Your time and labor are valuable to your employer, and your employer should pay you accordingly. At a minimum, your employer needs to ensure you are paid any applicable wage, overtime, and agreed-upon compensation for your services. If your employer fails to fulfill its obligation to compensate you, it has committed wage theft. At the Law Office of John Dalton, our experienced legal team fights for employees so they can receive every penny their work is worth. If your employer is withholding wages, contact us.
What Are Unpaid Wages?
There are many state and federal wage laws your employer needs to follow when compensating its workforce. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets the federal requirements for employee pay, and the California Labor Code sets the pay standards for California employees. If your employer fails to follow one of these wage laws, they owe you unpaid wages.
What Is Minimum Wage?
Under FLSA, employers must pay non-exempt employees at least $7.25 per hour. If the minimum wage rate in the employer’s state is higher than $7.25 per hour, the employer must pay the state rate. Fortunately, California’s minimum wage rates are significantly higher than what FLSA demands.
California law requires employers with 25 or fewer employees to pay their employees at least $14 per hour, and employers with more than 25 employees must pay an hourly rate of at least $15. For all non-exempt employees, the minimum wage rate will increase to $15.50 in 2023, and it could continue to increase each year.
Some California cities require an even higher minimum wage than the state. In fact, the minimum wage in the City of Los Angeles is $16.04 per hour, and the minimum wage in unincorporated Los Angeles County is 15.96 per hour.
If you do not know your wage rights at the federal, state, and local levels, your employer could easily and unlawfully skimp on your paychecks. Stay current on all minimum wage laws that apply to you, and speak to a Lancaster unpaid wages attorney if it appears that your paychecks do not add up under the law.
Minimum Wage Exemptions
Under state and federal minimum wage laws, some employees are exempt. Exempt employees do not have to receive minimum wage for their work. Among the workers not entitled to minimum wage are:
- Outside and commissioned salespeople;
- Spouses, parents, and children of the employer;
- Administrative employees;
- Computer professionals;
- Certain automobile dealership employees; and
- Seasonal and recreational employees.
Your employer can’t exempt you from minimum wage by merely giving you the title of an exempt profession. To prove that you are exempt, your employer must verify that your salary and job obligations match the criteria for one of the exempt jobs.
What Is Overtime Pay?
A non-exempt employee should receive not only adequate pay for each hour worked, but they should also receive premium pay for long workdays or workweeks. Both FLSA and California law require employers to pay their workforce increased rates for overtime. However, independent contractors have no right to receive overtime pay or minimum wage.
Under FLSA, employers must pay 1.5 times an employee’s regular rate for any amount of work in excess of 40 hours in a workweek. Like its minimum wage laws, California’s overtime laws are more generous than the federal requirements. California requires the following:
- An employee must receive 1.5 times their pay rate if they work more than eight hours in a workday;
- An employer must pay two times an employee’s pay rate if the employee works more than 12 hours in a workday; and
- An employee must receive two times their pay rate if they work more than eight hours on the seventh consecutive day of work in their workweek.
There are many ways to calculate your regular rate of pay to determine what overtime premium you should receive. A skilled employment attorney can help make sure you recover the maximum pay rate applicable in a wage claim against your employer.
Overtime Exemptions and Exceptions
Not all employees are entitled to the same type of overtime pay or overtime pay at all. Employees who are not entitled to overtime are exempt. Many employees who are exempt from minimum wage rules are exempt from overtime requirements. Employees in commercial fishing, film, television, airline work, taxicab driving, and highly paid professions are also exempt. Employees who are excepted from the standard overtime laws must receive overtime pay, but the events that trigger the pay increase are different. Employees with alternative workweeks and employees such as camp counselors, healthcare workers, and live-in workers might have to work more hours to receive overtime. And many minor employees must receive standard overtime pay for any work done on the sixth consecutive workday of the workweek.
An employer might try to justify shortchanging you by arguing that you are exempt or an exception applies, but you should confirm this with a professional. Your Lancaster unpaid overtime lawyer can tell you whether any overtime exceptions or exemptions apply to your case.
If your employer fails to pay you, you can file a wage theft claim. You can file a federal claim with the Wage and Hour Division. And you can file a state claim with the Labor Commissioner’s Office. If you win your claim, you can win the following:
- Backpay (the amount you should have been paid if your employer had followed the law);
- Liquidated damages; and
- Civil penalties.
Employers that willfully violate the wage and hour laws could also be subject to criminal liability.
Speak to a Lancaster Overtime & Unpaid Wages Attorney Today
Lancaster overtime & unpaid wages lawyer John Dalton has been successfully fighting for California employees for more than 20 years. He wants to make sure employees receive fair pay and respectful treatment in the workplace. If you need help, contact the Law Office of John Dalton today.
Our experienced lawyer also handles other types of employment law cases including: