Riverside Wage and Hour Lawyer
When it comes to protecting workers, California has some of the most comprehensive laws in the country. Just because the laws are on the books, though, doesn’t mean that employers always follow them. Whether out of ignorance or malice, some of the most frequently violated laws are those regarding hours and wages. Unfortunately, many employees don’t even realize that they’re being taken advantage of by their employers. A Riverside wage-and-hour lawyer can help you identify what laws your employer might be breaking and help you seek restitution. You’ll want to seek out this help if you suspect that your employer is violating any of several areas of California’s wage and hour law.
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There are a few different laws that an employer may violate in the area of wages. For instance, they may not be paying minimum wages, which as of 2024 in California, is $15.50/hr. Another possibility is that your employer may not have paid you the entirety of what you are owed. Wage theft goes unnoticed more often than you might think, particularly when it comes to legally required overtime pay. It’s important that employees pay close attention to their hours and pay. If you think your compensation doesn’t match what you have earned, then a wage lawyer may be able to help you get back what is rightfully yours.
A particularly complex and regularly violated portion of California wage law relates to how employees are classified. An employee’s classification affects an employer’s payroll taxes, as well as defines what wage and overtime laws an employee may be subject to. There are a couple of ways an employer may misclassify an employee.
An employer may claim an employee is an independent contractor. Typically, independent contractors are paid a set amount to produce something. The contractors have a fair amount of control over how they produce whatever they are contracted to do.
In California, though, there are several additional factors that are taken into consideration. The kind of work being done, the employer’s role in providing tools to accomplish the work, the skills involved in the work, and several other elements determine whether or not an employee can rightfully be classified as an independent contractor. With the level of complexity involved in this kind of classification, it can be very beneficial to have a labor lawyer help you sort through your situation if you think you are wrongfully classified as an independent contractor.
Non-Exempt Employees Misclassification
Another kind of misclassification occurs when employers label non-exempt employees as exempt. An exemption allows an employer to avoid overtime pay. To be classified as exempt, an employee must make at least twice the minimum wage for a full-time job as their salary, regularly act independently using their discretion and judgment on behalf of the company, and spend more than half of their time doing creative, managerial, and professional duties. In other words, exempt positions are usually what we might think of as ‘white collar’ jobs. However, determining whether or not an employee should be exempt can be difficult depending upon the unique nature of a job, and a good labor lawyer can help assess the situation.
Breaks and Meals
With a few exceptions, as an hourly employee, you are entitled to a set number of breaks and meals during your shift.
- For any shift over three and a half hours up to six hours, you are required to be allowed one paid ten-minute break.
- For shifts of six to ten hours, you should have two breaks.
- For shifts 10 to 14 hours, you should have three breaks.
- For shifts more than 14 hours, you should have at least four breaks.
- For shifts between five and ten hours, you should have one unpaid, 30-minute lunch (If your shift is between five and six hours, you may choose to forego your lunch break if you and your employer agree to it).
- For shifts over 10 hours, you should have two meal breaks (you may forego one meal break if your shift is under 12 hours).
Generally, these breaks should mean a respite from all work duties. There are some narrow exceptions to this, but an employment attorney may be able to help you understand if your position qualifies for an exception. If your employer fails to give you one of the breaks you are due, you are entitled to one extra hour’s worth of pay at your regular rate. If your employer fails to give you multiple breaks that you are due, then you are entitled to one hour’s pay per workday (not per missed break) for any missed rest breaks and one hour’s pay per workday for missed meal breaks.
Another way that employers frequently fail to follow California wage laws regards overtime. There are three circumstances in which you are due one-and-a-half times pay as overtime:
- For any hours beyond eight hours but less than twelve in a single shift
- For any hours over 40 in a week
- For any days worked consecutively beyond six days.
There is one instance in which you are due twice your regular wages as overtime: if you have worked any hours beyond 12 in a single shift.
What to Do if You Suspect Your Employer Has Violated Wage and Hour Laws
There are two things you should consider doing immediately if you think your employer has violated wage and hour laws. The first is to document everything. A detailed record of when you were scheduled, when you worked, when you were given breaks, and what you were paid is information that is vital to examining your situation and putting together a case on your behalf. The next thing you will want to do is work with a wage-and-hour lawyer, like those at Ferraro Vega, to see if you have a claim against your employer.
What Can You Recover
If you are found to have a legitimate claim against your employer, you will be entitled to compensation for wages lost, including interest, a civil penalty against your employer, and reasonable attorney’s fees. There may be additional penalties as well, depending upon the nature of the violation.
Employment Law Attorneys FAQs:
Q: Is It Legal to Work 16 Hours a Day in California?
A: It is legal to work a 16-hour shift in California. However, workers are entitled to overtime pay for a portion of that shift that extends beyond eight hours. For any shift extending beyond eight hours, the hours from 8-12 will need to be paid at time-and-a-half. And for any hours past a 12-hour shift, those hours will need to be paid at twice regular wages.
Q: Is It Legal to Work Seven Days Straight in California?
A: It is legal to work seven days straight or more in California. The seventh day and any further consecutive days beyond the seventh must be paid at overtime wages. It’s important to note, as well, that the seven days can cross from one week into another. So if a business schedules its weeks Monday through Sunday, but an employee ends up working every day from Wednesday through the following Wednesday, then Tuesday and Wednesday would need to be paid as overtime.
Q: How Do I Know If I’m Being Misclassified As “Exempt?”
A: Whether or not you should be considered exempt or not can sometimes be difficult to assess. An employee is exempt if three requirements are met:
- The employee’s salary is twice the minimum wage for full-time employment
- The employee spends most of their work doing professional, executive, or administrative duties
- The employee must, at times, use their own discretion and judgment to act on behalf of the business
While the salary is straightforward, determining whether or not an employee fits the other two requirements can sometimes be murky. An employment lawyer can be helpful in assessing whether or not you have a claim to being non-exempt when your employer has treated you as exempt.
Q: When Should I Be Paid Overtime?
A: There are three situations in which an employee is entitled to overtime pay, which is generally 150% of an employee’s regular hourly rate. Any hours over 40 work hours in a week should be paid as overtime. Any hours beyond eight work hours in a day should be paid out as regular overtime up to 12 hours. Anything beyond 12 hours in a single day should be paid at twice the employee’s standard wages. Lastly, any day worked consecutively beyond six consecutive days should be paid at overtime rates.
A Good Wage and Hour Attorney Can Help You Recoup What You Are Owed
If you think you have been the victim of an employer not following wage and labor laws, then you are going to want the right kind of labor lawyer on your side. Ferraro Vega attorneys can help investigate your case and put together a claim against your employer. We can also walk you through the process so you know what your options are. Additionally, we can assist if you need to make any further claims against your employer because of retaliation regarding your initial claim. Contact us today so we can review your case and help you begin the process if needed.