Labor Code Labor § 221, it is “unlawful for any employer to collect or receive from an employee any part of wages theretofore paid by said employer to said employee.” Thus, any type of “charge back” or deduction from a previously paid wage is illegal and a violation of California labor law.

If your employer commits wage violations, you may be entitled to back pay and penalties specific to each violation. If you believe you have been a victim of wage and hour violations, contact The Evans Law Firm for a free and confidential consultation at 888-50-EVANS or 415-441-8669 or by email at info@evanslaw.com.

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