At Ferraro Vega, we are here to help you recover the wages and penalties you are owed by your employer. A San Diego wage and hour disputes lawyer can fight for you and help you explore legal options. Call for a free consultation at (619) 693-7727.
Have you suffered wage and hour violations such as unpaid overtime, minimum wage violations, or missed breaks? Contact Ferraro Vega today to discuss your case.
How Ferraro Vega San Diego Employment Lawyers Can Help with Your Wage and Hour Dispute
Wage and hour violations are extremely common, but fighting these violations can be difficult. You may be afraid of speaking up and risking your job. Employers who commit wage and hour violations may be well-funded while employees who suffer wage violations are often ill-equipped to fight their employers in court.
At Ferraro Vega, we are here to fight for you. You have protection against retaliation under California law with many avenues available to recover the unpaid wages you deserve as well as penalties for illegal labor practices.
Our San Diego employment attorneys spent years gaining valuable experience with some of the largest law firms in the U.S. We focus exclusively on employment litigation and put our expertise to work for you. We work on a contingency-fee basis, which means you pay nothing out-of-pocket to get the legal representation you need.
When you choose Ferraro Vega San Diego Employment Lawyers to help with your wage and hour dispute, you can count on us to:
- Investigate your case to determine which laws your employer violated
- Determine if other employees have been affected by violations in consideration of a PAGA claim or class action lawsuit
- Ensure all necessary steps are followed to strengthen your claim
- Help you gather crucial evidence to prove your claim
- Negotiate on your behalf with your employer to reach a fair settlement
- File a lawsuit if a settlement cannot be reached
- Protect you from retaliation by your employer
You do not have to pursue a wage and hour claim by yourself. Call Ferraro Vega San Diego Employment Lawyers today to schedule a free case review with a compassionate and experienced employment lawyer to get started.
Common Wage & Hour Violations in San Diego
Wage and hour violations come in many forms. The following are the most common types of violations of employment laws our employment lawyers in San Diego see on a regular basis.
Minimum Wage Violations
California has a required minimum wage. It is illegal for your employer to pay less than minimum wage. The minimum wage in California depends on the employer’s size and some areas have a minimum wage higher than the state.
In 2021, San Diego increased the minimum wage to $14 per year, up from $13 an hour in 2020. This minimum wage applies to all employers regardless of the number of employees. In the rest of San Diego County, the $14 minimum wage only applies to companies with at least 26 employees. Smaller businesses have a minimum wage of $13 per hour.
Along with minimum wage, California employers must pay overtime for any time worked that is:
- More than 8 hours in a single workday,
- Over 40 hours of work per workweek, or
- The first 8 hours of the 7th consecutive workday in one workweek.
Overtime is time and a half, 1.5x your regular pay rate. Double overtime must be paid if you work more than 12 hours in a single day or more than 8 hours on the 7th consecutive workday in a workweek. This is double your regular pay rate.
Sometimes, an employer will misclassify employees to offer fewer benefits or less pay. Sometimes misclassification is unintentional, however. New forms of compensation like flex time and job sharing can complicate compensation and make classification tricky.
When an employee is exempt, they are paid a salary and not entitled to overtime or meal and rest breaks. An employee can only be considered exempt, however, when they meet certain requirements:
- They are engaged mostly in administrative or executive tasks
- They regularly exercise discretion and independent judgment in their duties
- They earn a salary at least twice the minimum wage based on a 40-hour workweek
Another common misclassification involves independent contractors who are not subject to minimum wage, overtime, and breaks. If you are misclassified as an independent contractor but you are an employee, you may recover a broad range of damages and penalties.
Meal and Rest Break Violations
Your employer is required to give you the following breaks for meals and rest:
- A 10-minute rest break for every 4 hours of work
- A 30-minute meal break if you work more than 5 hours in a day
- A second 30-minute meal break if you work more than 10 hours in a day
You are entitled to damages for every shift in which your employer does not allow you to take a break.
Unpaid Wages and Vacation Time
California law does not allow an employer to force an employee to work “off the clock” or without pay. This means you cannot be forced to do work during a break or perform work duties before or after your shift, for example. If you are not compensated for work, you can recover unpaid wages.
Note that California law does not allow you to waive your right to wage and hour requirements. This means you can’t simply agree to work for less than minimum wage or unpaid.
If you earn vacation time, it is considered part of your compensation. California does not allow a “use it or lose it” policy.
Other Types of Wage and Hour Claims
There are many other ways an employer may violate your rights and commit a wage and hour violation. Other types of violations include:
- Refusing to pay an applicable prevailing wage
- Failing to reimburse employees for on-the-job expenses
- Failing to pay earned commissions and promised bonuses
- Refusing to pay hazard pay that is in the employee’s contract
- Taking illegal deductions from an employee’s paycheck
- Failing to timely pay wages owed at termination which is same day for involuntary termination and 3 days after voluntary termination
- Failing to compensate employees for time spent walking to and from work stations and putting on/taking off protective gear before and after their shift begins
An experienced employment lawyer can help you understand which wage and hour laws apply to you and pursue a claim if your rights have been violated.
Damages for a San Diego Wage and Hour Dispute
There are several ways to recover the money you are owed when you are not paid your full wage or not given the breaks you are entitled to. The first step is filing a wage claim with the Labor Commissioner’s Office for a settlement conference with your employer. A wage and hour claims lawyer can help you file a lawsuit against your employer if your correct wages are not paid.
The minimum damages you can recover in an unpaid wage lawsuit include:
- The amount of wages you are owed
- Interest on the amount of unpaid wages
- Reasonable attorney’s fees
- Civil penalty that punishes your employer. The penalty is typically $100 for the initial violation and $200 for subsequent violations and can often be more depending on the law that is violated.
A class action wage lawsuit may be an option if other employees have been underpaid. In this scenario, an attorney will represent a larger group of employees whose employer has not paid the wages they are owed.
There are also penalties your employer may be required to pay for specific types of wage and hour violations.
Liquidated Damages for Minimum Wage Violations
You may also be entitled to “liquidated damages” that is equal to the amount of unpaid wages and interest if your employer did not pay at least minimum wage. Your employer does not need to pay the liquidated damages if they can show it was a good-faith error.
Penalties for Missed Breaks
If your employer did not provide a paid 10-minute rest break or unpaid 30-minute meal break as required, they may be required to pay a penalty. California law allows a penalty of one hour of pay at your regular pay rate for every work day in which a meal break or rest break is not provided.
Penalties for Waiting Time for Pay
If you are fired, you have the right to your final paycheck immediately. You must receive your final pay within 72 hours of quitting. This final paycheck must include compensation for all hours worked plus unused vacation time.
If your paycheck is late or it does not include all the wages you are due, your employer may be required to pay a waiting time penalty. This penalty is a full day of wages at your regular rate for every day your employer is late up to 30 days.
PAGA Claims for Wage and Hour Violations
There is another way to recover damages for wage and hour violations in California. The Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) allows you to file a lawsuit against your employer for a wide range of workplace violations. This is different from a typical wage lawsuit.
If you are an aggrieved employee who has been subjected to at least one workplace violation, you can recover damages for all of your employer’s workplace violations through a PAGA claim. This includes not only the violation that affected you but violations that did not and could not affect you. A PAGA lawsuit can even be filed if you have signed away the right to sue through a forced arbitration clause.
PAGA claims can be filed for California labor code violations, health and safety violations, and any other labor law in California.
A PAGA claim does not allow you to recover unpaid wages, but it does allow you to recover civil penalties. If successful, the penalties recovered are split among workers who suffered labor violations with some penalties going to the state.
Contact a San Diego Wage and Hour Disputes Lawyer
When your employer violates the law and fails to pay you the wages you are owed, an experienced San Diego wage and hour disputes lawyer can help. We are well-versed in California labor code and wage and hour claims. Contact Ferraro Vega San Diego Employment Lawyers today to schedule your free consultation to get started on your case.