All employers have the responsibility of paying their employees fairly and correctly. As an employee, you deserve to be fairly compensated for your wages. In Newport Beach, California, if your employer fails to properly compensate you for the work you performed, they are committing what is known as a “wage violation” and are also breaking the law. If you believe that your California employer is underpaying you or violating your rights as an employee, our Newport Beach employment attorneys are prepared to help you.
Orange County Employment Lawyers Clients Can Trust
Our team of attorneys at California Employment Counsel, APC, shares decades of experience working in the world of law and representing different kinds of cases. We understand just how complex employment law cases can become, which is why we are committed to providing strategic, compassionate representation and legal assistance for each of our clients. No employee should be underpaid, especially when you put so much hard work into your job. Whether you are not receiving the overtime you should, or your employer purposely misclassified the kind of worker you are, do not delay seeking assistance from our employment law attorneys at California Employment Counsel, APC.
What Is a Wage and Hour Violation?
Wage and hour violations, sometimes referred to as “wage theft,” occur when an employer breaches their contract with an employee or violates state law by improperly paying an employee. Wage violations can come in multiple forms, which is why it is important for employees to pay close attention if they believe there is an issue with their compensation. Common wage and hour violations in California include:
Failure to pay an employee the minimum wage or the proper prevailing wage rate for their position.
Failure to compensate employees for overtime worked.
An employer forces, threatens, or coerces an employee to work “off-the-clock.”
Failure to pay an employee for all hours that were worked (i.e., the employee was called in or asked to come prep).
Misclassifying an employee as an independent contractor or as an exempt employee when they are non-exempt.
An employer refuses to provide rest or meal breaks and does not provide compensation to employees who work through them.
Refusal to pay an employee for paid time off that they are eligible for.
An employer refuses the opportunity for overtime (and often gives employees too much work to handle in a full-time week).
Refusal to reimburse employees for important, eligible business expenses.
Refusal to pay bonuses or commissions earned rightfully by an employee.
An employer illegally rounds down hours to lessen compensation.
California Minimum Wage Regulations
Every state can adjust the rate of the minimum wage as they see fit. While technically there is a federal minimum wage in place, this mostly serves as a minimum that states are not allowed to legally go under. The current federal rate for the minimum wage in the U.S. is $7.25 per hour. As of 2023, most states have minimum wages that are higher than the federal rate. California currently has the country’s highest minimum wage rate, sitting at $15.50 per hour. Your employer is required to pay you the minimum wage or the applicable prevailing wage for your job. Otherwise, they are committing wage theft.
California Overtime Regulations
The rate of overtime wages an employee is paid is equal to 1.5 times their regular hourly rate. All employers in California are required to pay eligible employees the proper rates when overtime is worked. Employees that are classified as nonexempt are eligible for overtime under two circumstances:
The employee worked over 40 hours in a single work week.
The employee worked over 8 hours in a single workday.
This means that even if an employee does not work over 40 hours in a week, they can still be paid overtime if they work over 8 hours in a day. California also requires that an employee who reaches their 7th consecutive day of work receive overtime pay for each hour worked that day.
California Rest and Meal Break Regulations
The state of California requires employers to provide their employees with a 30-minute, unpaid meal break every five hours. Employers are also required to allow 10-minute breaks for every four hours worked. For example, if an employee works an average 8-hour shift, they should have one unpaid 30-minute meal break and two unpaid 10-minute rest breaks. Your employer is also required to provide a separate area from the bathrooms that is considered a space to take breaks.
How Do I File a Wage Violation Claim in California?
Whether you are not being paid for the overtime you have worked or your employer is violating minimum wage regulations, do not wait to file a claim to hold them accountable. Every employee deserves to be paid fairly for the time and effort they put in at their workplace. If you are being paid improperly, there are steps you can take to file a claim and have the issues addressed.
Find an Experienced Newport Beach Employment Attorney
When dealing with employment law issues, it is critical that you have an attorney on your side who is familiar with how this area of the law works so that they can help you through the process. Our attorneys can not only help you fill out a claim and file it properly, but we can also guide you through the different legal proceedings of your case. Our firm can also represent you when further action is taken.
Gather Evidence to Support Your Claim
Having sufficient evidence to back your employment law claim is essential. If you are unable to prove that the wage or hour violation took place, your claim most likely will not be accepted. Records of hours worked, pay stubs, financial records, and your scheduled work time can all help back up your claim. As a result, working with your lawyer to gather all relevant evidence and documents can be extremely beneficial.
File Wage Violation Claim
After you have gathered enough evidence and feel comfortable with the state of your claim, you and your attorney can then take the next steps to file it. This cannot be done digitally; the claim needs to be filed at your local office for the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). Once you have filed, the DLSE will evaluate your claim in its early stages and decide whether they will take further action or not.
Go to Settlement Conference
If the DLSE decides to take further action on your claim, they may call for a hearing to discuss the case. Before this occurs, a settlement conference between the employee who filed, the employer, and a Deputy Labor Commissioner should take place. This conference is similar to an informal hearing, where both parties are gathered to express their sides of the story. In some cases, the dispute can be settled during this conference. In others, the Deputy Commissioner will decide whether a hearing is necessary. They may also dismiss the claim entirely.
The hearing in an employment law violation case is similar to a trial but is a more private proceeding. All parties will submit their evidence, their claims, and their arguments, and then wait for the hearing officer to make a decision. The officer in charge of the claim has 15 days to make a final decision on the case, and they must notify the parties involved by mail. If your claim for relief is accepted, you will then be able to work with your lawyer to negotiate terms for recovering your losses.
The Importance of an Employment Lawyer in a Wage Violation Case
When dealing with employment law, cases can become complicated quickly. Luckily, our team here at California Employment Counsel, APC, has years of practice with employment law and representing clients in difficult situations. We understand how complex filing a case against your employer can be, especially if you are worried about them retaliating or how it can negatively impact your life. With the help of our team, we can protect your rights as an employee. We can also fight for the best possible outcome for your case and work to hold your employer accountable.
We know that every case comes with a variety of unique circumstances, which is why we take the time to carefully evaluate your situation before deciding the best course of action to take. If your employer refuses to pay you the proper rate for all of the overtime you have worked, or they have been forcing you to work “off-the-clock,” working with one of our expert employment law attorneys can help you immensely.
Expert Newport Beach Employment Lawyer
You deserve to be fairly compensated for all of the hard work and time that you put into your job. When your employer refuses to pay you properly, do not wait to get the legal help you need to take action. If you are a victim of wage theft in Newport Beach, CA, our team of attorneys at California Employment Counsel, APC, is prepared to help you. To learn more about our legal services, or to schedule a case evaluation with one of our lawyers, contact us today for more information.
Why Speak Up In California
You should never be afraid to assert your
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