Employees are hired to keep business running smoothly and profitable. To protect those employees, California institutes a number of wage and hour laws that protect their rights and keep employers from taking unfair advantage of their work. Unfortunately, not every employer follows these laws, but many employees are unaware of the mistreatment until long after they have sought new employment. To further complicate these violations, employees who recognize these occurrences and attempt to report them could experience retaliation or end up in disputes over their own wages.
At the Law Offices of Miguel S. Ramirez, our wage and hour attorney knows the tactics employers try to use to skirt the law. Whether they take advantage of unknowing employees or simply try to maximize their profits by cutting corners, violations against the time worked and the amount of compensation an employee receives impacts not only the individual but their family as well. With our compassionate but thorough approach, your unique case can get the attention it deserves to recover damages that you may be entitled to in West Hollywood, CA.
For over 20 years, our team has handled a variety of wage and hour claims, including:
These types of violations, and others like them, are common among employers. While they may seem minimal, each violation is taking away from an employee’s ability to provide for themselves and their family.
Any employer operating in California must obey the state and federal wage and hour laws. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the federal law that dictates minimum wage, overtime, and child labor laws. The purpose of these laws is to protect the health and safety of employees throughout the state. Because California recognizes the value of employees to the state’s infrastructure, these federal laws are combined with state and local ones to ensure that employees have thorough protections from unfair working conditions. The most common laws that employers violate are:
When any changes occur to these laws, it is up to the employer to ensure that the company updates its own policies and practices to be compliant. However, employees should stay informed of these changes to ensure that employers follow through with any adjustments that need to be made.
Another common type of violation that occurs is when employees are intentionally misclassified. This impacts the compensation that an employer must provide because different employees have different rights. When an employee is misclassified, they are denied certain benefits that they may be eligible for. This could include any of the benefits above, as well as bonuses, insurance, or other company benefits.
Misclassifying an employee can occur in many different ways, including:
When a person is identified as an independent contractor, they are technically self-employed and therefore do not report to or operate under the protections of the employer. That also means that they are not entitled to any benefits that other regular employees may receive. Because employers do not have to pay benefits, this becomes a method of saving costs. Independent contractors are also not entitled to any meal or rest breaks, reimbursements, etc.
When certain employee titles are granted, there are both limitations and qualifications placed on the benefits that they may receive. Many employees that are classified as a manager or an assistant manager, for example, may not qualify for overtime payment, meal breaks, or rest periods. While it is an achievement to be considered an employee with such a title, it certainly is a way for employers to attempt to cut costs in other areas. Unfortunately, many employees don’t realize this until after they have accepted the title.
What is important for employees to understand, however, is that the title they have is not necessarily indicative of the benefits they receive. It is a matter of the job duties performed that qualifies the employee for certain wage and hour benefits. Even as a manager, to be classified as exempt from overtime pay:
In California, exempt versus nonexempt encompasses an employee’s ability to earn overtime benefits as well as enforce regular meal and rest breaks with their employer. Exempt employees are generally paid a salary as opposed to an hourly wage. When an employee is misclassified by their employer, it could be a way for the employer to avoid paying the benefits that the employee is entitled to.
If you feel that you have been the victim of wage and hour violations, there are steps you should immediately take to not only protect yourself but also to attempt to recover any wages you may be owed.
The first step is to seek the help of an experienced attorney who can help review the facts of your case. Your attorney can look at your evidence, which should include pay stubs, records of hours worked, communications, or other documentation that could support your case. If a violation is discovered, the attorney may attempt to solve the issue by first sending a letter to your employer, notifying them of the violations. In many cases, this can fix the problem, and there is no need for litigation. However, some employers may continue to fight back.
If this happens, your lawyer can then file a claim on your behalf and take the matter to litigation. Your claim may be filed with the California Division of Labor or the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor, or you may file the claim directly against your employer. The claim must be filed within three years of the violation.
There is an abundance of confusion for employees around salaried versus hourly wages and what an employee may be entitled to. The myth is that salaried employees do not qualify for overtime pay. However, the facts of who qualifies are about whether they are considered exempt or nonexempt by state and federal guidelines. The duties of the job will dictate your status.
Every wage and hour claim is different and therefore will come with different expenses. However, most employment attorneys generally charge between $98 and $450 per hour. The experience of the attorney and the circumstances of your case will determine the costs. When first consulting with your attorney, discuss their fees and how your claim’s outcome could influence that.
Employers that are found in violation of any wage infractions will be penalized. For each employee, the employer will be penalized $100 for the first pay period infraction and $200 for each subsequent infraction. The impacted employee will receive 25% of the fees, while the state will recover the remaining 75%.
There are no limitations placed on the number of hours worked for salaried employees in California. The determination of exempt versus nonexempt status will determine any qualifying overtime. However, most salaried employees are paid a rate regardless of whether they work more than 40 or less than 40 hours per week.
Employees are the heartbeat of the economy and infrastructure in California. While some wage and hour infractions are the result of an uninformed employer, there are those who seek to take advantage of the most vital employees, and they should be held accountable. If you have been a victim of wage or hour infractions by your employer, contact the Law Offices of Miguel S. Ramirez. Our team has been looking after the rights of employees for over 20 years. We can review the facts of your claim and fight vigorously to recover any damages you may be owed. Contact us today for a consultation.