Employee wage and hour disputes are very serious, and as a result, there are state and federal laws that protect workers from being taken advantage of by employers. This includes the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and, in California, state-specific wage and hour laws.
California Wage and Hour Dispute Laws
In lieu of filing a lawsuit, the law in California allows employees to enforce their wage and hour rights in a less expensive manner by filing a wage claim with California's Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. A wage claim is a type of complaint that employees can file against their employer in an effort to recover money they feel they are owed.
The law in California mandates that employers pay employees a minimum of $10.50 per hour if the company has up to 25 employees and $11.00 per hour if the company has 26 or more employees. Some cities and counties in California have higher minimum wage rates. For employees who work in those areas, the higher local minimum wage rate would apply.
As far as overtime pay is concerned, an employee is entitled to overtime pay if they are classified as being, "non-exempt." A non-exempt employee is an employee that is not exempt from most Labor Code requirements. Such employees must be paid one and a half times (1 ½ x) their regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 hours in a week or 8 hours in a workday and double their normal hourly rate for all hours worked in excess of 12 hours in a day.
California considers an employee to be, "exempt” from overtime pay if they work in a specific category and meet certain statutory requirements. In general, California's restrictive rules make it more difficult for employers to establish that an employee is exempt compared to applicable federal laws. Those categories include:
Employers who do not pay overtime or do not pay employees the minimum wage can be sued by their employee. Employees who file a lawsuit against employers for unpaid wages or underpayment can seek damages for missing pay, interest, fines, and legal fees.
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
FLSA mainly covers:
- Minimum Wage: The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour and has been since July 24, 2009. In September 2017, the Department of Labor published a notice in the Federal Register stating that, beginning January 1, 2018, the Executive Order minimum wage rate is increased to $10.35 per hour. This applies to workers performing work on federal contracts.
- Overtime Pay: Non-exempt employees must receive overtime pay for hours worked over 40 per workweek at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular rate of pay. There is no limit on the number of hours employees 16 years or older may work in any workweek. The FLSA does not require overtime pay for work on weekends, holidays, or regular days of rest, unless the hour allotment is exceeded during that time.
- Child Labor Protection: Protects the educational opportunities of minors and prohibits their employment in jobs and under conditions detrimental to their health or overall well-being.
For highly skilled and knowledgeable representation concerning wage and labor disputes and proper classification of your employees in California, contact Mohsen Parsa today.