306 South San Gabriel Blvd, Suite D. San Gabriel, CA 91776
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Unpaid Wages

You Have a Right to Your Wages: Learn What Your Legal Options Are if You Are Owed Unpaid Wages

At a very minimum, employers should be expected to pay their employees the wages they are owed. Unfortunately, all too often this is not the case. There are several ways in which a company might try to cheat an employee out of their legally owed wages. Keep reading to find out how an unpaid wages attorney can help and then contact DLC Law at (626) 285-8815 for a consultation.

Unpaid base wages

While it is typical for employees to complain about not being paid overtime, commissions, or bonuses, it is astonishing how many employees contact us because their employer has simply failed to pay them their weekly salary. It’s possible that the employer’s cash flow problems are being exposed at the expense of its workers.

Employers who fail to pay their employees on time are breaking California and federal law. The repercussions for an employer who fails to pay employees on time might be severe. Employees who are facing difficulties with unpaid wages are frequently entitled to:

  • Interest accrual on their unpaid wages
  • Attorney’s fees
  • Court cost reimbursement

Unpaid Wages is a broad category that includes things like:

  • Failing to pay for hours worked
  • Failing to pay for overtime
  • Failing to pay for ‘off the clock’ work
  • Failing to provide employees with legal rest and meal breaks F
  • Failing to pay earned vacation pay
  • Failing to pay employees for work expenses

Wage payment is controlled by both state and federal rules and regulations. These rules and regulations are numerous and difficult, which is why employees who try to take on their company on their own are rarely successful. Employees and misclassified independent contractors who engage an employment attorney, on the other hand, are statistically more likely to have happier results and get bigger, if not considerably larger (often news-making) cash settlements.

Unpaid overtime

Nonexempt employees who work more than 8 hours in a single workday or more than 40 hours in a workweek must be paid one-and-a-half times their normal rate of pay, with any hours in excess of 12 hours in a single day being paid twice their regular rate of pay.

Furthermore, if an employee works more than six consecutive days in a workweek, overtime compensation is doubled after the 8th hour on the 7th consecutive day. Some employees may be excluded from overtime compensation based on their job responsibilities rather than their job title.

Employees who fall under one of the following categories may be exempt:

  • Executive workers who oversee two or more other employees
  • Administrative employees and professional employees who are paid at least 2.5 times the minimum wage and are required to apply “discretion and independent judgment” in their work
  • Outside salespeople
  • Computer specialists
  • Artists

Be advised that it is unfortunately all too common for companies to purposefully misclassify employees in order to avoid paying legally mandated overtime.

Working off the clock

Working “off-the-clock” refers to an employee who is required to work before or after their regular work hours without being paid. Wage and hour regulations in California and the United States make it illegal to fail to pay employees for off-the-clock employment.

Employees are entitled to pay for each hour of labor they put in under the law. Employers frequently request that workers work through state and nationally required rest intervals and lunch breaks. Employers frequently neglect to compensate employees for time spent training or traveling for work.

Off-the-clock work offenses include:

  • Requirements to change into and out of a uniform or safety gear during work without pay
  • Attending pre-shift meetings without pay
  • Required to turn on lighting, start-up equipment, or start-up computers prior to the start of your shift
  • Employees are required to check email or voicemail when off the clock without pay
  • Before doing shop closing tasks or locking up, you must clock out
  • Required to clock out for rest intervals or food breaks that are mandated by law
  • To undertake work-related activities such as supply runs, you must clock out

These are just some of the examples in which an employer might ask an employee to work off the clock. This is illegal and you should discuss your options with an attorney.

Rest periods and meal breaks are required by law

In most cases, hourly (nonexempt) employees are entitled to rest intervals and uninterrupted meal breaks under both California and federal law. Your employer is breaking labor law if he or she expects you to work without compensation during your meal break.

Working involves an employer’s casual suggestion that the employee have lunch at the office to “cover the phones.” Similarly, if you have been refused normal rest intervals, this is also a labor law infraction.

Employers in California are required to give a paid rest period of at least 10-minutes for every 4-hours of work time. In several industries, employers have the freedom to stagger break times to prevent disrupting workflow.

California employees who work 5 hours or more are entitled to a 30-minute meal break. Meal breaks do not need to be compensated if the employee is completely free to leave the employer’s premises and no job tasks are required or expected. If the employer wants the employee to stay at work, “watch the phones,” or do anything else “work-related,” the lunch break must be paid.

Vacation pay

There is no legal necessity in California for employers to give paid or unpaid vacation time to their employees. However, if a company has a policy of providing paid vacation, the employee’s vacation time is considered a kind of compensation. This implies that, regardless of the reason for the termination, earned vacation time cannot expire and must be paid out to an employee upon termination or separation from the business.

Work expenses

Employers in California must make every effort to compensate their workers for reasonable work-related costs. The following are some of the most common inquiries we get about work expenses.

  • Vehicles – California law mandates that an employee who is obliged to use his or her personal vehicle for work (other than going to and from work) be paid for that expenditure.
  • Tools and Equipment – With a few exceptions, the California Industrial Welfare Commission forbids employers from forcing employees to pay for tools and equipment they use at work. Employers can compel employees to acquire their own hand tools and equipment if they earn twice the minimum wage and the hand tools and equipment are usual to their profession.
  • Uniforms – If an employer requires an employee to wear a uniform that is particular to the place of employment (i.e., includes the company’s LOGO), the California Industrial Welfare Commission requires the employer to furnish and maintain the uniform, as well as pay for laundry and repair. However, an employer can ask employees to furnish their own non-company-specific uniforms, such as black slacks and a black blouse for a restaurant hostess or off-the-shelf scrubs for a medical staff member.
  • Cell Phones – California law compels employers to cover a fair amount of their workers’ cell phone costs if they need their employees to use their own cell phones for work.

Have you been the victim of unpaid wages listed above? If so, contact DLC Law at (626) 285-8815 for assistance right away.

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