Does California Have State Overtime And Unpaid Wage Laws That Differ From Federal Law?
Under federal law, employees are entitled to overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours in any work week. In California, employees are entitled to overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours in any workweek or if they work more than eight hours in any particular work day. The employee gets whichever is greater. If an employee works 10 hours in one day but doesn’t work any other days that week, they will still get overtime pay. In contrast, if they work just under eight hours every single day, but they end up working 45 or 50 hours in the week, they will still get overtime pay.
Who is actually covered by state overtime and unpaid wage requirement loss?
In general, all employees in California are covered by the overtime and wage requirements, unless they meet a particular exemption listed under the law. There are a variety of exemptions but the most common are for professional, administrative, or executive employees. Those are certain higher paid employees who are typically salaried and they either have a professional license or are in positions of management where they are running a business or administering a business. They have to be the kind of employee who is using their own independent judgment and often managing other employees. They must also be earning a minimum of twice the minimum wage.
What potential damages or settlement offers could I receive in the California overtime unpaid wage lawsuit, if I’m successful?
In most cases, the bulk of the damages for unpaid wages and unpaid overtime is the amount that was actually withheld. If an employer withheld a certain dollar amount every pay period or they shorted an employee on hours every month, those are going to be the primary wages that will be recovered in the suit. In addition to that, an employee in certain cases can recover statutory and civil penalties. They can also get interest on the amounts that were withheld. In a successful lawsuit, an employee can recover attorney fees and litigation costs. If someone wasn’t paid minimum wage, they might get a double penalty, called a liquidated damage. If the employer owed them five thousand dollars in unpaid minimum wage, the employer might have to pay ten thousand dollars, plus interest, to cover that shortfall.
How long do I have to bring a California overtime unpaid wage suit against an employer or former employer?
Most cases are able to be brought within three years of the violation for unpaid wages and overtime. There are certain tricks of the trade where in some cases we can use the available laws to extend that time to four years. However, there are some penalties that are only available within the first year, so if you are looking to recover these additional penalties, we would need to file within a year of the violation.
Can my employer retaliate against me for bringing an overtime or unpaid lawsuit in California?
There are specific provisions written into the law that prohibit retaliation against an employee for bringing a wage claim or making a complaint to their employer that they weren’t paid wages. An employee can actually bring a lawsuit against an employer and recover an up to a ten-thousand-dollar penalty, per violation, for retaliatory conduct.
What evidence does an employee need to prove an overtime or unpaid wages claim?
It is the employer’s obligation to maintain accurate time and payroll records, so most of the evidence would typically be in the employer’s own records. We know that employers often don’t abide by that obligation and don’t keep accurate records. In such case, there may be an additional violation for failing to maintain accurate records. When it comes to proving your wage claim or unpaid overtime claim, if there are no records, then an employee’s reasonable estimate of the hours that they worked can be used as evidence of the overtime amount or the unpaid wages. If the employer can’t combat that with legitimate business records of their time, as they are supposed to maintain, then the employee can use that as evidence to win the case in court.
In California law is there a penalty for shorter meal breaks than what is mandated? Who is responsible for following those?
An employer is obligated to allow their employee to take a meal break under the requirements of our state law. When and where they take their break may depend on how long their shift is and what type of work they are doing. It is the employer’s job to allow the meal break and not prevent it. If an employee is not permitted to take the full required meal break, the employer is obligated to pay a penalty equivalent to one hour of the employee’s wages for every meal break that was missed or cut short. The same would apply to a rest break because our laws require employers to allow employees to take two 10-minute rest breaks during the day. If an employee is prevented from doing that, then the employer would also be subject to an additional penalty in the form of another hour of wages. There are certain situations in which an employee may waive their meal break or where an employer is not required to give a break, but those are very limited.
What are the criteria that your firm looks at when determining if an employee has a viable claim in California?
We like to start by looking at employment records, such as wage statements. Sometimes, employees don’t have them accessible, so we often request them from employers through a specific process under the law, even without a lawsuit. That gives us a lot of insight into how the employer classifies time and whether or not they document missed meal breaks and comply with the law or not. We look to see if the employer has any overtime policies that are documented and if the employee was ever disciplined for failing to take a break or for not clocking in or out timely.
We look to see if the employee has ever been paid any penalties for missed meal breaks on their wage statement. If not, and the employee tells us they missed many breaks, that is an indication to us that there might be something wrong with the employer’s process. If we look at a wage statement and we see every single month is the exact same number of hours of regular time and overtime, it might give us an indication that the timekeeping is not accurate. Those are some of the things we look for in trying to determine whether or not there is a viable claim.
For more information on Unpaid & Overtime Wages Claim, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (213) 257-8999 today.
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