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.
Meals and Rest Break Violations
Employees are entitled to one lunch break and two rest breaks for every full-time (eight hour) day of work.
All employers must provide one 30-minute meal break for every shift of 6 hours, and another 30-minute meal break if the shift reaches 10 hours. Meal breaks are unpaid if the employee is off-duty, but if you are on duty or standby during your break-time, then your employer may be obligated to pay you for your break.
In addition, each employer must provide two paid off-duty10-minute rest breaks: one for each 4 hours of labor.
Sick Leave / Medical Leave Forfeitures
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) allow employees in California to take leaves of absence under the following circumstances: pregnancy, medical care, caring for a family member, and adoption. While employers are not currently required to provide paid sick leave, sick leaves must be job-protected under the Department of Fair Employment & Housing. This means that if you must take time off for medical reasons or family medical reasons, you have a right to return to the same or a comparable job when the leave ends. The California Government Code Section 12945.2 defines “family care and medical leave” as:
“(A) Leave for reason of the birth of a child of the employee, the placement of a child with an employee in connection with the adoption or foster care of the child by the employee, or the serious health condition of a child of the employee.
(B) Leave to care for a parent or a spouse who has a serious health condition.
(C) Leave because of an employee’s own serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of the position of that employee, except for leave taken for disability on account of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.”
For a full list of California Employee Leave Entitlements, see this list provided by the FEHC : http://www.fehc.ca.gov/act/law.asp
Employers who do provide sick leave must abide by California Labor Code Section 233. This states that an employee may use his or her own accrued hours of sick leave entitlement “to attend to an illness of a child, parent, spouse, or domestic partner.” Under this code, all restrictions and benefits that apply to the employee’s use of sick leave for him or herself will apply to the use of sick-leave towards their family. This allowance is sometimes called “kin care.”
Under CA Government Code Section 12945.2, any employee with more than 12 months of service and at least 1,250 hours of service with the employer may take up to a total of 12 workweeks in any 12-month period for family care and medical leave, unless the employer employs fewer than 50 employees within 75 miles of the worksite.
Pursuant to California Labor Code 2802, any non-commuting travel costs incurred by the employee while on the job must be reimbursed by the employer. This is sometimes referred to by the “California mileage reimbursement rate,” and the guide set by the state’s Department of Labor Standards Enforcement is 58.5 cents per mile. Section 2802 of the Labor Code includes reimbursements for non-travel expenses as well, such as cell phone and computer usage, as well as office supplies, to the extent that all those items are used for work.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.