What are the Most Common Ways California Wage & Hour Violations Occur?
California’s employment laws are some of the most employee-friendly statutes in the nation, including those that allow workers to address wage theft issues.
The most common ways California employees become victims of wage theft — which means they are not getting the full pay they are entitled to — include, but are not limited to:
- Minimum Wage Violations
California’s minimum wage requirements change often, including an upcoming increase to $16 per hour beginning January 1, 2024. In addition, certain cities and counties have specific mandates regarding minimum wage that may be higher than the state’s requirements.
- Overtime Violations
California law requires employers to pay overtime (1.5 times the pay rate) for hours worked beyond eight hours in a day or 40 hours in a workweek for most employees.
- Off-the-Clock Work
Some employers may ask or pressure employees to work “off the clock,” meaning they perform work-related tasks without proper compensation. This can include preparation time, cleanup, or work performed before or after a scheduled shift.
- Meal and Rest Break Violations
California law mandates employee meal and rest breaks based on the number of hours worked. Employers who deny or interrupt these breaks or do not compensate employees for working through them can engage in wage theft.
Employers sometimes misclassify employees as independent contractors to avoid paying minimum wage, overtime, and other benefits such as paid sick leave, workers’ compensation, and unemployment insurance. This is illegal.
- Tip Theft
In industries like hospitality and food service, employers might unlawfully take a portion of employees’ tips or distribute them unfairly among employees.
- Unpaid Wages or Salaries
Failing to pay employees for all their hours, including accrued vacation or unused paid time off, can be considered wage theft.
- Illegal Deductions
Some employers make unauthorized deductions from employees’ wages, such as for uniforms or equipment, which can reduce an employee’s pay below the minimum wage.
- Paycheck Bouncing or Delay
Issuing paychecks that bounce or intentionally delay the payment of wages is another form of wage theft.
- Recordkeeping Violations
Employers are required to maintain accurate records of employees’ hours worked and wages earned. Falsifying timecards or failing to keep these records is illegal.
- Failure to Reimburse Business Expenses
California law requires employers to reimburse employees for job-related expenses like mileage, tools, or uniforms. Failure to do so can constitute wage theft.
Is Your California Employer Violating Wage and Hour Laws?
Employees who believe they are victims of wage theft should document their work hours, gather evidence, and contact Aryeh Leichter, the Leichter Law Firm, APC founder, and employment law attorney in Los Angeles County today to discuss the legal remedies that may be available for your unique workplace circumstances today, starting with a free consultation by calling (818)-915-6624 or contacting the firm online.