San Diego Wage and Hour Disputes Attorney

San Diego Wage and Hour Disputes Lawyer

Have you suffered wage and hour violations such as unpaid overtime, minimum wage violations, or missed breaks in San Diego?

At Ferraro Vega Employment Lawyers, we are here to help you recover the wages and penalties that you are owed by your employer. A skilled San Diego wage and hour disputes lawyer can fight for you and help you explore legal options. Contact Ferraro Vega Employment Lawyers today to discuss your case or call for a free consultation at (619) 737-1720.

How Ferraro Vega San Diego Employment Lawyers Can Help with Your Wage and Hour Dispute

San Diego Prevailing Wage Lawyer

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 Employment Lawyers, 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 experience 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.

What Is a Wage and Hour Violation According to California Law?

As an employee, you put an immense amount of time and energy into your job and deserve to be paid adequately for what you do. Wage and hour violations are a specific type of labor violation that occurs when an employer fails to pay their workers correctly. If an employer fails to pay you minimum wage, refuses to pay overtime, or forces you to work through breaks unpaid, these are all wage and hour violations in San Diego. According to California’s employment laws, employees have the right to file a dispute against their employer when they are not paid legally.

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

While there is a federal minimum wage in place, most states implement their own minimum wage based on unique factors that affect the current price of living and their employees. California currently has a required minimum wage of $15.50, which is one of the highest of any state in the country. It is illegal for your employer to pay less than the state-mandated minimum wage. 

The minimum wage in California also depends on the employer’s size and the county they’re based in. In 2023, San Diego County increased its minimum wage from $15 per hour to $16.30. This minimum wage applies to all San Diego employers regardless of the number of employees they have.

Unpaid Overtime

Along with having to pay the required minimum wage, California employers must also pay overtime. Overtime is time and a half, which means it is equal to 1.5x your regular pay rate. An employer must pay overtime if their employee works more than 8 hours in a single workday, over 40 hours per workweek, or for the first 8 hours of the 7th consecutive workday in one workweek.

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. If your employer refuses to pay you overtime in any capacity, falsely states that you’re not eligible, or underpays you for the overtime that you worked, you should highly consider filing a wage and hour claim against them.

Employee Misclassification

Sometimes, an employer will misclassify employees in an attempt to offer fewer benefits or less pay. In other cases, 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. If you are misclassified as exempt, you may be entitled to claim unpaid overtime and penalties for missed breaks. An employee can only be considered exempt, however, when they meet certain requirements, including:

  • 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 a non-exempt employee, you may recover a broad range of damages and penalties as well.

Meal and Rest Break Violations

All California workers should know about their rights to different kinds of breaks in the workplace. You are entitled to damages for every shift in which your employer does not allow you to take adequate breaks. In San Diego, your employer is required to give you the following breaks for meals and rest:

  1. A 10-minute, paid rest break for every 4 hours of work
  2. A 30-minute meal break that is unpaid if you work more than 5 hours in a day
  3. A second 30-minute meal break that is unpaid if you work more than 10 hours in a day

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.

Failing to Pay Earned Commissions and Promised Bonuses

Because California law considers commissions to be an earned form of pay, an employer does not have the right to withhold or keep them for themselves. In fact, if your employer has failed to provide you with your earned commissions even once, this is a wage and hour violation in San Diego. Failing to pay any promised bonuses that were stated in your contract can also be a violation that you should be aware of. Don’t let your boss underpay you, and protect your rights to a fair wage today.

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. Our experienced employment lawyers can help you understand which wage and hour laws apply to you and pursue a claim if your rights have been violated. Other types of violations seen throughout California include:

  • Refusing to pay an applicable prevailing wage
  • Failing to reimburse employees for on-the-job expenses
  • 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 workstations and putting on/taking off protective gear before and after their shift begins

Damages for a San Diego Wage and Hour Dispute

Wage Disputes Lawyer

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. There are also penalties your employer may be required to pay for specific types of wage and hour violations.

The different damages you may receive from a successful wage and hour dispute include:

Minimum Damages

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.

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.

Why You Need the Help of an Experienced Wage and Disputes Attorney

In any kind of employment law case, there is going to be a wide range of legal elements that an employee must address. Doing this can be challenging, especially when many industry workers have little to no experience with litigation. If your rights have been violated by your San Diego employer, you should seek assistance from one of our accomplished employer lawyers immediately. Without a labor attorney who has the insight to guide you, you can easily be taken advantage of or have an unsuccessful claim.

At Ferraro Vega Employment Lawyers, we believe that every San Diego employee deserves adequate legal aid when they are mistreated. Our employment attorneys are devoted to pursuing justice for each of our clients, regardless of how intimidating their situation may be. As a committed worker, you deserve to be paid fairly and on time, no matter what. Our team at Ferraro Vega Employment Lawyers can help you manage the claim-filing process and represent you along the way. We have extensive practice in fields such as negotiation, litigation, and conflict resolution, giving us a distinct advantage both in and outside of the courtroom. If you’re looking to file a wage and hour dispute in San Diego, California, make sure you do it with the help of an adept attorney.


Q: What Is California’s Prevailing Wage, and How Does It Work?

A: In California, certain employees may receive what are known as “prevailing wages.” Prevailing wages are simply set rates for specific industry workers who are hired onto public works projects. The state’s prevailing wages are different from the set minimum wage, which is used for basic hourly workers. For example, the prevailing wage for a carpenter hired onto a public works project is $47.24. Common workers who receive prevailing wages include electricians, iron workers, brick-layers, and more.

Q: Are You Allowed to Skip Your Meal Breaks in San Diego?

A: Technically, California gives non-exempt employees the opportunity to opt out of their meal breaks. However, an employee can only pass up their meal break if their shift is less than six hours. If an employee’s shift is longer than ten hours, this means they have two 30-minute meal breaks. You can only opt out of your second meal break if you took your first; otherwise, you’ll be required to take your second break. If your employer forces you to skip a meal break, this is a labor law violation as well.

Q: How Long Can a California Employee Work in One Day?

A: According to the state’s labor laws, there is no set maximum for the number of hours an employee can work in a day. This means that an employee’s shifts can be long, but they must be paid adequately for all of the time they put in. For example, any non-exempt employee who works more than eight hours in a day or more than 40 hours in a week must be paid overtime in California. The employee must also be provided with the correct amount of breaks for the amount of time they work.

Q: Is It a Wage and Hour Violation if Your Boss Always Pays You Late?

A: When a California employer does not pay their workers properly, this is a direct violation of employment laws. If your boss consistently pays you late, this is no different than them taking your money or taking advantage of you. Late payments, low payments, and withheld payments are all forms of wage and hour violations in California. Do not let your employer continue to pay you late, and file a dispute to hold them accountable today.

Contact a San Diego Wage and Hour Disputes Lawyer

When your employer violates the law and fails to pay you the wages that you are owed, an experienced San Diego wage and hour disputes lawyer can help. At Ferraro Vega Employment Lawyers, we are well-versed in California labor code and wage and hour claims. Contact Ferraro Vega Employment Lawyers today to schedule your free consultation and get started on your case.

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