Los Angeles Wage & Hour Violation Lawyers
Stop Wage Theft. Claim the Wages You’re Owed.
As a devoted employee, you probably work hard for your company and do what they ask you to. In return, you deserve to be fairly and promptly paid all the wages that you’re owed.
Unfortunately, wage theft is common. Maybe you’ve noticed that your employer consistently “forgets” to pay you for overtime. Maybe you make barely over the minimum wage on an hourly basis but your employer claims you’re “salaried” so they can make you work overtime without additional pay. Maybe your wages are rounded down or your employer deducts their business expenses from your paycheck. Maybe you’re denied meal or rest periods or misclassified as an independent contractor.
Tragically, we have seen many employers agree to pay the minimum wage on paper, but in reality, they pay their workers far less. This is a social justice issue because employers often cut corners when it comes to the employees they see as most vulnerable, whether because of their gender, ethnicity, language, or even immigration status. All California workers have rights. Holding employers accountable for taking advantage of vulnerable workers is just one way we try to create a more equal economy that reclaims power for workers.
This is why you need our knowledgeable Los Angeles wage and hour violations lawyers at King & Siegel LLP to aggressively fight for your rights. If this sounds familiar to you, you should contact our experienced Los Angeles wage and hour violation attorneys immediately. In California, the California Labor Code provides numerous productions on top of those provided by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
Contact us now at (213) 465-4802 when you are seeking real answers to all your questions regarding wage and hour violations.
Types of Wage and Hour Violations
There are numerous types of wage and hour violations, and we are experienced in litigating all of them. Here are some ways employers try to save money at the expense of their employees’ rights:
- Paying less than the minimum wage;
- Misclassifying workers as independent contractors;
- Requiring workers to work “off the clock” and without pay, for example, by requiring workers to go through security before clocking in or by requiring workers to answer emails after clocking out;
- Denying workers in the outdoors adequate water or shade during hot weather;
- Denying workers rest periods or meal periods;
- Requiring workers to remain “on duty” during meal or rest periods or restricting what they can do and where they can go;
- Failing to pay workers separately and hourly for rest periods (for workers paid on a production or “piece rate” basis);
- Requiring workers to buy or reimburse the employer for equipment or work tools (including mandatory personal cell phone or computer use);
- Paying workers late or too infrequently; and
- Paying workers through a separate entity to try to hide from liability for wage theft.
Other serious infractions are listed below.
Illegal Rounding of Hours
Rounding is the practice of adjusting an employee’s hours, either up or down, to the nearest increment. For example, an employer may round to the nearest tenth of an hour because paying an employee for 4.1 hours is cheaper than paying them for 4.0998. Essentially, a policy designed to round time to the nearest sixth of an hour adjusts a 5:05 am time punch to 5:00 am and a 5:06 am time punch to 5:10 am. While rounding can work in an employee’s favor, rounding can also result in an underpayment. In general, we have found that employers round hours because it saves them money; otherwise, they would not do it.
Rounding is not automatically illegal. But employers must apply the policy fairly. An employer cannot design rounding policies to underpay their workers and must follow two rules:
- The policy must be fair and neutral on its face, and
- The policy must be applied in a way that, on average, does not favor underpayment.
The California Supreme Court has also ruled that employers may not apply rounding practices to meal period start and end times.
Meal and Rest Break Violations
California law requires most non-exempt employees to be allowed to take a certain number of meal breaks and rest periods throughout their workday.
A meal break is an unpaid, 30-minute period in which employees can focus on any business they choose. Non-exempt employees working more than five shift hours are entitled to one meal period lasting at least 30 minutes. Employers must provide employees working more than 10 shift hours a second 30-minute meal break. Outside of meal breaks, California requires employers to provide employees with 10-minute rest breaks for every four hours they work.
If your employer fails to provide a meal break, you could be entitled to one extra hour of pay. Your employer pays this extra hour at your regular rate every day you didn’t receive a proper meal break. For example, if your employer failed to provide you with opportunities to take a meal break for a month—or about 22 workdays—you may be entitled to damages equal to 22 x your wage. In other words, if you make $15/hour, your employer might have to pay $330 in extra wages.
Docking Tipped Employees’ Minimum Wage
California prohibits employers from deducting wages from gratuities or using gratuities as credits against an employee’s wages. The law means that an employer must pay a tipped employee the full minimum wage for every hour worked above and beyond any tips an employee makes.
Employers also cannot charge credit card processing fees against tipped employees’ wages.
Rules Covering Employees That Earn Commission
If you are paid on a commission basis, whether in whole or in part, your employer must provide a written agreement explaining how your commissions are calculated and paid. Your contract also determines when your employer considers your commissions earned.
Generally, California’s regular payday laws apply to commissions. The exception is if you consent to a provision in your agreement that states commission is due later than when you book a sale. For example, instead of being paid the day the customer signs a contract, you might not be entitled to pay until the customer pays for the products or services.
If your employer pays you on a commission basis, you might not be eligible to earn overtime. For example, if you qualify as an “outside salesperson,” your employer is not required to pay overtime wages. An outside salesperson regularly spends more than half their time out of the office.
Other bars to overtime for commissioned employees include when:
- You work in the professional, technical, clerical, mechanical, or mercantile (retail) industries;
- You earn at least one-and-a-half times the minimum wage per hour; or
- At least half of your pay comes from commissions.
Otherwise, you are entitled to overtime for working extra hours unless another overtime exemption applies.
Minimum Wages in Los Angeles
Even though Federal law has created a standard minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for most employees, California’s minimum wage is much higher, and many California cities have enacted their own minimum wages. For instance, the Los Angeles minimum wage is currently $15.00 for employers with more than 25 employees, and $14.25 for smaller employers.
If you are an hourly employee, you are entitled to overtime pay if you worked:
- More than eight hours in a single workday,
- More than 40 hours in a single workweek, or
- More than six days in a single workweek.
Overtime is generally 1.5 times your regular rate of pay and is 2 times your regular rate of pay for hours worked over 12 hours per day. You are also entitled to 2 times your regular rate of pay for working more than 8 hours on your 7th consecutive day of work.
What Do I Need to File a Wage Claim?
To file a wage claim, you should provide information on:
- Paystubs—Include copies of paystubs for the period in which you are owed wages, as well as any bounced paychecks;
- Time records—Include copies of the hours and dates you have worked, and the hours for which you were not paid, as well as any documentation of the hours you actually worked; and
- Employer information—Copies of documents showing the legal name and address of your employer and the pay rate you and your employer agreed on.
If your employer owes you back pay, contact our experienced Los Angeles wage violation lawyers at King & Siegel LLP. We can review your claim and help you pursue compensation for the wages you are owed.
Types of Settlement Damages
When you file a wage dispute with the California Labor Commissioner and win a lawsuit or a wage claim, the Labor Commissioner can award you lost wages. The Labor Commissioner may also grant you penalties for your employer’s wage violation. Lost wages are “damages,” not penalties. Damages compensate you for earned wages your employer failed to pay you. Penalties are additional fines imposed on your employer for violating your rights. The Commissioner awards penalties to punish your employer and deter them from acting illegally in the future.
You may also file a lawsuit as a “private attorney general.” This means you are filing a claim on the state’s behalf to enforce the California Labor Code. Employees who file as a private attorney general may also collect penalties for payday law violations. These penalties are not available if you sue only on your own behalf.
Private attorney general actions are similar but not identical to a class action for wage theft. The main advantage is that you can pursue a private attorney general action even if you have signed an arbitration clause, while you cannot pursue a class action if you have signed an arbitration clause.
If your employer failed to pay you for some hours worked, the Commissioner can award back pay in the amount of your total unpaid hours times your hourly wage. For example, if your regular hourly wage is $15 an hour, and you worked 30 hours “off the clock,” you would receive $450 in back pay.
If your employer failed to pay you overtime at the proper rate for all hours worked, they might also have to pay a penalty of $100 for the first pay period and $200 for subsequent pay periods where you were shortchanged. When you file as a private attorney general, the state gets 75% of the money you collect; you get the rest. However, keep in mind that you cannot pursue these penalties at all unless you bring a private attorney general action.
Total damages and penalties for a claim may also include pain and suffering for the emotional stress of having to file a claim just to get properly compensated.
To determine how to file and the potential scope of your claim, call an experienced employment law attorney. Working with an employment law attorney can help you recover the maximum compensation you deserve.
Contact Our Los Angeles Wage & Hour Violation Attorneys
Everyone deserves fair pay and living wages for their labor. Maybe you fulfilled your employer’s last-minute demands to work overtime, you were never paid for these hours, and when you mentioned this to your boss, they gave you a harsh warning or even threatened you. Does this scenario sound familiar to you?
If so, do not hesitate to get in touch with our Los Angeles wage and hour violation lawyers.